Sunday, December 4, 2011
Mets really messed up this time around
By Rob Parker
Don't blame Jose Reyes.
Blame the New York Mets' ownership and front office for Reyes taking his talents to South Beach.
On Sunday, Reyes -- the one-time Mets shortstop of the future -- agreed to terms with the Miami Marlins, sources told ESPN's Buster Olney.
Reportedly the deal will pay Reyes $106 million over six years. No matter what the final numbers are, the bottom line remains that the Mets were kidding themselves when they failed to deal Reyes before the trading deadline to get some quality players in return. Reyes, who won the National League batting title last season with a .337 average, had big value and could have helped the Mets rebuild.
Instead, the Mets -- cash-strapped and all -- held onto him with the false impression that they had a serious shot to re-sign the shortstop. Their below-market offer of $90 million for six years wasn't going to get it done and fell way short.
The Mets can act surprised when they see Reyes holding up that Marlins jersey at a news conference. They can try to convince Mets fans that they did their best to hold onto what many thought would be a piece of their winning puzzle for a long time.
But none of it is true.
Reyes let the Mets know way back in June that his time in Queens was coming to an end. After reaching out to Reyes' agent to get an idea of what kind of money he was looking for to re-sign, the Mets were rebuffed and basically told to take a number with the other 29 major league teams after the season.
Reyes, 28, repeated what his agent told the Mets -- that he was not interested in talking money during the season. "Right now, I don't want any distractions,'' Reyes said back in June when the story broke. "I just want to continue to play. We're going to have plenty of time in the offseason.''
Coming into the season, if the Mets weren't sure what to do with Reyes -- trade him or try to re-sign him -- it should have been crystal clear after Reyes wasn't interested in the Mets' money.
Hence, the Mets should have traded Reyes for the best package available. It only made sense.
For as much as Reyes did in Queens, the Mets won nothing with him. It's not all his fault. But when you don't win, anybody can be moved.
For sure, GM Sandy Alderson fooled himself. He was a prisoner of the moment. The Mets weren't making the playoffs, and didn't sell any more tickets than they would have if Reyes finished out the season in San Francisco or on some other contending club.
It's totally acceptable, especially since his trade value couldn't have been any higher. The Mets could probably have gotten two good young players for Reyes, who was having a career year. In nine seasons with the Mets, Reyes batted .292, with 370 steals and 740 runs scored.
Fans can't be mad at Reyes for wanting to see what he could get on the open market. Fans have to be mad at the Mets for not thinking about the future and making moves to rebuild this franchise.
It's understandable why fans fantasized about Reyes. When healthy, he's a tremendous talent. Still, people are in love with the what-if, not the reality of what Reyes actually had been in Flushing. He has great potential. But much of his recent career has been mired by injury and worse, failure by his team in the biggest spots -- pennant-race meltdowns.
The Mets have made many mistakes since 1986, their last championship season. One of the biggest is not dealing players when their stock is sky high. Too often, they wait until it's too late and don't get full value.
This time, the Mets simply blew it. This one will hurt.
The Mets now need a new plan. If management was serious about trying to build a team to win another championship, it should have started the process by dealing Reyes. Instead, they lost him.
Just terrible. Just the Mets.