Reyes trade would impede Mets' recovery
Shortstop could bring impressive haul, but value greatest in NY
NEW YORK -- As the Mets hover at or near .500, the chances of them finishing this thus-far schizophrenic season with Jose Reyes in their employ aren't half bad. Their mercurial shortstop has sped to the lead of the batting race and played his best baseball since 2006, forcing the club's GPS to recalculate. The Mets must determine his value and decide whether it is prudent to deal him for pieces of an unclear future.
With little input from general manager Sandy Alderson, the rest of us concluded that Reyes would be joining the e-Mets -- erstwhile Mets -- at some point in July. The possibility existed for sure, but Alderson -- his poker face in a jar that he keeps by the door -- gave no indication of his leaning or whether he was leaning at all.
This much we know: The general manager has witnessed such superlative performance for most of the team's 65 games that his perceptions of Reyes must have changed -- from whatever they were to something they were not. Again, we must speak vaguely because Alderson does.
From this press-box perspective, Reyes, the Mets generally and Terry Collins unquestionably, have exceeded expectations. No Mets bandwagon has been built or occupied yet, and none should be at this point. The road separating the 32-33 record the team carries into its Monday night game against the Pirates and a 162-game record that represents genuine progress is long and potentially treacherous.
But through all the injuries, growing pains, financial uncertainty and the general disorder inherited from the previous regime, a glimmer is visible. Perhaps these Dark Ages won't last quite as long as feared and won't be quite so dark. For every game David Wright and Ike Davis are unavailable, Ruben Tejada gains the best kind of experience -- on-the-job training. And for each inning Johan Santana misses, Dillon Gee polishes the notion that offspeed pitching works.
And more conspicuously than any of that, Reyes, the ultimate triple threat, plays the game as if he embodies the skills of Rey Ordonez, Mookie Wilson and John Olerud, and the high-octane additive that fueled Wally Backman. He is a wonderful player again. His value to other clubs has seemingly increased; his value to the Mets has seemingly soared and added new elements to the "Do we deal him?" discussion.
If Alderson and his band of vanguard evaluators see the performances of Tejada, Gee, Davis, Jon Niese, Josh Thole, Angel Pagan and Justin Turner as indications of genuine potential, and if they sense that Santana, Wright and Jason Bay can be the players they were, then the Mets are not the fourth-place contenders they appeared to be when Ollie Perez lockered among them. And Reyes can't be traded or allowed to leave.
Davis, Tejada, Wright and Reyes make a nice infield, not great but certainly more than representative. As a foursome, they are young enough to have futures that extend beyond 2014, and enough differences in age exist among them that a four-at-once overhaul is unlikely. We don't yet know enough about Thole, Gee, Niese or Bobby Parnell. And to ask for all of them to reach their potential when Reyes, Wright, Santana and Bay are prospering is to ask for a encore of 1969. That summer was characterized as a Miracle.
Moreover, we can't begin to know all the fiscal obstacles facing Alderson from the Wilpon family's diminished treasury.
A future without Reyes would add to the obstacles. It will be a challenge with him. Going on without him -- notice it doesn't say moving forward without him -- seems implausible, a giant step backward for the sake of taking several smaller steps forward. The Mets could play for another 25 years and not have a player with such skills on their roster.
Reyes, even more than Wright, is an attraction. The club ought to look to its past to see the impact of an attraction. The Mets have had precious few special attractions in their nearly 50 seasons -- Tom Seaver, Dave Kingman, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Ordonez and Mike Piazza. Each of them provided a better-than-average chance for a spectators to see something extraordinary, something worth a dozen replays. Reyes warrants a place on that short list.
In that regard, his value is greater to the Mets than to other clubs, even though his performance to date has to have enhanced his value to others. If the Reds had interest in mid-May, what do they think now? Imagine the Reds of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips with a player as dynamic as Reyes added. How would the Mets read that added interest? What would their price be? How would other clubs regard Alderson's image of being an astute roster/payroll manager? No club wants to mortgage its future, even for a fleet, 28-year-old, switch-hitting shortstop with an exceptional arm, above average glove, untold and contagious energy and the ability to dominate an opponent.
Perhaps none of that will develop. Perhaps the Mets will dismiss the notion of dealing the second-most-talented player -- to Strawberry -- they have developed and allow Reyes to be part, a focal point, of their next period of success. Perhaps the dynamo they know is ...
Marty Noble is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.