Update: Mets Part Ways With Carlos Beltran Amid MLB Scandal
The Mets and manager Carlos Beltran "have decided to part ways after he was specifically named" in MLB's report as a "key player" in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, according to Mark Townsend of YAHOO SPORTS. Beltran in November was the first managerial hire by Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, and today's move to "cut ties with Beltran is a loud declaration that the Mets front office wants to steer clear of the sign-stealing scandal and the chaos that is sure to follow" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/16). See today's Closing Bell for more.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Mets are "assessing the situation" concerning manager Carlos Beltran and what role he is thought to have played in the Astros cheating scandal during his tenure as a player, according to sources cited by Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Historically, the Mets have been "sensitive to criticism" in the N.Y. market. In recent days, there have been "hard questions raised in the media about Beltran's past denials" about his role in the scandal and his accountability for what occurred. Astros President of Baseball Operations & GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were fired Monday, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was the Astros bench coach in '17, was let go Tuesday. Besides those three, Beltran was the "most prominent person mentioned" when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred presented his report, and the Mets since then have "not issued any statements" reiterating that Beltran will continue to be the team's manager (ESPN.com, 1/15).
METS' PREDICAMENT: In N.Y., Mike Puma cites a source as saying that "'integrity' is a buzzword within the organization that is often preached." Beltran's involvement in the illegal sign-stealing "may have alienated the club's public-relations conscious Owners," Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon, to the "point of no return" (N.Y. POST, 1/16). Also in N.Y., David Waldstein notes Beltran's predicament "presents a thorny situation for the Mets," but he still "could slip through unscathed by league punishment." The Mets, meanwhile, "could still decide to impose some form of punishment of their own," as pressure to do so "could mount in the coming days based on how the Astros and the Red Sox responded" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/16). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Deesha Thosar writes there is "no victory to be had for the Mets." Either Exec VP & GM Brodie Van Wagenen "gives in to the growing pressure and fires Beltran," or the club "marches on with pollution following their newly appointed manager through his every action." Thosar: "It's a dead end" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/16). ESPN's Michael Wilbon noted MLB "seems to feel that players are not largely responsible" in the Astros scandal. Wilbon: "They're saying, 'You're the adults in the room, you're responsible. The kids -- the players -- are not responsible.' And that's what Beltran was at the time" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/15). MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal said, "If indeed Beltran told the Mets the truth privately and said, 'Listen, yes I was involved in this and we'll see where it goes,' the Mets can simply say he was not penalized" ("Hot Stove," MLB Network, 1/15).
REALLY NO CHOICE? YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Cwik wrote while it "would be extremely Mets for the team to fire its new manager before he was able to manage a game, the franchise's hand has been forced." Any success Beltran achieves with the franchise will be "met with questions about his involvement in the Astros' scandal" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/15). The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said, "If you're the Mets, you've been focused on rebuilding your brand, rebuilding the trust within your organization. The Mets are already chaotic, you don't want to bring all that chaos into this situation, so I think you have to get rid of him" ("After Hours," NESN, 1/15). CBSSPORTS.com's Mike Axisa wrote the Mets have "enough PR issues." Axisa: "Do they really want to go into the season with a rookie manager who was just implicated in baseball's largest cheating scandal in a decade?" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/15). USA TODAY's Gabe Lacques writes Beltran's "mere presence will, for some fans and media, be hard to unpack from his role" in the scandal (USA TODAY, 1/16). A N.Y. DAILY NEWS editorial states, "A manager sets the clubhouse tone. Beltran cheated, then lied about it. Call him out, and throw him out" (1/16). ESPN's Sarah Spain said even if MLB decides not to punish Beltran, the Mets "might still decide, 'We don't want to be the only team that has a guy in this investigation that we're still trotting out as a manager'" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 1/15).
ROUGH TAKE: ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza, who also is a Mets employee, is getting plenty of pushback for her comments on the Mets’ situation and especially former Astros P Mike Fiers, the whistleblower on the sign-stealing. Mendoza, on MLB naming Beltran in Monday’s report: “Why did Major League Baseball only mention him?… Was there an idea of trying to make a statement?” (“First Take,” ESPN, 1/16). She said of the Mets’ current thought process with Beltran: “This is 20 years of a career you’re looking at. ... It’s not just what the investigation came up with” (“Get Up,” ESPN, 1/16). She said Fiers going public with the information “didn’t sit well with me.” Mendoza: “It made me sad for the sport” (“Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 1/16). Washington Post's Jesse Dougherty: "Let me get this straight: Jessica Mendoza is 'sad' for baseball that ... a player spoke to reporters about a really big problem?" N.Y. Times' Kevin Draper: "I’m old enough to remember ESPN not understanding why I cared to ask about the conflict of interest in Mendoza (and others) working both for a team and the network." NFL Network's Ian Rapoport: "Blaming the whistleblower for uncovering a horrifying and widespread cheating scandal is CRAZY." News 12 Long Island's Kevin Maher: "Not a good look for the #Mets." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Nubyjas Wilborn: "Is Jessica Mendoza acting as a journalist or Mets employee here?" (TWITTER.com, 1/16).