Carlos Beltran is now a St. Louis Cardinal. Before that he was a San Francisco Giant. Yet he still gets asked about his time with the Mets a lot. And not just recent stuff. Stuff from 2006.
For example, the other night he appeared at a charity event in New York and he was asked about what Mets fans might think about him playing for the Cardinals, who eliminated the Mets in the 2006 NLCS. With the moment of elimination being the Beltran strikeout that, for some reason, a certain segment of Mets fans can’t seem to shake. Beltran’s response:
“Actually, I’m not thinking about the fans, I’m thinking about myself … I just want to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs. What happened in 2006, you have to turn the page. That’s over. We can’t bring 2006 back to 2012. It has been six years. If they want to continue to think about that moment, then that’s their problem. Like I said, I have turned the page. I have really moved on.”
That’s not diplomatic, but I can’t find fault with any of it. I mean really, I would love to meet the sort of Mets fan who actually has issues with Beltran signing with St. Louis. Or who still burns with anger and sorrow over that strikeout in 2006 to the point where it colors one’s impression of the guy’s tenure in New York.
Every team’s fan base has a moment like that they can point to. You don’t forget the moment, but man, at some point you let it go as a personal grudge, don’t you?
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.