Beltran pines for another shot at Game 7 glory

Tim Brown
Yahoo! Sports

After 13½ major league seasons, the closest Carlos Beltran(notes) has come to the World Series is a pair of National League championship series Game 7s, an oh-fer and a backdoor curveball and two unhappy winters.

So, no, Beltran will not be asking for more money or more assurance in the coming days, beyond what October could bring.

He came to New York between those near misses because of the opportunity, and of course the $119 million, and also because the Houston Astros declined that offseason to include a no-trade clause in their contract offer.

Carlos Beltran's(notes) last postseason at-bat came in 2006 and ended on a called strike three in Game 7 against St. Louis.
(Getty Images)

And while no-trade protection to many before him has meant no-trade compensation (in the form of contract extensions and guaranteed option years), Beltran wields his in order to return to relevancy.

As the Mets get boat-raced in the National League East, Beltran seeks a destination that will bring the greatest hope for another Game 7, and perhaps another shot at that curveball.

Others at the trading deadline will go to where they are assigned. Not Beltran. At 34 years old and without a postseason at-bat in nearly five years, Beltran likely is headed to the front of a division race, into a lineup backed by one of the more capable pitching staffs in the game.

As of Monday afternoon, and with perhaps six days remaining in a Mets uniform, Beltran is believed to be rooting for the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies to make strong plays for his services. The Atlanta Braves intrigue him as well.

The Giants and Phillies are built similarly – sturdy in pitching and so lacking offensively that Beltran has become a priority. The Giants are the needier of the two, ranking 15th in the NL in OPS. Beltran's is .910. The best Giant's among qualified batters – Aubrey Huff's(notes) – is .658.

Though AT&T Park isn't built for hitters – or, for that matter, right fielders with suspect knees – the Giants have the best end-to-end pitching staff in the game. Presumably, Giants All-Stars reminded Beltran of such during their shared flight to Phoenix earlier this month.

On the other hand, the Phillies' rotation is at least as good as the Giants', general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. hopes to add another arm to the bullpen, Beltran wouldn't be asked to carry nearly as much of the offensive load, and a couple months in that ballpark could do wonders for Beltran's coming free agency. The Phillies' offense without Beltran is simply average, while the Giants would require Beltran to even approach average.

The Braves aren't as sure a thing as the Giants or Phillies, but are loaded with prospects and could make themselves very attractive to Mets GM Sandy Alderson.

All that said, the market can change quickly this time of year. Teams change. Directions change.

And what's most important is what looks attractive to Carlos Beltran.

The Dodgers are getting good play on Hiroki Kuroda(notes), the right-hander whose record (6-12) doesn't come close to reflecting his ERA (3.19) or WHIP (1.22). He's a victim of a poor Dodgers team that has given him very little offensive support.

While the Tigers, Indians, Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox, among others, have expressed interest in Kuroda, the pitcher has a no-trade clause. And though most players would be running from the Dodgers these days, Kuroda, according to those who know him, feels a great loyalty to the organization and would prefer to stay. Unless, of course, the team believes it can improve by trading him, in which case Kuroda would serve his pangs of allegiance by leaving.

It seems likely the Dodgers will approach him with a proposed trade and request he waive his no-trade protection, and it's just as likely Kuroda will go, which would be good for Kuroda and not so good for the Dodgers, who could use more honorable men like him.

In spite of a stretch in which they lost five of eight games – all to the Indians and Tigers, to fall seven games back – the Twins are looking to add a reliever to cover innings that Joe Nathan(notes), Matt Capps(notes) and Glen Perkins(notes) don't. They haven’t much to spend, so don't expect them to acquire the likes of Heath Bell(notes) or Huston Street(notes).

They have ground to gain, but expect Justin Morneau(notes) and Denard Span(notes) back in the second half. After three dreadful offensive months, surges by Joe Mauer(notes), Michael Cuddyer(notes), Danny Valencia(notes) and Delmon Young(notes) and the generally soft division suggest the Twins aren't dead yet, so they aren't yet sellers either.

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