The recent news about Adrian Beltre agreeing to a (potentially) ridiculous contract with Texas has re-ignited the Jose Reyes debate (“to extend or not to extend, that is the question” – and only Jimmy Johnson knows the answer…)
While there are certainly many factors to consider, including the Mets finances and the front office’s grand plan for the future, a recurring theme is that we have to wait for the “old” Reyes to return (commonly put in terms of will we get the 2008 “good” version, or the 2009-2010 “bad” version).
Well, my answer is that he NEVER LEFT. He just took some time off.
He played roughly ¼ of a season in 2009 before injuring his tendon (which was then horribly mis-diagnosed and poorly handled). But, in those 36 games, he put up a slash line of .279/.355/.395//750. Remarkably similar to his 2007 line of .280//354/.421/.775. Power was down slightly, but not abnormally so considering it was early in the season, and playing games at CitiField.
In 2010, he effectively missed spring training due to the Thyroid issue, and was most likely rushed back (then subjected to Jerry’s “experimenting”). But once he had time to regain his timing and shake the rust off, he was just fine. From May 23 until the end of the season, he put up a line of .311/.346/.492/.839. And this included playing for a period of time wrapped up like a mummy, instead of being given a few weeks off to heal properly.
If anything, these numbers (over his last 93 games) indicate that the 2010 Jose was BETTER than he was before. Even his power was up, since he hit 11 HRs in that time, which projects to a 162 game total of 20 (with 74 RBIs).
So, you can make the case that the “real” Jose was hiding out at SS for the Mets in 2010.
And, if this is true, then the argument gets reduced to “can he stay healthy and productive for the length of the projected contract?” As with any player, no one can guarantee that. But, there are some factors in his favor:
1) in 2011, he will be playing his age 28 season, which many people consider to be just entering his true prime. A 5 year deal carries through his age 32 season, or just ending his peak years.
2) Since 2004, he has had 1 significant injury, the Hamstring tendon in 2009, which was fixed finally at the end of the year. He had no apparent residual problems with that in 2010, and the tendon itself isn’t even important. Beyond that, he had an illness (resolved, no reason to expect it to recur) and a muscle pull (same injury as Pagan, and there is not a campaign going to dump him because of it).
3) There is a serious shortage of SS talent these days, and none in the Mets system (unless Flores can manage to play there in the majors). Having one of the top producing SS is a major plus for building the dynasty of the future.
Now, will the Mets extend Jose soon? Who knows. But odds are that if they do want to keep him for the future, it is only going to get more expensive. And at least IMO, we have not yet seen the best of his career.