There should be little to no disagreement on the player who ranks at number eight on this countdown, He is possibly the most explosive shortstop this team has ever had. When his mind is in the game he is just as good defensively as Ozzie Smith, Bud Harrelson and Rey Ordonez. Hell he sure hits better than the three of those luminary infield All Stars ! Thats right I am talking about current Mets shortstop, the team catalyst himself, Jose Reyes .
José Bernabé Reyes was born in Villa Gonzalez, Dominican Republic on June 11, 1983. As a child, Jose was very active. He played a lot of soccer and baseball in his youth. In 1999, Jose tried out foe the Mets at a open clinic in the town of Santiago in the D.R. There he caught the eyes of Mets scouts, Eddy Toledo and Juan Mercado. The Metsoffered him a contract and assigned him to play the ’00 with the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League. That was a departure from the Mets usual protocol which dictated that player like Jose were to play for the Mets Academyin the Dominican Republic.Jose finished his first season of professional baseball with a .250 batting average in 49 games.
In 2001 , Jose was assigned to theMets single A affiliate, the Columbia Bombers. He dominated the league, both in the field and at the plate. He finished the ’01 season with a .307 batting average with 42 extra-base hits. Jose would go on to win the leagues Player of the Year award.
In 2002, Jose was given an invitation to the Mets big-league spring training camp. The Metsfelt that their star prospect needed more time to mature in the minors and sent him to play with their Florida Stae League affiliate, the St. Lucie Mets . In just three months there Jose proved that his skills were way beyond that league , so the Mets promoted him to their Double-A team in Binghamton. Jose finished the year strong in Binghamtonwith a .287 average, with 27 steals and 26 extra-base hits through 65 games.
In 2003 Jose started the season with the Mets Triple A affiliate in Norfolk , Virginia. In his three months there Jose batted batted .269 while stealing 26 bases in just 42 games. By the time Jose arrived to the Mets in June of ’03, the team was in shambles. Players, Mike Piazza and Mo vaughn were out injured, and then manager, Art Howe managed like a man who didn’t care about his job. Jose was called up just a day shy of his twentieth birthday. Jose would play only two months for the Metsthat season, because he sprained his ankle midway through the season. This would start the much perceived ” endless cycle” of leg injuries for Jose. Jose ended his brief rookie season withthe Mets witha batting average of .307 with 32 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in just 69 games.
In 2004, the Mets stupidly switched Jose to second base after signing Japanese League star shortstop Kaz Matsuias a free agent. Jose was not happy to say the least withhis position change, but he still played hard. Early that season, Jose injured his hamstring and was on the disabled list for a month. Throughout that season Jose dealtwithbothleg and back injuries which left him withbelow average numbers. He finished the season witha batting average of .255 with with 14 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 53 games. By August the Mets were totally out of the playoff race and Jose went back to his old position on shortstop while Matsui took charge at second base.
In 2005, Jose played his first full season with the Mets. He was 21, and was penciled in as the Mets full time leadoff hitter – to take advantage of his speed and base stealing abillities. Jose played in a career high 161 games, batting .273 with 7 homers, 58 RBIs, 48 extra-base hits as well as 60 stolen bases. Reyes led the National League in both stolen bases and led the entire Major Leagues in triples.
The 2006 season is when Jose would come into his own. He was the first Met to win back to back Player of the Week honors since Jesse Oroscoin 1983. Reyes became the ninth Met to hit for the cycle that season. The Mets also introduced ” Professor Reyes” to the world that season. These segments had Jose teaching the Metsfans via the Diamond Vision board how to say words and phrases in Spanish. It was a hit withthe fans, as was his intricate handshakes and his youthful exuberance . Jose had become along withthird baseman, David Wright , a true face of the franchise. Towards the end of the regular season. Reyes signed a four-year, $23.25 million contract extension with the Mets, in order to avoid arbitration. The contract also included a a $1.5 million signing bonus. Jose finished the the regular season witha batting average of .300, a career high in homers with 19, 81 RBIs and 64 stolen bases in 153 games. Jose even won a Silver Slugger Award that season, and was selected to his first All-Star Game.
The Mets made their first postseason appearance in six year. They swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games before succumbingto the St Louis Cardinals in seven. Jose struggled against the Dodgers batting .167, but against the Cardinals he batted .281 with a pivotal homer that forced a game seven.
In ’07 Jose had a decent season, He batted .280 with 12 homers, 57 RBIs and a career high 77 bases ( Metsrecord). But in the final two months of the season , Jose along with much of the teams offense as well as their over taxed bullpen struggled. As we know the Metswent into the monthof September up seven with 17 games to play and collapsed epically. This would be the first ( but not the last ) time Jose heard boo’s from the Mets faithful.
2008 was pretty much of a repeat og the ’07 season – weak bullpen , lack of clutch offense late in the seson. Manager Willie Randolph was replaced mid season by bench coach, Jerry Manuel. Both Jose and the Mets played well until another swoon in August and September. Reyes finished the season with a batting average of .297, 16 homers,68 RBIs and 56 stolen bases.
Just before the ’09 season started , Jose had a minor feud with then manager, Jerry Manuel who wanted to utilize Jose in the third spot of the batting order. Jose resisted, and Jerry dropped the matter.In 2009 , Jose was limited to just 36 games with a misdiagnosed hamstring injury. The Mets kept promising the fans that Jose would come back and finish the season withthe team, but he needed surgery instead. In limited duty that season, Jose hit .279 with two homers , fifteen RBIs and eleven stolen bases.
During the ’09/’10 off season Jose had healed well, even appearing on television to show off his new found health. He came into Spring training in great shape, but he was kept out of games for a month when they found that he suffered from a hyperactive thyroid gland. Jose was ordered shutdown spring training activity. To start the season, Jose was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He missed the first two weeks of the season. Upon his return, Jose started off slowly. He started to hit well by the beginning of May. This past season, Jose was selected to his third All-Star Game, but he could not go due to injured oblique. Rafael Furcalwould go on to take his place. Jose finished last season playing 133 games. He batted a respectable .282 with 10 homers fifty four RBIs as well as 30 stolen bases.
Jose is in the last year of his contract with the Mets, and his future here is uncertain. I know that we have some great prospects in the minors, but I think it would be an egregious error if we let Jose – the spark of this Mets team go elsewhere .
So far in his Metscareer that has spanned eight years, Jose has a .286 batting average with 74 homers, 379 RBIs. He is currently the Metsall time stolen base leader with 331.
Tomorrow we will profile at number seven, one of the biggest fan favorites in recent Mets history.
And with that said…. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!
Mets alumni celebrating birthdays today include :
Today would have been the 95th birthday for the man who got us Tom Seaver – Bing Devine (1916).
Spot starter/ middle reliever from the ”91 team, Tony Castillo is 48 (1963).
The most hated middle reliever this side of Doug Sisk, Rich Rodriguez is 48 (1963) .
Darth Tater himself, back up catcher from ’06-’09, Ramon Castro is 35(1976), Ramon at times showed that he could have been a everyday catcher, but there were rumors that he was content with being a back up catcher.
The New York Mets signed free agent middle reliever, José Santiago on March 1, 2005.
The New York Mets signed free agent middle reliever, Willie Collazo on March 1, 2006. He was one of many relievers who helped blow the Mets chances of making the postseason in ’07.
And while you are waiting for Mike Francessa to declare himself Warlord of the United States, just remember that there are just 31 Mike Piazza days left until the Mets open the 2011 season against the Florida Marlins in Miami, and just 38 days until the Mets 2011 home opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field.
Mo Vaughn thinks he can play second base better than Luis Castillo !!!