There has been a plethora of Jose Reyes articles this off-season. Many have clamored about how the Mets won’t re-sign him due to salary constraints–others about how the team will simply fold if they don’t (financial handcuffs aside). Some articles have discussed that the Milwaukee Brewers or St. Louis Cardinals will spurn their own mega-star free-agents (Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, respectively) for Reyes’ services, or that the Washington Nationals or Florida Marlins will be a surprising suitor for the dynamic lead-off hitter. But of all the Jose Reyes-oriented articles so far, none have specifically broken-down who will be to blame if Reyes officially signs with another team. Rising Apple has done so below.
He’s smart, well-spoken, and has an untenable, statistic-driven strategy. But does Jose Reyes and his potential five, six, or even seven-year, mult-multi-multi million dollar contract fit into his plan? If not, Mr. Alderson could be made the fall man. His connections to “Moneyball” has unfairly earned him the “cheap” label by some fans, but those very fans might have a poor understanding of his past General Manager experience and more importantly, disposition. Mets fans have to believe if Sandy Alderson truly has the green light to go bananas on Jose Reyes, he will.
Fred and Jeff Wilpon’s recent connection to Bernie Madoff and subsequent financial issues has solidified what many fans have already thought of the long-time Mets owners. (That they’re manipulative crooks). While the Wilpons have publicly stated, numerous times, that their off-the-field entanglements have and will have no effect on how the team operates, one has to think that a) their decision to hire experienced spend-thift Sandy Alderson b) the multi-million to billion dollar lawsuits against them c) cutting the Mets payroll to the $100-110 million range d) owing $25 million to Major League Baseball e) the recent 10% non-player staff layoffs and f) their all-of-a-sudden need to find minority stake owners sort of contradicts them. Ahem. Make no mistake about it, if Jose Reyes is not a New York Met in 2012, the Wilpons will become Mets fans’ number one enemy.
The Mets payroll was at a whopping $149 million in 2009 and an equally rich $142 million this past season. The point? The Mets used to spend money, but due to Bernie Madoff, the team will be forced to slash payroll by about 33%. Granted, Mr. Madoff didn’t force Fred Wilpon to take part in the ponzi scheme, but there is no doubt that the subsequent implications have affected how the Wilpons run the team. You can equally stick your finger at the Wilpons for partnering with a shmuck like Bernie Madoff, but then again, if there was no Madoff, there would most certainly be Jose Reyes money available.
Ruben Tejada is more or less seen as the internal heir at shortstop if Reyes jets elsewhere. This is mostly due to Tejada posting a respectable .284/.360/.335 line in 376 plate appearances during 2011. The infielder’s stellar glove also make him a logical replacement too. But one has to think that if the 21 year-old duplicated his abysmal 2010 season (.213/.305/.282) last year, no one would dare mention his name and “Jose Reyes replacement” in the same sentence. So could Ruben Tejada’s good play be to blame for Reyes’ departure? It would be quite a stretch.
Citi Field’s New Walls
Citi Field’s far walls have been a major point of scrutiny since they were erected in 2009. In fact, the walls have been blamed for the steep offensive decline of David Wright and Jason Bay, specifically. So the decision was easy–move-in the walls. The Mets officially announced their plans to make the park less pitcher-friendly, which was music to Mets fans’ ears. But how much does moving-in walls cost? Apparently, up to $40 million. Considering $40 million could probably buy two years of Jose Reyes, maybe the Mets chose new walls over their marquee player.
The one thing a face-of-the-franchise wants to see is that there are fans in the seats. Granted, the Mets have been a tough team to watch over the past three seasons, but the seasonal attendance has dropped almost 42% since 2008, and about 26% since Citi Field opened. Those are not thrilling fan-stats for a guy like Jose Reyes, who thrives off being a spectacle. There is no doubt that if another franchise were to ink Reyes, his presence would become a major draw for its prospective fans–something I’m sure Reyes is looking for. It’s possible that Mets fans have taken the dynamic Jose Reyes for granted, which could very well lead to his departure.
The New York Mets signed Jose Reyes in 1999 when he was just 16 years-old. They nurtured him in the Minors, vouched for him through his various injuries, and helped him mature into a top-notch Major League player. Even though it’s only natural and normal for a player to seek the most years and money via free agency, does Reyes have enough appreciation for the Mets organization to stick with them and belief in their future? If Reyes spurns a fair offer from the Mets for an over-the-top, record-setting contract, maybe Jose Reyes is to blame for his own jettison.