The past year has solely revolved around Jose Reyes and whether he will return in 2012 or skip town for a big payday. Many people, myself included, have criticized Sandy Alderson and the Mets for not acting sooner to lock the all-star shortstop. But upon further review, I am not sure he is healthy enough to complete a 7, 6, 5 or even 4-year contract at the level we saw in the first half of 2011.
The 28-year old speedster was well on his way to an MVP award in the first half, batting .354 in 350 at-bats, 30 stolen base and 40 extra base hits including 15 triples. After going down with several hamstring injuries throughout the second half of 2011, Reyes only compiled 187 at-bats, batting .305/.356/.428 with one triple and nine stolen bases.
The 50-point drop in batting average is not nearly as stunning to me as the 1 triple and 9 steals. This speaks volumes to the idea that Reyes was not 100% healthy and did not want to test his fragile legs upon his return from the disabled list.
If you compare Reyes’ second half figures to those of his probable replacement Ruben Tejada, the numbers are shockingly similar:
In such a financially-pressed time for the Mets, is it REALLY worth it for them to commit to 6+ years and well over $100 million to Reyes when they can get almost the same level of production from Tejada for league minimum? Obviously Tejada is not a given source of production by any means, but to be perfectly honest, neither is Reyes anymore.
When Jon Niese strained his hammy in 2010 after tearing it back in 2009, Bobby Ojeda said on SNY that when you have a severe injury to a hamstring, it never completely goes away. It follows you throughout your career and it is something you have to cope with. Now that might work for someone who is only on the field for 6+ innings every five days, but not for a shortstop who relies on his legs for his entire game. Reyes makes his money off of being one of the fastest men to ever step foot on a baseball field, but if his legs give out on him, all you are left with is a good contact hitter with a strong arm; and that is not worth the great deal of money needed to retain him.
As a Met fan, I would love to see Reyes retire in Flushing. His talent is absolutely worth the money he and his agent Peter Greenberg are commanding, but whether his body can withstand another 5,6 or 7 years of wear and tear is a HUGE question mark, making him a risk. A risk that frankly the Mets simply cannot afford to take.