No one expected much from the New York Mets in 2011. They were a team with a relatively weak starting rotation, playing in a terrible ballpark for power hitters, in a division with the World Series favourites, the Philadelphia Philles.
If you had to predict who would have a better chance of making the playoffs, though, you would always have taken the Mets over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates have been one of 2011’s biggest surprises, leading the NL Central and making some genuine playoff noise.
At the trade deadline, they will need to make a move to bolster their playoff chances, and one of the most talked about trades is for Carlos Beltran of the Mets. Here is why the move would work well for both sides.
The New York Mets are third in the National League in payroll, paying out over $118 million this season. Despite that output, they are exactly .500 at 48-48, and are 12 games out of first in the NL East.
His money will come off the books after the season is over, as he is a free agent, and they will likely have to eat some of his contract, but any money their beleaguered owners can save is a good thing.
That is not as bad as the Chicago Cubs whose $125 million payroll is the second-highest in the NL but they are the second-worst team in all of baseball.
If the Mets are going to eat any of Carlos Beltran’s contract, they will need to demand some good prospects in return.
For once, the Pirates are buyers at the trading deadline and could be keen to make a move happen. It would be good for the Mets to get younger, cheaper players in.
In his career, Carlos Beltran has slugged 20 home runs in a season eight times, 30 home runs three times and 40 homers once.
This year, he has found his power stroke again and is on pace for 25 or 26 long balls. The Pirates could use that sort of power. Their 62 home runs as a team is good for only 24th in MLB and 13th in the NL.
Injuries limited Carlos Beltran in 2009 and 2010, and he played in 81 and 64 games, respectively. Before that, though, Beltran was one of the most consistently healthy players in the game.
From 2001 to 2008, he played in 155, 162, 141, 159, 151, 140, 144 and 161 games. This year, he has appeared in 91 of his team’s 96 games.
For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates are a competitive team with a real shot at making the playoffs. With a 1-0 win last night over the Cincinnati Reds, the Pirates (51-44) lead the NL Central by a half game.
However, only three National League teams have scored fewer runs than the Bucs, who have 372: the San Francisco Giants (361), the Los Angeles Dodgers (352) and the San Diego Padres (325). Adding a solid offensive player would be a real boost to the team’s postseason chances.