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Make Up Your Minds, Please

Mike SteffanosFriday, June 3, 2011
By Mike Steffanos

All spring and into the early part of the season I've been reading over and over again about how the Mets needed to sell off their veteran assets to stock up their farm system. The Post's Joel Sherman has been hitting that theme quite hard.

As the Mets continue to struggle south of the .500 mark I suppose it was inevitable that the time had come for this type of column, again by Sherman. Yes, the same writer who has constantly preached the theme that the Mets needed to face reality and stage a fire sale to restock their system now tells us that we shouldn't expect to receive much in return.

Look, in the case of Jose Reyes, it certainly does remain to be seen how much value he would command. It would probably take a team that views Reyes as the missing piece of the puzzle -- the player that can push them over the top. Whether that team is out there with the combination of need, want and the prospects to make the deal is very much an open question.

I've never pretended to be a genius, but I've said all along that the smartest move with Reyes if the Mets can't resign him is to keep him all season anyway and take the two draft picks. That would certainly be preferable to anything comparable to the walk-year deals Sherman cites in this article (Teixeira from Atlanta to the Angels and Matt Holliday from the A's to the Cardinals). Those two high draft picks are likely to represent more potential talent for the Mets farm system than actually trading Reyes.

It's possible that a team might lose a shortstop and get a little desperate, but even then it would probably require Reyes to be willing to negotiate a contract extension with that club to get a haul back of equal or greater value than those two high picks.

Of course, if the Mets want to really alienate their fans they could decide to trade Reyes for a lesser return in order to save what's left on his $11 million contract this season. I know they're strapped for cash, but that would be a really bad move. There is so little trust between the fan base and ownership right now as it is.

Of course, some are suggesting that the Mets might resign Reyes and trade David Wright. Adam Rubin has a good piece on this possible scenario on ESPN.com. He explains why he doesn't believe keeping both is likely in a blog post here.

Given the payroll parameters Rubin lays out, it does seem unlikely that the Mets can commit over $70 million to Reyes, Wright, Santana and Jason Bay next season -- and Bay and Santana are virtually untradeable right now. I only wish that the Omar Minaya regime had been more realistic about where they were as a team when they added Santana and especially Bay. I've got nothing against either player, but I doubt either of them will provide anything like value in return for the money invested in them.

Santana is slated to make $24.5 million next year and $25.5 mil in 2013. There's a $25 million club option with a $5.5 million buyout in 2014. He's had major shoulder surgery, and I wonder if he'll be anything close to an ace when he returns -- whenever that is. You can only hope.

Bay is under contract through 2013, earning $16 million both years. He also has a club option for 2014 -- $17 million with a $3 million buyout. In 544 AB with the Mets he's got 24 doubles, 8 HR and 57 RBI. His slugging percentage is .379 over that span. What team would want Jason Bay in a deal right now that would relieve the Mets of any salary? You just need to cross your fingers and hope he finds it again. I guess it's possible if he gets hot for a couple of months and looks like the pre-NY Bay he might be tradable, but that seems less likely every day.

So, anyway, if David Wright is the one to be traded -- given that he is under contract for 2012 with a club option for 2013, those two years' worth of control should be worth some prospects, right?

Not so fast, according to Joel Sherman again:

Wright ... is elevated by being with a New York team. He is looked at as a better player here than he is around the baseball landscape. Now there also is fear over the condition of Wright's back and if, at 28, he is trending the wrong way. The general consensus I get when I ask outside teams about David Wright is, very good player, but would be best served if he were the third- or fourth-best player in the lineup and not asked to hit third.

Of course, the Mets would get offers for Wright. There certainly are organizations that feel that he has been overwhelmed by the combination of Citi Field's size and the seemingly ceaseless Mets problems. He is just 28. But the reality is that even interested teams are going to make offers based on who Wright is and not what he might become liberated from the Mets.

So again, although Sherman was arguing for a fire sale since spring training, he now argues that Wright doesn't have real value.

While Sherman makes some valid points I think he overstates the negatives. While Wright can be streaky and strikes out too much, the idea that he is only suited to be the third- or fourth-best player in a lineup is ludicrous. I only wish I rooted for a team with that kind of lineup.

The idea that players get overrated because they play in New York doesn't ring true to me, either. I think there is a perception around the league that New York players get overrated that actually leads to the phenomenon of underrating them.

For example, I listened to some talking head argue recently that Reyes isn't among the best shortstops in baseball. He actually thought Jimmy Rollins was a better player, despite the fact that Rollins hasn't had a good offensive season since 2007. Over the past two seasons Rollins' numbers are comparable to Bay's numbers despite playing his home games in a bandbox. Nothing against Rollins, but I wouldn't make a Reyes for Rollins deal even if you threw in a couple of Philly Steak sandwiches.

Honestly, if Reyes didn't play in New York I think he would be more respected around baseball, and the same with Wright.

By the way, at FoxSports.com Ken Rosenthal makes the argument that the Mets should try to keep both players. I understand the payroll obstacles involved, but that's exactly what I would do.

To my mind, if the Mets can get Reyes to sign for 5 years they should do it, and figure out a way to keep Wright. If they plan to be truly competitive again in 2013 they could do worse than rebuild a team around those two still young stars who have already proven they can play here along with Ike Davis. I only wonder why Ken Rosenthal seems to be the rare voice out there in the world of baseball punditry suggesting this. Maybe it's just not controversial enough to espouse a strategy that makes so much sense.

If you are just finding this blog again and wondering why I was gone for so long and what the plan is going forward, read this.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

Comments (4)

Another fascinating piece by Mike. One thing we know about Joel Sherman is that he speaks from both sides of his mouth and never shirks from his calling. Adam Rubin, on the other hand, makes a more credible prognostication. There are no rational arguments to not attempt to sign Jose Reyes. He is built for Citi Field and IS the most exciting player in baseball. If Skill-Sets Wilpon can't see it, I am not surprised. If Jose does exit as a free agent, we know two things... the Mets will get two draft choices and Ruben Tejada is probably better right now than any shortstop prospect they could obtain. Not only that, but he is 21 years of age, seems to have an excellent baseball IQ, is a terrific defender. If Beltran and K-Rod make exits before July 31, so be it. Rodriguez will not easily be replaced. The real story is whether retaining David Wright will be possible if Alderson signs Reyes. There is not much to not like about Wright, but he should bring back the most talent in a deal. And if the Mets like what they see from Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner at 3B, a deal for Wright might not be too surprising. As much as Citi Field plays to Reyes' strengths, it may be debilitating to Wright. An infield of Ike Davis, Tejada, Reyes and Murphy/Turner would be pretty formidable.

On Reyes... Mike is right. There is not one GM on baseball who would not want Jose Reyes at SS. Hopefully, that list includes Alderson & Company.

To all the experts who rate farm systems... Please tell us what team has had more players come out of their own system to make serious contributions? We have Davis, Tejada, Turner, Murphy, Thole, Pridie, Evans, Niese, Gee, Parnell plus F-Mart, Nieuwenhuis and Duda on the horizon. The same system produced veterans Wright, Reyes, Pagan, Bay, Pelfrey and Isringhausen. That's 19 home-grown players who will likely create some impact this season. Is there another organization that can make such a claim?

Maybe if this wasn't the joke of an arganization it has become, they would have extened wright and reyes last year when their value was lower amd we wouldn't have to be barraged with this stuff every day.Wayne Gretsky, the greatest forward in NHL history was traded in his prime.Jose Reyes is not Wayne Gretsky.Life will go on in Flushing if he is traded.

I am not saying that the Mets can't be a good ball club if you trade Wright &/or Reyes, but I am asking is that why can't they build the team around both players? Reyes & Wright are the best home grown players the Mets have had since Doc & Straw, 20 some odd years ago (before them was probably Seaver & Koosman). Mets have had very few superstars that have come from within the organization and I guess that is just their luck in player development, they get 2 every 20+ years. I believe that keeping those two players who are coming into their "prime" would be a good start to rebuild a team around. I don't for see any real difference makers down on the farm yet. Maybe Familia, Vaughn, & Harvey, but they are at least 2 to 3 years away. At the major league level Pelfrey is still inconsistent, but I believe he will figure it out. Niese has been better, but remember he fell off in the second half last year. Thole is still a work in progress, Tejada has been better but I do not see him as the cornerstone to build around, so who is the next superstar of the organization? As a lifelong Metsie I have been through more ups and downs than a yo-yo, I have always supported my team and I still believe we were cheated out of multiple championships in the 80's. I seen the bum squads of the late 70's & early 80's. I have lived through the worst team that money could buy. I thought the Bobby V era teams were good. 2006, 2007, & 2008 should have produce a dynasty, or at least a W.S. title. So here the Mets are at another "Big Valley" in their existence and they are talking about getting rid of the two best players they have. I am on the ledge once again and that 6-3 loss to the Braves last night did not help. I want to believe, where have you gone Tug McGraw, Mets nation turns it's lonely eyes to you. What's that you say Mrs Fred. Wilpon, Tug McGraw has left and gone away.

Bay makes 17 mill, santana is due 20 mill plus the next 2 years.If u sign reyes and wright to market rates for their positions they would both be making 15-20 mill a year.With the wilpons lack of money that's never going to happpen.Alderson needs to get clutch players to right the ship.As good as Jose and David are, they have failed too many times in big spots. If Wright and Reyes leave and the team makes the playoffs in a few years with different players, nobody will care.Plus we can always follow reyes and wright on mlb.com tv.

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