On Nov. 4, Brodie Van Wagenen catalogued Carlos Beltran’s seemingly incomparable value to the Mets. The GM hand-picked his own manager just three days before Beltran was introduced in a flashy press conference at Citi Field. The Mets front office welcomed Beltran “back in the family,” as COO Jeff Wilpon put it, just 12 days before a damning article by The Athletic would forever alter the perception of the man tabbed to lead a young group of players.

Beltran was a fresh start for the Mets. A sense of optimism for a win-now team was highlighted. Van Wagenen delivered his support for the nine-time All-Star who returned to Queens and made sure to use the word “trustworthy.”

None of it aged well and the Mets — three weeks away from reporting to spring training — have reached an impasse.

There is no victory to be had for the Mets. Either Van Wagenen gives in to the growing pressure and fires Beltran, or the team marches on with pollution following their newly appointed manager through his every action. It’s a dead end.

Firing Beltran this close to pitchers and catchers reporting to Mets camp — or any time during the season — sets the team back. Choosing to keep Beltran on board will undoubtedly serve as a distraction to the blameless players who only want to go about their business without the future of their manager being jammed in their faces.

Some folks seem to believe Beltran’s involvement in the sign-stealing scandal will not impact the players’ daily schedule. However, the current Mets’ roster has some recent experience dealing with outside noise that concerns their manager and it found a way to trickle into the clubhouse.

When former Mets manager Mickey Callaway cursed out a beat writer and took two press conferences to apologize for it in June, Jacob deGrom was caught in the middle of it — having to answer for Callaway’s actions as a leader of the team. DeGrom had no involvement in Callaway’s altercation with the reporter. He wasn’t even in the room. But he and other players were brought into the center of the mess.

Van Wagenen and his staff spent a month on a “thorough and extensive” search for the Mets’ 22nd manager in franchise history before landing on Beltran. Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers went on the record in The Athletic article that revealed Houston’s sign-stealing scandal about two weeks later. Beltran’s involvement in the scheme had, presumably, no reason to be discussed during the Mets’ managerial hiring process.

In November, Beltran went out of his way to deny knowing the 2017 Astros — his last season as a major league player — were using technology to steal signs. He doubled down on that position during last month’s winter meetings. On Monday, MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred distributed stern repercussions for cheating. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch were handed one-year suspensions. Astros owner Jim Crane took it one step further by firing Luhnow and Hinch. The Red Sox fired manager Alex Cora, another key instigator in the scandal, before MLB could finish its investigation on Cora and the 2018 Red Sox.

Beltran is now the only name from Manfred’s report that still holds a position on a coaching staff. He sidestepped punishment from MLB because Manfred decided he would not discipline Astros players. But, for those that still believe players should be disciplined for the trash can banging scheme that they created, the target for that punishment is Beltran — the only Astros player named in the nine-page report.

The Mets have remained mum on the subject since Monday, but they cannot remain passive much longer. Some questions begging to be answered include: Did he lie to the team the same way he lied to the public? Is the organization still on the same page as its new manager — prepared to defend his integrity until the job he was hired to do speaks for itself in the regular season? Would Van Wagenen still describe Beltran as trustworthy?

Perhaps the Mets are buying time and waiting for the storm to pass. If that is the case, they should be ready for a long battle with a strong position, positive or unfavorable, on their manager. The blizzard that will follow Beltran’s every step is just beginning.


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