David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
BOSTON - The wait continues for Carlos Beltran.
After falling short yet again Wednesday night in his quest for a World Series ring, this time by virtue of the Cardinals' 6-1 loss to the Red Sox in Game 6, Beltran intends to sign with another contender once he files for free agency in a matter of days.
"I'm a free agent, I've got to listen to everybody," Beltran said outside the visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park. "I'll make a decision based on the opportunity to play in the postseason, hopefully."
Returning to the playoffs, and getting back to the Fall Classic, remains a big priority for Beltran, who got to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career. But at age 36, the clock is ticking, and Beltran is looking to sign a three-year deal that could take him to retirement.
He's already expressed an interest in the Yankees, as long as they make some necessary upgrades, and re-sign Robinson Cano, as Beltran expects them to do. As for the other New York team, there is close to zero chance Beltran winds up with the Mets. They won't be ready for contention in 2014, and based on the lingering resentment he has from his Flushing tenure, Beltran has no desire to go down that road again.
Beltran didn't get his ring, but he did show that he's still a dangerous offensive player, again using October to enhance his value on the open market. Despite having to leave Game 1 with bruised ribs -- the result of crashing into the wall to rob David Ortiz of a grand slam -- Beltran batted .294 (5-for-17) with three RBIs in the six games.
For the postseason overall, Beltran hit .268 (15-for-56) with three doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs in 17 games. He either scored or drove in 21 of the Cardinals' 56 runs during the playoffs, and seemed a bit exhausted by the effort as he talked about his immediate offseason plans.
"Right now, I think I'm just going to go home, rest, and sleep for a couple of weeks," Beltran said. "Then wait for my agent to call me and figure out what the interest is."
It's unlikely Beltran will be back with the Cardinals, who got their money's worth from the outfielder after signing him to a two-year, $26 million deal in 2011. He helped St. Louis get to the NLCS in his first season, when they lost to the Giants after taking a 3-1 lead. The Cardinals got Beltran one step further this year, and even made it the team's goal to get him a ring.
"Honestly, I'm not disappointed," Beltran said. "I think at the end of the day, we all want to win. But we fought and we battled to get to this point, and it's just part of it. Someone was going to lose and we ended up being in the losing part.
"We didn't play good baseball. At the end of the day, that's not the team that we know we can be."
Even though Beltran sounds skeptical about staying on with the Cardinals, he definitely enjoyed his time in St. Louis -- and would be open to a return if they felt the same.
"I made it clear that I would love to come back," Beltran said. "But we have to see what our plans are. I understand. I'm a veteran and I know the organization makes a decision based on what makes sense for them. I wouldn't take anything personally if I don't come back for some reason."