Jose Reyes Roundtable 4: If Reyes Leaves, Who Is the Mets' Shortstop in 2012 and Beyond?

Our roundtable concludes with this question that, I suspect, most of us would rather not ponder.

Let's say Jose Reyes takes the money and runs. (Not that any of us would blame him for cashing a big check.) That obviously leaves a gaping hole at number 6 on your scorecard. Who would--well, no one could take his place, but who would player where he once did in 2012? Who would do so in the years to come? And what can we expect out of them?

The collective thoughts of Amazin' Avenue on this subject after the jump.

Robert Castellano: Pretty obviously the first shot goes to Ruben Tejada, who really seemed to impress those in and around the club as 2011 progressed. While it can be overblown in a hurry I will admit that the chatter about his good instincts for the game or baseball IQ or whatever you want to call it did seem pretty accurate when watching him on a daily basis. This is even more true when you remember that Tejada was one of the youngest players in all of baseball last season and will be just 22 years old on Opening Day 2012. While he might not provide the kind of superstar-level production from shortstop that we've become spoiled with these past seven+ years, he's certainly capable of being a league average shortstop with the potential for a little more. I don't feel it's farfetched to imagine a slightly less flashy version of Elvis Andrus when we look at Tejada.

Now should Tejada's development falter, all is not lost. That's because just behind him down in Triple-A Buffalo, Jordany Valdespin will be waiting for a chance to show off his far more versatile skillset at the next level. Valdespin has always flashed game-changing tools, it's just harnessing them that's been the tricky part. That is until this past season when he finally put it all together for a breakout campaign where he batted .294 with 17 homers and 37 stolen bases between Double and Triple-A. People might not like his severe lack of plate discipline or his somewhat out-of-control style of play, but frankly those are numbers you just don't often see from the shortstop position, at any level. But again, he's frustrated scouts for years with his rawness so the fact that Valdespin will actually be two years older than Tejada come April should be an indicator that his development has been anything but routine and consistency is not a part of his game.

Yet in a way, the two young shortstops complement each other nicely: One a steady, smart player who's a pretty good bet to be solid, if a bit unspectacular. The other, a dynamic, versatile and just plain raw bag of tools that could end up anywhere on the map, from breakout to bust. I hate to say it, but should Reyes depart the Mets are actually in a nearly ideal position to at the very least minimize the loss internally, in both the short and long terms. But don't tell Sandy that.

Eno Sarris: Ruben Tejada of course.


But here's the thing -- I've been accused of hating on Tejada by comparing his debut to the debuts of Mark Lewis and Dany Ainge, but I don't fear these days of Tejada so much. He will be under team control until 2016, and dude can take a walk and I think he can pick it. That'll do fine for fourish seasons. If he can keep up the patience, he could be like a Luis Castillo at short maybe even. As long as we don't sign him to an actual Omar Minaya Luis Castillo contract, we''ll be fine with that.

I don't think he's the Jose Reyes of the future or anything. And I don't really think the Mets have their Jose Reyes of the future in the farm system right now. Is there even going to be another Jose Reyes? If we can find another Ruben Tejada in four years, that might work too.

If this Tejada's glove can be 80% as good as the glove of Rey Ordonez, this Tejada should be able to beat that .246/.289/.310 career bat. He might even be the Mets' second-best shortstop of all time when all is said and done.

Matthew Callan: Ruben Tejada is the clear choice. I think defensive comparisons to Rey Ordonez are premature, but not insane. Offensively, he'd have to be better than Rey since virtually every major league player ever has been.

If it turns out that Tejada is not MLB timber, I can't foresee this front office diving into free agency to find its new shortstop, especially not after letting Reyes walk. Jordanny Valdespin had a great season last year at Binghamton and Buffalo, though he apparently drives scouts nuts for about every reason you can imagine (lack of plate discipline and lack of fielding skills topping the list). We can also dream about Wilmer Flores, another star in the Mets' lower-ranks-heavy farm system, though he's still at St. Lucie, which is light years away from Queens in every sense.

Whoever does take over for Reyes (if such a thing proves necessary), I do not envy him. The unfair comparisons will come fast and furious, unless somehow this replacement proves even better. Given the unlikelihood of that, the Mets new shortstop, whoever he is, will have a tough road to hoe.

Eric Simon: Sign Jimmy Rollins.

Sam Page: Ordonez.

Matthew Artus: Wally Backman had 18 career games at shortstop. Just sayin'...

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