Separation of Church and State … and the New York Mets

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Jose Reyes (Photo By Bill Menzel)

I’ve had two very jarring conversations about Jose Reyes lately with people I consider extremely intelligent baseball fans, both of whom are devout followers of the New York Mets. (I’ll pause for the snark. Finished?  Ok.)

Each conversation was about my questioning the likelihood of Jose Reyes remaining in a Mets uniform, either beyond the non-waiver trade deadline or following this season.  The responses I received, and have also gotten on Twitter and from various emails, etc, have me really puzzled about what reality some of my fellow Mets fans are living in.

A few things on Jose Reyes, and my opinion of his Mets career, to give this post some perspective:

Outside of the silly hairdo, some of his defensive lapses over the years (inexcusable for a player of his stature), and the incredibly bad decision to join the Carlos Delagdo-led and Tony Bernazard-endorsed sandbagging of Willie Randolph ( a managerial hiring I did not support), Jose Reyes is the best shortstop in Mets history.

I would not, given his current value, deal him at the deadline.  I don’t think the Mets will either, because the return for a All-Star, Gold Glove-caliber shortstop in his walk year, playing for a team desperate to move cash (and unwilling and moreso, unable to do so), cannot be Single-A prospects with upside, or 24-year old AA players who represent organizational depth for talent-rich clubs like the Boston Red Sox.  That’s all that will be offered for Reyes, in my opinion. I heard one person say to me on the phone this mornng, “Well, what if the Red Sox offered Ellsbury and Jed Lawrie?” My affection for this person prevented me from hanging up.

“Jose Reyes loves playing for the Mets, he loves living in New York, he’s not going anywhere.” said one huge Mets fan to me this past weekend, a fan who just happens to have pretty good ties to the current front office. “Mets are going to re-sign him to a 3-year, $30 million contract.”

“With what money?” I countered.

I would re-sign Jose Reyes for four years and $40-45 million. He might not get that on the open market, but it’s possible he might. Oakland’s Billy Beane offered $70 million for Adrian Beltre, for God’s sake. Reyes isn’t the offenseive player Beltre was in 2010, but the risk, in my opinion, is relatively the same. Reyes is far more of a hardcore player in my mind, but perhaps that is just my NY bias.

But again, with what money?

Look, Sandy Alderson is not here to make the Mets a World Series winner. He was not sent here by MLB to run a $140 million-plus franchise and make it a perennial postseason contender. He was sent here to make a bloated, underachieving club, less so. He was brought here to help increase the value of the club across the board so that if and when the Wilpons settle with Irving Pickard, they can either regroup or the franchise can be sold for a higher price.

It’s that simple. So you can continue to live in the fairyland of “Mets dealing Reyes for prospects is good” or “Reyes isn’t worth a mega-deal” or “Mets are In Good Hands With Sandy” all you wish. It doesn’t change the fact that dealing or failing to re-sign a All-Star caliber shortstop in his prime for a team that plays in New York, in a multi-million dollar stadium, and will charge you New York prices to watch Ruben Tejada play shortstop next year is comical.

Also equally humorous is any argument or debate that this cost-saving is all part of the Sandy Alderson / Moneyball / The Mets Now Embrace Logic / Mets Have A New Game Plan. Do you remember the immediate post Steve Phillips era? Do you remember the idiotic free agent offer to Vladimir Guerrerro. The Mets have been in the “It’s time to reboot and move in a new direction and spend less money.” mode before, but this time it’s being forced on them for several reasons, not the least of which is they don’t know what their own future is.

In all likelihood, barring a last-minute miracle (and yes, I am rooting for my fellow 1986 Holy Cross High School alum and Mets fan Michael Repole to buy this team outright), Reyes will be wearing a different uniform in 2012.

But don’t celebrate it like it’s a move made for anything but money, and utter stupidity of the highest form.

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3 thoughts on “Separation of Church and State … and the New York Mets

    Patrick said:
    April 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    It’s going to be interesting to watch this play out, but I don’t think it is as cut and dry as he’s gone and Alderson has no interest.

    Alderson’s long term status with this franchise is certainly unclear, but I don’t think it is all for show. And as such the sale of any part of this team to a new group is more appealing with some assets, one of which is Reyes. While the Wilpons are unquestionably in financial trouble (no matter if they prevail or not against Picard) the team is already shedding $50MM in payroll in expiring long term contracts (including Reyes) and only has $66MM in commitments to existing players for 2012, $80MM if Rodriguez options vests. So if Reyes and his agent are reasonable in the range of $12mm to $15mm he is signable, unless the Mets ownership situation is not resolved by October. But I suspect by July the new minority owners will be in place. And the slow transition to their majority ownership by 2015 at the latest will be in place.

    As much of this depends on Reyes and Greenberg as it does on Sandy Alderson and his number crunching cavalry. If they are reasonable he can remain a Met, if not, he won’t. The only plausible wild card is a failure to secure the first link toward the next ownership of the team.

    Brian Joura said:
    April 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    There’s no way Reyes signs a 3-year, $30 million contract. He’s making $11 million this year, which would make that a pay cut.

    I would be shocked if he didn’t get at least 5/$75 and I expect it will be for even more.

    Chris Wilcox said:
    April 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Jose Reyes’ OPS on the day Willie Randolph was fired, 2008: .834
    Jose Reyes’ OPS, 2008 season: .833

    Yep, sounds like he really sandbagged Willie there.

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