Saturday, May 14, 2011

Astros' Mess Shows Why Mets Shouldn't Trade Carlos Beltran to Yankees

This weekend, the Mets are seeing what could happen after you trade off your stars.

Longtime Astros Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, dealt at last year's trading deadline, are now key components of first-place teams, while the Astros have the worst record in the NL and are drawing fewer than 25,000 fans per game.

It will be years before we know if the Astros got enough back to justify trading two longtime faces of the franchise. So far, it looks like they ended up with only one impact young player, Brett Wallace, who was acquired for Anthony Gose, who came to the Astros in the Oswalt deal.

Meanwhile, Berkman is off to an MVP-caliber start with the division rival Cardinals, while Oswalt is part of the "rotation for the ages" in Philadelphia.

Berkman won't keep up his league-leading OPS of 1.131. And Oswalt is currently on the DL. But it's reasonable to expect these players to play key roles in the pennant race while the Astros play out the string before empty seats.

Sure, the Mets are likely to get more for the much younger Jose Reyes than the Astros got for their older stars. And while Reyes' fast start is thankfully causing more people to realize that trading him will set this franchise back for years, it makes sense to trade an older player like Carlos Beltran who is very likely to leave the Mets anyway.

But if the Mets trade Beltran, they'd better get a really good prospect in return. The Post's Mike Vaccaro speculates on whether Beltran could get traded to the Yankees. Vaccaro concludes:

A one-sided trade between the two would be perilous. Is Beltran worth the risk? For the Yankees, absolutely. For the Mets? They might be better off winning than having to face that question.

I agree on the Mets' part. It would be bad enough to see the Yankees get back to the World Series. But to get back with Beltran playing a key role would be intolerable.

But what if Sandy Alderson could land one of the Yankees' top prospects for Beltran? Someone like Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances? I still wouldn't want to see that move, but I'd have to concede that it would probably be worth it for the Mets in the long run.

But I can't imagine Brian Cashman agreeing that a Beltran trade is "absolutely worth the risk" if it involves dealing Montero, who, if traded, would only be part of a Cliff Lee-type package, not for a Beltran rental, or either of the two pitchers, currently considered untouchable.

When the Yankees traded for Berkman last year, they gave up Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes. Melancon is now the Astros' fill-in closer with Brandon Lyon on the DL and Paredes is their sixth-ranked prospect, with a three-star ranking out of five, according to Baseball Prospectus.

Doesn't sound like a lot for Berkman, but it's probably along the lines of what the Yankees would want to give the Mets for Beltran.

If I were the Yankees, I wouldn't want to give up a top prospect for Beltran, but from the Mets' point of view, if that's the case, better to hold on to Beltran than to watch him help a rival in the postseason while you are trying to put together a rebuilding plan on the cheap.


Paul said...

There should be no debate - the Mets have to trade Beltran if they don't get into the wild card chase before the trade deadline.

Because of a clause in his contract, the Mets cannot offer arbitration to Beltran when he declares free agency, so they won't be able to get any draft pick compensation back. It's better to watch him win a World Series ring with the Yankees or the Phillies than hold on to him in an attempt to win a few meaningless games at the end of the year.

Jon Lewin said...

Paul, I should have mentioned the contract clause, which does make it imperative to trade Beltran. But Beltran also has a no-trade, which could limit the Mets' options. Maybe he'll only go to the Yankees, so the Yankees don't have to offer much. In that case, I'd rather see the Mets keep him and not help the Yankees win another ring.

Uncle Mike said...

Why would the Yankees trade for Beltran? They have a better player in center field in Curtis Granderson.

And while the Astros are doing terribly on the field at the moment, they are outdrawing current division leaders Tampa Bay and Cleveland; the Marlins who, while not in first, have the same record as Tampa; and also-contending (and defending Division Champion) Cincinnati. That's almost as amazing as the Mets getting 29,000 per game despite not yet having home games against the Yankees counted in that average. Between the Astros and the Rangers, maybe Texas is finally figuring out that baseball is better than football.

Anonymous said...

The Mets are averaging 29000 per game now BECAUSE the Yankers haven't yet defiled CitiField with their stinking, ugly presence. When the Mets do finally have to host the Yankers, that attendance average is going to drop to around 19000. In fact, the only way the Mets will get anyone to come to any of those games will be if they give away the tickets for nothing, because NOBODY wants to see the Yankers.

Search This Blog