Friday, March 9, 2012
Closing the Book on Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes was my favorite Met. From the moment he came on the scene in 2003, to the moment he walked off at the end of 2011, he was the most exciting player on the field. The most multi-talented. The most interesting. The most everything. Reyes is now gone. For many reasons, I'm completely disgusted with Jose Reyes. I don't hate him. I'm merely disgusted. When he returns to Citi Field this coming April, I won't cheer him. I won't boo him either. I'll only boo for lack of effort. What Jose had this winter was lack of sense.
If Reyes had simply kept his mouth shut after defecting to the Miami Marlins, I wouldn't have nearly as much vitriol for him as I now do. But, he couldn't keep his mouth shut. He went on and on about how the Mets didn't' appreciate him, didn't show him that they wanted to keep him, didn't make him an official offer. All of those claims are baseless and absurd. Sandy Alderson reached out to Jose Reyes' agents before he became a free agent, in an effort to lock him up long-term. Reyes' agents refused. They were determined to take him to free agency. Alderson again reached out to Reyes' agents after Jose became a free agent, and detailed the parameters of a contract they'd be willing to formally offer. By all accounts, their offer was for 80 million guaranteed over five years, with an easily attainable sixth year vesting option based on health that would've brought the total of the contract to 100 million. Reyes' agents said don't bother. Thus, no "official" offer.
The Marlins offered six years and 106 million guaranteed, and Reyes bolted. And as Adam Rubin pointed out yesterday, the Marlins weren't going to be out-bid for Jose Reyes. They were the only team in the Majors willing to guarantee an outlandish amount of years to Reyes. So, even if the Mets had matched the Marlins' offer, they would've been out-bid. That puts to bed the "Reyes left because the Mets couldn't afford him" meme. Yes, the Mets are in a perilous financial situation right now. But under no circumstance would Sandy Alderson have guaranteed more years and dollars than Miami did - and rightfully so. In the most likeliest outcome (where Reyes doesn't miss an insane amount of games due to injury over the next few years), Reyes in essence left the Mets for an extra six million dollars. SIX MILLION.
Jose Reyes said all along that his preference was to stay with the Mets. Then he went and told Marlins owner David Samson that if the Marlins paid one more dollar than anyone else, he'd sign there - making Reyes' earlier claims clear bullshit. He has the right to go after the last dollar, but he didn't have to lie about that not being his motivator. He simply could've refused to discuss his pending free agency.
The Mets signed Jose Reyes out of the Dominican Republic when he was 16 years old. Helped to shape the man he became, taught him english, promoted him to the Major Leagues when he was 19 years old. He became a permanent resident of Long Island. Started to raise a family there. Reyes was absolutely adored by the fans. Loud, emotional, supportive, die-hard fans. He owned National League baseball in New York City. But he left. Left for that extra money (again, as is his right). It's the team he left the Mets for that makes this whole thing appalling.
He left to go play for the Miami Marlins. A team with a beautiful new ballpark - a place that will draw lots of people (I say people because the Marlins don't have actual fans) early this season, and then will most likely begin to look like Joe Robbie Stadium/Pro-Player/Sun-Life has always looked: empty. It will begin to sound like their old stadium most usually sounded: noiseless. Even if the Marlins win, the place will be a shred of what Reyes has experienced playing for the Mets. Miami is a terrible professional sports city, and Reyes will find that out.
Beyond that, the Marlins are a team that has always gone for big splashes before completely gutting their teams (see 1998 and 2004). Again, IF the Marlins win, the team will be dismantled. It's how the Marlins operate. If you look at the ridiculously backloaded nature of Jose Reyes' contract, along with the fact that they didn't grant him a no-trade clause, you'll realize that he's going to get traded. It's just a matter of when. Will it be 2013, 2014, or 2015?
The Mets would have never traded Jose Reyes if he had re-signed. He would've been here for the resurgence of the franchise. Would've ended his career as the best position player in the history of the team. His number would've been retired next to 14, 37, 41, and 31. And if he won a World Series here, he would've been revered for the rest of his life. Instead, he's gone. Gone because the Marlins outbid the Mets, and would've kept going higher and higher. Gone to a terrible sports city with terrible fans. To a team that will almost certainly trade him in a few years. To a place where even if he wins a World Series title, no one will really care. That is the lasting thought I have of Jose Reyes. Not turning a single into a double, clapping his hands, or diving head-first into third. And it's that fact that disgusts me.