By Rich Coutinho
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The news cut through the Mets fans chest like a knife through butter - Jose Reyes will be going to Miami to play for the Miami Marlins. Yes, that same division rival that short circuited Met playoff appearances in 2007 and 2008
It is the worst thing possible for the Mets fans. Let me be clear here, Jose Reyes is a dynamic game changing player that will be sorely missed and I do not blame him one bit for taking the best deal he could get for himself and his family. And for the record, I totally underestimated the aggressiveness of the Miami Marlins and was clearly wrong in my interpretation of their game plan.
But don't blame Sandy Alderson here. He was given a budget and was hoping the market would bring Reyes down from the "Carl Crawford" money of a year ago and to a certain extent, it did. It just did not come down far enough and for that reason, it made little sense to add $18 Million to a payroll in 2012 that already has $61 Million committed to Wright, Santana, and Bay among others.
Would you rather have Reyes than Bay for instance? Of course you would but Sandy inherited that contract and has to work within the framework of the situation. This was the first tough decision Sandy had to make here in New York and he could not be swayed by emotionalism or fan reaction.
The Marlins payroll will clearly be well north of $100 Million and that makes the situation different for them than the Mets. Sandy had to be the adult in the room and had to make the best decision long-term for the organization even if in the short-term, it makes things difficult.
I fully understand the way the Met fans feel today, they feel that they lost a part of their soul with Jose Reyes going south and to a certain extent, they are right. But in the long run, this move will benefit the Mets because it places them in a good place to add big-time players a year or two down the road when their finances are better defined and their prospects are ready to burst onto the scene. And I know it is a hard thing to digest or understand when you live in a town filled with Yankee fans and have a ballpark that has now become Citizens Bank Park North when the Phillies play here.
Now, I totally also understand in this economic climate we are in, if you decide to stay away from Citi Field because of this non-move, because the entertainment dollar can be spent in other places especially in a sports metropolis like New York City.
But I will tell you this - I've seen the players in the Met system that are a year or two away and there is some real talent down there. I also know Sandy's team is filled with highly competent baseball people like J.P Ricchardi whom I trust with the keys to the store.
Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, and Ruben Tejada are young players that are hungry and will help this team. I expect David Wright and Jason Bay to benefit from the new Citi Field dimensions and there is every chance to believe Johan Santana could return with a bang in 2012. I am sure the Mets will look at different closer options now that the Reyes issue has been decided and who knows... they could add a starter.
The point here is when you are trying to build a solid foundation, there will be those painful moments none of us want to face, moments like yesterday but believe me. This team has a plan in place and the right people are at the controls. Sure, if the team's finances were better, this might never have been an issue.
But the fact remains they are an issue and as a general manager, you simply can not waste time worrying about the things you can't control. I look back in Met history and know that in the early 80's, Frank Cashen had to make many decisions like this. For example, trading a popular star like Lee Mazzilli or even deciding to not retain Tom Seaver after the 1983 season.
Frank knew he had a plan and help was soon on its way with players like Strawberry, Gooden, and Dykstra. He also knew he would be in a better position to acquire players once those prospects were in place. I do not know if the Matt Harveys and Zach Wheelers of the world will be great pitchers but I do know what baseball scouts say.
I will miss being around Jose Reyes every day. I consider him a friend and he made things so easy media-wise being an honest accessible athlete. I also understand what Sandy Alderson did or did not do yesterday. Before you are ready to throw dirt at the 2012 Mets already, consider the 2010 Arizona Diamondbacks. A 90 loss team that added no bats in 2011 merely got a closer in J.J. Putz as well as all-star performances from Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson to propel them into the 90 win stratosphere in a division nobody thought they'd be a factor in.
Is it impossible to believe that Santana and say, Jonathan Niese could do that? And whichever closer Sandy chooses could do what Putz did? I thought Met fans were taught to believe in things like that.
Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Absolutely and that is why we play the games.
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