Mets Saw Continuing With Carlos Beltran As Untenable Situation
The Mets parted ways with manager Carlos Beltran Thursday, and the decision came after COO Jeff Wilpon and Exec VP & GM Brodie Van Wagenen "met with members" of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's office on Wednesday to "understand more about Beltran's role in the sign-stealing scandal," according to Deesha Thosar of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Both Wilpon and Van Wagenen said that they "did not speak to Beltran about his involvement in the scandal" between October and Monday, when the front office "was 'surprised' his name appeared" in the league's report. Since November, the Mets only said that Beltran "needed to cooperate fully with MLB's investigation and he intended to do that." Thosar notes Wilpon and Van Wagenen flew to Port St. Lucie, Fla., after their meeting with Manfred to discuss the club's "two options" with Beltran in person. The Mets could have either parted ways with Beltran, or "allow a constant source of distraction to follow Beltran's every move." Van Wagenen said that Beltran and the Mets "agreed it would be incredibly challenging" to continue (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/17). In N.Y., Mike Puma reports Beltran "will not be paid by the Mets," but the club instead will "make a $200,000 donation to his foundation." Wilpon was "asked what role" prospective Owner Steve Cohen, who has been in negotiations to become the Mets' majority owner, "played in the decision." Wilpon said his process is to "take the organization through the due diligence and everything we did here" and then report to his father, Control Person & CEO Fred Wilpon (N.Y. POST, 1/17).
NOT BELTRAN'S MOVE? USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reports Beltran "wanted to stay, pleaded to stay" on as manager. He told the Mets that he "could handle the torrent waves of scrutiny headed his way." But the Mets "couldn't take the heat" and "succumbed to the outside pressure." The Mets "softened the blow by saying the parties 'agreed to mutually part ways.'" Nightengale: "The Mets had a choice here. They could have saved Beltran. Instead, they folded" (USA TODAY, 1/17). In N.Y., Ken Davidoff writes the Mets "drove the bus." They "decided to move on from Beltran" (N.Y. POST, 1/17). On Long Island, David Lennon writes it was "technically possible" for Beltran to remain as Mets manager. If they wanted, the Wilpons and Van Wagenen "could have rallied around their former All-Star, staged a mea culpa news conference and plowed through the PR jungle ahead of them." But for the Mets, the parting of ways was "non-negotiable." The situation became a "no-win" for the club, and they "took the path with less potential for headaches -- or worse" (NEWSDAY, 1/17). In New Jersey, Justin Toscano writes it is "undeniable" that the Mets were "put in an unfortunate place." They "looked to turn a corner" by hiring Beltran -- a move "popular among fans and pundits alike -- but it backfired for reasons out of their control" (Bergen RECORD, 1/17).
STAYING ON BRAND: In Newark, Joe Giglio writes the Mets "tried to take the path of least resistance" in moving on from Beltran. It was the "logical thing to do, but it could have been done in a far better way." The Mets "seemed to fire Beltran because they didn't think he (or they) couldn't handle the heat, not because they thought it was the correct thing to do or that this person wasn't deserving of the position any longer." For the Mets, "poor process is a way of life" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 1/17). THE RINGER's Zach Kram wrote in "true Mets fashion," their reasons for optimism on the field now are "wholly overshadowed by the chaos outside the diamond." The Mets "made a shrewd, forward-looking hire as soon as the offseason began," and were "met with tremendous upheaval before the same offseason ended" (THERINGER.com, 1/16).
CREDIBILITY IS KING: In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes Beltran had "credibility with players," which was a "huge selling point" when the club hired him. But Beltran's "significant involvement" with the Astros scandal "left his integrity damaged." The Mets "worried it was a problem with the potential to endlessly resurface." They "played upside/downside and just projected too much downside." Van Wagenen has his "own credibility issues after a rocky first season and having to fire his first manager." But as long as he is in charge, he has to "follow his belief system, his protocols" (N.Y. POST, 1/17). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes Beltran's role in the scandal "threatened to break the instant bond he would have had with players." The "foundation of Beltran's effectiveness was supposed to be the unconditional respect he had always commanded," but this cheating scandal "crumbled that foundation" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/17). ESPN.com's Bradford Doolittle wrote it is "not like Beltran is a seasoned big league skipper with years of credibility built up in that role." Still, he is "someone with a reputation for integrity and leadership, and a positive image to sell to fans as the face of the franchise." Beltran's role in the Astros scandal "undermines all of that" (ESPN.com, 1/16). MLB Network's Bill Ripken said he does not believe the Mets "wanted to start this year with Carlos Beltran as the manager." Ripken: "It just didn't look like there was enough trust factor there" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 1/16).
SPRINGTIME STATE: MLB Network's Dan Plesac said he does not believe there is "any possible way in Port St. Lucie that Carlos Beltran could have gone about a normal spring training." MLB Network's Tom Verducci said this issue was not "going away" because Beltran is "someone with no major league experience beginning his rookie year as a major league manager being identified as a cheater and a liar." Verducci: "There was no moving on from this." MLB now has "created this cloud of suspicion because of people doing things to gain an edge." He said, "Baseball is in an ethical crisis here" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 1/16). MLB Network's Chris Rose: "You can't lead this way. You can't be a rookie manager where guys are going to be bombarding you with questions every day throughout spring training and every time you have a new road trip" ("Intentional Talk," MLB Network, 1/16).
THE BRIGHT SIDE: ESPN.com's Buster Olney wrote the Mets were "fortunate with how this played out," and the club "could not have been more blessed by the timing of all of this." If the Astros' case had "dragged into March or April, after Beltran had started to connect with the players, or after a good start to the regular season, the Mets' decision would have been much more complicated." Olney: "Can you imagine how the Mets' leadership would've struggled to do the right thing if the commissioner's report was released after a 12-2 start?" The Mets' front office "got a mulligan, at exactly the right moment for them, when they can still let it fly without having lost anything" (ESPN.com, 1/16).
PINPOINTING A PLAYER? In N.Y., Dennis Young writes naming Beltran in the Astros report was Manfred's "nifty way of having his cake and eating it too." By making Beltran the fourth person named in the report, Manfred was "able to punish one specific player without breaking his promise to the players." Manfred "set up Beltran to be fired." Young: "Maybe a stronger franchise with more nuanced leadership could have come out to defend Beltran." But that is "not the Mets," and it is "probably not any other team either" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/17).