Today, of course, is the much-ballyhooed return of Jose Reyes to Citi Field. While it isn’t quite Piazza’s return (which SNY just showed), it certainly warrants some consideration. We all know Reyes was a very good player for the club these last years but his impact might not be fully appreciated by most. Reyes is no less than the Mets’ career leader in runs, triples, and steals. Perhaps even more impressive than those numbers, however, is he is second in hits. So long as we’re being honest, I didn’t know he was quite that impactful…and I blog for this team. So when considering Reyes’ return, it appears necessary to at least give him the respect he deserves for being one of the best players our team has seen, championship or no championship.
The whole ESPN-generated “the Mets never offered Reyes a contract” nonsense is, of course, just that. The fact is there was no way we were going to pay what the Marlins paid. While I find it hard to conceive of a situation where absolutely no effort was made on the part of the Mets, I have a strong feeling that the club knew his price would simply be too high to earnestly compete. Is it worse to suffer the minor inconvenience of having to hear this no-offer story today or the embarrassment that would have come with the realization our best offer for one of our best all-time players was likely $15-20 million away from being considered in earnest? I vote the former. We knew he wasn’t coming back.
So what to make of his return then? The din of mixed cheers and boos was telling. No one’s really sure. The fact is Reyes never had a strong personality we assigned to him as a player, making it difficult to ascertain how we remember him and thus, how we ought to receive him now. Outside of his stellar contract ½ year, he was never a grinder. He never did the little things well. He didn’t walk, didn’t play with particular intensity, etc. He was never a vocal guy, never a real leader. He was never the big bat and rarely the best player on the team. He was always relatively cheerful, but more often than not, just came off as somewhat lackadaisical. Ultimately, we all knew he could be the best when he wanted to be, but did he really want it? It’s why his Mets career numbers are somewhat surprising. Because he got them largely piecemeal, in spurts of good and bad play interspersed with injuries and questions of character.
No one can say they wanted to see Jose Reyes go. But not many would say he was worth the long-term investment required to keep him either. On the one hand, he’s one of those players that the minute he leaves, you’re looking for a replacement with his skill set. On the other hand, I don’t find Mets Nation to have been particularly endeared with him. Asked to name a reason I’d have wanted him to stay, my first response was that I wanted to see him and Wright do something great together. For better or worse, he was the homegrown guy the Mets never seem to come up with. He was ours. But now I fear that by the time I figure out what losing Reyes really meant to me, I may have to consider what Wright meant instead.