Mets return to past for Callaway’s replacement
by Noah Zimmerman
Nov 07, 2019 | 8589 views | 0 0 comments | 934 934 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The New York Mets officially introduced the club’s 22nd manager on Monday at Citi Field, former Flushing favorite Carlos Beltrán. The centerfielder spent seven seasons in Queens, where he played 839 games with the Mets, the most with any team in his career.

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen mentioned his desire to bring Beltrán on board as a player-first manager, hoping to capitalize on the ripe clubhouse chemistry the team has shown.

“What we learned is that Carlos evolved not just to be a great player, but at the end of his career, to be a bench player and a mentor,” said Van Wagenen. “This team had success when Carlos was here, he had success in New York, and I think those are things that he doesn’t want to change.”

Despite zero experience as a Major League Baseball manager, Beltrán was an important veteran presence and mentor for the Houston Astros in 2017, where he won his only MLB ring. He may not have played many pivotal innings in 2017, but his knowledge of the game and connection to his teammates lifted the Astros to a thrilling triumph over the Dodgers.

“It made me feel proud,” the Puerto Rican said in a postgame interview on the field of Dodger Stadium, tears in his eyes. “I take a lot of pride and I try to impact my teammates in a positive way. I’m glad I could come here and contribute”

Beltán was one of the most promising pieces of what was a very young Mets team in the mid-2000s, joining while future stars David Wright and Jose Reyes were entering their second and third MLB seasons.

Beltrán made five All-Star appearances during his time in New York, helping the club escape the cellar of the division and transforming the team into a competitor, with the 2006 season being the first successful year since the turn of the millennium for the Mets.

Since falling to the Yankees in the World Series, the Mets had only finished with winning records in 2001 and 2005, stumbling through the early years of the 21st Century. The Mets ended the 2006 regular season 97-85, winning the National League East.

As far too many Mets fans painfully remember, what could have been a World Series championship team fell short, with Beltrán of all people at the plate. A high curveball fell back into the strike zone, leaving Beltrán frozen for called strike three, stranding the bases full.

A remarkable year ended with the St. Louis Cardinals celebrating an NLCS win on the infield at Shea Stadium, a memory that haunts Mets fans and will always follow Beltrán. Now 14 years later, it’s finally time to put the painful memories in the past.

In the wake of a rather disappointing 2019 season that saw a wasted Cy Young-worthy season from ace Jacob deGrom and Rookie of the Year performance from Pete Alonso, it was clear to all that the era of Mickey Callaway was coming to an end.

Callaway spent just two seasons in New York, finishing a hair over .500 with a 163-161 record. Completing the 2019 season at 85-77 simply wasn’t good enough, placing third in the division and just a handful of games out of the second Wild Card spot in the National League.

While much of the shortcomings of the Mets fell on the shoulders of a very shaky bullpen, managerial mistakes were not hard to come by for the former Indians pitching coach.
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