By: Stache Staff

Did Mets front office do the right thing by letting Reyes go?

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They say that if you love something, you should let it go. Well, there’s little doubt that many Mets fans loved Jose Reyes, but they aren’t the ones who decided to let him go. It was that cold, calculating, college-educated Mets front office that put all emotion aside and decided that they would not pay Reyes more than they though he was worth. Not even if he was about to jump over to a division rival.

On the internet yesterday, there was much emotional reaction from even the most level-headed Mets bloggers. Matt Cerrone decided he did not care what the rational thing to do was; he wanted his favorite player wearing orange and blue for the next six years.

Right now, I don’t really care about what’s most prudent, and what helps this team long-term, or what will get them to increase revenue and be more consistent down the road. Maybe when Spring Training comes, when I’m full of hope, sunshine and optimism, I can be more measured about this and know it’s for the best. Maybe. However, right now, all I can think about is how the Marlins just ran off with my favorite player … and that sucks.

Meanwhile, over at Faith and Fear in Flushing, Greg Prince lamented the loss of a Mets legend. Difficult to replace will be the run production that Reyes brings to the box score. Impossible to replace will be the excitement he brings to the stadium.

What it was to me was Jose being Jose. Jose lashing. Jose dashing. Jose gunning. Jose grinning. Jose and the Mets winning, Maybe not as much as they had been when they were an annual 89-win proposition (on average) for four straight years and he was leading off virtually every day, but enough so you could put together his legs and his arm and his bat and their fortunes. Gosh, it was fun to be in your seat by the start of the bottom of the first if you were going to the game or at your TV no later than 7:11 if they were on the road. Gosh, it was comforting crossed with exhilarating knowing the game couldn’t commence until Jose had the first of his ups. Gosh, he relished being a baseball player, and he did it as a New York Met.

Up front, it seems kind of stupid that the Mets would let Reyes go for less than $20 million per season. They sure would have won more games in 2012 with Reyes in the lineup and they sure would sell more tickets as well, which would help with future endeavors. General manager Sandy Alderson did his best explaining why he let Reyes go during last Thursday’s conference call with bloggers.

Do I consider him a franchise player? Yes. But a franchise player is only valuable as such if he is contributing to a winning franchise as opposed to simply acting as eye wash for a team that is not very good. So for me, franchise players are critically important — this goes back to the bonding that takes place with a handful of players on each team — you need those kinds of players to win. But ultimately, even a franchise player has to make a contribution to a winning team.

Alderson has said a lot of stuff regarding Reyes in the past few days, but for me, this is the quote that matters the most. We all know that whichever team decided to pay the most for Reyes was going to going to most likely get the most value out of the deal in the first two or three years and then be forced to to overpay a declining Reyes for the rest of the contract. It only made sense, then, for the team that signed Reyes to be prepared to win in 2012 or 2013. Clearly, Alderson does not see the Mets as ready to compete in that window.

Maybe if Alderson could freeze Reyes in carbonite until prospects like Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler were ripe and ready to front the rotation, he would make a better deal. Unfortunately that’s not the case, and by the time the Mets have enough talent to think about taking the division, Reyes will likely be in his decline stage. The timing just did not work out.

The good news (if you’re bitter like me) is that if the Marlins fail to bring in another high-impact player, they also will probably waste Reyes’ prime on a team that is not quite ready yet. Not with Philadelphia still loaded with veteran talent and with Altanta stocked with more young arms than you can shake a tomahawk at. Even if Miami does bring in Pujols or Wilson, that doesn’t quite guarantee a playoff run.

Of course, until the rest of the off-season plays out (and we’ve got a long way to go), we won’t know if Miami made a good deal for Reyes. In fact, even after this season we probably won’t know if it was a good deal. There’s plenty of speculation on the web, though. Dave Cameron of Fan Graphs had one of the more bullish opinions.

The value is certainly there when he’s on the field, but his ability to stay on the field enough to justify a big contract is essentially the question that will determine whether the Marlins made the right call today. Performance isn’t the issue, as a full-throttle Jose Reyes is clearly worth in excess of $18 million per season — in his case, it’s simply a question of health.

Cameron goes on to say that Reyes could miss 40 to 50 games per season over the length of the contract and still work out as a good deal for Miami. If you’re an optimist, that probably makes you upset that Alderson did not at least match the contract that Miami offered. If you’re a pessimist, you’re probably thinking that 40 games missed in Miami is equivalent to 100 games missed in Queens. For me, the deal is better for Miami than it is for the Mets because the Marlins have more talent in the majors for 2012 and 2013 than the Mets do.

Keith Law at ESPN.com is adamant that the Mets made the right call in letting Miami take their shortstop (subscription required). Law claims that “Shortstop is a tough hole for [the Mets] to fill in the short term, but given their other issues, they are better off with Reyes in South Florida.”

Law isn’t sold on Reyes’ ability to stay healthy into his 30s and call the assumption that he will even be able to play shortstop at age 34 “wildly optimistic.” He also believe that Miami isn’t good enough yet to sign such a risky deal based on winning right now, but like I said, that could change in the next few days.

There’s also the whole idea of creating excitement for a new ballpark to consider. Whatever, their rationale, Law is believes that Miami is taking a big risk with Reyes and that the contract could be a burden on them in the future. If they don’t make the playoffs in the next couple of years, that burden may be in vain.

Finally SB Nation’s Rob Neyer is sort of in between the opinions of Cameron and Law. He notes that if Reyes can play around 130 games per season, then the deal will look good. However, there is also the chance for a “catastrophic” injury that could make Reyes a liability on Miami’s books.

Right now, emotions of Mets fans are no doubt running wild. Many considered Reyes their favorite player. With Wright struggling with batting at Citi Field, Reyes took over as the face of the Mets last season and provided fans with great joy in an otherwise unhappy season.

However, when looked at objectively, Sandy Alderson’s mindset becomes more clear. The peak of Jose Reyes’ career simply did not coincide with the Mets contending for a playoff spot. Add to that the risk of Reyes’ legs not holding up into his early 30s, and you have a deal that would only be made with the purpose of selling tickets and winning a few more games in the short run. Good thing Sandy Alderson has the Mets’ future as his top priority.

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