Mets fans have been running to message boards for the last two weeks to vent their frustration with Mets ownership and the approach the organization has taken in the Jose Reyes "sweepstakes".
Most fans demand that the organization do whatever it takes to keep Reyes at Citi Field while other fans don't see Reyes as a part of the future. To those fans, Reyes is a symbol of an era in the team's history that is infamous for underachieving and monumental collapse. It's hard to disagree with those fans.
Reyes supporters see him as the premier leadoff hitter in baseball. A player who brings the type of explosiveness and energy to a lineup that simply cannot be replaced. It's hard to disagree with those fans, too.
The real question Mets fans must ask themselves is: Does re-signing Jose Reyes improve our chances of winning a World Series? I do not believe that it will.
Now before I am attacked by the Reyes supporters, give me a few minutes to explain. My call for Mets ownership to let Reyes go is not without a plan in place. Re-signing Jose Reyes for say, five years $100 million would tie up $20 million a year in a player that has not helped take this team to the next level since he's been here.
Since Reyes came on the scene in 2003, the Mets have made the playoffs just once. Just one playoff appearance in eight seasons. Reyes is commanding an average salary of $20 million. Albert Pujols will most likely land a contract that pays him between $24-25 million a season. Pujols has played with the Cardinals for 10 years and delivered seven playoff appearances, three trips to the World Series, and two rings. It makes a hell of a lot more sense for the Cardinals to hold on to their premier player then it does for the Mets to hold on to Reyes.
Now you may be saying that it isn't fair to compare the two. I say that they are most definitely comparable. They are both going to command superstar salaries. Salaries that will effect the teams flexibility to upgrade other areas of the team for years to come. It is up to the Mets to walk away from the negotiation table and move on from Jose.
If Jose had a resume that was even HALF of Pujols' I would re-think my stance, but it isn't remotely close. I will never deny that Reyes is a fun player to watch but Mets fans need much more than a dancing bear. Mets fans need a winner and the numbers just don't support a case for Reyes in that department.
Earlier I said that I would not suggest cutting Reyes loose without a plan. The plan is as such. Letting Reyes walk will net the Mets two solid draft picks. The value of those picks could change with a new CBA agreement but nonetheless the picks will most certainly put the Mets in slot where two serviceable prospects can be obtained.
Go into next season with all intentions of moving David Wright at the deadline. Wright has been a good soldier but his resume is the same as Reyes'. As a Mets fan, you love to hear Wright being quoted that he wants to be part of the solution but the bottom line is that the Mets are in a transitional phase. A transition that will not be complete until Wright is nearing the end of his prime.
With the way that Wright's contract shakes out, the Mets will probably only be able to grab one decent prospect from a desperate team at the deadline. Similar to what they received for Carlos Beltran from the Giants.
So now you have just received three prospects for two underachieving athletes. Not so bad.
Next up is Johan Santana. If Johan comes back healthy and effective, believe me I understand that this is one giant IF, the Mets need to do whatever it takes to move him for a prospect or two. Yes, they will probably have to eat a large portion of his contract, but as was the case with Beltran the more money you eat the better prospect you will get in return.
Now we are up to four prospects for two underachieving athletes and one that has just had rotten luck since joining the team.
Team those four prospects with Zack Wheeler, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares, and Jenrry Mejia. That is one impressive farm system. A farm system that can produce the type of players that will most certainly contend for a World Series in the near future. Plus, add in the draft pick they have this season as well as the one they'll receive for what is most certain to be a trying 2012 season and the Mets are on their way.
I understand that most fans won't agree with this approach and that's fair but stop and ask yourself this question first: Do you honestly believe that holding on to Jose Reyes is the key to winning a championship?
For those of you that say yes, I beg you to try and remember the past eight seasons and come back to me then. For those of you that say no, I thank you for shedding the New York sports fan mentality and getting on board with the road to recovery. It may be a long road, but as Mets fans; do we know any other one?