Only two days ago, the Mets released Alex Cora and benched Luis Castillo in favor of rookie Ruben Tejada. Both were good moves to help the team, but there is still a general malaise that seems to hover over the Mets, and I think a good deal of the problem is in center field. It is absolutely necessary for manager Jerry Manuel to bench Carlos Beltran, and it needs to be done starting tomorrow in the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field.
There has been some talk about trading or releasing outfielder Jeff Francoeur, but I think that would be a tremendous mistake. While there have been times when Francoeur has struggled this season, there have been impressive moments too (like his homer off Cole Hamels in the Mets’ 1-0 win against the Phillies on Saturday). There is also the undeniable fact that Francoeur adds a positive spark to the team’s chemistry, something the seemingly lethargic Beltran has never done in his time with the Mets.
All season long, people were talking about Beltran coming back from the disabled list. Everything would be better then, so they thought. Well, since Beltran returned to the team, the Mets are 7-16. Now, we cannot blame that all on the switch-hitting center fielder, but I do believe the team was doing much better with Angel Pagan in center and Francoeur in right field.
Beltran is currently batting .197, with 1 HR and 7 RBI. Looking at Beltran’s offensive numbers is only part of the story. He is not the fielder he once was, not fully recovered from his injury, and is detrimental to the team when he is on the field. There are balls that should be caught that he can’t get to, and this isn’t changing anytime soon.
Beltran seems like a nice fellow, but he has never been the player the Mets expected him to be when they signed him. He is also not the leader he should be in the clubhouse. Jeff Francoeur’s numbers are not stellar (.247 average with 11 homers and 47 RBIs), but he is an integral presence in the clubhouse, a spark plug on a team that needs a jolt to shake it out of its funk.
Frenchy, as his teammates call him, was supposed to platoon in left field with newly called up rookie Fernando Martinez until Jason Bay returns from the DL. Well, I have a better idea for Manuel and the Mets brass. Send a message to the team that no one has a lock on an every day job (and that should include David Wright and Jose Reyes as well).
Not only should the Mets bench Beltran on Tuesday against the Rockies, they should play Pagan in center, Francoeur in right, and Martinez in left. Beltran should stay on the bench for a week, and then we can see if the team wins more games without Beltran than with him. The way things are going for the Mets, they have nothing to lose and maybe, just maybe, a few more games they can win.