"No matter how we try to study defense, there still has to be a subjective element to what we do," one GM says. "But that's not to say that what we have isn't very useful." Says another GM: "I still believe that one of the factors that has hurt some of the good offensive free agents this winter, like Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn, is the concern about how many runs they give back defensively. There is a great deal more appreciation for defense than there was a decade ago." Nowhere is it more evident than in center field. Most of the clubs that discussed the subject had Minnesota's Carlos Gomez rated the best defensive center fielder in the game last season, in most cases followed by the Mets' Carlos Beltran. Now, although Beltran's low-key personality sometimes frustrates fans, he is a tremendous five-dimensional player -- a top-three defender and great baserunner who's reliable and so much an offensive weapon that during the past three years he has averaged 34 homers and a .912 OPS. Welcome to the party, MSM.