“Here’s the best way I can describe it,” Van Wagenen said. “When we met with Carlos, we had to make an assessment of where do we go from here? And in Carlos’s thought process, as well, as ours, we both agreed that it was going to be incredibly challenging and incredibly difficult to do the job the way in which he intended.”
The foundation of Beltran’s effectiveness was supposed to be the unconditional respect he had always commanded. The cheating scandal crumbled that foundation — not forever, but for now.
“This is a person we believed was the best person to lead our team,” Van Wagenen said. “As the weeks and months have unfolded, it became clear that that wasn’t the case. And that’s difficult for us to have to recognize, it’s difficult for our fans to hear, it’s difficult for our players. This isn’t a fun day.”
The Mets should have pressed Beltran for more clarity on his role in the scandal during the two months after the story broke and before Commissioner Rob Manfred’s report was published. But even in a compressed time frame before spring training starts on Feb. 12, the Mets will have appealing options to replace him.
The coaching staff is not changing, so the Mets need a manager to fit within that structure. Hensley Meulens, who was supposed to be Beltran’s bench coach, coached for Bruce Bochy for years with the San Francisco Giants and would hold considerable appeal. The Mets strongly considered Eduardo Perez when they hired Beltran, and Perez — an analyst for ESPN and MLB Network Radio — seems to be aligned with Van Wagenen’s vision.
There is also a wide selection of longtime former managers who have guided teams to multiple playoff appearances, including Bochy, Dusty Baker, John Gibbons, Ozzie Guillen, Mike Scioscia, Buck Showalter, Ron Washington and more.
“I don’t think the values that we’re looking for have changed,” Van Wagenen said. “This team is one that we believe in.”
When they stopped believing in the person they chose to lead it, the Mets had to move on.