Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The Mets need more of the Jose Reyes on the left, and less of the one on the right. And not just because the one on the left has just scored a big run against the Phillies (and perhaps is about to dance...more on that in a minute) and the one on the right has just committed a costly error that directly led to a 5-run inning.

No, it's because the one on the left defines the Mets in good times, while the one on the right defines them in bad times. I'm realizing more and more that as Jose Reyes goes, so go the Mets.

The Mets had three straight national broadcasts over the weekend - Saturday on Fox against the Phillies, Sunday night in Philadelphia on ESPN, and then on Monday in Chicago back on ESPN. I didn't hear much about this on Monday night, but it certainly was talked about plenty on Saturday and Sunday. Apparently, Carlos Beltran had a conversation with Reyes about being his joyful self, dancing in the dugout, instead of trying to be a serious ballplayer (to sum it up). Basically, Reyes needs to loosen up a bit.

And I think I agree. The Mets are fun to watch when Reyes is yukking it up in the dugout. Other teams don't like it? Fine. Just go out and beat them and shut them up.

A few years ago, I never thought I'd be so torn on Jose Reyes. I would have thought I'd always be 100% in his corner. But we're coming off an off-season where I wouldn't have minded seeing him traded (for the right price - Johan Santana, specifically). And now I'm turned around again, thinking Omar Minaya showed great patience and loyalty by holding on to Reyes (and still getting Santana...what a deal that was!). And I have a lot of opinions here.

I don't think Jose Reyes will end his career as a Met. I think David Wright will. Something tells me that down the road, Wright will be given an opportunity to finish out his career in New York, while Reyes will either explore free agency and move somewhere else or be used in a trade down the line. And the Mets will be fine with Wright - you can't ask for a better ballplayer to wear your uniform. That said - David Wright doesn't set up the Mets for success the way Jose Reyes does.

For some reason, the Mets feed off Reyes in a way they don't with Wright. Perhaps it's because for Wright to hit a 2-run homer, for example, he needs Reyes on base ahead of him. Perhaps it's because Reyes can keep the team light in a way that Wright can't. Whatever it is, Jose Reyes' attitude is more important to the team than anyone else's, and September bore that out a little.

And I think that's why Rickey Henderson's influence was so negative. Because Reyes' dancing and celebrating in the dugout (by the way - it's not like he's showing up the other team - he's celebrating with teammates in the dugout with dances and special handshakes - I don't take that as a slight to another team) was not at the expense of his performance in the game. It was part of his game. When he stopped hustling on the field (for whatever reason, this happened when Henderson was coaching), and his performance suffered, he looked less like a joy-filled player and more like a guy who was celebrating individual accomplishments, and less like a team player. In other words, like someone who didn't care about team performance...because, fans like me thought, how could he possibly be happy at a time when the team is doing so poorly (a la last September)?

Which brings us to this year. Reyes took last September pretty personally. And I think he looked himself in the mirror and decided the celebrating had to go. But I think it's a big part of his game, and other parts of his game suffered because he was thinking about that, plus last year too much. Now Reyes needs to find a balance between his celebrating and taking the game seriously - because both are important to him and the team. So thank you, Carlos Beltran, for having that conversation with Reyes. It just might make this season very enjoyable to watch. Have fun out there, Jose Reyes!

WRIGHT WATCH: Monday night was significant because for the first time since Thursday, David Wright didn't double. Time to check in on his chase for the all-time lead:




P.S.: Good thing the Mets only played two games in Chicago (and don't face the Cubs again until the end of September). That was an ugly series. And it was not a very flattering two games for the bullpen. Or, to put it more bluntly, the bullpen was downright awful.

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