Carlos Beltran does not need this job. With a career like he had, there’s more than enough money in the bank for the 42 year-old to do nothing the rest of his life.
But – and this is more important – he wanted this job and wanted this challenge.
“I see this as a beautiful opportunity and the fact that not too many people get these opportunities,” Beltran said. “I was able to manage myself the right way and being able to be a good teammate and being able to establish relationships in a positive way, this opportunity opened. I felt, ‘Why not?’ I know it’s a challenge, but more than a challenge, I see it as an opportunity.”
Beltran returns to the Mets for the first time since 2011, when he was traded to the Giants for Zack Wheeler. He becomes the 22nd manager in team history, but more importantly, the Mets feel fills the role of collaborator with the front office, which Mickey Callaway was not and the other candidates, which interviewed for the job, didn’t fit as well with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
“You have to understand that when you’re a manager, literally, your GM has to be your best friend. Literally,” Beltran said. “You have to communicate with him in a way that you got to be honest, you got to be open, you got to be able to have tough conversations.”
So now Van Wagenen and his new BFF begin life as the Mets brain trust and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter that Beltran doesn’t have any experience managing, because that’s what the collaboration is for. It’s why they went in this direction rather than force an experienced manager’s square peg into a round hole. Outside of A.J. Hinch, there wasn’t anyone who fit that bill, so Van Wagenen feels if you are going to fail, you might as well do it comfortable.
That’s not to say the Mets are going to fail here. Callaway was a failure to a certain degree, but Alex Cora, Dave Martinez, and Aaron Boone have been total successes. The first two winning the World Series the last two years, while Boone having over 100 wins during that period.
The Mets feel Beltran can be another one of those guys. The core is there and all he has to do is keep the players happy and playing hard for them, which is where Callaway excelled. At the same time, the manager needs to be the face of the organization, putting out the little fires that brush up in the New York media.
Callaway did not enjoy that aspect, while Boone is excellent at it. In fact, that may be one of the reasons why the Mets didn’t push to get Joe Girardi, because he never seemed happy at being second guessed, while with the Yankees.
So now Van Wagenen is married to Beltran, for better or worse. With a three-year contract, one could assume, if Beltran fails both GM and manager will go out the door.
Enough with the negativity, this is now the new normal and it’s up to Van Wagenen to give Beltran the best staff possible, including an experienced bench coach, which may put Terry Collins back in a uniform.
Those decisions will come in a few weeks, the hard part is now over and the business of 2020 has just started. The Mets still need to bring back Wheeler or replace him and get a center fielder and possibly upgrade at catcher as well. Oh, and that small issue of the bullpen…
But enough with the negativity. The Mets got their man in Carlos Beltran, a job No. 15 didn’t need and Van Wagenen got the BFF he wanted.