In stark contrast to the terrific mound duels that took place in Chicago and Boston yesterday, Saturday’s Beer League clinic in crap pitching was held at Yankee Stadium, with Mariano Rivera narrowly avoiding a blown save for the ages. Mo’s face-saving-save was sealed with the Mets’ Carlos Beltran popping out to Jorge Posada, thus completing an 0 for 6 afternoon for the ailing centerfielder. Your current NL leader in fan voting for the All-Star Game saw his average dip to .266, and while Tim Marchman has already stressed the seriousness of Beltran’s injury, the New York Daily News’ Christian Redd received confirmation from the horse’s mouth.
Beltran admitted his batting woes partially stem from a nagging left quad injury that has never fully healed.
“It’s something I’ve got to play through,” said Beltran, who fouled out to Yankees catcher Jorge Posada with the bases loaded in the ninth to end the game. “It’s not getting worse. I’m not blaming that for the bad day I had.”
With Endy Chavez (left hamstring) and Moises Alou (left quad) already on the disabled list, Beltran admitted that he can ill-afford to go on the DL himself and further deplete the Mets’ outfield, though he said rest would “probably” solve the injury.
Dan at Hot Foot seems to concur with Marchman’s earlier assessment that Beltran, through no fault of his own, has become a liability to the Mets, proposing the club “temporarily make Beltran the highest paid bench player in the game.”
He can do the Endy style pinch hit, late inning defensive substitute, but keep his playing time to the minumum. In this scenerio, Gomez would probably get shifted over and Ledee and Easley could platoon in left. This keeps Beltran around, but puts less strain on him perhaps giving him a chance to heal. The third option, the DL. Give Beltran a full 15 days off, and roll the dice with on of the AAA guys who is still currently in one peice. The primary options would be Ben Johnson or Chip Ambres. Again, the question here isn’t who replaces Beltran’s bat, since he’s slumping, but who replaces his steller D.
Chip Ambres is hitting .373 for the month of June, including a series against Iowa where he went 13 for 21. So far this month he has 4 HRs, 2 doubles, 13 RBI’s, and 16 runs. Jesus Feliciano is hitting .315 overall, .371 for June, but with lower runs (8) and RBIs (3). Johnson is still struggling a bit since his return to the Zephyrs.
Call me crazy. Tell me you don’t make a multimillion dollar bench player. But I think its worth a try. Put Beltran in the Endy role. Keep him active so we can put him out there to protect a lead (assuming we get leads), while letting someone else take the at bats. Shift Gomez to center. Could Ledee or Easley really do worse at the plate? And the shortened playing time would hopefully let Beltran get back to (or at least closer to) 100% without removing him as an option should the immediate need arise.