Light up the Hot Stove season.

When David Murphy’s fly ball nestled into Allen Craig’s glove last night to end one of the most compelling World Series in history, the partying was ratcheted up a notch in St. Louis, but the Hot Stove Season began everywhere else.

Over the next five days, the Mets hold an exclusive negotiating window with their free agents: Jose Reyes, Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Chris Young, Miguel Batista, Jason Isringhausen and Dale Thayer.

REYES: What's he thinking?

 

Of the group, the most likely to return is Capuano, who should be a priority because of the Mets’ thin rotation. The others are interchangeable among the 200 or so free agents that will hit the market.

Reyes, of course, is the one drawing the most interest here, but the Mets won’t complete a deal in this window as the shortstop is determined to test the market and history tells us this won’t get done until December after the Winter Meetings.

At the end of the season I posted the Mets’ ceiling for Reyes should be four years at no more than $20 million a season, and I see no reason to back off that sentiment. I’d actually go lower, say $17 million.

According to all reports, Reyes seems, hell bent on over $100 million with at least six years. If he thinks that, he’s either naïve, overestimating his value or getting bad advise.

Perhaps … all three.

If the Mets go higher to placate their continually disappointed fan base, two things would happen: 1) they will be making a mistake, and 2) that fan base will only be further disappointed.

I see pictures in the papers and sound bites on TV of young kids with placards pleading for the Mets to return Reyes. You don’t make $100-million decisions just to please kids.

The Mets are in a crucial time in their checkered history with ownership not on firm financial footing. This decision could impact them for years, if not a decade.

From 2005-2008, Reyes played in over 150 games a season, was a dynamic player – yet with several offensive deficiencies and a history of mental lapses – and was rewarded with a multi-year contract when the Mets didn’t have to go that route.

However, times change, and since 2008 the Mets have not had a winning season. Reyes has been consistently injured and the team has unraveled. Their playoff window slammed shut and it must be remembered they lost with Reyes and can just as easily lose without him.

There’s no disputing the Mets are better with him, but even so, they are still a sub .500 team with a myriad of holes.

Reyes is a speed player who makes his living with his legs, but those legs betrayed him over the past three years. He might be 28, but his legs are older and breakdowns are almost assured. He went on the disabled list twice this season.

Maybe his body type is wound too tight. Maybe he has a medical condition that makes him prone to muscle pulls. Maybe he doesn’t warm up enough. Maybe it is a combination of all three.

Once he was stealing over 50 bases a season. Now it is barely 30, and he attempted to steal only a handful of times after coming off the disabled list a second time.

There will undoubtedly be a team out there that will throw a lavish contract at Reyes, but the Mets shouldn’t follow suit.

There have been reports – not confirmed by the team – that the Mets were willing to go over $100 million. If accurate, Reyes should have jumped on it, but was supposedly concerned about the direction of the team.

The Mets overachieved much of the season and played close to .500, but their pitching regressed in the second half, the bullpen performed poorly, injuries started to mount and they limped into winter with another losing campaign and a grocery list of concerns.

Where are the Mets headed?

There are glimpses of promise, but also gloom. With the team stating it will cut payroll, the Mets are in more a rebuilding phase than they initially let on when they hired Sandy Alderson as general manager.

The Mets won’t re-sign Reyes during their exclusive negotiating window, but should make one thing clear to him: whatever they offer this coming week, they should stress it is close to their best proposal and are willing to move on without him.

If the Mets go longer than four years, Reyes will break down eventually. He’s liable to do so regardless. They can’t afford to let negotiations with him highjack their off-season and keep them from addressing the problems of this team.

9 thoughts on “Light up the Hot Stove season.

  1. For all of his “I love the Mets and New York” talk, Jose will go to the highest bidder. Alderson will try to find bargains and keep payroll flexible. I would start by re-signing Chris Young to an incentive deal. He was great for us before he broke down and is the low risk/high reward guy they should go after.

  2. Yep. its all about money now. teams are not loyal and players in turn are not loyal. when you find a player that is truly loyal, you find out the type of team he belongs to when they kick him to the curb.
    oh well..
    we shall see what happens come spring.

  3. If I were Jose I would be concerned about the team direction also.

    As you have said before it starts with pitching and defense. You should link to the article you did before listing the issues this team faces.

    We need pitching to get better and it won’t happen in the free agent market. It will only happen in the draft. Our kids are still at least 2 years away. So Jose would be looking at year 3 or 4 of his contract with any hope that this team can make some noise.

    If he is healthy, physically he should be in his prime. By the time the kid pitchers can contribute will he be in his prime or will he be regressing?

  4. So it looks like David got his wish and the fences will be brought in. This should help his ego as he will now be able to hit a few more homers and feel good about himself.

    Will this help us win games?

    Probably not as Pelf’s ERA will probably be larger as will most of our other starters who are just not good enough.

    Perhaps the real reason to bring in the fences is get Jason to the vicinity of 20 hr’s and then maybe we could move him.

  5. 4. Dave, what are you talking about? Harvey and Familia we will see next year barring injury. Nobody spends a full year in AAA in this organization. Why spend big money on pitching now? gotta keep room for the kids and anyway theres no good pitchers available right now.

  6. ray(6)

    So you think Harvey and Familia will be up in spring or even at the all star break?

    Perhaps you are right, but I would not expect them to be part of the rotation until 3/4 years from now. Look at Niese. He was up last year and perhaps even the tail of the year before. I do not remember. But he was really only in the rotation this year from the beginning.

    I am thinking of significant production. Not some guy that pitches 4 innings or spot start or relief. I am talking rotation.

    I am not trying to be optimistic.

    Also note that the two pitchers you mention took some time to be comfortable in AA. So I think they will be up in 2 years and probably not full fledge rotation members (spring training ) till year 3/4.

  7. According to some stat head, Jose teamed with Justin to form THE WORST MIDDLE INFIELD combo in baseball.

  8. Wheeler was named the top Mets prospect.

    So far the trade of our best player last year has worked out pretty good for us.