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By Ed Coleman
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Carlos Beltran is gone. Well, not officially. That will happen sometime Thursday, and when he dons a San Francisco Giants uniform at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night, the book on Beltran’s Mets era will definitively close.
So what is Beltran’s legacy in New York? Manager Terry Collins thinks he knows.
Collins was faced with some sticky situations when he began his Met tenure this past spring — integrating closer Frankie Rodriguez back into the clubhouse, dealing with the Luis Castillo quandary, and getting Beltran to move from center field to right field for the betterment of the team. And because of the way Beltran handled his part of the situation, Collins thinks the world of him.
A lot of people don’t know what Beltran went through to get himself ready to play every single day this season, the results of which have shocked some observers, but not Collins.
David Wright, who’s had his own injury problems this year, has marveled at Beltran’s production this season, and wished that he could have been healthier during his 7-year Mets run.
And Wright also feels that it’s too bad that some tremendously productive seasons couldn’t have yielded more.
To that end, Wright believes it’s extremely unfair that many Met fans still associate Beltran with the called strike three on the unhittable Adam Wainwright curveball for the final out of the 2006 NLCS.
When his playing days are over, Beltran would make a terrific hitting coach if he so chooses. He was a great tutor to many young Mets, and some veterans too, had a keen eye for small details, and always gave willingly of his time to help teammates. R.A. Dickey thought he was a great teacher.
Beltran said his goodbyes to his teammates just prior to Wednesday night’s game in Cincinnati. And he said his goodbyes to Collins as well, someone he had grown especially fond of in a short amount of time. So what did Collins say to Beltran?
Collins is certainly one of them. His team has now won three straight games amidst all the turmoil, hanging around on the outskirts of the wild-card race. Wright was asked if it was difficult coming to terms with dealing Beltran in that light?
So what does Beltran’s departure do and mean for the rest of this team? Collins knows he’ll find out a lot about those that remain.
For now, the manager will resist the urge to talk to his players as a group about what lies ahead – but he will soon.
Can this team survive without Beltran’s big bat in the middle of their lineup as well as his presence in the locker room? Can they at least maintain the level that they have played at, which has already surprised most observers? Dickey probably provided the best answer.
As Willie Harris said on Wednesday night: wouldn’t it be sweet to get into the playoffs and meet – and beat – Beltran there.
So who replaces Beltran? No one really – but Lucas Duda will get the first shot, and there’s one thing he realizes.
Duda played right field in the Mets’ first post-Beltran game Wednesday night in Cincinnati. He homered. Carry on.
C U soon
What is Beltran’s legacy in New York? Sound off in the comments below…