It looks like the Astros have missed out on Carlos Beltran and I can say that I am rather disappointed but not necessarily surprised. However, unlike most situations involving the Astros and free agency, I can't really get upset with the Astros' management on this one. Drayton offered to pay up - and probably stretched the limits of his pocketbook to do so - but it looks like Carlos and his agent, the "evil" Scott Boras, are chasing every last dollar and thus are likely going to choose to sign with the Mets. I hope getting every dollar is worth it, because the Mets suck and will not be making the playoffs, or even enjoying a winning record, anytime soon. Like always, I guess it really was about the money.
The Astros message boards (yes, there actually are some) are humming with the usual "Scott Boras is evil and Carlos Beltran is a greedy liar" sentiments, but despite my use of scare quotes in the first paragraph, I can't realy get upset with those two, either. They're just doing what the system allows them to do - get more money from big market teams than from small teams. I think that if pro baseball had the same type revenue-sharing deals as the NFL, the league would look much different than it does now and, among other things, the Astros would have likely been able to resign Beltran because the difference in relative contract size would not have been as large and the intangibles would have mattered more. I believe Carlos when he said he liked playing in Houston and wanted to continue on here if he could, but I also don't blame him for taking the money, either. I love Houston, but if someone offered to pay me an extra $1 million per year for work, I would be happy to fly in for the weekend if I wanted to go to the Galleria.
Despite that, it's not the greatest system for the fans and it's rather unfair sometimes that the rich get richer and the poor make do with what they can find. The Mets aren't exactly a great team right now, but they, like all of the other big-market teams, will still have successful years more frequently than the smaller market teams by virtue of the fact that they simply can afford to pay more to get those years. There's a greater element of luck involved for the smaller market teams, whose winning years will be less freqent and easy to come by, and I am afraid now that the taste of success that the Astros got in 2004 is going to be all there will be for a long time now.
What's even worse, imagine how it feels to be a Kansas City fan! With all of the Astros fans whining about not being a big enough market to sign Beltran, it's easy to forget that he was the KC fans' hometown star first and that the Royals are such a small market that they didn't even have a chance to even make a respectable offer to the guy. At least the Astros got to dip their toe in the pool a little bit before the sharks moved in.
Nonetheless, with the pennant run last year, I lost a little bit of my jadedness and was reminded of how much I used to like baseball and just why it's so fun with games that occur every day and a season long enough to induce multiple emotions from high to low to high again over a span of six months. But now in the off-season, with the cold truth of money and economics showing itself again, things are shaping up to remind me of why I ended up getting sour on it in the first place.