Let me start this post off by saying that when the offseason first started, I was firmly in the camp that suggested a Beltran trade, no matter how much money the Mets had to eat of his contract.

The Mets were 48-40 at the All-Star break this year, and then Beltran returned which started the massive decline to mediocrity. I don’t want to say that these two occurrences are linked, but it makes you wonder nonetheless.

Recently, we heard the rumors about a possible Beltran trade with the Red Sox. However, now that the Sox signed speedster Carl Crawford (a great signing by the way), that likely spells the end to those rumors. In fact, the Red Sox now have four quality outfielders so they may even look to trade a Jacoby Ellsbury or J.D. Drew instead of acquiring another outfielder.

There are not many other trading partners out there willing to put their faith in a 33-year old outfielder who hasn’t played a full season since 2008.

Let’s face it: Even with a monster year this year, Beltran certainly would not have lived up to his mega contract. He was a solid player in Kansas City and had that miracle run in the playoffs for Houston which allowed him to earn his big contract.

When healthy, he is a five-tool player but not worth $19 million per season. For that matter, none of these guys that make $20 million a year are worth that type of money. The pay structure of the sport is getting ridiculous ($126 million for Jason Werth…Jason Werth! The guy’s had two good years).

Anyway, back to Beltran.

It looks like Beltran will be with the club in some capacity in 2011. He might remain in center field or shift over to right. Either way, we need Beltran to hit and hit consistently.

I’m not usually one to make predictions, but here’s what I see this year from Beltran.

He will play in about 130 games (naturally he will be “injured” at some point), seeing time in both center and right, unless he willingly makes the switch to right permanently.

I see him putting up similar numbers to his first year with the Mets. He’ll hit about .270 with 15-20 HR and 70+ RBI. Contract aside, these numbers could be beneficial to a Mets team that is clicking on all cylinders. But when was the last time Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Bay, Davis, etc. were all hot at the same time? The answer is not too often.

Another scenario can occur if Beltran bursts out of the gates in 2011. He can establish his trade value and depending on where the Mets stand in July, they might be able to net some talented prospects (preferably starting pitchers) from a team in search of outfield help down the stretch.

So since Beltran will likely be here, it is time for fans to stop calling for his head and rally behind him. He will be on our team, and as far as I’m concerned, that is plenty reason to cheer for him.

We won’t be seeing the Beltran of old, but hopefully an able-bodied, mildly productive Beltran shows up this year.

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