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carlos beltran

‘Carlos Beltran, All-Star’ for Now

Carlos Beltran takes batting practice.

Once the dust had settled from all the All-Star Game roster upheaval, we finally had a definitive All-Star roster. If you look closely, you'll note that ultimately, the New York Mets have only one representative: Carlos Beltran. It's starting to look like he won't be representing the Mets for much longer.

The Mets lost 4–2 to the Giants last night, their second loss in a row, sending them into the All-Star break with a 46–45 record. This is a happy thing, this record, a testament to the team's resilience, its manager's steady hand and Jose Reyes. With all their injuries, the Mets' record should be so much worse. And in any other year, being one game over .500 at the All-Star Break would mean contention: It would mean going for it. But not this year. The Mets are eleven games behind the first-place Phillies and seven and a half behind the wild-card-leading Braves, with five teams standing in between them. The Mets' playoff odds are 2.1 percent, and that's not even accounting for Reyes missing the next two weeks, at least. This season has been so much fun, but the clock is ticking: The Mets need to start thinking trade.

The Mets have a few small parts they might consider trading (Jason Isringhausen, perhaps), and they already said Reyes wasn't going anywhere even before he landed on the DL, so it comes down to two players in particular. The first is Francisco Rodriguez, whose trade is imperative, considering the Mets don't want him to finish a total of 55 games. (That number would activate a $17.5 million option for next year.) This is tricky, though, because: (a) K-Rod has a $3.5 million buyout the Mets surely would have to pay any team they traded him to; (b) they'd have to find a team that wouldn't use Rodriguez as a closer, lest they be forced to pick up the option themselves; (c) they must try to get something of value back even though everyone in baseball knows how desperate they are to trade Rodriguez. So good luck, Sandy. If they get rid of Rodriguez, it'll be an achievement, no matter what the return.

Which is fine, but the Mets are rebuilding: Some sort of return would be nice. Which brings us to Beltran. With the trading deadline twenty days away, it is likely that when you watch Beltran play in the All-Star Game tomorrow, it'll be one of the last times you see him in a Mets uniform. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin fired up the speculation this morning, and with time running out, the Mets have to get something for him. You would think, especially if they picked up some of the money he's owed, he would retrieve some value: Everybody needs hitting, particularly during this dead-ball season.

He'd be ideal on the Giants, who would stick him right in the middle of their order, but even though San Francisco loves veterans, the team is unlikely to send over, say, Madison Bumgarner in the deal. (Though boy, that'd be nice. That probably would have required trading Reyes too, though.) But the Mets need to get value back for Beltran: With Reyes staying, he's the biggest trade chip they have.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has been conspiciously quiet most of this season, biding his time, figuring out what his team has and what it doesn't. But now is the time to strike. He's about to make his first major move ... trading his team's lone All-Star. So enjoy Beltran tomorrow night, while you still can.

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images