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Mets’ decision on Carlos Beltran is complicated

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The Mets’ decision to hire Carlos Beltrán was frictionless for precisely one week. After his introductory press conference on November 4, the praise for him flowed, steady and validating. Beltrán was smart, beloved; he was a noted clubhouse presence, a sharp candidate, a potential Hall of Famer. The week passed. Then came the friction.

The Athletic’s bombshell report on the 2017 Astros’ sign-stealing dropped on November 12; Beltrán, who had been an outfielder on the team, was named as a person of interest in the investigation on November 13; he tried to modulate the brushback with a breezy read of the disaster on November 14. “I’m not concerned,” he wrote in a text message to the New York Post. “There’s nothing illegal about studying your opposite team.” (Quite the artfully worded line.) As information continued to leak over the next two months, Beltrán’s position grew more delicate and less certain, and now we’re here: Of the three managers named in MLB’s official report on the Astros’ sign-stealing—Beltrán, AJ Hinch and Alex Cora—Beltrán is the only one to still have his job. And he may lose it yet.

The Mets face a question more intricate than those answered by the Astros and Red Sox. Houston’s was relatively easy: Should you fire a manager who’s just been slapped with a year-long suspension for overseeing a historic cheating scandal? (If you have to ask…) Boston’s was somehow even easier: Should you fire a manager who was singled out in a league report for his behavior as a coach with his former club, with the punishment forthcoming, as the league took time to finish its investigation into his behavior with you? (That one’s not “if” so much as “when.”) And here are the Mets: Should you fire your brand-new manager after he’s been singled out in a league report for his actions as a player? (Well…)

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