TWO REASONS REYES IS GONE: MONEY AND OBPBy Adam Rubin
Why is this Jose Reyes' last Opening Day as a Met? Here are two reasons: money and on-base percentage.
Reyes' legs look as healthy as they were before 2009 hamstring tendon surgery, which means he may put up gaudy numbers this season -- the kind of numbers that mean he'll command a $100 million-plus contract in the offseason.
Given the Mets' perilous ownership situation that may not be resolved by the winter, the team likely will not be in the position to offer such a contract. Nor, for that matter, does general manager Sandy Alderson likely have the inclination to commit six or seven years to a player in his late 20s who is reliant on his legs -- the type of length someone is bound to offer a player as dynamic as Reyes.
The sabermetric-inclined front office also values on-base percentage. And although Reyes has pledged to try to walk more often this season, that's just not his game. Reyes had a .333 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot last year. (Remember, ex-manager Jerry Manuel dabbled with Reyes as a No. 3 hitter, too.) Among hitters with at least 470 at-bats in the No. 1 slot in 2010, Reyes ranked ninth of 10. He topped only Minnesota's Denard Span, who had a .331 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot.
So as much as Reyes wants to stay, the financial tug of signing elsewhere probably prevails. For that matter, the pragmatic front office could trade Reyes before the July 31 deadline.
NO -- YOU CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC!By Greg W. Prince
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
Branch Rickey, Ralph Kiner is fond of reminding us, dismissed star players' salary demands with the statistically inarguable repudiation, "We finished last with you, we can finish last without you." The Mets might indeed finish uncomfortably close to last with Jose Reyes as their shortstop and leadoff hitter in 2011, but it's unimaginable they can challenge for first any time soon without their singular spark plug.
Can it be proved to Sandy Alderson that a healthy Reyes in his late 20s and early 30s can serve as the same style catalyst he did from 2005 to 2008? And even if the genius GM of our times is thoroughly convinced of Reyes' worth, will the franchise be willing (let alone able) to pay it? There is a new currency in baseball, and it's called Carl Crawford money. A superb Reyes season would theoretically elevate him into that seven-year, $142 million neighborhood. A less stellar campaign might make him more affordable ... but also less attractive.
Maybe Mets fans' best hope of holding on to him relates to Reyes' resonating more in Queens than anywhere else on the planet. It was Reyes' play that made him a force. It was Mets fans' response to his play, however, that made him a phenomenon. There's been little to cheer about lately in Flushing. Take away "Jose-Jose-Jose," and you'd stop the music altogether.
Where the Mets would finish without Reyes is unknown, but whatever place it is, it looms in the Mets fan's mind as eerily silent.