So Carlos Beltran had surgery and will likely miss the start of the season. The team press release says he can return to “baseball activities” in 12 weeks, so throwing in some rehab on top of that, plus a couple of weeks of general nonsense time, I’d guess, conservatively, we won’t see Beltran back until sometime in May or early June.
That’s a bit of a gut punch given the way things went for the Mets last year. And it certainly doesn’t seem like a good omen for 2010. And it’s bad for fans of awesome baseball players in general.
As for the Mets, though, what now?
The first thing — and the most important thing — for Omar Minaya and everyone else, is not to panic. The Mets’ front office has done an impressive job so far this offseason not doing any major damage to the team’s farm system, and it would be a huge shame if it reacted to news that hurts the 2010 season by hurting the several that follow. The Mets have been known to cater to perception, and this one is going to sting, but there’s still plenty of time to figure out what to do before Spring Training.
Next step? Take Angel Pagan off the table in any potential deals, if that was actually being discussed. Pagan’s no Beltran, but he played like a capable starting Major League center fielder last season and, provided health, is likely as good an option to start the season in center field as anyone readily available.
A nice additional move might be signing Endy Chavez. Endy’s recovering from knee surgery of his own after a devastating injury last season and likely won’t be ready until May either, but the Mets are going to need someone to give Beltran’s knees a rest and defensive help in the outfield and Endy, when he’s right, provides that in droves. Since he’s reportedly willing to sign for only a Minor League deal, he’s certainly worth the flyer.
That doesn’t help the team out of the gate, though, and there’s not a ton on the free-agent market that does. Reed Johnson is probably the best bet to sign to be a fourth outfielder.
The truth is, the way I initially heard this news, several hours ago, it sounded way worse. Losing Beltran for a month or two is terrible, but if all the things that need to go right for the Mets to win in 2010 go right, they can weather that storm. And there are a lot of little variables there, mind you, and Beltran will be another when he returns.