A Rocky Solution

Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Players


How about a Troy Tulowitzki-style deal for Jose Reyes and the Mets?

Because the fan reaction has been so loud and Reyes’s play has been beyond superlative, the Mets shortstop is making the lives of the front office very difficult in a good way—for now.

In the near future, it’s an issue that has to be handled; in the not-so-distant future of the winter, it’s a big problem and potential public relations disaster for a club that doesn’t need more ridicule.

Sandy Alderson is going to talk with Reyes’s people in the coming weeks about the parameters of a contract extension.

Speculation is fruitless.

The dollar value; years; whether the Mets are going to seriously explore trade options if they can’t sign him; or don’t think the team will have the money to pay him—all are byproducts of the landscape surrounding the Mets.

They’re not dealbreakers in any context.

The Mets have played far better than anyone could have expected partially due to league-wide parity and with a large amount of credit due to manager Terry Collins. But everything must be on the table regarding Reyes.

So here’s an idea: a long, long, long term contract with a dollar value that would satisfy Reyes’s financial desires and keep the team finances in order until the ownership issues are settled.

The Rockies don’t have a ton of money to work with—their 2011 payroll is $82 million—but they sign their players to longer term deals than the norm to keep them. They’ve done so with Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez and Tulowitzki.

Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.

But they keep their recognizable stars.

The Tulowitzki deal was criticized—by me as well—because he was already signed to a team-friendly contract through 2014; they chose to keep that current contract in place and extend the extension through 2020 with a 2021 club option.

It’s value comes to $157.75 million for 10 years.

Would that type of offer satisfy Reyes? Give him the chance to spend his entire career with the Mets, keep his home, his children in school and be a Met for life?

The discussion has centered around Reyes wanting to match Carl Crawford‘s contract with the Red Sox of 7-years, $142 million. It’s been done so in embarrassing fashion because of the New Yorker article profiling owner Fred Wilpon. This has never been said by Reyes or his people—at least publicly.

A Tulowitzki-type deal would extend a lifeline to the Mets in keeping Reyes, placate the fans and send a signal that the club isn’t looking to slash payroll to minimalist proportions.

It would be reasonable for all sides and it should be examined closely.

Very closely.

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The Present And Future Of The Mets

Books, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Free Agents, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players

While the situation is still fluid, judging from the reporting of the Mets pending deal with David Einhorn, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement for both sides.

According to this NY Times article, in brief and to the best of my understanding, Einhorn is infusing the organization with cash to continue operations and will have the option of purchasing the entire team if the Wilpons lose their case in the Madoff mess. If the Wilpons are able to maintain control of the franchise, Einhorn will keep a minority stake and get his investment money back.

The debate as to the wisdom of this will rage with those knowledgable and not weighing in, but from what’s being publicly divulged, it sounds good for both sides.

As for the reactions to a financial guy buying into the Mets and the attempts by the media, bloggers and fans to “influence” the negotiations in some way (stopping Einhorn; entreating Mark Cuban; “forcing” the Wilpons to sell), here’s my advice: wake up.

Using Fred Wilpon’s comments in the new issue of the New Yorker as a cause célèbre is a convenient way to complete a column and try to exert phantom power, but MLB and the Mets aren’t going to care about the desires of outsiders; they’re not going to pursue Cuban and beg him to buy in because some perceive him to be the answer to the Mets prayers; and they’re not going to shun Einhorn because he’s not “of the right background” as if his genealogy is not adequate to gain his membership card; he’s a Wall Street guy and Wall Street guys are the ones with the money.

And, um, the lauded Rays front office is loaded with Wall Street/financial guys.

I discussed the Wilpon comments last week; you can read that posting here.

As for the Mets current struggles on the field, what were you expecting?

This team isn’t good. They’re not equipped to contend even in the watered down National League; they’re in the toughest division in the NL and plainly and simply do not have the talent to hang with the Marlins, Braves and Phillies throughout the summer. Whether they win 73 games; 78 games; 80 games or whatever is largely irrelevant for 2011.

Mets fans don’t want to hear that; Mets club personnel don’t want to say it; but it just is.

This season is designed for GM Sandy Alderson to reconstitute the club from top-to-bottom; that might include trading Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez. The borderline derangement at the thought of Reyes either being traded or allowed to leave as a free agent is typical of the response which caused prior club regimes to undertake acts that are now retrospectively ludicrous; maneuvers that were done only to accrue the short burst of positivity that comes from doing what the fans and media want.

The problem is that’s how they got into this mess to begin with.

So Mets fans and analysts have to ask: do we want to aspire to be the Red Sox—who were as much a laughingstock as the Mets are currently before John Henry (another financial guy) bought the team—or do they want to remain the “Mets”; not the noun Mets; it’s the adjective “Mets”—a meaning we don’t have to go into here because it doesn’t need to be explained.

The rampant panic as to the potential loss of Reyes is ignorant of reality. The Mets hired Alderson because he has a history of doing what he feels is right for his organization in lieu of what’s popular. Of course some of that was wrongheaded and selfish as was the case when, as president of the Padres, he tried to validate his role in Moneyball instead of making sound decisions; but given his statements since taking over the Mets, he’s learned from his mistakes as any competent executive must do.

The fleeting nature and crisis-a-day atmosphere is part of the 24-hour news cycle and it can be a detriment to running anything correctly.

This current club is not the one that will return the Mets to glory. Fans calling for the signing of Reyes immediately to preclude his departure; for aggressive (and stupid) player moves are the same fans who wanted Omar Minaya fired for the past 3 years after Minaya did what they called for him to do!

That’s what Jeff Wilpon, Tony Bernazard and the rest of the crew who were in charge of the club since 2004 created.

So conscious of public perception, the Mets were a creation of that stimulus response; it was a vicious circle; the pattern must be interrupted and altered for it to change in the long-term.

Regardless of the residue of what that management did and didn’t do, the Mets under that dysfunction, came close to winning it all in 2006; and were undone by circumstances and self-destruction in 2007 and 2008; by 2009-2010, the entire foundation came crumbling down.

But these things are rebuilt quickly and rarely is it done with one player such as Reyes; if he leaves in one fashion or another, it’s up to Alderson to figure out how to move forward; judging such a departure as catastrophic is short-sighted and leads to desperate stupidity.

Deranged ranting and self-indulgence won’t help this team in 2011, a known “bridge year”; once the sale to Einhorn is complete and the financial health of the club is stabilized, more will be known. They might choose to try and retain Reyes or they might not, but it won’t be that one decision that will make-or-break the franchise; in fact, dealing Reyes might be the building blocks of a return to prominence for the Mets—you don’t know.

The Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Reyes, Beltran and possibly K-Rod moneys are all coming off the books; which players from other clubs who might come available in a trade for a variety of reasons renders doomsaying for the future meaningless.

Let it shake itself out and trust the baseball people.

There’s really no other choice.

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I’m administrating a discussion group on TheCopia.com. Click on the link to leave a comment or start a new topic. Check it out.

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