Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Perhaps the most telling detail about Carlos Beltran's ability to relate to all factions of a major league clubhouse is that he is close friends with both Carlos Gomez … and Brian McCann.
The two players who famously jawed at home plate in 2013 over old school/new school baseball etiquette both consider Beltran a confidant and mentor.
On many occasions during Gomez's career, after he angered an opponent over some perceived violation of the game's unwritten rules, he would wake the following morning to a text from Beltran gently explaining what had happened and how to make it better.
Neither scolding nor indulgent, Beltran knew how to transcend overheated conversations about bat flips and pimped homers, and help people seek empathy and middle ground. He could bridge clubhouse divides, both philosophical and ethnic, and bring teammates together.
Now: Can he manage?
Probably. But also, shrug emoji.
We know that Beltran is a baseball genius and a caring person. He's better than almost anyone at picking up on tipped pitches and other nuances of the game. He was a de facto hitting coach for every team that he played for.
But as a rookie skipper, we don't yet know if he's Aaron Boone or Mickey Callaway. Okay, we know, with his acumen and character, that he's not Callaway. But it's impossible to say how he will handle in-game moves and postgame questions until we've seen him do it.
Those are the concerns that the Mets weighed for several weeks, as they considered Beltran for the job. In the front office, Omar Minaya and Allard Baird pushed for him, working to convince Brodie Van Wagenen that he could handle the job.
For a while, it didn't seem that they would get their way. It helped that both Fred and Jeff Wilpon told confidants that the bruises from Beltran's troubled history with the organization -- see knee surgery and the missed Walter Reed visit -- had healed enough to make a managerial hiring possible.
Beltran's first interview with Van Wagenen went well, according to sources, and kept him in the race. But others, especially Eduardo Perez, were strong in interviews, too. This week, the Mets were serious about Perez and Nationals coach Tim Bogar. One source even pegged those two as frontrunners, with Beltran still in it.
The chemistry was never there with Joe Girardi, and many people who knew Girardi conceded all along that, while he wanted the job, it wasn't a fit. It was almost certainly best for all parties that Girardi went to Philadelphia.
On Tuesday, a source familiar with the process went so far as to call Beltran a "no-go."
The Mets liked Milwaukee bench coach Pat Murphy, but heard that he could be tough on players, possibly to a fault. They had some concerns about Perez's two short-lived coaching stints in Miami and Houston. By the time the World Series had ended and Bogar was free, Beltran's candidacy had gained momentum.
In Beltran, Mets fans will see a man far more outgoing than the player who arrived here as a free agent in 2005. Over time, he learned to be less modest, smile more, enjoy the back-and-forth with the media.
As a Cardinal, Yankee, Ranger and Astro, Beltran became a person who could enjoy his stature in the game, and savor interactions. Simply put, he grew up, and will bring that evolved persona back to Queens.
Will that make him a great manager? No idea. But he's a great baseball mind, and a caring person. That's a decent start.