How The Mets Should Recover From Carlos Beltran's Surprise Surgery

The reports on Carlos Beltran's recovery time are predictably conflicting, with some saying he will be ready in 8-12 weeks from yesterday (first week of the season), others predicting him out until the All-Star break. Like all surgery recoveries, exactly when Beltran returns depends on the own pace of his rehab, how his body responds, and how bad the Mets botch everything. He did not undergo microfracture surgery, the procedure Will Carroll predicted in July would be a "near certainty" to occur and would cause him to miss all of 2010.  Instead, Beltran elected for a scope of his knees, which makes me more optimistic that he could return in the April-May timeframe.

Regarding Beltran's potential breach-of-contract, the idea that the team will take some sort of "action" against him seems laughable. The culture of mistrust among the fans and media, particularly regarding injuries, is such that even if the Mets end up recouping some of Beltran's contract, they'll have successfully turned one of their best players and the last of their supporters against them. When you are often criticized for being cheap and mishandling injuries, you probably should not sue your own player for seeking surgery, unless going for a so-ironic-it's-funny angle. If the Mets go after Scott Boras in some way, I hope they lose miserably. Scott Boras sending Oliver Perez to the Athletes Performance Institute this offseason is a ten times better move than Omar Minaya signing Oliver Perez in the first-place. Maybe part of the lawsuit settlement will be that Scott Boras has to serve time as the Mets GM. 

The most responsible course of action for the Mets now is to assume Beltran will miss the entire season, and, if he returns, will be relegated to a corner OF spot or 1B. Luckily, they have one of the best 4th outfielders in baseball in Angel Pagan, so that will soften the blow a little. The shift in the depthchart, however, necessitates a new, equally useful fourth outfielder. Endy Chavez and Rick Ankiel would make a good tandem of two very-unique skillsets. Endy, who apparently might accept a minor-league deal, remains a good defensive specialist, even if he lost a step after his own surgery. If Beltran really does just miss a month or less, Rick Ankiel's skills make him a better short-term starter. Before an injury-ridden 2009, he posted pretty incredible .240+ ISO's in '07-'08. If he gets hot in the month or two Beltran misses, he could completely replace the lost offensive production. Defensively, he has a Francoeur-grade arm, but not enough range to be a season-long solution in center.

Each of these three players alone, however, fall short of Beltran's elite-production level. So, as the A's did in Moneyball with Jason Giambi, the Mets need to replace Beltran in components, looking to upgrade elsewhere, which means firstbase and secondbase, most likely. Now, Orlando Hudson at secondbase and a flyer on either Russell Branyan or Carlos Delgado seems more likely.

Ultimately, however, Minaya and co. should have considered the severity of Beltran's injury before significantly making their outfield defense worse. The blind hope that Beltran would be fine and his old-self really allowed me to warm up to the Bay signing. Hopefully, this whole fiasco motivates the Mets to make drastic improvements to both their run-scoring and run-prevention.

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