Nov 04

Reyes’ departure could deter future FA signings for Mets.

It is easy to recognize what losing Jose Reyes might mean to the Mets on the field: they would be without an impact leadoff hitter, steal threat and solid defensive shortstop.

I’m on record as saying the Mets won’t be able to retain him and shouldn’t get reeled in on a long-term deal. In signing Reyes long-term, the Mets are subject to the very real chance he’ll break down physically and won’t be able to duplicate last season’s walk-year production.

I still feel that way, but there is another way to interpret the potential of losing Reyes, and that is in future free-agent markets. It is something the Mets should strongly consider.

If the Mets let one of their cornerstones depart, how would free-agents in the 2012 markets and beyond interpret that decision? If the Mets cant’s hold on to one of their own, how would they treat a newcomer? And, considering the Mets’ recent history of handling injured players (Ryan Church and Carlos Beltran), what could they be thinking about Reyes the past three years, especially since it is well known Jerry Manuel rushed him back two years ago?

Players talk, believe me, and the Mets don’t have a stellar reputation among the MLB Players Association. Sure, there will be players toward the end of their careers and who have been injured that would be willing to take the Mets’ money, but any impact players will undoubtedly have second thoughts. As it is, if Reyes leaves, David Wright could be next out the door. He has more than hinted as such.

Let’s face it, the Mets can never compete with the Yankees in dollars for free agents, and they can not in terms of tradition or a winning reputation. The last prime time player they signed of significance was Beltran, and even at the end agent Scott Boras tried a last attempt with the Yankees. There is a belief Beltran chose the Mets because they are less in the limelight than the Yankees.

Citi Field isn’t the magnet for free-agents the team might have hoped, but we have to believe that is more to do with the Wilpon’s financial situation than anything else, including the stadium’s cavernous dimensions.

Alderson said the team wouldn’t “punt” in 2012, but it doesn’t forecast to a busy winter. And, the team is at least two years from being a legitimate contender. It could be even longer if their financial situation persists, if prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler don’t pan out. and Wright leaves. The Wilpons have gotten better news on that front, but are not in the clear. And, there are never any guarantees when it comes to prospects.

The Mets flirted with .500 this season when Reyes was healthy, and there’s reason to believe they could take a step if their pitching improved. There’s also no reason to believe the Mets will spend in that direction.

I don’t know where the Mets are going to be should Reyes leave, or where they would be if he stays and their pitching doesn’t get better. But, if he leaves and the Mets don’t throw significant money in improving that staff, the future doesn’t look good and there will be fewer mercenaries willing to help.

 

Oct 18

On the eve of the Series …. Alderson knew what he was getting into.

The drive to Ohio is long and tedious, much like a New York Mets summer the past three years. Went back home to visit my father, who was hospitalized, and apologize for the lapse in posts.

My mind was on other things.

I am anxious for the World Series to start, and I would like to see the Cardinals because that would complete one of the great comebacks in baseball history. The Cardinals have what it takes to complete history.

Either way, if the Rangers won, that would also be a compelling story, especially for Mets fans who still have a fondness for Nolan Ryan.

The Cardinals have the best pitcher and player in the Series in Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols, plus the extra game at home. Both teams are sizzling at the right time.

In looking at the two teams, it is easy to see what separates them from the Mets, and, of course, you have to wonder how far our boys are away.

Both teams have a stud hitter in Pujols and Josh Hamilton, reliable starters in Carpenter and CJ Wilson, good bullpens and support throughout the batter orders.

The Mets have David Wright and Mike Pelfrey, holes in the order and are shambles in the bullpen and rotation. If everybody in the NL East stands pat, and you know they won’t, at best the Mets are fourth in the division.

Bringing back Jose Reyes won’t change that, either. So, it was interesting to read the ESPN report of Chip Hale’s assessment, and that of some NL scouts, on Ruben Tejada’s development.

One scout said Tejada is ready to play and the best decision for the Mets would be to plug him in, let Reyes go and spend the money patching their numerous pitching holes.

I’ve been saying that since the trade deadline.

It’s not that I dislike Reyes. To the contrary, he’s been one of my favorite Mets to deal with, but realistically, he has limitations and the team has other priorities. If Tejada was a lost cause, it might be different, but there is promise there.

The Cardinals and Rangers wouldn’t be here without Pujols and Hamilton, respectively. Reyes, and also Wright, don’t carry the same weight with the Mets.

At one time, Reyes and Wright represented the Mets’ core, but times have changed. The team has lost key complementary pieces while both players have declined and have had health issues.

Sandy Alderson was brought in here to rebuild this franchise, and it is becoming clearer that both Reyes and Wright or no longer cornerstones. Too bad, but that is the reality.

Another reality, is Alderson knew the guidelines when he took the job. Not much got by Alderson, if anything, when he was working in the commissioner’s office. He got the job on the strong recommendation of Bud Selig, so he had a strong sense of the Wilpon’s financial issues.

When he came here he said it would take time, rebuilding wouldn’t come over night and the Mets’ culture had to change. That would include handing out massive contracts.

That is why I would be shocked if Reyes was brought back, wouldn’t be surprised if Wright isn’t dealt, and why the team would love to cut ties with Johan Santana and Jason Bay.

We knew 2011 and 2012 would be written off, and we wouldn’t have a clearer idea of the future until 2013 at the earliest.

Aug 06

Reyes coming to Earth?

Jose Reyes said he’s 100 percent, but he’s not really. He’s not been the player he was before going on the disabled list with a hamstring, and while he’s still had a good year, he once again served reminder of the dangers of giving him a long-term contract in the neighborhood of seven years.

REYES: Vulnerabilities showing.

The offensive rap on Reyes has always been giving away too many at-bats at the plate and falling back into bad habits, such as pulling off the ball and adopting an uppercut swing.

What were line drives and crisp ground balls have turned into weak fly balls and pop ups. He’s taking a 2-for-13 slide into tonight’s game against the Braves, including nine fly ball outs.

Reyes has had had a marvelous season and somebody will give him a payday this winter. If not the Mets, then somebody.

However, two things have surfaced to warrant caution in anybody dealing with Reyes, with the first being his propensity to injury and breaking down.

He hasn’t played in 150 games since 2008, and since 2003 has only logged at least 150 games four times. From 2005 through 2008, Reyes had at least 56 stolen bases.

For a player who makes his living with his legs, there are breakdown signs for the 28-year-old Reyes.

With his health always a concern, so is his performance. Players will always have slides and slumps, but there are still holes in Reyes’ game that indicate Carl Crawford money of $142 million over seven years – which Fred Wilpon said he would not get – will be unattainable.

After three years of leading the NL in stolen bases, he has 32 now, his most in four years. His on-base percentage on .376 is the highest of his career, but how much is that playing for the contract? His career .339 on-base is more representative of his capabilities, and that’s not worthy of Crawford money. I don’t know if it is worth more than a $100,000 million package.

He’s never walked more than 77 times in his career and has only drawn 29 this summer. His career strikeouts-to-walks ratio is 498 to 319.

Reyes is a good player having a good season, but as the last few weeks have shown, there are vulnerabilities in his game that say Wilpon might have been right all along.

 

Jul 01

Reyes sizzles in June. Will he stay to sizzle past July?

Jose Reyes had one of those dream months in June when he hit .385 (45-for-117) with seven triples, 11 stolen bases, 29 runs scored and a .425 on-base percentage.

REYES: What's going to happen?

The only other player to reach those numbers in triples, runs, steals and hits was Ty Cobb in 1912.

How can he not be the player of the month? But, will he last another month in Flushing?

I’m beginning to think he will, even though I am not sold on him being here next season.

Things could fall apart in July and by the end of the month there could be the fire sale we’ve expected, but figuring for a minute the Mets remain competitive I can see them holding on to him and making an offer during the winter.

Doing so will act as a diversionary tactic to focus away from the Wilpon’s financial problems. If the Mets made a solid offer, and I define that being over $100 million for the package, they can always say they tried and blame the market.

I believe $100 million over five years is fair, but it probably won’t be accepted. The Mets must think long and hard about seven years for the following reasons:

* Reyes is a player who does it with his legs and how much running will he be doing at 34 and 35?

* He’s having a superior season, but this is his walk year, and there must be the thought he won’t produce like this again.

* This is the healthiest he has been in two years.

I believe the Mets already know what they will offer Reyes in terms of years and money, and barring a complete collapse for the rest of the month will keep him as to not alienate the fan base.

Should the Mets remain competitive, they will have much harder decisions to make on Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, players they would prefer to unload because of their finances.

If the Mets remain around .500 and have a half-dozen or more teams they must hurdle, they might see it too difficult to contend and deal. However, should they make a serious run in July despite a difficult schedule they might go for it.

Jun 17

Out of the ashes.

No matter how you slice a baseball season, a team figures to win 60 games and lose 60 games regardless. The remaining 42 determines the success or failure of that season.

Some losses, of course, hurt more than others and last night’s 9-8 balk-off heartbreaker in 10 innings could be one of those games if the Mets cave into the negative expectations thought of them coming out of spring training.

CARRASCO: Balks in the winning run.

However, I don’t look at sweeping the Braves in Atlanta as much a sign of progress as I do how they bounce back from last night.

It was clear R.A. Dickey was off his game and for much of the night it appeared they would simply go down at the hands of Chipper Jones – the real owner of the Mets. However, Jason Bay got a couple of hits and drove in a run and Scott Hairston tied the game with a homer.

All of a sudden, we were looking at a new Mets team, one of grit and fight. Amazingly, the Mets were going to sweep, but Francisco Rodriguez coughed up the lead, and well, you know the rest.

To lose on D.J. Carrasco’s balk was one of those things you never saw coming, yet something not surprising with how things have gone the past few years. Right, typical Mets.

OK, what next?

They could either look at last night as devastating, and now that they are below .500 again, slide into obscurity and take the summer with them. Or, they could demonstrate the resiliency they’ve shown the past three weeks and regroup.

Baseball teams aren’t often fueled by emotions as teams in football and basketball, but the Mets have an opportunity as they come home to feed off the anger and disappointment from last night and continue their building. The season is far from over, but for the Mets the season will be defined by the next six weeks.

If they stumble, management could pull the plug and begin the fire sale. In the back of our minds, that’s something we’ve anticipated all along. Even now, with Jose Reyes playing so well, half the fan base is waiting for him to be traded.

However, should they recover and play well, this team could stay intact and try to make a run at a wild card. No, there doesn’t figure to be any serious acquisitions because of the Wilpon’s legal and financial issues, but there could be enough tinkering to make this an interesting, enjoyable and unexpected summer.