Today the Mets fell 6-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently eight games back in the NL Wild Card race, it is now almost certain that - barring a 1978 Yankees-like miracle - The Amazins' will not play October baseball this year. The Phillies and the Braves are arguably the two best teams in the National League; they will cruise into the postseason.
Now that the Mets are, in all likelihood, out of the playoff race, all eyes are on general manager Sandy Alderson. The 63-year-old made his first major move last week by trading closer Francisco Rodriguez - a deal that saved New York from a hefty 1$17.5 million vesting option for 2012 (an option that Rodriguez waived shortly after he arrived in Milwaukee).
The next challenge for Alderson will be dealing outfielder Carlos Beltran. Now in the seventh and final year of his $119 million contract, Beltran is almost surely playing his final games in a Mets uniform. In fact, with New York embarking on a 10-game road trip that will keep them away from Citi Field until Aug. 1, today was probably Beltran's last home game in Flushing. The 6x All-Star has been linked to as many as ten teams, but the Phillies, Red Sox, Giants, and Braves have emerged as the favorites.
Beltran has 15 hr and 61 rbi, hitting at a .293 clip. He also leads the Majors with 30 doubles. Even more impressive, however, has been his ability to stay on the field. Beltran ranks second on his team in games played with 93. This, of course, is coming off a season in which the 3x Gold Glove Award winner played his first game on July 15 following a major knee surgery.
With Beltran being the best position player on the market, it is Alderson's job to land a top prospect for his services. The Harvard Law School grad. has indicated that the Mets are willing to pay at least some of the $7 million remaining on Beltran's deal this year, especially if that means securing better talent in exchange. The switch-hitting outfielder will surely be able to help a contending team the rest of the summer and in the postseason. It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when: Beltran will soon be dealt, likely before the July 31 trade deadline.
Although Carlos has become a fan-favorite this year, it is Alderson's job to build for the future - even if that means severing emotional ties between fans and players. It's time to face reality: the Mets are not catching Atlanta. The Mets no longer have any reason to keep Carlos Beltran. They cannot watch him walk away at the end of the season uncompensated.