Jose Reyes to Miami Marlins: Five Positives for New York Mets Fans
Needless to say, this hurts for Mets fans, and is clearly the end of an era. Reyes had been with the Mets since his 2003 debut and had been one of the most exciting, explosive players in franchise history.
As any Mets fan could tell you, as Reyes went, the team went, making him an invaluable member of the organization for nine years, capping off his run in New York with the first ever batting title in Mets' history.
Obviously, it is going to be hard, if not impossible, to replace a player like Reyes. Between his defense, his average, his speed and just his general energy, Reyes leaves a huge hole on the Mets roster now.
But this article isn't about all the negatives. Instead, it's an attempt to get Mets fans to look at the positives now that Reyes is officially gone.
Hey, it's something, right?
Here are five things that Mets fans can feel a bit better about after suffering this blow.
The Strong Pitching Prospects
The Mets farm system is littered with young, talented pitching prospects who could make a difference in the years to come.
Matt Harvey is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound starting pitcher out of the University of North Carolina who was selected by the Mets in the first round of the 2010 draft.
Harvey had a very strong season this past year, including going a combined 13-5 with the St. Lucie Mets and the Binghamton Mets. Harvey is a power pitcher, using his strong fastball and improving slider to strike out 156 batters over 135.2 innings.
Brad Holt is another rising star in the Mets minor league system. He is a 6-foot-4 righty who found his niche as a reliever last year with Binghamton. Out of the bullpen, Holt went 6-2, holding opponents to a .197 batting average.
Holt has an explosive fastball and a dangerous curveball to complement it, which has frustrated hitters in the minors thus far.
Then there's the big one, Zack Wheeler, who was acquired in a trade with the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran this past season, and is currently the crown jewel of the Mets minor league system.
The righty has a 95 mph fastball as well as a curveball that is said to already be major league ready. Like Matt Harvey, Wheeler has a blistering strikeout rate, sitting down and average of 10.1 batters per nine innings last season.
Needless to say, the Mets expect big things from this 21-year-old.
Now, obviously, all of these numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt as they are still against minor league talent. It will also be a while before some of these guys see the major leagues; Harvey and Wheeler are only 22 and 21 years old, respectively.
What I'm looking at, though, is the upside. All three of these guys have potential to do major damage with the Mets in a few seasons, and being homegrown talent, they will be affordable and ready to go when needed.
No More "Will He, Won't He" Storylines
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The predominant story of the Mets season last year was not the emergence of the young talent. It wasn't the injuries that seem to plague them every season. It wasn't even how good or bad the team was performing.
The story everyone wanted to talk about last season was whether or not Jose Reyes would be playing in Flushing next season.
Well now, the question has been answered. And no, the answer was certainly not what we wanted, but at least it's an answer and we can move on.
Undoubtedly, the constant badgering of the players about Reyes had to wear on them a bit. It seemed like every player in the Mets clubhouse was asked at one time or another about Reyes and whether or not he should stay in the Big Apple, which clearly created a bit of an unwanted distraction for the young team.
Now that is over. Now the team can worry about what is happening this season, not next season.
Yes, Reyes is gone, but he took a major distraction with him. It may not be much, but, hey, it's the little things that count, right?
The Young Power Hitters
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Obviously, the Mets have not exactly been a power-hitting team over the past few seasons. Since the move to Citi Field, the Mets have placed 30th, 24th, and 26th in total team home runs.
In today's game, not hitting home runs will kill you, which partly explains the Mets struggles in recent seasons.
The power outage for the Amazins over the past three seasons has been attributed to two things—a lack of actual home run hitters and a ballpark where home runs come to die.
General Manager Sandy Alderson has already authorized the fences to be moved in, solving one of the problems, and the Mets may have also found a host of home run hitters.
With the fences in, David Wright may return to being the home run threat he once was. Wright has been the Mets player most affected by the deep fences, and therefore should be the one to benefit most from them being brought in.
Wright will also benefit from not being the only one in the Mets lineup who can generate some power.
Last season, Lucas Duda emerged as a true slugger, stroking eight home runs over the last two months of the season while driving in 31 RBIs. With his recent move to right field, the Mets now have a position for the big guy and will be able to keep him in the lineup at the start of next season.
We can't forget about Ike Davis either, who looks to be 100 percent healthy come spring training.
Davis drilled seven home runs over his first 36 games, but had his season cut short after colliding with Wright while trying to catch a pop-up in May, rolling his ankle and beginning a series of complications that kept him off the field.
Luckily, Davis did not need surgery and will be ready to go for next season.
These guys could hit home runs in the old Citi Field. With the new dimensions, this trio could change the culture for the Mets and start to make the long ball relevant again.
Mets Can Refocus the Offseason
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Since the start of free agency, the Mets have been focused on trying to re-sign Reyes. Now that Reyes is gone, the Mets can worry about spending whatever money they have on improving other parts of the team that need it.
Most notably, the Mets need a pitcher or two. In terms of starters, I'm not asking for an ace or anything like that.
With Johan Santana hopefully coming back, it will be as if the Mets signed a huge free-agent pitcher anyway. What I want is a cheap pitcher who can give solid, consistent outings as a four or a five starter.
Some free agents who I look at, who fit this role, are Javier Vazquez, Edwin Jackson, Aaron Harang, or even a Mark Buehrle if the price is right. Again, no one who is going to jump out at you as a big time signing, or as a potential ace, but someone who can eat innings and give some good outings.
The bigger concern, I think, is in the bullpen. It feels as if the Mets have not had a consistent bullpen since 2006, and since the departure of Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets have had a void at the closer position.
Guys who I would like to see the Mets take a look at would be Matt Capps, Jeremy Accardo, David Aardsma, or for a real stretch, Ryan Madson.
Hopefully, with so many closers on the market, the prices will drop right into the Mets price range and the Amazins can pick up some strong relievers to rebuild their bullpen for cheap.
The Mets Have Nothing to Lose
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Let's be honest for a minute here. Look around the National League East.
We have the Phillies with their Murderer's Row of pitching staffs, the Braves with their young superstars, the Nationals, who have young talent of their own and are looking to make some big offseason signings, and, of course, the Marlins, who just took Reyes and may have their sights set on Albert Pujols next.
So where does this leave the Mets? With absolutely nothing to lose.
With teams like this in their division, clearly the Mets are going to have low expectations for next year.
But that may not necessarily be a bad thing. With no pressure to succeed, the Mets will have achieved something not thought possible—flying under the radar in New York.
In the past, the Mets have let lofty expectations hinder them. This year, it's everyone else's turn to bear the burden of expected success. This year, the Mets can be that scrappy team that, come August, keeps lingering around and no one knows why.
Is it a long shot? Of course. Am I drawing at straws here? Yeah, a bit, but this is why we're Mets fans.
Even when things are bleakest, as they are now, we need to look for the silver lining. Until this offseason plays out and games start being played, no one truly knows yet what next season will bring.
As the great Tug McGraw once said, "Ya Gotta Believe!"