Though it might be wildly optimistic to predict Jose Reyes will again scale the heights of the 2006-2008 seasons — campaigns in which the shortstop’s unique combination of speed, power and fielding prowess had an huge impact on the rest of the roster —- he’s off to a more than solid start over 2011’s first 32 games, so much so that his trade value would seem fairly robust. Good thing, too, in the view of Forbes’ Tom Van Ripper, who considers an April 27 brutally blown call by third base umpire Marvin Hudson sufficient evidence that Jose oughta be exiled at the earliest available opportunity.
Replays indicated that Hudson indeed blew the call, which the Mets’ T.V. announcers pointed out. What they didn’t point out: that Reyes chiefly had himself to blame. That while the call was wrong, all the movement and readjustments on Reyes’ part after the poor slide proved deceptive to the umpire, making the call tougher than it should have been. That a proper, fundamental feet first slide would have left no doubt about the play.
Pundits and fans that follow the Mets love to point to expensive busts Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo – each was recently jettisoned – as the poster boys for the club’s problems of recent years. After all, that’s what the Mets have been for most of the past two decades – expensive busts. But such pundits and fans would be wrong. Jose Reyes – a premium talent undermined by poor fundamentals – is the poster boy. The triple/ non-triple against the Nationals had all the elements of Reyes’ eight-year career: strong bat smoking a ball up the gap, explosive speed getting him to third, only to wind up back in the dugout thanks to a lack of brains. The sad part was how predictable the play was. Scintillating as he is to watch when he’s going well, Reyes has never really learned how to play the game. Aggressiveness and passion are great, when you know how to channel them. Smart players don’t dive recklessly into bases when they don’t have to. They don’t take the risks of stretching doubles into triples with no outs. And they don’t run through stop signs from the third base coach. Top leadoff men eventually learn the major league strike zone and walk 100 times a a year, yielding higher on-base percentages than Reyes’ .336 career mark. And smart shortstops don’t undermine their great range and athleticism with bad throws that come from trying to force plays that aren’t there.
“Nothing will better signal the end of the club’s unsuccessful approach than ridding themselves of the guy who embodies it,” argues Van RIpper, who presumably has nothing but the highest regard for the strikeout machine that is David Wright. While Wright’s lack of plate discipline, inability to make adjustments and what may or not be signs of diminished skills at the ripe old age of 28 are dismissed by some as “trying too hard”, Reyes successfully stretching a double into a triple (as proven by fuckin’ videotape) is cited by Van Ripjob as evidence of the latter’s brainlessness.
Yeah, there’s nothing suspicious or insidious about that.