A preview of the 2008 Mets, presented in the expected batting order, followed by pitching rotation, followed by impact bullpen/bench players. Today we focus on shortstop Jose Reyes.
2007: .280 avg, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 119 runs, 78 SB, .354 OBP
This season could go one of three ways for Jose Reyes.
1) A season-long funk because he's mad, upset, unnerved by the fact that his name popped up throughout the Johan Santana trade process.
2) The total opposite of number 1 - a great season, to make people realize the Mets are lucky to have him playing shortstop and batting leadoff.
3) The same old, same old...which really isn't that bad.
I'll admit - I was a little fed up with Jose Reyes last year. But while the Mets were collapsing in September, he was hitting .205, stole just 5 bases, and got on base just 35 times in 27 games (especially significant when you consider he was on base an average of 33 times in the previous 5 months on hits alone). So I think I had a right. But time heals all wounds, and I'm ready to start fresh and forgive and forget.
Reyes needs to do the same. I'm sure he's hurt that the Mets could have parted with him to bring a big star to New York. But he needs to understand that's the nature of the business. And the fact is, the Mets didn't trade him, and Omar Minaya bent over backwards to stress they never really were close to doing so. And now the Mets are a lot better, and Jose Reyes is absolutely a big part of why they are so good.
Reyes's performances at the end of 2007 and in the 2006 post-season are starting to show some sort of pattern - either he's wearing down at the end of seasons, or he's pressing too much with everything on the line. Maybe this is a good thing. The Mets surely have to notice this, and make adjustments to it. And other teams might start underestimating him at those points in the year, which could make him more dangerous than he already is.
I think another big plus for Reyes this year is the absence of Rickey Henderson. I don't think it was a coincidence that after his arrival, Reyes's game went downhill. I don't know exactly what to pinpoint there, but it seemed like there was a connection. (Conspiracy theorists [my dad] will say Reyes started to dog it because of Henderson, but I don't think Henderson changed Reyes's attitude, just a little bit of his approach, I think.) Consider Reyes had 46 steals, caught 11 times before the All Star break (and Rickey's arrival), with just 32 steals after, and he was caught 10 times. Something happened.
If I had to make a prediction for Reyes's 2008 season, I'd go somewhere between numbers 2 and 3 at the start of this article - I think he'll come out gangbusters, in part because he wants to make up for the end of last season, and partly because he's happy he wasn't traded. I don't think there will be much anger. And I think he'll be shown lots of love by the Shea fans...I know I'll be on his side again.