Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mets and Jose Reyes

Another game and another Jose Reyes triple.  This guy is unbelievable.  11 triples through 60 games, not to mention a .339 batting average.  The knock on Reyes has always been his health and on-base-percentage.    With the addition of Sandy Alderson as General Manager, one of the Moneyball brains, Jose Reyes was determined to increase his OBP, which stood between the .330-.340 mark in his career.  His OBP right now? It's at .387, by far his career high.  He's got just one homerun, but his 11 triples and 18 doubles give him a .512 slugging percentage, tying him for 10th in the MLB with teammate Carlos Beltran. 

So with all these amazing stats, what does it mean for the free-agent-to-be shortstop? There's only one thing certain at this point: he will be paid a lot of money.  I don't think any team will offer him $140 million, but he's going to get offers from a lot of teams unless the Mets can figure out a way to lock him up.  Then again, the Mets might have to trade him due to financial constraints due to the Madoff scandal.  The Mets payroll is currently between $20-$40 million higher than it will be next year.  There's a ton of money coming off the books, but still the team in Flushing will be decreasing its payroll significantly next season. 

As a die hard fan it's natural to create an emotional tie to a player and Mets' fans love Reyes.  If he's traded or leaves during free agency, he will still be a hero in our eyes.  In fact, it seems as if the fans have sided with the players and coaches rather than the team, which is really not good for the Mets.  There have been countless number of "Don't Trade Reyes" chants in the past few weeks at Citi Field and it is obvious that the fans want him long-term.  If he's traded, the Mets will see a disappointed fan base and there will be a ton of pressure on the replacement shortstop to succeed. 

With Reyes having a MVP first half, many people have turned to the idea of trading Wright.  Again, despite his struggles this year (currently on the DL), Wright is also another fan favorite.  So how can the front office avoid yet another disastrous PR move?  Don't trade your stars in their prime.  It's as easy as that.  Do whatever it takes to keep them here.  If you want fans to come to games, give them something to watch.  Both Reyes and Wright are under 30 and are still getting better as players.  Wright has had a difficult move from Shea to Citi Field, but he still drives in runs and plays great third base. 

These are the steps necessary to keep BOTH Reyes and Wright -

- Trade Carlos Beltran ASAP - huge contract that expires this year, but he's a valuable veteran for a contender. (Yankees, Red Sox seem logical locations due to the use of the DH) 

- Trade Francisco Rodriguez - he's crazy, but still a damn good closer.  His option will vest with 55 games finished and he holds a 10-team no trade clause; however, he's an asset that a contender would love to have.  (If the White Sox find a way back into contention, that seems like a good fit)

- Pray that Jose Reyes hasn't already made up his mind.  The Mets have treated Jose Reyes fairly well, but they haven't treated him like a superstar.  He's a top 3 SS in the game currently, but he still is in a "wait and see" approach for his new contract.  He's made it known that he loves playing for the Mets and he loves the fans and his teammates, but he can make a lot more money somewhere else and he's due for another payday.  The one thing that the Mets do have on their side is that he's only known New York.  He moved here when he was a teenager and has brought his family to the city.  His kids go to school here also, which could be a factor in his decision.  The Mets would love nothing more than to have Reyes under a 4-5 year contract with approximately $15 million per year. 

- Hope that the Picard-Madoff lawsuit doesn't result in a $1 Billion fee for the Wilpons.  If the Wilpon's have to pay that much money, they will likely have to sell more shares of the team, maybe even all of it.  The sale of the team would bring down the payroll even more than it will next year, limiting the Mets' chances of re-signing both Reyes and Wright.

- Hope that the farm system can fill the holes - with a ton of money going to Bay, Wright, Santana, Pelfrey, Pagan, and potentially Reyes, the Mets will not have a lot of spending money.  They will have to plug-in some of their prospects into holes on the MLB roster.  This will help the team significantly financially, but rushing your prospects through the system is problematic.  Ike Davis has shown he can be productive in the majors, but he must remain consistent.  Davis, Turner, Thole, Niese, and Gee are keys to the future of the organization.

If everything goes right, the Mets can afford Reyes AND Wright.  However, if Reyes keeps playing like he has, he's going to become harder to trade, because the Mets will want better prospects in return; however, at the same time, it drives his price up in free agency, making him harder to sign.  All I know is this: These next five months could change the next 15 years of the New York Mets.  Be careful Sandy, be careful.

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