Monday, June 30, 2008

Grow Up Jose

I am getting sick and tired of Jose Reyes.

I no longer question his skill or his potential - for the first few years of his career I was convinced that I was dealing with the reincarnation of Juan Samuel. Now I think he's going to be similar to Jimmy Rollins offensively, with better OBP and more stolen bases but fewer home runs. He is one of the cornerstones of this team, who is signed to an exceedingly rare club-friendly deal, and the entire Mets' attack is more effective with him at the top of the lineup.

But if he doesn't get his head out of the clouds, Jose Reyes is going to continue harming this team's chances to win games at worst possible times.

Reyes was picked off second base at a critical point in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Yankees. With two on, two out and David Wright at the plate, there was simply no reason to stray too far from the base. Wright has been murdering the ball lately and Reyes could've easily scored on a single hit to any of the Yankees' candy-armed outfielders. But there he was, taking a huge lead and inexplicably breaking toward third as Andy Pettitte raised his leg. Pettitte clumsily twirled and fired to second instead of throwing the pitch, and Robinson Cano was there to slap the tag on Reyes's head to end the most serious threat of the game.

I remember hoping after the play that Cano's tag was hard enough to finally knock some sense into Reyes. Incredibly, it was the second time this season that Reyes was picked off second base in a game the Mets eventually lost. It's a play that signifies an embarassing lack of awareness on the basepaths and simply should never happen to a thinking ballplayer.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Reyes threw a temper tantrum as he came off the field after the last out of the seventh inning. He had made a throwing error on a slow roller to short the batter before and obviously wasn't able to put it behind him as Jose Molina skied to Ryan Church to end the inning. Reports differ, but to some it appeared that Reyes threw his glove down even before the ball settled in Church's mitt.

It was a bush-league move for so many reasons, not the least of which is that the third out may not have actually been made before the tamtrum began. Imagine if Church lost the ball at the last minute and it deflected off his glove. The Mets would've had the most important defender on the field at the moment walking away from the play with his glove on the ground. It was completely inexcusable and Jerry Manuel should've sat Reyes down for the rest of the game the second he walked into the dugout.

Jose Reyes is 25 years old, which means he is too old for this nonsense. Temper tantrums and getting picked off second base twice a season is more appropriate for a shortstop playing in Brooklyn, not in Queens. When is Reyes finally going to add professionalism to his array of skill sets?


MP said...

I didn't see it, but if he threw the glove down before Church caught the ball it is inexcusable. If it was after the fact, I don't really have a problem with it.

I understand the call for professionalism, but not everyone is going to carry themselves like Jeter and Wright. Personally, I like to see players on my team get fired up - whether it be dancing up something fierce in the dugout after a home run or slamming their glove to the ground after making a bad defensive play (after the inning is over of course).

Reyes has demonstrated that he's not exactly the most grown-up 25. As long as he's not showing up Delgado in that spot, which, based on what I've read, I don't believe he was, let him get pouty.

Would I do it? No. Would you do it? I doubt it. But I'd much rather see Reyes beating himself up over a botched groundball than laughing about it and not trying to improve.

Judge Roughneck said...

The dancing is fine - as long as it's in the dugout. Throwing the glove is OK, I guess - as long as it's in the dugout. Between the lines, I just want Jose to play the game and be all business. I appreciate that Reyes is passionate - too few players on this team are - but there's a time and a place for everything.

tim said...

I didn't see the pick off nut you made it sound as Pettite made a move towards home, making it balk. Not that it matters you're point about Reyes across the board is valid and they never call balks on Pettite even though, by rule he balks every time there is a runner on first base. He does things backwards, his move to first is actually a move to home and vice versa. Umpires missed it early and he has never deviated from and now umpires are pretty much hamstrung.

Brian said...

I'm with MP on this. Reyes is one of the fiercest competitors in the game today. Few players in baseball have managed to raise their real O.B.P. from .300 to .350, and for those who do manage it, it usually takes them the better part of their careers. Reyes has done it in two seasons by raising his walk totals by a factor of three during that stretch. That is astonishing to the point where I wonder if it might be unprecedented. In that same span of time, he has lowered his K/BB ratio from 6/1 to 1/1.

No player can do this without a consuming desire for excellence and will to win. Do I want Reyes to work on his mental game and cut back on his lapses of concentration? Of course. Will I live with those lapses from time to time while appreciating the fact that we have on our hands a special talent with an equally special drive who will put up All-Star numbers for his career while being paid--at least at first--like a journeyman major leaguer? More so.