April 5, 2013
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|Articles > MLB > Mets|
With pitchers and catchers just days away, Mets fans are wondering if their team has a chance at contending or if the small lines at Shake Shack will be the only reason they attend Citi Field in 2013.
General Manager Sandy Alderson has given more than just burgers and fries to satisfy hungry Mets fans so far. The 65 year-old Alderson has managed to completely overhaul a relatively barren farm system leftover by Omar Minaya. Timely trades of Carlos Beltran’s balky knees and R.A. Dickey’s enigmatic pitch have landed the Mets two of the top ten prospects in all of baseball, according to MLB.com.
The pair of Travis D’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler have about 500+ minor league games between them so it’s not unrealistic to expect the future of the Metropolitans to arrive some time during the beginning of May.
Despite showing an affinity for bolstering the Mets farm system, Alderson has done little to aide his thin depth at the Major League level. Talks continue to swirl about the chances of bringing in Michael Bourn, but the speedy outfielder seems a bit too expensive for the Mets bland tastes. Bourn is represented by Scott Boras, which means a deal with such a stringent financial organization like the Mets is unlikely. Boras has made his mark in baseball with his innate ability to wrangle up a mystery team to drive up bidding wars. Just ask fans how Oliver Perez got a $36 million deal after reaching 15 wins only once in his career. In addition to Bourn’s crafty agent, the Mets may stand to lose their formally protected first-round draft pick. After the Pittsburg Pirates failed to sign their draft pick last season, the Pirates were placed as the 10th pick in the following year’s draft. This effectively bumped the Mets from their 10th spot, leaving their pick unprotected and their chances at signing a restrictive free agent slim to none. The Mets can’t afford to lose a top ten draft pick for a 30-year-old outfielder, who most likely is on the backend of his career.
The Mets braintrust seems be content with giving out a bunch of minor league deals to underperforming outfielders like Corey Patterson, Mike Wilson and former Phillies prospect Marlon Byrd. With the Nationals only getting better and the Braves forming arguably the best outfield in baseball with the Upton brothers, the Mets moves and lack of financial commitment to winning speaks volumes on how the front office views the 2013 season. It seems that the outfield the Mets will be bringing to Citi Field will be bereft of proven major league talent with the cast of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and local product Mike Baxter.
While their outfielders are unimpressive to say the least, the bullpen may prove to be equally as inept. The Mets went from the third worst bullpen in 2011 to the second worst in 2012. This trend will only continue with the amount of question marks that continue to populate the relief corps. The unit is lead by Frank Francisco, the man that is doing a great job of continuing the long line of shaky closers for the New York Metropolitans. Many folks are banking on Bobby Parnell, but he is lacking secondary pitches. Brandon Lyon is rumored to be close to inking a deal with the Mets, but even if that is true the Mets are still a few good pitchers away from being an even mediocre bullpen.
Young talent may prove to be quite the appetizer for the Flushing Faithful, but it cannot possibly replace the succulent-gratifying taste that accompanies a winning team. Losing 20 home runs from Scott Hairston and another 20-game winner in Dickey off of this 74-win team doesn’t help their chances either. By all accounts this will be another year that Mets fans will be trapped in the purgatory that most call “the rebuilding mode.”
The Mets traded the Cy Young winner along with catcher Josh Thole and backup catcher Mike Nickeas to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for top catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud, their top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, veteran catcher John Buck, and young outfield prospect Wuilmer Becerra.
D’Arnaud is one of the top prospects in baseball and is expected to be the Mets catcher of the future with a good chance at starting behind the dish this season. In 67 games last season in AAA Las Vegas, D’Arnaud hit .333 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI. In 2011 for AA New Hampshire, the 23-year-old catcher hit .311 with 21 home runs and 78 RBI in 114 games. Clearly, the young backstop has a lot of potential and fills the Mets hole at catcher. This team has lacked a good power hitting catcher since Mike Piazza left, who happens to be the player D’Arnaud admired in his youth. While his defense has been deemed average at best, D’Arnaud is a huge acquisition that finally gives the Mets a guy who can hit behind the plate. Getting rid of Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas actually helps the Mets rather than hurt them. The fact that those are the only other players the Mets gave up besides Dickey makes this deal a steal.
Syndergaard was the second best Blue Jays prospect right behind D’Arnaud. So the Mets acquired the Blue Jays top two prospects for Dickey, just as Alderson had hoped. Syndergaard had a terrific season in Class-A Lansing going 8-5 with a 2.6 ERA, including 122 strikeouts in just 103.2 innings pitched. He’s only just begun. The 6′5″ power arm is just 20 years old and is already shining in the minor leagues. In two to three years, we may see Syndergaard join a starting rotation along side Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler.
Buck gives the Mets a veteran catcher with some pop to start until D’Arnaud is ready. Once D’Arnaud is ready to shine in the majors, Buck gives the Mets a much better second option at catcher than Thole and Nickeas. The 32-year-old hit just .192 with the Marlins last season, but has power. Buck had 12 home runs last season, 16 in 2011, and 20 in 2010. Also, don’t forget about the “non-elite” prospect the Mets get in this deal, Wuilmer Becerra. Becerra is a 6′4″ right-hand hitting outfielder and is just 18 years old. His season in the minor leagues ended after just 11 games when he was hit in the face by a pitch and broke his jaw. Becerra has a lot of time to spend in the minors to grow, but we could be hearing his name in four to five years.
Parting with the 38-year-old knuckleballer was tough for the Mets, but his age was a big factor. Dickey was tremendous last season going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts. Alderson could not work an extension out with Dickey essentially lowballing him with a 2-year, $20 million offer and Dickey was looking for $26 million. The Blue Jays pulled the trigger and made the trade and signed him to a 2-year, $25 million extension after he makes a bargain $5 million in 2013.
The Mets are building a young team that should have fans smiling to what looks to be a bright future. Signing David Wright to a long-term deal was the start. The Mets are building a team to win in the future with Wright, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Harvey, Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, and now D’Arnaud and Syndergaard. The pieces are coming together for a team that probably won’t contend in 2013, but 2014 and beyond can be the start of the Mets rise to the top of the NL East standings.
Now that Wright is signed and Dickey has been traded, the Mets need to go out and get a couple outfielders. That is their biggest weakness right now. First and foremost, they need to sign or acquire a power bat in the outfield like a Justin Upton or Cody Ross. Rumors say the Mets are interested in Grady Sizemore, but he is coming off knee surgery and won’t be ready to start the season. Alderson needs to use the money that hasn’t been spent this offseason to bring in at least two outfielders with one of them being a guy who can hit 20+ home runs. Terry Collins has the pieces in place, now management needs to look for some offense to put up some runs for this very solid pitching staff.
It has been a rough second half of the season for the New York Mets. The Mets were 45-38 and in the National League Wild Card lead the day after the 4th of July. The day after the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the Mets record is 65-78. They are 10.5 games back of an NL Wild Card spot and an astounding 24 games out of first place in the NL East.
It has been a disastrous second half once again for Terry Collins’ squad. The Mets have not made the playoffs since 2006 and have yet to finish at .500 since Citi Field opened its doors in 2009. Despite the second half struggles, Terry Collins has hope for the future. The future begins with the Mets starting rotation, which is expected to be their biggest strength next season and down the road. Collins is ready for what the future holds in the Mets rotation.
“If you’re going to build a winner, you got to start on the mound. You look at what Matt’s going to bring to the table. You still got Jon Niese and you got Wheeler coming. You got power arms in the pen. You got R.A. Dickey’s got pitching in him left. Dillon Gee will be back. There’s a bright future because our pitching is going to improve. I really think our pitching is going to be very, very dynamic here in a couple of years.”
Wednesday night at Citi Field, Matt Harvey continued to show that he is ready to be a major part of this Mets starting rotation for years to come. Harvey struck out ten batters while only allowing one run against the first place Nationals. It was Harvey’s second to last start of the season as the Mets will be shutting him down after his next start. Harvey has posted a 2.92 ERA to go with 63 strikeouts in 52.1 innings so far in his rookie season. Collins praised his young pitcher to reporters following the 2-0 Mets loss to the Nationals Wednesday night.
“This is where he belongs. This is where he wants to be and he’s out because of that tremendous makeup. He’s going to show people that he is the guy, that he does belong here, and that he does have the stuff to be the guy. As he said when he first got here, I don’t want to be just a guy, I want to be the guy. I think we’ve all witnessed he certainly has that capability.”
If the Mets want to win a division title in 2013 for the first time since 2006, it has to start with their pitching. Collins spoke about the success of division foes due to a strong rotation.
“As long as you got those core guys getting people out. We’re seeing it in Washington. We’re seeing it in Philadelphia. We’re seeing it in a lot of places where pitching is your team. I tip my hat to the people that have gone out and acquired some pitching.”
R.A. Dickey was once a guy who was fighting just to get to the big leagues. He had a good knuckleball, but it was not good enough to get him recognized like Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro, and Charlie Hough. On April 29, 2010, when pitching for triple-A Buffalo, the Mets realized that they may have found something in Dickey. Dickey would give up a single to the first batter that night and then get the next 27 batters out to throw a one hitter. We would soon learn that more dominant performances were on the way.
Monday night, Dickey showed the world that he might just be one of the most dominant knuckleballers of all time and the most dominant pitcher in the league right now. Dickey breezed through the Baltimore Orioles lineup throwing his second consecutive complete game one hitter. The Tennessee native struck out 13 Orioles and only walked two batters. He gave up a single in the 5th to break up the no hitter. Dickey was coming off as dominant a performance his last start against Tampa Bay. Dickey gave up one infield single that could have been ruled an error and the Rays lineup was baffled by the swirling knuckleball that nobody could hit.
There was a feel of magic in the air at Citi Field Monday night. Fans could not believe the absolute brilliance that was happening right in front of them. Just two and a half weeks ago, fans witnessed the first no hitter in Mets history by Johan Santana and once again they would get to see an equally dominant performance from Dickey. In all honesty, Dickey’s two one hitters were as paramount or more than Santana’s one hitter. Hitters were not even making contact with the knuckleball that were leaving major leaguers scratching their head, throwing their bats, and a lot of times breaking them.
Two one hitters and 25 strikeouts for R.A. Dickey. Two overbearing starts against two playoff teams right now. Dickey is now 11-1 with a microscopic 2.00 ERA. Robert Allen has 103 strikeouts in 99 innings pitched. He has given up just 67 hits and 21 walks in those 99 innings. The numbers this man is putting up are Cy Young worthy, MVP worthy, and undoubtedly All Star Game starting pitcher worthy. Dickey has come out every 5th day and essentially given the Mets a win every time. The guy has not allowed an earned run since May 22nd. He has only had one start this season that was not a quality one and that came on a rainy day in Atlanta. Take that start out and Dickey has been absolutely flawless this season.
What we are seeing from R.A. Dickey is an absolute joy to watch. He has transformed the art of the knuckleball and at age 37, with the way he keeps his body and being a knuckleballer, still has plenty of years left in him. In knuckleball years, Dickey is in his prime and can easily pitch into his mid-40s. It has been an incredible story from a guy who just worked his tail off to get where he is. Dickey has been all around the league and finally has found his niche with the Mets. Dickey has an option that can be picked up for next season and undoubtedly, the Mets will pick that option up. Mets fans as well as Dickey hope that the Mets can extend his contract and keep Dickey in orange and blue for a while. Hey, if the Mets can stay in the race and make a run for one of those two wild card spots in the National League, watch out for the dynamic duo of R.A. Dickey and Johan Sanatan right now at the top of the rotation. It has become a front end that nobody wants to face.
It was the first of June in 2012. It was the Mets 8,020th game in the team’s 51st season. It was a night at Citi Field that Mets fans have been waiting their whole lives to see. Me and the other 27,068 fans came out to see the return of Carlos Beltran to Citi Field in a Cardinals uniform. What we ended up seeing was history.
At 9:45pm on a cool, breezy night in Flushing, David Freese swung on and missed for the 27th out. Johan Santana had thrown the first no hitter in New York Mets history. The Mets could not do it at the Polo Grounds for their first two years. They could not do it at Shea Stadium for its 45 years of existence. They could not do it in the first three seasons at Citi Field. Finally, in the celebratory year of the Mets 50th anniversary, in the team’s 51st season and third ballpark, Johan Santana had completed the first ever Mets no hitter. I was waiting for last night to happen since I started being at fan at the age of 8. I have been to over a season’s worth (162) Mets games in my life and the night finally came.
There were so many moments in this game that made this such a special first no hitter for the Mets. First, in the 6th inning, the ball hit by Carlos Beltran that was fair and got called foul. After this, it seemed the Mets caught a break, and history could be in the making. In the 7th inning is when it seemed that it was destiny for the Mets. Yadier Molina, the man who beat the Mets in the NLCS in 2006 at Shea Stadium with his 9th inning home run, would hit one deep to left field that looked to make it the 8,020th game that the Mets would not throw a no hitter. The pride of Whitestone, Mike Baxter, would put his glove out, catch the ball, and bang into the left field wall and somehow hold on to the ball to make one of the biggest catches in Mets history. Baxter would leave the game with injury, but not before getting a standing ovation from everyone in the ballpark. Baxter had somehow saved the no hitter and Santana was just seven outs away from history. After that catch is when I said to myself…this could happen tonight.
After the 134th pitch thrown by Johan Santana, the Mets woes of never throwing a no hitter came to an end. Citi Field finally had the feel of home. It was like the days at Shea as random fans all celebrated together. High fiving and chest pumping with everyone at the ballpark was normal. It was a night that you enjoy with the people who have been going to games for years, and a night you tell the youth to remember when they grow up. Leaving Citi Field was hard as fans stuck around to celebrate together and realize how big of a moment this was. It was a dream come true to be witness to such a tremendous moment in Mets history. It happened in my last game before I begin interning Tuesday with SNY working Mets programming. Being at the John Maine near no hitter in 2007 was incredible, but this topped them all.
Since 2005, Mets fans have been used to seeing the same man run out to shortstop every day. They have been used to seeing the same guy go diving into second base safely on a steal. They have seen the same guy round second and head for third for a triple a dozen plus times a year. They have been used to the same guy being called at the top of the lineup every day. They have been used to the same man teach them new Spanish words every home game. Now, yet another man will be taking his talents to south beach.
Jose Reyes will now be a member of the Miami Marlins. Reyes signed a 6 year, $106 million deal on Sunday night. The deal includes a $22 million option for a seventh year. Reyes will leave the Mets for the team that looks to have a lot of promise in the future. The Marlins have already signed closer Heath Bell. They have been in contact with Albert Pujols and are prepared to make a huge offer. Also, they are going to be looking for a starting pitcher, with Mark Buehrle being a definite option. Not to mention, they have a brand new stadium next season and have changed their name from the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins. This move obviously changes the Mets team completely as well as the National League East. The Phillies, Braves, and Marlins are now looked at as the major contenders in the NL East while the Nationals and Mets seem to be on the outside looking in.
Mets fans saw it coming. They knew there was no way the Mets could bring an offer higher to the table than what the Marlins brought. The Mets just do not have the financial room to keep Reyes and then add more pieces, which they clearly need after having an extremely disappointing last couple of seasons at Citi Field. Losing Reyes completely changes up everything in Queens. It ends an era of one of the most exciting players we have ever seen in baseball. Reyes was exuberant on the field and a one of a kind type player. From his stolen bases to his triples to his flashy fielding, Reyes will be missed in every sense of the word. Taking over for Reyes as shortstop will be 22 year old, Ruben Tejada. Tejada got a good amount of playing time last season playing in 96 games and batting .284. For Mets fans, it will never be the same. Reyes is a guy that you do not see everyday. He is a special player and a guy who changes the face of the team. Tejada will not be that guy and still is developing as a player. The Mets lose a leadoff hitter, a leader, and an all star and replace him with a bottom of the lineup type hitter who is solid defensively. The Mets will learn in the coming seasons that nobody can replace what they had in Reyes and it is a tough road ahead for the Mets, who seem to be in a rebuilding mode.
For at least the next six years, Mets fans will now have to watch Reyes compete against them 18 times a year. Fans have to see Reyes run out to shortstop nine times a year at Citi Field….in a Miami Marlins uniform. For nine times a year, the first pitch at Citi Field will be made to Reyes. It is going to be a bizarre feeling for Met fans. It is a tough loss for the Mets to swallow, but it is time for the Mets to move on and try and build pieces to somehow replace one of the best shortstops of our era.
Whether Jose Reyes leaves or David Wright is traded, or both remain in New York, the “true” face of the Mets franchise is Johan Santana. Since 2007 the Mets have been filled with injury prone players, bad contract investments, failed to meet expectations, and enter 2012 with an uncertain future. Granted, the Mets have other nominees for these dubious distinctions such as Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and now Jason Bay, but none come close to the stature of $151 million stature of Santana.
Since joining the Mets in 2008, Santana has battled injuries in 2009, 2010, and missing all of 2011 due to shoulder surgery. Following the surgery Santana had setbacks in his rehabilitation towards the end of the season. The injury setbacks have placed doubt throughout the Mets organization that Santana can live up to the remaining guaranteed two years and $49.5 million left on his deal with a $5.5 million buyout option for 2014. As of the first four years of the deal, and nearly $78 million, Santana has won 40 games. That averages out to $1.94 million per win, which is the type of math that only Bernie Madoff would approve. With Santana anchoring the rotation the Mets have failed to make the playoffs since 2006 and his highest win total was 16 wins back in 2008. The bottom line is that Santana hasn’t been worth the large investment the Mets made to make him the ace of their pitching staff.
Heading into the winter and into the 2012 season the Mets future forecast is cloudier than ever. It’s anyone’s guess if Santana can return from shoulder surgery, if Reyes or Wright will be with the club, and what exactly are the financial restraints from the Madoff fall out. Santana will look to prove his critics wrong and show that he can return to his Cy-Young form as the face of a Mets franchise that’s in need of a facelift makeover.
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Crazy, right? Wrong.
In two seasons with the Mets, Jason Bay has a .252 AVG and 18 home runs. In one season with the Red Sox, Bay hit .267 and 36 home runs. The obvious answer to the dramatic decrease in production for Bay is the size of Citi Field compared to Fenway Park. Even with the renovations that will be made at Citi Field, it will still be one of the biggest parks in the league and Bay will never be able to showcase his power.
Before Bay’s term with the Mets, he hit 21 or more home runs in each season. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here, but Bay has yet to hit 20 home runs in two seasons with the Mets.
Now it’s safe to say that Jose Reyes will not be back with the Mets in 2012. This calls for a replacement player. Although Carl Crawford did not live up to the hype in 2011, you would be pretty narrow-minded to think that he won’t have more seasons like he had in Tampa in the coming years.
The only way this could work would be if the Mets agreed to take at least 60% of Crawfords contract.
This would be a trade in which both sides could benefit. The Red Sox would open up a lot of money to go get a much needed starting pitcher, Bay would be back in Boston where he made a living off of the 310 foot left field wall, and Crawford would be able to slap the ball to each gap and use his speed to run out triples. Hence, replacement player.
The July 31st trade deadline looms! We’re now into the peak period when general managers try their luck, play the hand they’ve been dealt and maintain their best poker face in trying to either better their ballclub for the heat of the pennant race or cut their losses and live to play another day. In a few days, we’ll find out who’s selling and who’s buying. The Mets, predictably, will most likely be selling and streamlining the big club for next season while trying to re-stock down on the farm.
The Mets have already lightened the load by sending closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers for 2 of the proverbial players to be named later. As long as these unnamed players are still breathing when they get here, the Mets made a good deal. Fans complained that letting go of K-Rod well before the deadline leaves the team without a closer, shows management has given up, etc. The front office struck while the iron was hot after finding a pigeon in Milwaukee and then closed the deal as soon as they could. The Mets were very fortunate that Rodriguez has behaved himself since his major snap of last season. That made the process of shipping him off that much smoother.
Aside from the obvious tolling of Carlos Beltran and the impending free-agency of Jose Reyes, I don’t see the Mets as having too many more desirable chips to deal away. Unless someone wants one of the young former Buffalo Bisons or if Ronny Paulino has convinced another club that he’s actually a good hitter, pickings are slim. Sandy Alderson should start off his phone conversations with a joke, “Trade? Sure! How about Bay and Pelfrey?! LOL!” If by some sheer miracle the other party bites, reel them in like they’re Captain Kidd’s treasure!
I think Alderson will make a strong play to re-sign Reyes, and unless Jose’s a great actor, he looks like he sincerely wants to be here. You just have to cross your fingers that the hamstrings hold up and if they do, you’ve got one of the best and most exciting players in the game locked up. And unless Sandy’s a great actor, I think he’s finally realized how popular Reyes is with the fan base and that he’d have a mutiny and mass exodus on his hands if he let Jose slip away without an excruciatingly major struggle.
Beltran is gone. It’s just a matter of the details – where and most importantly, for whom! Some say his career as a Met would have been much different if he didn’t look at Strike 3 in the 2006 NLCS. If he popped to short, would that have made a difference? Not really. The only way things would have been different? If he won the game and if that Mets club went on to take the Series that year. Even so, Carlos was not vilified after the Mets were so abruptly eliminated in ’06. He’s been a good soldier here, aside from that minor Walter Reed visit bump-in-the-road. He was not a free-agent bust. He’s had some great games as a Met, capped off by his game-tying HR the other night up into the Pepsi Porch that landed next to Gary, Keith & Ron who were doing the broadcast from up there. He’s remained healthy and put together a great season, earning an All-Star nod. He deserves to go to one of the teams on his trade list and help them win, just as he did with the Mets on many occasions. Gracias, Carlos. Adios y buena suerte.
No final grades as yet. We’re only halfway through the season. The Mid-Summer Classic is in the offing, and we still have three solid months of baseball to be played.
Now, about the Mets. Taking everything into consideration – the new front office, the old financials of the owners and all THAT, the introduction of a prospective new minority owner, the ridiculous design of the playing field dimensions and the injuries. Taking all these factors into consideration, to be hovering around .500 at the halfway point I’d give the club a sold ‘B” grade.
Sports Illustrated picked the Mets to be ugly this season, yet as of this writing they‘re 3rd in the NL East. Pretty respectable, considering they have the Braves and the Phillies ahead of them – both superior clubs.
With keys lost like Santana, Wright and Davis, role players like Murphy, Pridie, Turner, Tejada have plugged the holes and performed more than adequately. Carlos Beltran has played above and beyond. No one would have counted on Carlos to be in the lineup as much as he has and to make an impact daily. A most pleasant surprise! Bay? We‘ve discussed this already. He’s under achieved seriously, and although he’s shown some signs of snapping out of late, he’s got a long way to go. And the overwhelming play of Reyes. Jose is having an MVP-type season. Sandy Alderson has a big decision to make on whether he wants to re-sign Reyes, or deal him and build his money-ball club. If dealt, however, he’ll never receive equal value or replace what Jose brings to the lineup. Right now he’s performed like he’s one of the top 5 players in the game.
Mike Pelfrey’s issues and inconsistencies are not physical I’m afraid. Chris Young loss was a big one. Capuano, Gee, Niese hqave all been solid. Dickey has been his bulldog-self. Pitching for the Amazin’s has been a pleasant surprise. K-Rod wouldn’t fit the mold of being a Mets’ closer if he didn’t make you sweat every time he appears. I’d still try to find a taker for him sooner rather than later and groom Bobby Parnell to close. Problem is there are most likely zero teams interested in Frankie.
The Mets have made do with less. There’s another factor however. The leadership. I admit I was not in favor of the hiring of Terry Collins. I felt the club needed to keep a tie to the past and make a popular choice for the new skipper, like Wally Backman. I was wrong. Terry Collins has been a GREAT hire for this club, and it’s a welcome and refreshing change from the regimes dating back numerous years. A manager who was tagged with “losing the clubhouse” in the past scared me, but this is a perfect example of a man who can learn from his experiences. Terry Collins has taken a damp sponge and parlayed it into a positive glass half-full!
Despite the injuries and the other factors, Reyes is captivating the country, Beltran’s an All-Star and Terry Collins is right for the reigns. Met fans shouldn’t “settle” and be satisfied with a .500 club, but they certainly should “B” happy with their team at the break.
The Mets organization reached out to Reyes last week in an attempt to negotiate a contract extension.
His answer came yesterday: We’ll talk….later…
That’s the message shortstop Jose Reyes and his agent had for the Mets yesterday at Citifield. Reyes said he would not discuss future contracts with the Mets GM Sandy Alderson during the regular season because he didn’t want it to be a distraction.
“It is Jose’s desire to postpone any negotiations until after the season,” Alderson told reporters prior to Monday’s game against Oakland. “He wants to focus on baseball…We will respect his wishes and hopefully pick up negotiations at the end of the season.”
What does this mean for the Mets? Well, first and foremost, it means that any advantage they had in negotiating exclusively with Reyes between now and the start of free agency has been reduced by about three months.
That being said, Reyes’ agent, Peter Greenberg told Newsday that “The Mets will have an exclusive window at the end of the year.” Yes, but it will be a lot shorter than it appeared to be just 24 hours ago.
Reyes has made it clear in the past that he loves New York and would like to finish his career as a member of the Mets. But with the franchise’s current financial woes, can they afford to ink a player like Reyes to a long term big money contract? The specter of the $1 billion lawsuit by Madoff case Trustee Irving Picard is still hanging over the heads of ownership.
There’s also the matter of owner Fred Wilpon’s quote last month that Reyes won’t get “Carl Crawford money,” a statement Wilpon may come to regret. Now, with his MVP worthy numbers and the demand for quality shortstops by contending teams, the possibility continues to increase that if he doesn’t get a seven-year, $142 million deal like Crawford did, Reyes may come very close.
The fans are still behind Reyes. Another banner was in the stands at Citifield last night proclaiming “Don’t Trade Reyes.” The sentiment has been echoed at rallies and on local sports talk radio by Mets fans who have grown up watching and rooting for the speedy shortstop since he made his debut as a Met back in 2003.
There are many factors the Mets must consider when deciding whether or not to trade Reyes. Certainly, from a baseball standpoint, if they deal him or let him leave as a free agent, what will they get in return? Alderson obviously wants to get as much back as he can. In the short term, anybody else they bring in to play shortstop will be a step down, but what combination of prospects, draft picks and players could the Mets get for Reyes?
Money obviously also remains a big factor both short term and long term. The recent addition of David Einhorn as a minority owner certainly helps. If the lawsuit by Picard is settled or resolved in the next few months, that would also give ownership a clearer idea of where they stand budget-wise going forward.
But perhaps a bigger issue remains what message trading Reyes would send to an already frustrated fan base. A fan base that wants to know their team is committed to winning and almost unanimously wants to keep one of the team’s most productive and popular players who at 28 already has an injury history, but is also just entering the prime of his career.
What happens to Reyes will say a lot about the future of the Mets franchise. All we know now is that a contract extension isn’t in the cards until the end of the season. That is, if Reyes is still in a Mets uniform by then…