By Joyce Mandelkern
For months now I have been listening to people on sports talk radio and even some of you who comment on this blog, suggest that the Mets trade Jose Reyes. I have heard him called lazy, undisciplined, uncaring, and selfish and a myriad of other names. It has been suggested that he is one of the key reasons that the Mets have "collapsed" the last two seasons and did not go to the WS in 2006. I have even heard a big name New York sports talk show host suggest time and time again that we break up the core of the New York Mets and that Jose Reyes, while more talented than Derek Jeter could ever even hope to be, is not as classy, clutch, hard-working or possess Jeter's leadership skills and therefore not nearly the shortstop Jeter is. Let me state for the record I have never agreed with any of you. Shortstops with extraordinary talent are difficult to find and when people have suggested to me that he be traded, my answer is always the same - who are you replacing him with? My question is always met with silence. Anyone remember when we played Kaz Matsui at short and moved Jose to 2nd base? How did that work out? Well, folks, be careful what you wish for. Sometimes when you put things out to the universe, karma comes back to bite you in the butt. Consider us bitten.
Actually, mauled is more like it. I am hearing that we can't expect Jose back until the All-Star Break. Not to worry, his backup, Alex Cora, who can play at least 4 -5 times a week, is ready to play with a torn ligament in his thumb. Cora's backup, Ramon Martinez, is on the DL because he just had surgery on his broken pinkie finger. Have no fear, though, we have the backup to the backup, Wilson Valdez, and I'm sure we will hardly notice the difference between what he and Cora can produce combined and Jose.
The loss of Jose, combined with the myriad of other issues and injuries this team has right now presents the Mets with a major challenge. I would assume Omar has to do something or several somethings if we are to keep our heads above water in the divisional race. I'm not sure we have the chips to do what needs to be done, but this is why he earns the big bucks and I sit here and write posts. He needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat. And the Mets need to dig deep within themselves and keep fighting to stay alive. They can start by taking the series against the Nats and not hang their heads in the wake of this latest stake to the heart. The schedule gets tougher after they leave Washington so they had best get their minds right quickly and make their mental adjustments and any roster moves that need to be made.
So now you can all see what life without Jose looks like. I'm thinking it won't be pretty. I hope I'm wrong and that we do just great without our leadoff hitter. Anyone can bat leadoff and get on base. Who needs an excellent defensive shortstop with a great arm and great speed? Being strong up the middle is overrated anyway, right? Speed? Anyone can steal a base or two and drive a pitcher crazy. Spark an offense? Let another position player do that! Piece of cake.
So assuming we don't pick up another shortstop and we stick with Cora and Valdez, can we re-open the discussion of whether or not all you Reyes-haters still feel the same way after experiencing life without him? That's all I ask of you. And please remember how young Jose is. Just because he is a major leaguer does not mean he doesn't have things to learn and that he has reached his potential. I would prefer he be a Met when he does peak, as opposed to watching him be a superstar with another team.
This terrible series against the Pirates and all this bad injury news has given me a migraine. I guess I'm heading to the DL. At least I'll have plenty of company. OY.