(Long Island, N.Y.) Baseball’s worst kept secret is out. Jose Reyes, who was destined to become an ex-New York Met all along, is (one of) the newest members of the newly christened Miami Marlins. A six-year, $106 million free agent contract offer was the death knell for diehards with a number seven jersey hanging in their closets.
But you can stop wallowing in total despair, long-suffering Met fans.
Reyes has been the table setter and focal point of the team for the majority of his nine years with the Mets and what do they have to show for it? One playoff appearance and two monumental collapses to prevent more. While Reyes can’t take all the blame for this, he was one of the core players that the organization built the team around and that formula has proven over time to be sorely lacking.
The lone player that remains from that group is third baseman David Wright, he himself who has had a difficult time shaking off the ‘non-winner’ tag. Sheer statistics alone cannot measure what’s inside a player and that extra something the special ones have to be a leader.
In Reyes’s case, critics – including this one – have had a field day tearing him apart for being a selfish player who defied authority and dogged it on more than one occasion. Besides the frequent injuries (which may be at least partly self-blame on less than stellar conditioning) that have followed Reyes around his entire career, seeing him jog down the first base line on a pop-up or routine ground ball should have had a major impact on whether he deserved superstar money.
At Wednesday’s introductory press conference, Reyes seemed to forget all of the negatives he brought to the table and felt jilted by the Mets non-interest in him. “The Mets didn’t call,” he said, “they didn’t say anything. So that’s why I’m here today.”
Perhaps if he was reminded of how he screamed at former manager Jerry Manuel (in his first game on the job) and slammed down his helmet on the field in full public view, Reyes would start to figure it all out. Manuel’s crime? Pulling his shortstop out of the game when it was apparent that his bum leg was not fully healed.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon made it perfectly clear, albeit non-intentionally, when he confided in a reporter from The New Yorker that the big money sure to be sought by Reyes and his agent was not coming from Flushing. “He’s had everything wrong with him,” it was reported back in May. “He won’t get it.”
Apparently the former Florida Marlins – who also announced the signing of left-handed starter Mark Buehrle the same day – felt otherwise, although the deal was not as expensive as it would have been if Reyes didn’t have to go on the shelf twice last summer. He did win the National League batting title (not tainted when he removed himself from the season finale, but surely not respected) and was named to the All-Star team (inured, of course, so he didn’t play) and is an exciting player to watch on a game-by-game basis.
But when finances are a premium, as they are on this side of town, money cannot be spent unwisely. Giving Reyes that much money when it isn’t available was impossible. When you’re looking for a special quality that a player possesses that rubs off on his teammates and makes the clubhouse tick, you don’t think of Jose Reyes.
And that is the main reason why he is wearing that ridiculous looking new uniform down south.