I’m sure I was not alone in immediately thinking about the infamous at-bat against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS after General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen announced the Carlos Beltran hire. So, initially, I was not on board.
Then, I realized what he can bring to the Mets’ dugout, which is becoming more and more animated as the team continues to take steps in the right direction. Primarily, Beltran will add to the locker room and fortify a player-first culture.
The Mets cannot find success with a top-down approach. It is working for the Islanders, but the Mets would require a change in ownership for something similar to play out as well. The locker room needs to be strong; if Beltran, at age 42, can bring a sense of comfort to the players with his bilingual fluency (an invaluable skill), then I think that will be his biggest contribution.
The 162-game season can be a grind if you do not like the people you are traveling across the country with. It helps to have a relatable and reliable leader who can communicate.
The obvious worry, at least coming off watching two years of Mickey Callaway managing, is going to be Beltran’s ability to make the right baseball decisions—especially late in games. I want to see the Mets play smart ball, steal bases (a stretch, I know) and find a way to sustain the spark that defined the promise flashed at times last season.