The resigning or not resigning of Jose Reyes is shaping up to be a seminal moment in the history of the Mets, or at least the history of the Wilpons ownership of the Mets. Whatever happens could shape the franchise for quite a long time to come.
First off, there are the on-field repercussions. The goal of management is to try to make the team better ever year. Well, if Reyes is not resigned, the Mets will be worse in 2012 than they were in 2011 (no offense to Ruben Tejada, who is a fine player but he is no Jose Reyes).
It’s not as though the Mets will use the money they would have spent on Reyes and use it on other players. If Reyes leaves and they go out and sign Roy Oswalt and Grady Sizemore, for example, then at least an effort was made to make the team better. But you know as well as I do that if Reyes does not resign, that money will remain in the Wilpons’s pockets.
And that is the second, and perhaps main issue — it will show just what direction the franchise is going. Sandy Alderson has said the payroll will be $100 million-$110 million in 2012. But I think that is WITH Reyes. Without him I bet the payroll will be in the $90 million-$100 million range. If this does indeed happen, it shows that the Wilpons are committed to running the Mets like a small-market franchise. That just won’t fly in New York. No one is saying the Wilpons have to run the Mets like the Steinbrenners run the Yankees, but fans will expect them to spend enough money to field a competitive team. If they refuse to do that, then maybe it is time to sell the team.
You could argue that they tried spending big money and that failed. Yes, but that was with a less-than-c0mpetent general manager making the decisions. Why not give a smart guy like Sandy Alderson a shot? The Mets don’t have to keep the payroll at the $14o million level they have been at for the past few seasons, but at least they should keep it at a level reasonable for a New York team — around $120 million, I say.
I think at that level the Mets can field a very good team. But what are the odds the Wilpons will allow that?