Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Carlos Beltran, Jason Giambi and Johan Santana

It's quiet here at Citi Field today. We'll see if the Mets can put together their first two-game winning streak since June 22-23, back when the Mets were playing the weak American League.

One topic of conversation was Carlos Beltran, and his return to the lineup tonight. He's hitting fourth, with David Wright hitting third against Colorado left-hander Jeff Francis.

Jerry Manuel said he considered hitting Beltran lower in the lineup, but opted against it, because of "what (Beltran) has done historically."

Out of curiosity, I checked Beltran's FanGraphs page. If you scroll down to "Batted Ball," you can see that his line-drive, ground-ball and fly-ball rates are not dramatically out of sync with his career norms. Neither is his strikeout percentage. His walk percentage is actually a tick up.

So what's out of whack? His batting average on balls in play, that's what. His .222 this season is ridiculously low, especially when you consider his 18.8 percent line-drive rate. His BABiP should be closer to .300 than .200.

Is Beltran's slow start therefore attributable to bad luck? I'd say partly, yes. We can't pretend he's the same player as he once was, not when he looks so out of sorts in the field. But we can say with a degree of confidence he won't be this bad a player, post-surgery, forever.

--Said hi to Jason Giambi in the Rockies' clubhouse. You can see here that he's adjusted pretty well to being a part-time player in the National League, although I'd guess the Rockies wished he were showing a little more power. 

He said that, as a veteran, he was trying to help the Rockies play better on the road. They enter tonight 36-19 at Coors Field and 22-35 away. As Giambi said, smiling, "These guys are boring." It's not like they're out, well, doing the things that got Giambi a certain reputation.

Back in my younger, more moralistic days as a columnist, I used to crush Giambi regularly when his illegal performance-enhancing drug usage became public. I think he knew who wrote what about him, yet he always had the amazing ability to immediately brush it off and try to kill 'em with kindness. Now? It seems like ancient history. Anthony McCarron of The Daily News and I joked with him about the many gray flecks in his goatee, and Giambi smiled and said, "I've earned every one of those."

--Johan Santana is now facing a civil suit regarding the case that became public earlier this season. It's hard to make much of this right now - remember, the law-enforcement officials in Lee County, Florida declined to press charges - but it will be interesting to monitor.

--Good piece by Michael S. Schmidt and Andrew Keh of The New  York Times on minoritiy representation among third-base coaches. I found this on Twitter. I recommend Twitter, for those of you who aren't familiar with it.

--Three housecleaning items:

1. Brad Horn from the Hall of Fame reached out to me to clarify that there are not hard rules concerning a manager's eligibility. So let's say if Gil Hodges had managed his nine years but had no major-league experience as a player? He'd still be eligible.

2. Alex Cora's $2 million vesting option does not "travel" with Cora, now that the Mets have released him, so there's no way he can attain that. The only way he could have was if a team had claimed Cora off waivers, therefore assuming the entirety of his contract. That didn't happen, which is why the Mets released him, 18 games short of the 80 he needed to trigger that 2011 contract.

If a new team signs him, then it owes him only a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary of $400,000, and the Mets owe him the rest of his $2 million.

3. I received my BBWAA award ballot. This year, I'll be voting for...NL Manager of the Year.

--Have a great night.

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