Monday, December 5, 2011

Reyes to Marlins: Post Mortem

Much like the team this blog covers, Midwestern Met has been largely dormant since the start of the offseason. Since Game 162, we've seen a few free agents leave Flushing Meadows for greener grass: Nick Evans, Chris Capuano, you will be missed. But tonight, as their struggling franchise watched from the dugout, Mets fans experienced something they knew was all but inevitable.

If you're reading this, you know by now: with a 6-year hook of at least $102 million, the Miami Marlins fished Jose Reyes away from New York.

The Bad Stuff:
  • File this one under "Duh": the Mets lost their prized the Marlins. I won't paint this one over: it hurts to lose a free agent; it hurts worse to lose him to a team that's been near the bottom of the payroll rankings for the better part of their existence. Not to mention a division rival; if Met fans are disappointed now they'll go nuts when Jose slashes a triple into the right corner of Citi Field next year and shoots across the base paths in Miami's rainbow colors. Ever since that first report that the Fish were interested about a month ago, I've been saying to myself: Not the Marlins. Anyone but the Marlins. Well...sorry, month-ago-self.
  • Building off how low-budget the Marlins typically are, the loss of Reyes even further cements how bad a shape the Amazin' front office is in. "Bleeding cash?" Yep. For a big-market team to lose a home-grown superstar to a smaller market...has it ever happened before? There have been signs of it throughout the last few years, but being unable to resign Jose is perhaps the first major casualty of the post-Madoff era.
I could belabor the point, but by now I'm sick of thinking about it as you are. But you know what they say: one door closes, another door opens. In this case, one door slams shut right in your face, busts up your nose, and gives you a concussion on the way down, but another door opens, complete with tissues for your bloody nose and a pillow and CAT scan (thankfully, one not run by Mets' team doctors).

The Good Stuff:
  • Thanks to Jerry Seinfeld, there is at least one Jose Reyes still in New York.
  • I saw a few tweets in this regard earlier tonight: "it's the beginning of the Ruben Tejada era." Yes, I realize these were of a sarcastic nature. I'm not that guy. But Ruben Tejada proved in 2011 that he can be a very good everyday shortstop. In the final 42 games of the season, Tejada hit .327 with an OPS of .802. He's a smart ballplayer who understands the game, he can hit in the clutch, as evidenced earlier this year when he became "Mr. Bases Loaded," and barely into his 20s (he just turned 22 in late October), he's still got a long way to go before he maxes out. Sure, there's gonna be a dropoff from Reyes to Tejada. But I believe in the upside of Ruben Tejada, and I believe he will make a fine shortstop for the New York Mets of tomorrow.
  • Speaking of tomorrow, there's still the matter of free agent season. Now that Jose is gone, Sandy Alderson has a lot more money to spend elsewhere. Instead of committing it to one guy, he can spread it out and try to fix the other gaping holes in the Met lineup: the bullpen obviously needs the most help, and catcher and center field could use touch-ups. The team will also need a new leadoff hitter; as good as Tejada can be, he'll never be lightning fast enough to bat first. Point is, instead of locking up Reyes and trying to do the best with whatever was left, now Alderson can address the team's other more glaring problems.

    Final Analysis:
    As my friend and fellow blogger JB said in his post on JBMets, you really can't blame Jose for choosing to sign with Miami. It was a choice between staying in New York for less money or going to a re-branded franchise with a new stadium and high hopes for the future (they've already locked up Heath Bell and are still planning to go after Albert Pujols). Plus, Miami is much closer to his home in the Dominican Republic, has a high-proportion Spanish-speaking population (not that New York was ever Brookston, Indiana), and gives Jose those intangibles he values so much, like the hot nightlife and a chance to advance his music career. Loyalty can only get you so far, and the rest of the Mets' offer just didn't stack up to what Jose could get in Miami, which is why he decided to take his talents to South Beach (just be glad he didn't go LeBron on us with his more reason why New York beats Cleveland at everything).

    It will be rough watching him step up to the plate in a Fish cap, but I still wish Jose Reyes the best. He gave us thrills for nine years, he'll give similar thrills to Marlins fans...all nine of them.

    As for Reyes' former team, it's time to move on. Yes, Jose is gone, but David Wright is still here. So is Ike Davis. And Johan Santana. And Lucas Duda. And R.A. Dickey, and Daniel Murphy, and Ruben Tejada. And yes, even Jason Bay. Part of the beauty of baseball is that it is a team sport: no one man makes or breaks it. The Mets may have lost their sparkplug tonight, but that only means that one more roster spot has opened up. The only question is who will step up and fill it.