Why Carlos Beltran doesn’t deserve to be fired as Mets manager — yet

Who would have thought that Carlos Beltrán’s Mets tenure would be over before it began?

Now, after the firing of A.J. Hinch and the dismissal of Alex Cora, Beltrán is now in the crosshairs — at least when it comes to the court of public opinion. But, the truth is, Beltrán deserves a chance.

Let’s table the talk of wanting him canned. Let’s let stolen signs be stolen signs. Beltrán retired after that 2017 season, and while his fingerprints may have been on the 2018 Astros’ cheating, he wasn’t around for it. Let’s leave it in the past.

Beltrán hasn’t managed an inning of spring baseball yet. He hasn’t put together a lineup card. But he has had plenty of opportunities to make the back pages of New York tabloids in just over two months. It’s actually kind of funny how the Mets are somehow in their own way again, and it’s not even their fault. 

Beltrán was the only player named in MLB’s conclusive report on the Astros’ cheating scandal, and this comes after he told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he had no idea the center-field camera was being used to steal signs from opposing teams. 

“I’m not concerned,” Beltrán told the Post in November. “There’s nothing illegal about studying your opposite team. We all have the same opportunity to look out for information and tendencies. I love and respect the game. I will be a student of it and apply all the lessons.”

Studying is not illegal. Beltrán was always a noted student of the game, learning how pitchers tip pitches, their wind-ups, tendencies. He was heralded for his detail-oriented approach to every at-bat.

There’s a difference between the Alex Cora, A.J. Hinch firings and Beltrán’s situation, as well: Hinch was fired because he let it happen. Cora was fired because the worst is yet to come, both in findings and suspensions. Beltrán was one of many during 2017, and wasn’t even on the squad in 2018.

If Beltrán was one of the top dogs in this sign-stealing circus that first year, then he deserves the skepticism, but …

The report states that Beltrán along with a group of players helped refine the Astros’ process in which they stole signs, so he wasn’t alone. Why he was singled out is anyone’s guess, but Manfred made it a point that players wouldn’t face discipline, including Beltrán. If Beltrán isn’t going to be punished for his role as a player, then it should be let go.

Beltrán isn’t, nor should he be, absolved of his sins, but it shouldn’t amount to losing his job. He shouldn’t have to pay now for something he did two years ago while still a player. This is a new chapter in his career with the opportunity to make right.

The Mets need to give their new skipper the opportunity to set things right: Maybe that’s a statement, maybe that’s a press conference. Admit you were part of it, because there’s no hiding it anymore. Getting out in front of the story — well, as much as you can at this point — is the best route to take, and will buy Beltrán some goodwill and patience for the Mets and their fans, and maybe fans around the league.

It’s simple: Just tell the truth. Tell us what we already know. Admit you were there. Admit you learned from your mistakes. Promise you won’t do it again. 

Maybe that won’t mean much to the skeptics, but you know whose butt will be in the jackpot should he get caught again? Carlos Beltrán’s. If it’s discovered that he took steps while manager of the Mets to steal signs or push the envelope in any way, then he should be canned, suspended. Then he’ll have earned every bit of his punishment.

Sure, the Mets might look like fools in the immediate and it might be a distraction, especially in New York. Should Beltrán come clean and tell his organization what was really going on, then he deserves a second chance at a first chance.

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