OK, so we've all heard the talk that the Mets front office won't have that much money to throw around this offseason even though the team has plenty of holes to fill. Everyone keeps saying the Mets will need to "get creative," as though maybe an art installation or some sort of craft project will fix what ails them.
That's not the case. There's a time and place for creativity, but this offseason is not necessarily it. The Mets only need to be smart.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com recently suggested, quoting "a baseball man," that the Mets should trade Jose Reyes. And hey, that's a pretty creative solution.
The problem is, it just might be the worst idea ever.
First of all, the theoretical trading of players without any particular haul in mind is ridiculous. If the Mets could trade Reyes for Albert Pujols, they should, of course. But trading Reyes for the sake of trading Reyes?
What? No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Jose Reyes spent the 2006 through 2008 seasons establishing himself as one of the very best players in the game at one of the most difficult positions to field. Though he may never live up to the absurd expectations of some Mets fans, he is a bona fide superstar and still only 26 years old.
This season, for the first time in five years, he has been riddled by injuries. Despite a hamstring tendon tear that could require surgery, he has been saddled with reports that teammates and front-office types have grown disappointed in his work ethic and lack of desire to return to the field. You might even say Reyes' stock is as low as it has been since his awful 2004, when the Mets brilliantly moved him to second base and tried to alter his running style.
And that's precisely why he should not be traded. I'm not sure who Stark's "baseball man" is, but clearly he is not a businessman or a sensible man. Maybe he's a Cubs employee who advocated big contracts for Ryan Dempster and Milton Bradley on the heels of career years.
Whatever. The point is that Reyes is essentially at the nadir of his value, and trading him because of that represents about as illogical and misguided decision as one can possibly make. It is the definition of selling low.
Would it "re-stir the mix," as Stark suggests is necessary? Well, certainly. But you know what else would shake things up after this awful 2009 season? Having a healthy Jose Reyes on the field for 150 games in 2010, bounding and boucing and smiling and styling and doing all those things that endeared him to Mets fans over the past few years.
Yeah, there's some possibility that won't go down. Maybe Reyes really does hate baseball, and maybe he really isn't trying to return to Citi Field and maybe he'll again never be the player he was in the last three seasons. That could happen. Mets fans have earned the right to expect the worst.
And heck, an asteroid could end human life on earth before the 2010 season even starts. It's just not likely.
It's way more likely that Reyes, who spent four years proving he can stay healthy and three years proving he can perform at an exceptionally high level in the Major Leagues, will revert to his mean and again be a healthy superstar.
The chances that the Mets can trade Reyes at this point and bring back anything of equal or greater value are tiny. If they could, then sure, do it. But that should be true for David Wright and Johan Santana and Mr. Met, too. Everyone should have his price; Reyes' should be that of a 26-year-old stud shortstop.
You want creativity? Try this: Hang onto your young players and let them develop. Find good buy-low acquisitions and cost-effective options to fill in the holes around established stars like Reyes, Wright, Santana and Carlos Beltran. Worry less about marketing and perception and "making a splash" and more about fielding a consistent winner.
Is that really creative? Probably not, but at least it's not the worst idea ever.