Jose Reyes

Walker, Conforto, and the Offense Is Back

The Mets unexpectedly had Neil Walker and Michael Conforto return from injuries today.  

Walker would go 2-4 with a run, three RBI, a double, and a homer. Conforto would go 2-4 with a run, an RBI, a homer, and this catch in the first to save a run:

Walker and Conforto would then go back-to-back in the third. However, Walker and Conforto were not the story of the third inning. It was Bartolo Colon who somehow hit a double:

If that wasn’t enough, Colon would score on a Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly. This sequence had to be more improbable than Colon’s homerun

The Mets would hit three homeruns on the night including Curtis Granderson‘s leadoff homerun. It was his 17th leadoff homer with the Mets breaking a first place tie with Jose Reyes.  The three lefties homeruns off Pirates starter Juan Nicasio wasn’t shocking:

As we’ve seen, the Mets are practically unbeatable when they hit that many homers in a game. Tonight was no different. 

It did get interesting in the ninth. Addison Reed allowed a leadoff homer to Andrew McCutchen followed by a double to Jung Ho Kang. Terry Collins wasted no time in going to his closer Jeurys Familia. Familia recorded his 22nd save out of 22 save chances preserving a 6-4 win. 

Game Notes: Wilmer Flores left the game after getting hit on the left hand with a pitch. The x-rays were negative. Kelly Johnson replaced him. Colon pitched 7.2 innings allowing seven hits, two earned, and no walks with with strikeouts. 

The Mets Do Not Need Jose Reyes

Mets fans always have been and always will be captivated by Jose Reyes.  During his time in Flushing, he meant so much to Mets fans.  He was an exciting leadoff hitter whose speed on the bases was matched only by the speed of his throws to firstbase.  The joy and excitement he showed on the field was only surpassed by they joy and enthusiasm exhibited by the fans who watched him on the field.  When he finally became a free agent, he wanted to stay, and Mets fans wanted him to stay.  Now, with his future uncertain with his suspension and the rise of Trevor Story, there are those who may want him to return.

Admittedly, there was a time I would have gladly joined that chorus.  Not now.

Let’s start with the practicalities.  The Mets have a shortstop, and his name is Asdrubal Cabrera.  Cabrera is a career .267/.329/.411 hitter with a 104 OPS+.  With his recent slump, Cabrera is hitting .267/.332/.400 with a 100 OPS+.  Over the last two years, he averaged a -6,3 UZR and a -7.5 DRS.  The Mets owe him $8.25 million this year and the next.  After next year, the Mets can decide to keep Cabrera for the 2018 season at $8.5 million, transition to Gavin Cecchini or Amed Rosario, or move in a completely different direction.

For his part, Reyes has put up similar production to Cabrera.  Reyes is a career .290/.339/.431 hitter with a 105 OPS+.  Because he accepted a suspension for an alleged act of domestic violence, Reyes has not played this year.  When he played last year, Reyes hit .274/.310/.378 with an 82 OPS+.  He did that while playing in two hitters ballparks in the Rogers Centre and Coors Field.  Over the past two years, he has averaged a -6.6 UZR and a -12 DRS in the field.  For that, the Rockies are paying Reyes the prorated portion of $22 million this year and the next.  Like Cabrera, Reyes has an option for 2018.  Unlike Cabrera, if that option is not exercised, Reyes is a $4 million buyout.

In terms of his production on the field, Reyes is not an upgrade over Cabrera.  Worse yet, he’s a much more expensive option.  Even if you were to presume the Rockies would eat a portion of Reyes’ salary, there is almost no amount that would make a deal between the two clubs make sense.

For the time being, the Mets needs are at first and third base.  Reyes does not address either of those needs unless you want to shuffle a bunch of players out of position.  The first option would be to move Reyes to second base like he once did in the first year of the Kaz Matsui experiment.  That would force Neil Walker to third base.  In that situation, you are asking Reyes to return to a position he last played in 2004 for 43 games, and you are asking Walker to play a position he last played in 2010 and has played 15 total games in his career.  It’s asking for trouble.  The other option is to put Reyes at shortstop and move Cabrera to third base.  Cabrera has only played 1.1 innings at third base in 2004.  It’s not much better.  Overall, there is no fit for Reyes on the team.

Assuming there was room for Reyes, and assuming the Rockies were to release him, it is still a bad idea.

The addition of Reyes would be a distraction.  It’s a distraction because of who he is and what he once meant to Mets fans.  If Cabrera, Walker, or another infield falters, there will be a clamoring for him to replace that regular in the lineup.  There’s also the matter of his domestic violence action.  There have been studies that show 62% of previously arrested domestic violence perpetrators are re-arrested withing two years of the initial domestic violence act.  Now, Reyes is purportedly taking the issue seriously.  As part of his suspension, he is seeking counseling.  We all hope for both him and his wife that the counseling will help and that there will be no more violence in that household.

With that said, this is baseball.  We use statistics to make judgments on players.  We can use Reyes’ statistics to show he is no longer the player he was with the Mets.  We can use the statistics to show he would not be an upgrade on the Mets roster.  Unfortunately, we can also use the statistics to show that the drama that surrounds Reyes may not be over.  What is and should be over is Reyes’ great Mets career.

We should all wish Reyes and his family the best no matter where he winds up.  Let’s just hope that place isn’t Flushing.

Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsmerizedonline.com

Carlos Beltran Still the Best of the 2006 Mets

Initially during the rain out, I was watching Amazin’ Finishes featuring either the 2007 or 2008 season. In other words, two years that decidedly didn’t have amazing finishes. I decided to turn it off. 

Then something struck me. It’s been 10 years since 2006. Looking back at that roster, only five of the 49 players who appeared in a game for that team are still in the majors. Seeing how most of those players have retired and the changes roles of the other five, it’s really shows you how much things have changed. 

David Wright – he was the young star then, but now with the spinal stenosis and herniated disc in his neck, you wonder how much longer he has. 
Jose Reyes – back then he was charmingly seen as Wright’s partner in crime. There’s no charm in that anymore with the allegations against him that never went to trial. His future is uncertain now that rookie Trevor Story has claimed the shortstop position for the Rockies. 
 Oliver Perez – there was a time during Game 7, that you thought you would he would’ve been forever loved. Problem is he stayed too long. He eventually became an effective relief pitcher, and now, he’s helping the Nationals try to get to the World Series. 
Mike Pelfrey – Pelfrey was the rookie pressed into action due to a number of injuries. He struggled as he wasn’t ready, and he was sent back to the minors. Now, he’s a 32 year old veteran starter for the Tigers who is struggling. 
Carlos Beltran – he was the best player on the planet in 2006. He is on his way to the Hall of Fame. He’s also still a very productive player:

It is amazing to look back and see how much has changed. It’s even more amazing to see that Beltran is still the best of this group. He was a special player, and Mets fans were lucky to see him play everyday for seven years. 

At Least Reyes Didn’t Take PEDs

On October 31, 2015, Jose Reyes allegedly grabbed his wife by the throat and shoved her into the sliding glass doors leading out to a lanai at their Hawaiian resort hotel room. His wife was taken to the hospital for treatment of her injuries while Reyes was arrested for these alleged acts. 

If convicted, Reyes would’ve faced anywhere from two days to five years in prison. If convicted, Reyes could’ve been deported. If deported, Reyes would’ve had to forfeit the remaining $44 million left on his contract. Fortunately for Reyes, he didn’t have to face these consequences for his alleged actions because his wife didn’t cooperate with the prosecutors. Reyes walked off scot-free. 

This left the ball in Major League Baseball’s court to punish Reyes. They dropped the ball. 

Reyes was only suspended 51 games. Major League Baseball believed the hospitalization of a person violently grabbed around the throat and shoved was only worth 51 games. They believed whatever role Reyes played, if any, in preventing his case from coming to trial was worth 51 games. 

The combined Chapman and Reyes suspensions equate to half a season. Half a season for two women allegedly being choked. 

Major League Baseball had been opportunistic in announcing their Domestic Violence policy. There were good provisions like getting perpetrating players help. There were other interesting provisions like leaving the matter of suspensions open-ended. It was an interesting provision as it arguably allowed each case to be judged on its own merits.

The results have been vastly underwhelming.  Reyes went from potentially facing deportation, thereby effectively ending his big league career, to a 51 game suspension. That’s only 31% of the season. He gets to keep roughly $36 million of his money. Additionally, he gets a $100,000 tax write-off for his donation to the cause of stopping domestic violence.  With this suspension, Major League Baseball set forth a powerful message for all to hear:

Grabbing a woman by the throat and shoving her into a sliding glass door wasn’t as bad of an offense as using PEDs.

 

What’s Happening with Reyes?

On October 31, 2015, Jose Reyes was arrested for allegedly choking his wife and pushing her through a sliding glass door while on vacation in Hawaii. The term allegedly is used here because Reyes never stood trial and the charges were dropped due to his wife’s lack of cooperation. 

Reyes’ trial was cancelled on March 30, 2015. Before the trial was cancelled, Reyes received a paid suspension pending the resolution of the trial and/or the completion of MLB’s investigation into the allegations.

It’s been a month since Reyes’ trial was cancelled. It’s been six months since Reyes was arrested. But for his wife’s lack of cooperation, the State of Hawaii had sufficient time to conduct a full investigation and go to trial. However, for some reason, six months wasn’t enough for baseball to make a determination in this case. 

Now, no one wants baseball to rush their investigation and make errors along the way. However, it should be noted Chapman committed his acts a day before Reyes. There were disputed facts, and there were people who failed to cooperate with the police. There were no hospital records or criminal charges filed.  Somehow, with less information at their disposal, baseball was able to conduct a timely investigation. In just nine days, Chapman’s suspension will be over, and he will be able to play in games. It’s possible, perhaps likely, that Reyes will still be serving his paid suspension. 

It’s important to note, the Yankees traded for Chapman. He’s an important part of their bullpen.  Reyes, on the other hand, is a headache waiting for the Rockies. He’s a headache due to his off the field actions. He’s a headache because they have to figure out what to do with him in light of the incredible start to Trevor Story‘s career. The Yankees desperately wanted and needed Chapman. The Rockies don’t need or want Reyes right now. Might be a coincidence. It might not. 

However, one thing is true.  The Reyes investigation has taken much longer than the Chapman case. It should be coming to an end sooner rather than later.  Maybe this time baseball can show they take the issue of domestic violence seriously. 

Tipping the Limo Driver for Score Updates

Six years ago to the day, I woke up with a bundle of nerves. The Mets were under .500, and they were sending Jon Niese to the mound against the Braves. Niese has never instilled any Mets fan with confidence.  

Initially, I had high hopes for this team.  After 2009, they were more comfortable in Citi Field and knew how to play there. Jose Reyes and David Wright were in their prime. Carlos Beltran had a full offseason to rest up, get healthy, and return to his dominant form.  I thought Ike Davis would get a call-up and be a legitimate middle of the order power threat. I thought Jason Bay would succeed with the Mets after playing so well for the Red Sox. The team had an ace in Johan Santana and an emerging pitcher in Mike Pelfrey. K-Rod was the closer, and promising young rookie Jenrry Mejia was going to be his set-up man.  There was a lot to like. 

Those feelings of optimism faded away early in the season. They lost seven of their first 10 games. Jerry Manuel was the manager, and he was managing like it. The team was barely able to score runs against the Cardinals’ position players in a 20 inning game. The Mets were under .500. Worse yet, they had to face Larry Jones – err, Chipper – and the Braves. The Mets countered with the enigmatic Niese against a player and team that killed the Mets. It’s enough to make any Mets’ fans stomach turn. 

By the way, it was also my wedding day. 

Yes, my wedding day. That one I knew I got right. I was marrying the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met (still is), and she had no clue she was way too good for me (still is). Honestly, I was not nervous at all about marrying her. I was only nervous about the logistics of the day. I was nervous about missing the Mets game. Priorities. 

I made sure I was ready well in advance so I could watch the game from first pitch. I caught the first couple of innings at home before getting in the limousine and heading to the Church. As we got to the Church, it was still 0-0. Now, as a superstitious sort, I knew I couldn’t hang around in the limo listening to the game because I couldn’t risk seeing my then fiancée in her dress before she entered the Church. Accordingly, I tipped the driver a couple of bucks to funnel me score updates until the game was over. 

Last thing I knew as a single man, the Mets were losing 1-0 to the Braves. Sounds about right. After seeing my wife head up the aisle, I forgot all about the Mets. I was excited to marry the best person I’ve ever known. 

Once the mass was over, we had the proceeding line. All my wife could do was laugh when the limo driver came over to give me the score. The Mets won 3-1. She knew what she was getting into marrying me. I put the Mets out of mind, did our wedding photos, and then had the greatest wedding reception ever. 

By the way, my wife nixed the idea of having Mr. Met serve as the maitre d’. It wasn’t my idea (although I fully supported it). Some of the ushers started a collection, but it quickly died down when my wife caught wind of it. Speaking of the ushers, I did win the pool because I didn’t cry during the mass. First round of drinks in Hawaii were on them. 

After my wife and I got married, the Mets went on a winning streak and took over first place. I had no idea because I was on my honeymoon (although we did fly Jet Blue so I could watch the Mets and Braves play the Sunday Night Game).  

During my honeymoon, I paid no attention to the Mets. Spending time with her then (as it is now) will always be more important. I just enjoyed each and every moment of being married to my beautiful wife. I still do. Marrying my wife was the best decision I ever made. 

Happy Anniversary honey. 

Just Pray for Harvey

The worst thing that can happen to the Mets is them losing one of their pitchers for any period of time. With Matt Harvey‘s undisclosed and unknown medical situation, this fear is now a reality. 

The scary part about it is how it has escalated. First, the Mets assumed he was hung over. Then, they thought it wouldn’t prevent him from making his next Spring Training start. Now, he’s flying back to New York for further examination. He’s most likely going to miss Opening Day. The players don’t know what’s going on, and they are praying for him

The only thing we do know is Harvey’s arm is fine, or as only Terry Collins can put it, “His arm is fine!  His arm is fine!  Ok?  His arm is fine.”  This is leading to speculation as to what is wrong with Harvey, and there is no shortage of opinions. 

This is because no one knows what’s happening. Part of that is HIPAA laws. Part of that is the Mets making an announcement before having all of the information. A large part of it is Harvey’s Bravo appearance and general assumptions fans have about him. 

Hopefully, this is a relatively minor issue not only because of the Mets season, but more importantly, this is a man’s health we are talking about here. With that said, I’m reminded of other instances where a player’s health has postponed, derailed, or ended a player’s career. 

As Mets fans, we have seen our fair share of problems. There was Ike Davis‘ bout with Valley Fever. Jose Reyes was found to have a thyroid condition. Just last year, there was David Wright and his spinal stenosis diagnosis. Elsewhere, there have been far more life threatening medical issues. 

Jon Lester battled lymphoma before coming back and winning the clincher of the 2004 World Series. Brian Picolo would go from an NFL player to dying from cancer. There was also the day fifteen years ago when Magic Johnson retired from the NBA when he discovered he contracted HIV. 
We don’t know what Harvey’s medical issue is.  We may never know. The only thing we do know is no one wants to see something happen that will not only forever alter Harvey’s career, but also his life. So while we know his arm is alright, we don’t know if he’s alright. We don’t know what, if any effect, this will all have on his career. 

Like Travis d’Arnaud and the rest of the Mets, all we can do is pray that Harvey will be alright. 

Editor’s Note: this article first appeared on metsmerizedonline.com

Wright’s Most Important Season as Captain

Today, the Mets officially report to Spring Training.  With the 2016 season unofficially starting, David Wright begins his most important year as Captain of the New York Mets. 

Back in 2007, Wright was a 24 year old superstar. His team was coming off a shocking loss in the NLCS, and yet going into 2007, many believed the Mets were the best team in the National League, if not all of baseball.  With Wright and Jose Reyes, the Mets were seen not only as a win-now team, but also as a team that was built for the long haul. It worked out that way for exactly 145 games. 

Not that Tom Glavine finds it devastating or anything, but the Mets collapsed over the final 17 games. There are a number of things we can point to as the reason the Mets collapses. Over those final 17 games, Brian Lawrence, a 23 year old Mike Pelfrey, and Philip Humber received starts with the Mets going 1-3 in those games. You can point to players like Reyes not hitting down the stretch. Speaking of Reyes, many point to him dancing in Game 161 as the reason. 

After the Mets were swept by the Phillies, they had 14 games remaining against sub .500 teams.  These teams had a combined .457 winning percentage. This includes a Cardinals team that had to come to New York to play a make-up game. They shut the Mets out. After the Phillies swept the Mets, there was every reason to believe the Mets would win the division, or at the absolute worst, the Wild Card. They did neither. There really is no excuse for what happened. 

We saw it again in 2008. The Mets had a lead in the division up until the 149th game of the season. The Mets then lost the division lead. Again, the Mets season was on the line on the final game of the season.  Again, they lost at home to a bad Marlins team. 

Sure you can point to a myriad of things in 2008. Billy Wagner was injured leading to a revolving door at closer. Again, it’s excuses. The Mets had a different manager and pitching coach at the end of the season. Willie Randolph and Rick Peterson were the fall guys for 2007 in getting fired one game into a West Coast trip. 

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the manager or the coaches. It was the team. There just was something missing. One player that wasn’t a problem?  David Wright. 

In 2007, Wright hit .352/.432/.602 with six homers and 20 RBI over the final month of the season. In 2008, Wright hit .340/.416/.577 with six homers and 21 RBI in the final month of the season. While Shea was burning, Wright was playing his best baseball. While there was a problem with those 2007-2008 teams, Wright wasn’t one of them. 

Now, Wright is the only player that remains from those teams. 

Wright is now 33 years old. He’s a leader on the team. He’s the Captain. Once again, he’s on a Mets team that has a chance to return to the postseason. He’s once again playing for a team that is a legitimate World Series contender. 

This may be Wright’s most important season as the Captain. He can share with the team all the things that went wrong in 2007 and 2008 to help prevent any of these issues arising with this Mets team. If problems do arise, he can help guide the team. He can share with them whatever it was within him in 2007 and 2008 to play his best when the team seemed to be at their worst. 

In 1986, the Mets had a de facto team captain in Keith Hernandez that showed the team how to win. Thirty years later, the Mets have a Captain that can show the team how not to lose. 

Hopefully, with another Mets captain leading the way, the Mets will once again win the World Series. 

Distracting You from Zobrist

I remember back when Jose Reyes left the Mets for the Marlins. I was angry. The Mets were in the beginning stages of the Madoff fallout, and Reyes was the first casualty of that. 

After the Reyes’ signing, the Mets proceeded to become curiously active the next day. The Mets signed Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco. They also traded Angel Pagan for Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres. Sure, the Mets lost their homegrown All Star shortstop, but look over here, look at the flurry of moves. Nothing to see in Miami. We’re having a press conference on SNY to announce the addition of FOUR . . . count them . . . FOUR NEW PLAYERS!  The Mets would be terrible in 2012 finishing in fourth place with a 74-88 record

Today had that type of feel to me. The Mets lost Ben Zobrist to the Cubs, and they didn’t look particularly good in the process. So naturally, the Mets went back to what they do best: deflection. Instead of rebuilding their bullpen, they rebuilt their middle infield by trading for Neil Walker and signing Asdrubal Cabrera

Now, I have said both of these players were worth investigating. However, I would’ve preferred keeping Daniel Murphy and Jon Niese over adding Walker. In that scenario, the Mets still could’ve added Cabrera. Right now, I’d probably be commenting how the Mets vastly improved their middle infield situation. Instead, I’m baffled how the Mets traded away another pitcher while adding a poor defensive SS on a two year deal. 

I’ll admit I was distracted a little bit four years ago. I wasn’t the biggest Angel Pagan fan. Now, I’m just wondering why the cost saving moves instead of bringing back the NLCS MVP. I’m also curious as to why an organization that values OBP added low OBP players. I’m nonplussed at the Mets adding yet another steroids guy to the roster. 

I would’ve accepted all of it if the Mets were made better in the process. However, they didn’t. They’re worse off defensively, and they lost a reasonably priced starting pitcher. I just see the same bluster I saw four years ago. 

It leaves me feeling sad. My son’s favorite player will be playing elsewhere next year. He’s disappointed to say the least. There’s nothing the Mets can do to make me forget that.  

Mets Embarrased Themselves

At the end of the day, I’m happy the Mets avoided a huge mistake when Ben Zobrist agreed to a four year $56 million contract with the Cubs. There’s usually nothing wrong with losing a bidding war. However, the Mets still managed to look like a second rate Mickey Mouse organization. 

I’m not sure what happened first.  Did the Mets hire Casey Stengel to be their first ever manager or did they announce to the whole world that Zobrist was their top priority? By their own admission, they were transparent in how desperately they wanted him. They gave him a tour of New York and the surrounding areas (just like they did with Billy Wagner). They were also confident:

The Mets should’ve felt confident. They were said to be willing to go as high as four years $60 million. That’s higher than what he wound up getting. What happened?  Well, the Mets happened. First, the Mets discussed parameters instead of a concrete offer (shades of the wife beater). Next, they had him in a meeting and let him walk out unsigned. Lastly, they got cocky. It wasn’t until today the Mets offered Zobrist that fourth year. So Zobrist leaves the Mets and . . . 

That’s right. Zobrist effectively became a Cub last night.  With that said, the Mets were confident all day they were getting Zobrist. How confident?

The day after the Cubs agreed to a deal with Zobrist, the Mets were 80% sure they were getting Zobrist. There no other way to put this. The Mets were delusional. When they finally figured out there was a problem, they were a day late and a dollar (or a few million) short. Seemingly, they went into scramble mode with Terry Collins sending Zobrist text messages saying, “We want you.”  After Zobrist signed, there’s no word if Collins sent Zobrist a text saying 😭. 

Keep in mind this was after the Mets already lost the bidding. A bidding war they let the Cubs enter. The Cubs needed to make a trade to open up the second base spot for Zobrist. The camps were most likely keeping it quiet so as not to diminish the Cubs leverage in trading Starlin Castro. If the Mets just made the four year $60 million offer, this probably doesn’t go down in the Winter Meetings. If Zobrist rejected it, the Mets could’ve moved on and at least picked up a reliever or two

Nope. The Mets overplayed their hand. They let other teams enter the fray. They let everyone know they wanted Zobrist and still didn’t get him despair apparent mutual interest. The Mets may say it wasn’t about the money, but they’ll never truly know because they were holding it back. Zobrist agreed to terms with another team BEFORE the Mets made their best offer. Now, it’s time for Plan B:

Wow. Just wow. It keeps getting worse.