Sunday, May 20, 2012

Where Are They Now?: Beltran, Reyes, and Pagan Edition

In the game of baseball, people make names for themselves. Players also come and go within the complicated GM system today in the major leagues. Trades before the deadline, mid-season moves and the MLB Draft, these can determine if your team is a contender or not. But this is not a story about a team that has made those moves, it's about the players involved and how they have fared after their tenure in a Mets uniform.

It's an image that will be forever burned in all Mets fans eyes forever. All Star centerfielder Carlos Beltran taking a curveball Strike 3 from Adam Wainwright with the bases loaded in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. Ever since that one pitch in Beltran's career, all Mets fans have remembered him as the scapegoat of that 2006 playoffs.  No matter how many Homeruns or walk-off hits he had, it would never be enough to get that image out of Mets fans eyes. So, last year, new GM Sandy Alderson made a daring move right before the trade deadline. He sent the aging Beltran to San Francisco for a young, promising prodigy named Zack Wheeler. Beltran gave his final hugs to his Mets teammates before he left for the Bay, and started his new life. In his half season with San Francisco, Beltran made basically no impact all year. He did reach 300 career Home Runs with the Giants though. Beltran became a free agent, and signed a deal with the Cardinals during the offseason. This year, with the Cardinals, he has been tearing the cover off the ball. He has 14 Bombs so far this year, which leads the National League.

He was cheered as he exited off the field for what would be the last time in a Mets uniform. Jose Reyes had just gotten a hit to extend his lead in the Batting Title race against Ryan Braun, the eventual NL MVP. The controversy spread across many sports shows later that night about how Reyes had taken himself out of the game to secure his spot as the batting champ, the 1st in Mets history. Mets fans also knew that Reyes might have taken himself out of a Mets uniform too. Reyes was due to be a free agent in the offseason, and there was a slim chance that he would return to the Big Apple, especially with the financial situation swirling around the team. Reyes would later take his talents to South Beach that year to a revamped Miami Marlins team. Reyes is now leading off for the Marlins and bringing his electricity to that team. Now, his average isn't as good as last year, neither is his fielding, and neither is his play. 

Andres Torres sat in his San Francisco home, and got the call he wasn't expecting. It was his manager Bruce Bochy, telling him that he had been traded to the Mets for Centerfielder Angel Pagan. Pagan, the longtime centerfielder since Beltran hurt his knee in the '09 season, had made outstanding plays, clutch hits, and had captured Mets fans hearts in the big outfield of Citi. Pagan, not the leadoff man in the Big Apple because of Reyes, still had his speed has a weapon while on the bases. He had double-digit steals in each of his years as a regular starter. He wasn't your traditional centerfielder, capturing the minds of the media, he was humble. One of my favorite memories of the daring Pagan-Reyes-Beltran combo was on a Wednesday night last year in late July. It was a nationally televised game, mostly because of the Beltran trade rumors surrounding the team, and nothing would prepare the Mets for what would happen. Beltran hit a bomb early in the game, what would turn out to be his last homer in a Met uniform. Reyes got another multi hit game, as he had so oftenly done during the year. The bullpen, though, let the offense down in the Top of the 9th, letting the game get tied. Pagan, who had been quiet all game, sat in the dugout waiting for his turn at bat. He finally stepped up in the box, took a few pitches, then let it rip. Rip was the correct word to use. He ripped the ball and it went over the fence for a walk-off solo shot. His teammates awaited him at home plate, mobbing him once he got there. While getting interviewed on the sidelines, he got the shaving cream pie-in-the-face. Pagan smiled. Pagan, now is starting for the Giants in centerfield, and is tearing up the cover on the ball.
R.I.P Gary "The Kid" Carter #8. Never Forget Jose Reyes.                 Pictured: Beltran Strikes out, Fans cheer on Reyes, Angel hits a Bomb.      

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