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05 December, 2011

The End of the Jose Reyes Era

   by Gus Ramsey

    "'Cause I'm already gone. And I'm feeling strong. I will sing this vict'ry song. Woo, hoo, hoo woo, hoo, hoo."  The Eagles

   In MLB the Show you can take music you've downloaded onto your PS3 and use it in the game for ballpark music, walkup music, reliever entry music, etc. For the last two seasons I have used The Eagles, "Already Gone" as the walkup song for Jose Reyes. My premise was once Reyes got on first, he was already gone, on his way to stealing second base. Little did I know the song meant so much more. By 2010, given the financial state of the Mets, Reyes was already gone. I just didn't know it.

Parting is Not Sweet Sorrow. It Sucks. 

   I put Reyes right behind Seaver and Strawberry in the category of Best Mets Player at the Time of Their Departure. When Seaver was traded, I was 11 and it signified the end of the world. When Strawberry left, it signified the end of an era. Maybe not the era that we had hoped for, producing one world series, not three or four. But once Straw left, the late 80's Mets were dead. And now Reyes leaving signifies the end of interesting baseball in Queens. Reyes was THE reason to watch the Mets last season. Sure, they have other players I enjoy watching, but Reyes was captivating. He is a supremely unique player. This is not to say the Mets should have matched the offer, they shouldn't and couldn't (I'll repeat that so it's understood. They should not have tried to match the years or dollars given their current state), but it doesn't change the fact that I am pissed Reyes is gone.
   Why So Mad?
   I'm glad that I still get mad over stuff like this. So much of the enjoyment in sports comes from caring. The fact that I am pissed about this means I still care. I'm also mad for my 9-year old son, Jack, who really likes Reyes and is super bummed that he is gone. The guy he was growing up with as a baseball fan is now a Miami Marlin. I'm mad that Fred Wilpon put himself in a position to let down his fan base and doesn't do enough to fix it. If he truly loves the Mets, he needs to sell. I've written about this before He has turned a big market team into a small market team. Not that huge payroll equals success, they've proven that, but a home grown star should not leave the Mets for the Marlins. Ever. 
 And I'm pissed that Reyes went to the Marlins. The team that taunted him and used his celebrating as their motivation as they were beating us in key games during the dreaded collapse in '07. It would have been bad if he had gone to the Angels or the Tigers, but it's awful that he ended up in the NL East. I'm also mad because I like Reyes. I won't be rooting for him to get hurt or anything, but I won't be wishing him well. That makes me mad. I'm mad I don't get to watch him leg out triples or make throws from deep in the hole anymore. And I don't buy the "he's going to be injured all the time anyway" comments. It's far more likely he'll play 145 games a year, enjoying the warm and controlled environment in Miami and be a really productive player. All of this makes me mad now. I'll be more mad when he holds up his new Marlin jersey this week. I'll be livid on opening day. I'll be extremely bummed when he comes to Citi Field on April 24th in a Marlins uniform. 
   And there is one more reason to be mad. From all accounts, Sandy Alderson was brought to the Mets as a favor to Bud Selig to try and help salvage the Mets financial situation as it related to the ball club. The Mets announced this week they lost 70 million dollars this year. Sandy, you're going to need a bigger boat. That said, this is not a long-term gig for Alderson. So if the Mets are officially rebuilding, that is likely a 3-5 year process. I can't see Alderson still being here in that time. So midway through the rebuilding it's going to be passed off to J.P. Riccardi or someone else? That doesn't seem like a good way to go about it. When Alderson says he has no interest in trading David Wright, does anyone believe him? There are going to be some dark(er) days in Queens in the coming years. 

   Could They Have Handled Him Worse?
   Jose Reyes was one of the most gifted athletes the Mets have ever had, and they pretty much screwed up their handling of his career every step of the way. First off, they tried to make him a second baseman when he came up because they needed Kaz Matsui to be a shortstop. In 30 years if anyone is reading this they will assume I was high and made it up. Seemingly every time Reyes was hurt, they mis-diagnosed or mis-treated the injury, making it worse. Even last year Terry Collins flirted with making him a 3-hitter. And lastly, they decided not to trade him at the deadline last year because they wanted to "build around him," likely knowing full well they would never be able to afford him, and now get nothing in return. Marlins offer aside, you can't blame Jose for wanting to get as far away from this organization as possible. 

   Ruben Tejada will be the new shortstop. He'll be good. He is an above average fielder who showed some nice signs of improvement last year. The club in general is still decent. Wright, Duda, Davis, Bay and Murphy could be a respectable core of a lineup. It's just not going to be dynamic. 
  Jose Reyes is a game-changer. From the very first pitch of the game, the opposing pitcher is on edge, knowing that in a blink of an eye he could be in big trouble. Reyes is dynamic and the dynamic he brings to lineup is gone. Apparently it was already gone. 

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