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Separating Ownership Situation From Reyes Contract

By Mike Silva ~ October 22nd, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets.

After reading Joel Sherman’s column yesterday, I get the feeling the Mets threshold might be lower than we thought, and perhaps lower than the baseline of what other teams are willing to offer. I still think the Reyes market will be softer than everyone thinks, but if there is a team that will give him a Carl Crawford-type 7 year/$142 million dollar deal, then I am comfortable with the organization saying goodbye and good luck. What does concern me is the fan reaction to the situation due to their dislike of the Wilpon ownership group, and the misunderstanding that Reyes not signing is just because of their lack of funds, and not understanding that giving Reyes a 7-year deal is not good baseball or business decision.

Being agitated by the fact that a team in New York can’t afford to pay one of its homegrown superstars a 7 year/$142 million dollar deal is ok. It might take a couple of years, but if the debt on the team continues to grow it’s hard to see the Wilpons as majority owners much past 2014. Thanks to the delays in the courts and an angel loan by Bud Selig, the Wilpons might have bought themselves some time. Eventually, the clock runs out and they will probably owe more money than they are able to afford. That’s when the team will transition to a new owner and possibly go through a bankruptcy situation like what we see in Los Angeles. Speculation on my part, but you can’t have the type of outstanding debt and lawsuits like the Wilpons and continuing to run a professional sports franchise. As for the 20 “friends and family” that are going to invest as minority owners, they exist about as much as those dead voters on the rolls in Chicago.

The real issue this offseason is paying Jose Reyes. Sherman believes Mets want to give him a 4-year deal with an option for a fifth. I would be ok if they guaranteed him 5 years and no more than $100 million. Considering this is a player that hasn’t stayed healthy for a full season in 4 years is that unreasonable? Has Reyes produced at a level in which he deserves the kind of long-term contract awarded to stars like Jeter, A-Rod, and Manny RamirezCarlos Beltran was a more consistent and healthy player when they gave him a 7-year deal in 2004 and even he was unproductive for 2 years of it.

Does it come down to AAV with Reyes or years? If he makes $20 million AAV he will be averaging more than Derek Jeter did during his 10-year contract signed in 2001. Can the Mets even go that high? Do they want to? It doesn’t sound like we have a clear picture, but they are concerned and you can’t blame them.

Reyes hasn’t put together more than a 3-year stretch of productivity in his career. Reyes’ career best came from 2006-2008 when he averaged 157 games, .292 batting average, 16 HRS, 69 RBI, and 66 stolen bases. For as good as he was this year he didn’t produce an all-around season like that. Look at Reyes’ breakdown from last season:

1st Half 80 380 350 65 124 22 15 3 32 30 6 27 26 .354 .398 .529 .927 .375 111 160
2nd Half 46 206 187 36 57 9 1 4 12 9 1 16 15 .305 .356 .428 .784 .312 80 115
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2011.

If you are the owner of a baseball team, how do you invest $150 million dollars in this type of player? Are you getting the first half or second half? How do you feel comfortable with his ability to stay motivated, healthy, and productive for more than 3-4 years? History tells you he won’t. All you fans like stats and fantasy baseball, so why don’t you see the Mets are playing the percentages when it comes to their offer? A 4-year offer is what they believe is the window of Reyes’ productivity. There are 30 GM jobs in baseball; if an owner asked you to put your job on the line with a player contract would that player be Jose Reyes? I doubt it.

If you receive Reyes’ 3-year peak for 5 of 7 years of a deal, is a long-term commitment is worthwhile. I think so, but can you expect that? I would say you might get 3, maybe four, but not much more than that going into his 30s. That is why I make the breaking point a 5-year deal, and I suspect many teams will be thinking along the same lines. The Yankees were lucky that Jeter held up, since he is a worthless player if he doesn’t have his entire skill set. Ramirez and A-Rod had the ability to DH and hit home runs, giving their team the option to still use them in a productive way. Maybe not the intent, but there was value for their diminished game. The Yankees will probably put that to the test the next few years during A-Rod’s second mega-contract.

I suspect the Mets will have about a 1 and a half years of dead money on a potential 5-year Reyes deal. That’s probably why you will see them push for more dollars and shorter years.

Again, I realize your anger about the Mets ownership not leveraging their baseball real-estate and being able to play in the deep end of the financial pool like the Yankees, Red Sox, and the temporary tenant to the club, Philadelphia. That doesn’t take away the fact that investing in Jose Reyes is a risky proposition. You have to separate the two.

Again, offer him a 5-year deal for around $100 million and if he doesn’t like it say goodbye and good luck.

Remember, there was life after Tom SeaverDarryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and Mike Piazza. There will be plenty of baseball life for this franchise if Jose Reyes doesn’t play another game in their uniform.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to Separating Ownership Situation From Reyes Contract

  1. Stu B

    “there was life after Tom Seaver, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, and Mike Piazza.”

    True enough, but life at Shea after Strawberry and especially Seaver was rather shitty, pardon my French.

  2. Ric

    I agree that it doesn’t make sense to sign Reyes to a Crawford type deal. But that doesn’t mean the Wilpons aren’t responsible for having let it get to this. Both in the way they’ve handled injuries and financially.

  3. Brian

    There was life after all of those guys. In Seaver’s case, ironically, it was the new ownership group that came aboard in 1980 that created that life. You might argue that the question of life after Doc and Darryl has not really returned because they haven’t won since. The one constant in all that not winning and disappointment? The Wilpon stewardship of a franchise that probably has old Mrs. Payson and Casey rolling in their graves.

  4. JK

    I’ll miss Reyes if he leaves as much as Seaver (being a fan since ’73) but if losing Jose and getting rid of the Wilpons come as a package, i’ll take that deal. The Wilpons have been a disaster since they took over full ownership. Good riddance to them!

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