Mets morning briefing 7.28.11

Carlos Beltran is set to debut for San Francisco in Philadelphia on Thursday at 7:05 p.m., while the Mets aim for their first-ever four-game sweep in Cincinnati in a 12:35 matinee minus their former star. The Mets will attempt to match their season high by moving three games over .500. They were last at that level on July 8, at 46-43.

Thursday's news reports:

• The Mets will receive 21-year-old right-hander Zack Wheeler in the deal, and pick up $4 million of the remaining $6.4 million owed to Beltran, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Wheeler was the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft out of high school in Dallas, Ga. (View bio/career stats here.) He was 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA, and with 98 strikeouts and 47 walks in 88 innings over 16 starts, for high-A San Jose this season. The comparable level would be St. Lucie in the Florida State League.

• ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor catches up with the Wheeler family. Brother Adam Wheeler, a 13th-round pick in 2001, spent four seasons as a Yankees minor leaguer, compiling a 4-5 record and 2.71 ERA in 32 games (nine starts), all at the Class A level. Adam recalled getting into a brawl with the Mets-affiliated Brooklyn Cyclones back in '03. The Cyclones roster that year included Matt Lindstrom and Brian Bannister. Writes O'Connor:

"Zack is going to handle New York just fine," his father Barry said by phone. "Adam lived with two roommates in a small one-bedroom apartment in Staten Island and he loved it and thrived in New York, and his personality is similar to his brother's. Zack is low key and laid back, but he's really looking forward to this. He's already packing his bags. He thought it would be cool to be in a rotation with (Tim) Lincecum and (Matt) Cain someday, but when I talked to him about the trade he said he thinks this could be a quicker path to the majors." Barry Wheeler said his son's fastball topped out this year at 98 miles per hour. It's no mystery why the Mets wanted him, and why the Giants would've preferred to send a different prospect east.

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle revisits Beltran and Jose Reyes flying from San Francisco to Arizona with the Giants contingent, including manager Bruce Bochy, for the All-Star Game. Writes Shea:

Bochy not only chose Beltran over Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen for the initial All-Star roster but told Beltran aboard the plane that he'd be in the NL lineup as the designated hitter. The two also spoke of what they had in common: playing for the Astros. Beltran's brief time in Houston in 2004 intrigues the Giants -- how he was a free-agent-to-be (just like now) and traded to a contender to be a difference-maker (just like now).

Lucas Duda will be the primary right fielder in Beltran's absence, Terry Collins said. Read more in Newsday, Post and Daily News.

Mike Nickeas is set to join the Mets as a third catcher, at least until Nick Evans is eligible to return in 10 days.

• Beltran will bat third for the Giants, followed in the cleanup spot by Pablo Sandoval, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.

Willie Harris says Ya Gotta Believe (still) in the Mets. Harris told teammates pregame Wednesday in the training room that the Mets could rally to make the playoffs, then knock out Beltran's San Francisco Giants in October. "I mean, how cool would that be?" Harris asked. "We trade our best hitter and then we send him home. That would be pretty cool. We keep playing good, we might sneak in there. Who knows?" Read more in the Post.

• Post columnist Joel Sherman said the front office deftly found homes for Francisco Rodriguez and Beltran, with better results than could have been foreseen in spring training, when K-Rod was trying to rehab his image following legal troubles and Beltran's knees were suspect. Complicating the Beltran trade, Sherman noted, was Beltran had no-trade rights and wanted to go to San Francisco or Philadelphia. Writes Sherman:

Both were viewed as overpaid, disgruntled employees coming back from significant injuries. Heck, Beltran played three exhibition games in total and K-Rod had a vesting option for 2012 that made his contract status appear one of the ugliest in the game. The duo was just going to be money spent poorly, a lasting memory of a failed regime gone by. Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, but with better pedigree and a place on the 25-man roster. But, motivated perhaps by their potential walk years, Rodriguez and Beltran performed very well as Mets. And general manager Sandy Alderson’s administration capitalized on that, turning two players who were not in future plans into money saved and prospects added. It is not the kind of win for which Mets fans yearn. Yet it should not be minimized as victories go, especially if you have perspective of how little Rodriguez and Beltran were worth just four months ago.

• Newsday columnist Ken Davidoff also applauds the deal. Writes Davidoff:

It was a festive mood at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse late Tuesday night, according to one guest, as Carlos Beltran treated a huge party of Mets -- 25 to 30 people -- to what amounted to a farewell dinner. Beltran knew his time with the Mets was coming to an end, yet he wasn't sure where he'd go. He smiled as he said of Sandy Alderson and company, "They're trying to work the teams against each other." Beltran nailed the commentary, and the Mets nailed the trade, successfully dealing Beltran (and $4 million) to San Francisco in return for highly regarded minor-league pitcher Zack Wheeler.

• Daily News columnist John Harper said sources saying the Mets would not get a top-notch prospect for Beltran proved incorrect. Writes Harper:

Alderson isn't desperate to be on the fringe of a wild-card race. Quite the contrary, he understood that if these Mets are going to have a real shot at winning a championship, trading Carlos Beltran represented an opportunity that couldn't be passed up. And from all appearances, Alderson made the most of it. Certainly that was the reaction from baseball people Wednesday after word leaked that the Mets had pried Zack Wheeler away from the Giants -- including one major league scout who had all but guaranteed to me only a few days ago that Beltran wouldn't bring back a blue-chip prospect. "I'm impressed, I have to admit," the same veteran scout said Wednesday. "You just don't get a kid like this, especially a pitcher, for a rental in this day and age when everyone holds onto their prospects for dear life."

• Read trade news stories in the Record, Times, Newsday, Post and Star-Ledger.

Johan Santana is due to make his first minor league rehab start on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., for Class A St. Lucie ahainst the Daytona Cubs. Santana is due to throw 45 pitches.

• Former clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels has a scheduled court date Thursday, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley. Newsday's Jim Baumbach tweets it should just be procedural, writing:

I'm told attorney for former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels will ask judge today for more time to go over evidence, which is common.

• Read game stories in the Record, Newsday, Times, Daily News and Star-Ledger.

BIRTHDAY: Savannah right-hander Guillaume Leduc, born in Quebec, turns 24.