Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jeter, Reyes and the future of Shortstop in NYC

I awoke to see the following comments on my Facebook News Feed written by my friend Eric. The article that Eric is referring to is As Yankees face inevitable change from Derek Jeter at shortstop, time to make way for Jose Reyes by Tim Smith of the New York Daily News. Here is what Eric said:

If this kind of thought of trading for big name players at every position were around in the 90's there would have been no Jeter,Andy, Jorge , Bernie or Mariano. The writer is stuck in the Steinbrenner 80's

Now in defense of Jose Reyes, with the exception of the trade for Rickey Henderson in 1984, the Steinbrenner regime of the 1980's never, ever traded for a player of Jose Reyes' caliber. Guys like Jesse Barfield, Roy Smalley and Ken Phelps (I still shudder when I think of that trade) were more like the kind of players that Steinbrenner traded young talent such as Doug Drabek, Al Leiter and Jay Buhner to acquire. You can roll up all the position players that I mentioned and you still don't equal Jose Reyes.

Reyes is a franchise Shortstop as how Derek Jeter was seen earlier in his career. Now both are different types of players but the meaning to each others' organizations cannot be simply quantified. I found it amazing that Jeter's trip to the disabled list for a calf strain was his first stint on the DL since 2003. Sure, many writers and fans alike like to point out Jeter's diminishing skills, he is a consistent presence in the field and at bat for the Yankees. But is Reyes the person to take pick up the mantle from Jeter?

Do I think the Yankees need to look at the future of the Shortstop position. Absolutely. Granted Jeter is signed for the next three seasons, can he be productive in the field in the next two? I think the Yankees have a player currently on the bench that can step right in and that is Eduardo Nuñez. Based on his minor league statistics, Nuñez is a contact hitter with speed and a very good glove and will turn 24 today. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has stated that while Jeter is on the DL, Nuñez is his starter. So we'll get to see what Nuñez brings to the table. So given that, where does that leave Jose Reyes.

Reyes is in an enviable position. As I stated earlier, he's currently a franchise player in a position that is devoid of franchise players throughout the league. With the exception of Jimmy Rollins of the Philadephia Phillies, Troy Tulowitski of the Colorado Rockies, Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers and Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs are there any other Shortstops that you can think of as being franchise players? Add to the mix that Jose Reyes is ONLY 28, tearing up the league and playing on a team that is currently in financial straits. I believe the only course of action for the New York Mets is to trade Jose Reyes (as well as Carlos Beltran and possibly Francisco Rodriguez) for top prospects to replenish the system.

Consider that the top three prospects for the Mets as per Baseball America are 21-year old pitcher Jennry Mejia, 19-year old shortstop Wilmer Flores and outfielder 20 year old Cesar Puello. Mejia is slated to have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow and will be lost for a year or more. Flores is currently batting .259 and Puello is batting .230 at Class A+ Florida State League. These players are young and have a long way to go before they reach the majors. Keep in mind that the last Mets' prospect to live up to his potential was Jose Reyes.

The move to trade Reyes would come difficult for the Mets. Reyes is beloved by the Mets faithful and is a dynamic player when healthy. I personally believe that he is a better player than Carl Crawford who Mets owner Fred Wilpon stated that Reyes would not garner the same kind of contract that Crawford signed with the Boston Red Sox (7-year $142 million dollars). Consider that from 2005-2008, Reyes averaged 153 games played with a .287 batting average, 195 hits, 14 homeruns, 32 doubles, 17 triples, 66 RBI, 113 runs scored and 64 stolen bases. Aside from two injury filled seasons (2009-2010), Reyes is back to form with a league leading .346 batting average, a league leading 97 hits, 3 homers, 19 doubles and a league leading 11 triples, 27 RBI, 49 Runs scored and 22 stolen bases. So if Reyes is traded, are the Yankees the best fit.

The Yankees have a plethora of minor league talent in the form of catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine and pitchers Manny Banelos, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman and current major leaguers Hector Noesi and Ivan Nova. Ideally, the Yankees should continue the approach that GM Brian Cashman has taken and continue to develop the talent, keeping the system stocked and working from within. As alluring as a trade for Reyes would be, I think the Yankees are better off passing on Reyes and continue to groom Nuñez as Jeter's heir apparent. Where I think Reyes should be traded is San Francisco. AT&T park's wide open spaces (Left field: 335 feet, Left-center: 364 feet, Center field: 404 feet, Right-center: 420 feet, Right field: 307 feet) plays into Jose Reyes' strengths and I believe that his energy would help to ease the pain of the loss of Buster Posey. I know that Giants Shortstop prospect Brandon Crawford has played well since his call-up a few weeks ago but a player like Jose Reyes might be able to swing the balance of power in the NL West back in the favor of the World Champions. Another West Coast destination for Reyes might be Anaheim.

Whether or not new Mets minority owner David Einhorn can make a splash by resigning Jose Reyes past this season remains to be seen. I think the Mets are in a win-win situation when it comes to Reyes. Keep him and retain one of the best players in the game today. Trade him and make tremendous strides in rebuilding the team. Only time will tell what will happen.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Jose Reyes' career statistics from
- Click Here for Derek Jeter's career statistics from

- Click Here for Eduardo Nunez's career minor league statistics from
- Click Here to access the ranking of the Top Ten Prospects in the New York Mets organization by Baseball America
- Click Here to access Tim Smith's article As Yankees face inevitable change from Derek Jeter at shortstop, time to make way for Jose Reyes dated June 15, 2011 from

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