Opinion: Carlos Beltran is a Leader

In a post to Mets Today, Joe Janish attempts to evaluate Carlos Beltran’s injury-plagued 2009 season.

I have grown to appreciate Beltran so much more over the last season.  Like I have said before, I feel Beltran gets a bum wrap among Mets fans, many of whom see him as not being a leader; they say he is soft, apathetic and selfish… and, the truth is, he is the total opposite of all of that.

From what i can tell, he is quiet because he is focused and serious about winning… it’s like, he cannot be bothered with anything other than perfection.  This is how he leads.  He puts his arm around a young player who is struggling, and gives him advice.  He directs his left and right fielders, helping them to be in better position.  He works tirelessly in the batting cage, be it the one in Citi Field or the one in his home.  He does the little things, effective things, that we do not see on TV, or notice between the white lines.

Last week, I talked to a few people connected to the team, asking questions about Beltran, and, it turns out, from what I can gather, he had a significant hand in encouraging Oliver Perez to go to Arizona, and enroll in the Athletes Performance Institute.  Beltran is big on nutrition, endurance, physical fitness and focus, and playing the game smart, not just because it could mean more wins, but because that is what a professional athlete is supposed to do, he is supposed to be the best he can be, end of story, no excuses.  I also heard from people who said Beltran talked with management last week, while he was in town, and, though he never requested specific players be acquired, he said he feels the team’s players, be it guys on the team now or guys coming to the team, they all must be more serious in how they approach the game, as a team, paying more attention to what they eat, how they prepare and train and how and why they do what they do.

Last week, on WFAN, Beltran said, “That first year (in New York) was difficult for me, but now I love it.”  He said, it’s not that he didn’t like New York at first, he just wasn’t prepared, noting, “There was a learning process for me.”

Carlos Delgado was needed, I think, to help bring Beltran along.  However, from what I understand, Delgado believes that if every player does his job, on his own, the team will be fine.  I get the impression Delgado sees baseball as a  sport full of individuals, all of whom come together to form a team.  Beltran, on the other hand, seems to see baseball as a total team sport, one in which every one works together and does whatever is necessary to achieve a common goal, be it scoring one run, winning one game, or winning one ring.  And so, it seems to me, today, Beltran is more than prepared to be the team’s elder-statesman, and so he should be allowed to do so, without Delgado’s influence.

From what I can see, Beltran, Johan Santana, David Wright and Jose Reyes work and play the hardest of anyone on the team, and they also happen to be the team’s biggest stars.  The Mets need to make these four players, and hopefully Matt Holliday, their leaders, not just in name, but in demanding that every player do as they do, while working toward a common goal, which is to be the best, end of story, no excuses.