Monday, July 30, 2007

Welcome to New York, Luis

Carlos Beltran in San Franciso
The Mets were among the teams busy during the final hours of Major League Baseball's trade deadline Monday. This is the first major trade deadline of the season, although not the last day a team can acquire a player from another club. Any player who is traded after tomorrow's deadline, has to clear waivers first, which means for a price any team can claim that player, thus voiding the trade agreement in place. It happens very rarely but no one wants to take a chance of another team stepping in and queering a deal.

The Mets acquired Luis Castillo from the Twins, a speedy second baseman known for his glove and (until this year) his high on-base percentage. He fills the void left when starter Jose Valentin was lost for the season after fouling a ball off his shin and breaking his tibia in Los Angeles just after the All-Star break.

I think Castillo is just what the Mets need right now, a player somewhat in the mold of Jose Reyes, but older and smarter and who went through a championship post-season as a member of the Florida Marlins. What I like about him is he's not afraid to get dirty and the three Gold Gloves in his trophy case are proof he'll more than shore up the middle of the infield. Face it, Mets fans, while Valentin handled second better than most expected, it has been a weak spot for them.

So has energy and focus, in my opinion.

With Reyes and Castillo at the top of the order, the Mets should be able to find some of that spark again. Both guys could set the table better for the big bats of Beltran, Delgado and Wright. And with Moises Alou back and Lastings Milledge getting regular playing time, I'm feeling good about the stretch run. Could Pedro's return be not far around the corner?

I do worry about Carlos Beltran, the Mets centerfielder who was signed to a $126 million deal two seasons ago and has spent the better part of his first and now third seasons dealing with various injuries. I'm beginning to wonder if the whispers about him being afraid to play with minor injuries are true. I'm not even close to giving up on the guy but this latest injury (pulled abdominal suffered during batting practice) is worrisome. For what he's making, he needs to gut out the pain and produce.

Update (8:30 p.m. July 30, 2007): Turns out we're all wrong about Beltran. An exam today found out that his strain is worse than first thought. He's going on the 15-day disabled list. Another blow for a banged up Mets squad. Be interesting to see how young Lastings responds. I'm looking forward to watching him show his stuff.

Division rivals Atlanta and Philadelphia both made moves today, the Braves making the biggest splash of the trade deadline so far. I'd like to see the Mets add one more piece -- a starting pitcher perhaps or a reliever like Texas' Eric Gagne. Stay tuned, Mets fans.

No comments: