It's safe to say this Mets team is an overachieving bunch. They've been able to win the fans over with a hard-nosed, gritty style of play which has allowed them to keep their collective head above water.
Despite their inspiring play, the Mets (46-44) are still buried in the division, 10 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies, and barely in the wild card conversation, seven and a half games behind the Atlanta Braves.
Fans are hopeful that if David Wright, Ike Davis and Johan Santana can return from the DL, this team can make a late season run.
Unfortunately, that hope needs to be met with a strong level of caution as well. Even if Santana comes back this season, the Mets might be too far out for him to make much difference. But even a questionable Santana is better than any of the Mets' current rotation.
Davis continues to work out in Arizona, trying to avoid micro-fracture surgery on his ankle that would end his season. Yesterday, Davis ran on a treadmill, putting 100 percent of his weight on his injured ankle, and reported to MLB.com's Anthony Berry that he felt "great."
But Davis has yet to run on the field so the Mets are proceeding with caution.
Wright is recovering quickly from a stress fracture in his back that has sidelined the third baseman since May 18. Wright is working out at the club's spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, FL.
The best part about Wright's rehab is that he's been able to run the bases, slide and swing a bat. He could skip live batting practice and instead begin playing in games with the Mets' Class-A Advanced team this Wednesday.
If Davis and Wright return to the lineup, the effects on the current team would be significant. Their main replacements, Justin Turner, Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda, could stay with the team, bolstering the bench.
Turner and Murphy could split time at second base as it was before Wright and Davis went down, and Duda could replace the useless Willie Harris to provide added power from the bench.
But just as Mets fans keep their hopes up about Davis, Santana and Wright, Jose Reyes remains a bigger concern.
The National League All-Star starting shortstop currently sits on the disabled list with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, putting his MVP-caliber season on hold.
Reyes currently leads the NL in BA (.354, just behind Boston's Adrian Gonzalez for the Major League lead), hits (124), runs (65) and triples (15, six ahead of the Phillies' Shane Victorino). He's also second in stolen bases with 30.
Since Reyes landed on the DL, the Mets are 5-1. The Mets could've have played a man short and kept Reyes off the DL since they'll have three extra days off next week because of the All-Star break, but erred on the side of caution.
Reyes has a history of lengthy leg injuries and the last thing the Mets need is to lose Reyes for the entire season.
However, the decision to put Reyes on the DL goes beyond just keeping him healthy.
As all fans know, Reyes will be a free agent after this season and could be looking at a Carl Crawford-type contract (seven years, $142 million).
General Manager Sandy Alderson has expressed strong interest in re-signing Reyes and has all but assured fans that Reyes will not be traded during the season.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post, citing an anonymous source (of course), claims Alderson is considering making a huge offer to Reyes. Reyes has said he will not negotiate during the season, a stance he affirmed earlier when the Mets approached him about a contract.
But Reyes' stint on the DL may change things. Teams looking to sign Reyes as a free agent have to take a step back and recognize the risks. Reyes is a unique talent, but a player built on speed will have leg problems, often recurring, which aren't going to become less frequent as he ages.
Though Reyes is a year younger than Crawford and plays a more premium position, Crawford has been the more durable player throughout his career.
The risks involved with signing Reyes to a six- or seven-year contract might be more worthwhile for the Mets than other teams. Fans want Reyes. They need Reyes. A struggling franchise like the Mets can't afford to let their best player sign elsewhere.
God forbid Reyes should become the starting shortstop for the Phillies for the next six years. Yet it's a possibility.
Reyes has expressed his desire to stay in New York, so the Mets must make every effort to re-sign him.
That means moving pieces around and freeing up money. Carlos Beltran is certainly a name teams will be interested in trading for. And the Mets would love to avoid K-Rod's $17.5 million option from vesting, meaning they'll try to trade him to a contending team to work as a setup man.
K-Rod recently became a client of uber-agent Scott Boras (which K-Rod denies having done). If a team wants K-Rod, they could negotiate a multi-year extension in return for K-Rod waiving his option for next season.
Saving $17.5 million would go a long way toward keeping Reyes.
So while Reyes sits on the DL, it will give other teams a chance to rethink their desire to shell out big money to an injury risk like Reyes, while the Mets can use this period of inactivity to talk turkey with Reyes.
Reyes is the Derek Jeter of the Mets—he means more to them than to other teams. Putting Reyes on the DL sends a message to other teams than Reyes is an injury risk.
But for the Mets, it's worth the risk.
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