When the news broke that Jose Reyes was officially signing with the Marlins, my reaction wasn't nearly as bad as I anticipate it would be. Although I repeatedly said I thought Reyes would be back next year over the course of this season, it was far from shocking to see him depart. I was hopeful that things would work out but understood the realistic implications of signing him to a long-term deal.
Things obviously didn't work out, but I'm already moving on. I didn't think I'd feel this way, but here I am. It reminds me a bit of this exchange from the Simpsons:
Dr. Julius Hibbert: Now, a little death anxiety is normal. You can expect to go through five stages. The first is denial.
Homer Simpson: No way, because I'm not dying!
Dr. Julius Hibbert: Second is anger.
Homer Simpson: [furiously] Why you little... !
Dr. Julius Hibbert: After that comes fear.
Homer Simpson: [worried] What's after fear? What's after fear?
Dr. Julius Hibbert: Bargaining.
Homer Simpson: Doc, you gotta get me outta this. I'll make it worth your while.
Dr. Julius Hibbert: Finally acceptance.
Homer Simpson: Well, we all gotta go sometime.
Dr. Julius Hibbert: Mr. Simpson, your progress astounds me.
Obviously, Homer was facing a far more serious situation than the loss of one of his favorite baseball players, but he comes to terms with reality almost immediately. I'm not sure why that's the case for me with this whole Reyes thing, but it's not the end of the world, even in a world that's completely relative to the success of the Mets. I imagine if I were to talk to Dr. Hibbert about Reyes, the conversation would go like this:
Dr. Hibbert: Now, a little Jose Reyes departure anxiety is normal. You can expect to go through five stages. The first is denial.
Me: No way, because he's not leaving!
Dr. Hibbert: Second is anger.
Me: Screw the Marlins!
Dr. Hibbert: After that comes fear.
Me: The Mets are going to suck for a while, aren't they? What's after fear?
Dr. Hibbert: Bargaining.
Me: Doc, you gotta sign him. Pay the man!
Dr. Hibbert: Finally acceptance.
Me: Well, he wasn't going to be a Met forever, and this seems like the smart move for the long-term success of the Mets.
Dr. Hibbert: Mr. McShane, your progress astounds me.
There are many variables in a baseball team, and each one of them affects its chances of winning games, contending for playoff spots, and winning a championship. Perhaps I'm rationalizing a bit now that Reyes is gone, but keeping him in a Mets uniform was certainly no guarantee of a championship-caliber team. The proof of that lies in the Mets' failures from 2007 through 2011.
If the Mets could afford to hand Reyes the top contract on the market to keep him around, it would have made building the next great Mets team easier. Probably a lot easier. But they couldn't, and he's gone. It's time to think about the ways to go about winning baseball games without one of the very few elite shortstops in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals did. The San Francisco Giants, too. It might take more time than we'd like, but it can be done here, too.