By Rich Coutinho
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This has led to wild speculation about both Jose Reyes and David Wright — with most contending one of the two must go in order to properly rebuild the team.
Well, I am here to tell you that’s crazy talk if the Mets plan on winning anything in the near future. Both are young stars and have the numbers to back it up. They represent talent much in the mold of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan and Darryl Strawberry. I bring those names up why? Because those were all homegrown players, absolutely adored by the fan base.
And when they each left, the Mets organization took years to recover.
The simple point here is: When Wright and Reyes have been healthy, patrolling the left side of the infield together, the team has never had a losing season. That’s right. In the healthy 2005-08 years, these two players — connected at the hip since their early days in the Mets organization — enjoyed both personal and team success. In 2009 and 2010, when injuries struck, they rarely played together and the team’s winning percentage went south.
Mets fans have always had a place in their heart for homegrown talent, dating back to the early days when Buddy Harrelson and Cleon Jones joined the team in the mid 60’s. They were followed by pitching prospects Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, Ryan and Tug McGraw. When the team traded Seaver, Ryan, Koosman, and McGraw in the 70’s the organization entered the dark days and did not re-awaken until Strawberry, Gooden, Dykstra and Mookie Wilson arrived on the scene.
It is obvious that players like Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter put that team over the top, but without the homegrown base those Mets would have never given New Yorkers a championship in 1986.
Even though the 2000 team was Mike Piazza’s squad, it would be hard to think they would’ve won without the contribution of Edgardo Alfonzo (who was an RBI machine on that pennant winning team). For the current generation of Mets fans, Reyes and Wright are their guys. To a lesser extent, Ike Davis belongs in that conversation as well.
To the fans, Wright and Reyes are to the left side of the Mets’ infield what Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are to the right side of the Phillies’. I think the media just doesn’t get this. We only hear from Mets fans who criticize Wright and Reyes on talk radio — but these two are still very popular players, admired and loved by most Mets fans.
They both need to be part of the solution. And in the case of Reyes, the Mets need to show him the money. He’s not more valuable or less valuable than Wright, but his contract is up first. The financial woes of the team have been well documented (and in some cases, overstated). As I said before, the influx of capital from a new minority owner could ease economic pressure throughout the organization, including the possible allocation of a small percentage of that “new money” to keep payroll at current levels.
The media won’t tell you that. It doesn’t fit with their mission of telling Mets fans their team will be bad forever.
On that issue, all I will say is this: Just a short time ago, the media told us the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Bruins were doomed franchises for very different reasons. When the Seattle Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City, they experienced a brutal year in which they got off to a 5-29 start. People said you can’t have the NBA in a small market. Just a few short years later they were in the sport’s final four — and likely have as much promise for a bright future as any team in league.
The Bruins blew a 3-games-to-none lead to the Flyers in the Stanley Cup playoffs just 13 months ago and we were told they had to back up the truck. Well, it is a good thing they didn’t listen to the naysayers because they will be playing in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight.
The point is: A lot can change in a hurry, especially in sports. You can’t push the panic button. The Mets must resist the temptation to trade Reyes or Wright. They’re still young enough to be the bridge to future success. They also represent (along with Johan Santana) the only pieces of star power the team has. That should not be ignored.
To the credit of the Mets, no internal discussions of any substance to trade Wright have taken place. And from what I understand, the new management team has been wowed by Reyes’ numbers and very much want to keep him. But understand that they want to strike the best deal for the Mets, so their enthusiasm has to be somewhat tempered for that reason alone.
So, the news of breaking up Wright and Reyes has been grossly exaggerated by the New York media. In the words of former Mets closer Billy Wagner, “Yeah, that’s a shocker.”
OK Mets fans, do you agree with Coutinho? Comment away below…