Ram’s Rambles: Jose Reyes And OBP

See those men pictured above? Jose Reyes and David Wright. Not too far back in the past, Reyes was “The most exciting player in baseball” and Wright was “The Prince of NY.” They are cornerstones of this organization and I hope¬† I still respect them both as much as I did two or three years ago. Wright has fallen victim to a concussion, some struggles with runners on (.261 with runners on, .260 with RISP, .250 with bases loaded in ’10) and a sharp increase in strikeouts, seeing his rate rise from 118 in 2008 to 161 in 2010 – perhaps he’s trying to do too much. Reyes on the other hand, has fallen victim to injuries – playing only 36 games in 2009 – his lowest total since 2004, when he wasn’t even a starter (so throw the damn injury prone label out the window, please.) He went on to rebound to play in 133 in 2010 – but stole only 30 bases, a sharp drop from the 65 he averaged from 2005-2008. There is question to which Jose Reyes we will see this year. Indeed, that will determine how much money he’ll get in his contract, but it should not determine whether the Mets sign him or not.

Do you get what I’m saying? Regardless of how well he does this year, I think the Mets need to sign him. I have to disagree with my colleague Craig on this one. Now, if he goes out there, injures his leg and doesn’t play the whole season – that’s an extreme and I can understand not signing him after that. But let’s be realistic and a bit optimistic for a second. Let’s assume Reyes stays completely healthy this season and completely dispels the “injury-prone” idea. But then let’s say he doesn’t drastically increase his OBP and puts up a .285/11/50/100/60/40 line. So i’m saying he’ll hit .285, drive in 50, score 100 runs, walk about 60 times and steal about 40 bases. Unspectacular by Jose Reyes standards but still pretty good overall at SS. For argument’s sake, his OBP is about .340? Sandy might not like it, but he’s going to need to shell out the money to get Reyes.

Why do I think so? This is where I need to throw the stats out the window. Jose Reyes is our lead off guy. He gets on base, causes havoc, and even had the term “Reyes Run” coined for him by Gary Cohen. For the record, that’s a bunt single – SB – and two ground outs or something of that nature to drive him in. But that’s besides the point – I can’t see a single player stepping up to replace the gaping hole Jose will leave if the Mets don’t sign him. Citi Field is built for this guy. We always say that Reyes never reached his potential – but if you take his best year, let’s say 2006 (the year we made the playoffs…?) where he batted .300/19/81, stole 64 bases, and had an OBP of .354. Tough for a leadoff hitter but Jose Reyes was a damned dynamic player that year. As he was and will continue to be for years. Turning 28 this year, Reyes is in his prime and can provide at least 3-4 more years of dynamic play.

Without Reyes atop the Mets lineup, I think we are destined to fail. Now don’t get me wrong – he needs to improve his OBP and his play overall, but honestly, I’d take the 2005-2008 Reyes atop my lineup every single season. Even a watered down Reyes outranks most shortstops and most lead off men.

If it comes down to Reyes being passed on by Alderson because of OBP, i’ll have to reconsider my stance as a baseball fan. Nobody on the Mets has the potential to do what he does, especially in terms of stolen bases – don’t sit here and try to convince me that Angel Pagan can steal 50 plus bases because he’d have to be the replacement leadoff man… Heaven knows who our new SS will be. And for those of you that do want him gone…? I’d like to see how you feel the first time you see him in an opposing uniform. I am just a kid who watches baseball, yes…but this kid really can’t deal with the idea of the Mets losing their “rare” home grown talent.