Commentary

Mets must pull the trigger, deal Reyes

Sandy Alderson needs to clean house, and the shortstop's value can't get much higher

Updated: May 10, 2011, 8:14 AM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets can't afford to be prisoners of the moment.

Everyone knows this franchise needs an overhaul. Big time. It has to be broken down and built back up. There are no more quick fixes -- no magical free-agent signings out there to turn the Mess back into the Mets.

Enter Jose Reyes.

[+] EnlargeJose Reyes
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireJose Reyes had two more hits Saturday, although he also had a couple of base-running gaffes.

The Mets can't be afraid to pull the trigger on a deal that will send Reyes, their starting shortstop and one-time pride and joy, packing sooner rather than later this season.

There was even talk on this current homestand that the defending world champion San Francisco Giants would be interested in his talents, if he became available.

Some might look at this scenario as a dilemma. It's not a dilemma, it's a golden opportunity. Remember, you have to give in order to get. If the Mets, currently in last place in the National League East, are looking to add a top prospect or two -- including a pitcher, of course -- they have to be willing to part with a top-shelf player.

Reyes has been red-hot of late. The Mets should be thrilled, because it only raises the ante. On Saturday, Reyes went 2-for-5, including a two-out RBI single to give the Mets a 2-0 lead in their 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. He had two triples Friday night. In the team's past 11 games, Reyes is batting .355.

"Every time on the field, you play with no problem, I'm going to have fun," said Reyes, who started last season on the disabled list after playing in just 36 games in 2009. "This year, I went to spring training with no problems.

"Last year, I wasn't able to play in a game in spring training. This year, I could. That's the big difference for me to come into this season ready."

It's hard to watch Reyes play and not want him on the Mets for years to come. He's both a good player and an exciting player. And when he's healthy -- as he finally is this year after a couple of injury-plagued campaigns -- he's an All-Star shortstop most teams in baseball would love to have on their roster.

The Mets can't just offer Reyes, in the last year of his contract, a big-bucks deal to stay and not entertain the idea of life without him. It must be explored and given strong consideration, especially when you realize he will bring you the best young talent back out of all the players they will eventually unload as the trade deadline approaches.

Reyes, who will turn 28 in June, isn't kidding himself. He understands the business of baseball and knows there's a good chance he will be dealt. When asked if he wants to stay, or whether he has envisioned wearing a different uniform for the first time in his career, Reyes was honest.

"My focus right now is playing baseball and continuing to do my job," he said. "Whatever happens, happens in the future.

"But right now, my main thing is to continue to play."

The Mets have made many mistakes since 1986, their last championship season. One of the biggest is not dealing players when their stock is sky-high. Too often, they wait too long and aren't able to get full value. Outfield prospect Fernando Martinez is a recent example. He could have been the centerpiece of a big deal a few years back. His career is now stalled by injuries.

It's not just about Reyes, though. It's about all the major pieces to this organization -- the players who were supposed to be the nucleus of a championship-contending squad. But at this point, the Mets should be listening to everybody about anybody -- especially Reyes, David Wright, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay. No one has to be saved.

As good as Reyes and Wright have been, the left side of the infield represents what went wrong, not right with the Mets. It's hard to look past the historic late-season collapses both autographed by the pair.

The notion that the Mets can't part with Reyes because fans won't buy tickets is crazy. Reyes is playing well, but the Mets haven't been selling out Citi Field. Fans buy tickets to see a winning team, not just a player or two.

If there was ever a team that needed to be fumigated, cleared out, it's the Mets. And if management is serious about doing it, it can't be afraid to start with Reyes.

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