By Jason Keidel
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If Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and/or Today’s Knuckleball and WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman are to be believed, the Mets’ brass is debating a dubious, back-to-the-future moment.
Jose Reyes could come back to Flushing, the former hit king back in Queens.
His bio is pretty robust.
His career numbers: .290 batting average, 118 home runs, 621 RBIs, 479 stolen bases.
But that was the old Jose Reyes, which is to say the young Jose Reyes. Before the life left his formerly blessed limbs. Before he spent more time on the police blotter than the batter’s box.
Don’t do it, Mets.
It smells, looks and feels dirty. It smacks of desperation.
The optics alone are awful. We are increasingly — and rightfully — sensitive and proactive regarding domestic violence. Our goal is to push away players with tattered histories of battering women. Allegedly.
But it’s not alleged that Reyes was suspended for violating MLB’s personal conduct policy. It’s not alleged that the Rockies can’t wait to get rid of him. Employers don’t do that if the player has a) loads of legs left or b) is a person of pristine character.
For too long we — sports and society — have turned a tone deaf ear to the plague of violence against women.
All the Mets have to do is look across the Harlem River, where the Yankees drooled over a fellow alleged perpetrator. We don’t know if Chapman assaulted his girlfriend that day. But we do know a dozen cops were called to his home last October, and that his brand of conflict resolution is busting eight caps into his garage.
Chapman is throwing flame in the Bronx, yet the Yanks are frigid this season — under. 500 and buried in fourth place in the AL East. Maybe there’s no karmic connection between Chapman and the Yankees’ woes. But maybe there is.
We know the abject hypocrisy of sports. A team’s willingness to give a player a second, third or fourth chance is not commensurate to his ability to repent, but rather his ability to play.
And, let’s face it, the Jose Reyes experience was conflicted even at its– and his — best.
His final game was a perfect microcosm of his career in New York City. Was he the batting champ who won the crown in his final at-bat or the brat who removed himself right after?
We all know that Reyes was largely a blast. He played hard, fast and with a wide, white smile all night. And we could debate all day whether the Mets should have let him walk without making a real offer. After all the talk about billion-dollar deals, Reyes sailed to South Beach for barely $100 million. For a supreme leadoff hitter, in his prime, who had just won a batting title.
But there’s no debate over this: In his last action, he hit .259, with a wretched .291 on-base percentage and was 32 years old. Now he’s 33, hasn’t played since 2015 and is saddled with the twin burdens of age and a domestic violence case hanging like an anvil around his neck.
Sure, the Mets just made Julio Teheran look like Juan Marichal. They can’t hit anyone, anywhere, any time.
Look at the paltry run support their bejeweled pitchers have received so far this season:
• Matt Harvey 2.57 runs per game
• Jacob deGrom 3.08 RPG
• Noah Syndergaard 3.62 RPG
• Bartolo Colon 3.92 RPG
• Steven Matz 4.83 RPG
Jeff Wilpon is panicking. The Mets are hitting like a minor-league — make that little-league — team. but the answer isn’t someone whose heart already pumps with bad blood over his original tenure.
Now Reyes is older, slower and can’t hit. And now, in a quintessential Met moment, they might want to make him play third base. Nothing like taking a player in repose and remolding his game.
And there’s the bitter irony that he would be replacing his old running mate, David Wright. Wright and Reyes were supposed to usher in a new age of Mets baseball, of epic baseball, of endless dominance. They were supposed to lead the charge to a string of pennants, if not a bracelet made of World Series rings. A Yadier Molina home run later, the dream bubble burst.
A week ago, I wrote a piece saying it wasn’t time to jam the panic button. Then the bottom-feeding Braves smoked the Mets, at Citi Field. So while I still assert it’s not panic time, it is time for concern.
But the answer isn’t someone who may not have wanted to be here the last time he was around. And would only consider the Mets because no one is considering him.
If it didn’t quite work then, there’s no way it will work now. Gotham has turned the page on Reyes. It’s time for the Mets to do the same.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel