So, the post-Jose Reyes era has begun. Yes, strictly from an on-field perspective, it hurts the Mets in the short term that one of the game’s best shortstops, offensively and defensively, will no longer be in the Mets lineup every day (or at least in between DL stints). But in the long run, this is the right move for the Mets organization as it exists now in December, 2011.
In a vacuum, a New York sports franchise should be able to throw unlimited amounts of money and years at desirable players, whether they are a health risk or not. Why not? The Mets did it prior to the 2005 season when they signed Pedro Martinez to a 4-year $53 million deal. They did it when they traded for Mo Vaughn based on one, apparently very impressive, batting practice session. They did it when they poured $7.5 million into Moises Alou, who had established a reliable track record for spending time on the DL. They did it when they gave a 4-year contract to Luis Castillo.
But this New York sports franchise is deep in hoc. And according to Sandy Alderson, they lost $70 million in revenue this past season. They will likely lose more in 2012, and would have even if they did sign Reyes. Why are they in such dire financial straits? Because of the irresponsible spending mentioned above. Because the Wilpons and GMs Steve Phillips and Omar Minaya adopted a “win now” philosophy that tempted them to defer money for a player like Bobby Bonilla. Because the Wilpons made a risky financial deal with a man who turned out to be a snake.
The Wilpons’ chickens have come home to roost. They didn’t “win now,” so now they are forced to rebuild, and “win later.” They gambled, and lost it all.
Signing Reyes would have put them deeper in debt, and would not have increased their chances of winning the NL East, or making the playoffs, even with the extra Wild Card. It’s not something Mets fans should be happy about. It’s simply reality. It’s the bed the Wilpons have made.
Reyes is a health risk. It makes no sense for this team in this situation to sign a player with balky hamstrings to a 6 year deal. That would be a repeat of the mistakes of the last 10 years.
And why would have Reyes signed with the Mets anyway? They are a team with no financial liquidity, that’s at least 2 years away from seriously contending. Why not sign a contract for too many years and too much money with a team that is trying to make a run at the World Series this year? They just signed Heath Bell to close. They have offers out to Mark Buehrle and Albert Pujols.
The Marlins have also adopted a “win now” philosophy. And if Reyes’s injury woes continue, and Bell falls apart in the last years of his contract, and Buehrle suddenly shows his age, they will regret it, just as the Mets do now. In many ways, the Marlins are reminiscent of the 2005 Mets.
Not all is lost in Metsville, however. They are taking the right approach to the future. Sandy Alderson and his Geek Squad are building the team from the minors-up. They got a supplemental draft pick and a third round pick from the Marlins from the Reyes signing. They acquired a player who is now their top pitching prospect in return for Carlos Beltran. They are attempting to build a team that will contend for many years, rather than spend money on a team that will flame out in a couple of years.
And in the meantime, the 2012 and 2013 teams will not be a total loss. The 2012 opening day lineup will look something like this:
No, not exactly the ’27 Yankees. But with Reyes in and out of this lineup, Beltran traded in July, and Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy missing significant time with injuries, this team still finished 12th in the majors in runs scored, 6th in batting average, and 6th in on-base percentage. Their power output should increase now that the dimensions of Citi Field have been normalized, and Wright and Bay no longer have to have night terrors about the Great Wall of Flushing.
Hopefully, the Mets will use some of the money that would have gone to Reyes to improve their starting rotation and bullpen. Maybe they’ll use it to pay down their debt. Either would be good for the organization. Hopefully, the Wilpons will not return to their irresponsible ways and hurt themselves further by pocketing it.
It’s not a great team, but they should flirt with the .500 mark just as they did in 2011. This should keep us somewhat entertained while the Great Rebuild is underway.
Reyes was fun to watch, and the Mets would have been slightly better in the short term with him. But in the long run, the Mets made the right decision for the health of the franchise today, and in the future, by letting him go.