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Stop Overrating Jose Reyes

By Mike Silva ~ November 14th, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets.

As the rumors persist that Jose Reyes will sign with the Miami Marlins, the “Monday Morning Quarterbacking” of Sandy Alderson has begun. The most persistent second guess to date is why didn’t Alderson trade him in June or July when his value was the highest? If you look closely, Reyes’ hamstring injury on July 2nd pretty much changed what was shaping up as an MVP season.

After that date Reyes played in 46 games, hit .305 with 4 HRs, 12 RBI and 9 stolen bases. He did continue to his positive plate discipline trends under Dave Hudgens by walking 16 times to 15 strikeouts, but he wasn’t the MVP candidate we saw earlier in the year. He was a very good shortstop, but one that held back for fear of injury. In addition to missing 17 days in July, he missed another 22 in August. He was essentially on the field 50% of the time in the second half, a period the Mets desperately needed him, especially after the departure of Carlos Beltran. As a Mets fan how does it make you feel that Reyes decided to “pack it in” after getting injured? Does that sound like a winning ballplayer? Do you want to chant “Jose, Jose, Jose” for those late season nights where he elected to “stop” at second instead of busting it to third on a triple to preserve a hamstring

Rewind to the final week of July. You’re an opposing General Manager who can rent Reyes for 8 weeks and you know the Mets have no leverage since it’s doubtful he makes it through August waivers. Do you give up a top prospect for him? Or do you offer what most teams, other than San Francisco, offered for Beltran, which was a bunch of B and C level minor leaguers? Are B-level prospects better than potential sandwich draft picks? I guess it’s a matter of perspective. Don’t forget that David Wright was a sandwich pick by the Mets in 2001. We don’t even know what the market for Reyes could have been since it never really materialized in the rumor mill. To say anything with certainty is speculation, at best. Imagine if you did make a late season deal and lost Reyes for most of August. Could you hear what that fan base would be saying?

The other factor is the Wilpon ownership situation. Fans can say now they would have supported a Reyes trade, but there would have been an outcry about how the team is “punting” the season by moving him. They were still on the peripheral of the Wild Card and the return of David Wright and Ike Davis was on the horizon. The Wilpons knew dealing Reyes would destroy any chance of residual ticket sales the rest of the season, and were going to ride any thought of contention to the hilt. Again, you fans were a willing participant because of the love and admiration you showered on Jose, even though he is probably looked at more favorably by you than others around the league. This admiration was sometimes undeserving based on what he gave you on the field.

The final question you have to ask yourself is do you put your job on the line for Jose Reyes? Most teams live in the $100 to $110 million dollar payroll range or less. Paying Reyes $20+ million AAV on a contract means you are dedicating a quarter of your payroll to his legs, attitude, and durability. Does his track record outside of ’06-’08 make you feel good about that risk? You could argue the Mets should not be working with such a budget; that’s fair, but we have to deal in the reality of the situation and not “what should be.” The Wilpons failures are an old and tired story that is out of the control of all of us. We can only assess based on the facts in front of us, which is a budget of $100 million dollars.

Maybe five years from now we will rue the decision to move away from Jose Reyes. Maybe both he, and the soon to be departed David Wright, were solutions going forward all along. Somehow, I think it’s time to move away from the era. The results of the past five seasons tell me there is no one on this roster that will be painful to lose. I think you will see that Jose Reyes is a very good, not great, player that will always leave you wanting for more. He showed for a couple of months this year that he could be the Rickey Henderson of shortstops. Throughout his career he has had bouts of injuries, lack of focus, and a poor attitude. Those are characteristics that will always follow him- big contract or not. This isn’t Seaver or Strawberry leaving. This is the equivalent of Edgardo Alfonzo leaving.  You want to invest big money and long term for that? Better get that GM resume ready.

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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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12 Responses to Stop Overrating Jose Reyes

  1. Nik

    “This admiration was sometimes undeserving based on what he gave you on the field” – this is a very true statement.

    From a personal perspective, it’s more frustration with the lack of being able to improve the team than Reyes himself. If the argument was “we can only afford Fielder OR Reyes and we have to let Jose go”, I’d use exactly the line you just wrote.

    It’s not a good idea to sign him to a big deal to prove a point, but the point that’s being proven by not being in play for anyone is we have no intention of being relevant in 2013 (unless an entire roster is somehow on the horizon next winter). The anger people have, even if it’s coming off as Reyes backing, I believe is panic associated with the prospect of multiple future losing seasons.

  2. Joe W

    I agree with Nik: The anger over Reyes would be less if the Mets were choosing to go in another direction, and being aggressive about it. The direction they’re going in–for the second straight off-season–is to pick over whatever’s left when everyone else is done shopping. In New York, in a ballpark that cost the public a fortune and costs a fortune to visit, that anger is justified.

    As far as the idea that “the Mets never won anything, so let’s let their best players walk,” that’s EXACTLY the reverse of the attitude that led to the Mets winning in 1986. Remember? Back then, they took other teams’ “disappointing” players. Hernandez. Carter. Howard Johnson. Bob Ojeda. Sid Fernandez, even. All of those were stars, fine players, or great prospects that their teams had soured on. (“What did we ever win with Gary Carter?” the Expos said. “He costs too much and catchers break down.”)

    When a team starts blaming their best players for their failures, instead of themselves for not being smart at surrounding those players with enough talent, they go downhill for a long time. At least the Expos got a package of modest talent back from the Mets, not a sandwich pick.

  3. chris

    whoever signs marlins will never see the reyes that we saw in the 1st half this past year .. once jose gets his money it will be relaxing time for jose .. playing in miami with a heavy latin population probably will be a huge distraction to jose .. doesn’t take much for a guy who is pretty much not very bright to begin with

  4. bebop

    He’gone. Gone,gone,gone. Tejada and Murphy/Turner? Does’t sound too exciting,or very good.

  5. Matt

    Oh now all of a sudden since he is gonna leave the Mess that is the Mets, he’s overrated? Everyone else has been saying this for years.

  6. Joe W

    Jose Reyes was signed to a very team-friendly contract, and when healthy, has played at a high level every single year both before and after that contract. Argue that he’s not worth it because he might break down, and that’s a reasonable argument. Show me the evidence that he’ll slack off after getting the money.

  7. Jim

    It’s their refusal to walk away from poor contracts that has crippled this team for years. We’ve all watched Reyes ride the pine for 30-40 games a season over the past couple of years and he’s soon going to be on the wrong side of 30.

    If he wants to sign short term for a home town discount and take one last run with the Mets then fine. Since that’s unlikely, it’s best to part ways and let someone take on the poor contract. The good Lord knows we have enough of those already.

  8. NCMetFan

    If a team is spending $18 – $20 mil and they chose Reyes for 5 years then good luck, they’ll need it. Reyes is not an 18-20 mil player. His skill set is the quickest to fade (speed). This is a bit extreme but, remember Castillo and how quickly he dropped off the edge? It doesn’t pay to sign speed guys to long term contracts into their 30s. OBP & power last alot longer. Add a few mil a year (would $21M/yr get Fielder) and see if you can trade Davis for a good young pitcher or keep Davis and put together a kick ass bullpen so all you need from your starters is 6 innings, or just save the cash for next year when there are more good free agents coming into the market.

  9. Tan The Man

    I’m just glad the Giants didn’t trade for him last season.

  10. j

    “Does that sound like a winning ballplayer?”

    You mean the guy that was the best (or second best, if you prefer Tulo) shortstop in baseball this year? Yes. Yes, it does.

    Are his injuries a concern? Of course. But a team in a big market (even with a mid-market budget) needs to re-sign their best player. If the Mets plan to be competitive in 2014 when their young pitchers are ready (Mejia, Harvey, Wheeler, Familia) then they’ll need Jose. You need players to build around. A top-3 shortstop in baseball is such a player.

    I guess the Celtics should have traded Paul Pierce years ago since they never won anything with him.

    And NCMetFan, I think more athletic guys tend to age better than players with “old” skills. Reyes will be fine from 28-32.

  11. j

    Lastly, “Throughout his career he has had bouts of injuries, lack of focus, and a poor attitude.”

    Can we get any evidence for the last two? The guy clearly loves the game, gets other guys on the team fired up, and has played through injury. You sure we’ve been watching the same guy?

  12. Piazza

    J, Jose, as wonderfully great as he is, isn’t the only Met they can use as a cornerstone to build around. Look at the two guys in the corner infield, not as flashy but magnificent players and a star (Wright) and future star (Davis) in their own right.

    I think the “lack of focus” and “poor attitude”, while I would disagree with this because there hasn’t been signs of this since 2007, would be his celebrations and flashiness when all they needed to do is win.

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