Two weeks ago new Mets manager Terry Collins said of Carlos Beltran: “When he walks in the first day, he’s the center fielder.”
Beltran may have walked into camp as the center fielder, but those plans have apparently already changed, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports that Beltran will be moved to right field full time and Angel Pagan will be the everyday center fielder.
While the time it took for the switch is quicker than expected, the move is anything but surprising. Plenty of outstanding center fielders ceased being assets defensively at Beltran’s age, and that’s without even factoring in his knee problems. Pagan is four years younger and showed last season that he’s a big plus in center field, with Ultimate Zone Rating pegging him as 11.8 runs above average in just 792 innings.
Pagan in center field and Beltran in right field is the Mets’ best defensive alignment, and if the switch also reduces some of the wear and tear on Beltran physically then that’s just a bonus. Beltran seems to recognize that, as Rubin suggests he actually went to Collins to initiate the move in the final season of a seven-year, $119 million contract that has seen him play exclusively center field.