I'm not sure what the Mets can do right. By that, I mean I'm not sure what they can do that won't be taken as a cue to bash them. The recent announcement of changes to CitiField's outfield dimensions--which fans and writers alike have been clamoring for for years--was met with a collective groan. The counter-charge was that the Mets should be concentrating on Jose Reyes and their other offseason issues instead, as if the two were mutually exclusive.
The latest stage of the Reyes saga is a perfect demonstration of how nothing the team does (or doesn't do) can escape unblasted. Within the last week, we've been treated to the vomit-inducing sight of Reyes in a Marlins helmet (albeit a hardhat) as he toured their new stadium (which I'm still imagining as a neon hybrid of the houses of Tony Montana and Henry Hill). We've also heard that Reyes signing with Miami is "a done deal" from various sources of dubious trustworthiness; just yesterday, a rumor from Mad Dog Radio of all places sent Twitter into a tizzy (myself included) before being debunked.
Though it seems highly unlikely that Reyes would sign this early and without meeting with any other suitors, the rumors nonetheless sent a panic through Mets fandom, as they make it seem less and less likely that Reyes will stay in Queens. Therefore, the latest beef against the Mets' front office is that, since they obviously have no intention or chance to resign Reyes, they should have dealt him before the trade deadline. Bob Klapisch tweeted this earlier this week, and Steve Popper dedicated an entire column to it on Sunday. The danger in having not done so, says Popper, is that the Marlins have a protected first round pick, so any draft pick compensation the Mets receive would be much less valuable if Reyes signs with them.
I have several problems with this point of view, the first and biggest being that circumstances made it very difficult to trade Reyes at that time. The shortstop came out of the second Subway Series game at CitiField on July 2 with a hamstring injury and soon went on the DL. He did not play again until July 19 and took quite a while to regain his form. In between his return and the July 31 trade deadline, Reyes' OBP plummeted to .286. Over that time, he stole only two bases and drove in a mere three runs. Beyond the numbers, if you remember watching him at this time, you will recall that he looked tentative, cautious, clearly afraid of aggravating the injury and ruining what was shaping up to be an MVP-caliber season.
In other words, Reyes' value would have been at its absolute nadir: a just-injured player in his walk year. Anyone who acquired would have been taking a big risk on him, especially if they traded big prospects for him and watched him depart in free agency. Therefore, from the Mets' standpoint, not trading him is probably the best course of action. If you can resign him, resign him. If you can't, the draft picks are as valuable (if not more so) than anything you could have received for him at the deadline. For the Mets, who lost years of high-round picks due to free agent signings, even a sandwich pick and a second rounder (what they would get if the Marlins sign Reyes) have value.
If I am well aware of all of this, the writers who followed this team every day throughout the season should be aware of it, too. We're not talking several years ago here. We're talking July of this year. If you needed to refresh your memory, any of these writers could have gone back to look at their own columns, all of which are still available for free online.
Not to mention, the number of writers who thought the Mets should have traded Reyes back in July was few and far between. Everyone is entitled to change his/her opinion, as long as you acknowledge your opinion has changed. None that I know of have. Popper, for instance, obliquely endorsed a Reyes return before the trade deadline.
What has changed since then? Mostly, it's the Mets' inaction on the front of Reyes and everything else. Their silence is widely interpreted as disinterest as far as Reyes is concerned. That could be true, but Sandy Alderson has shown so far that, unlike his predecessor, he'd rather not telegraph his moves or leak much to the press (if anything).
Silence could mean resignation, or it could mean nothing more than silence. The optimistic can believe that the Mets fully intend to try and resign Reyes, and that is the main reason he was never traded. The cynical can believe that this is just a ruse to keep ticket sales from cratering. The neutral can look at the calendar and note that huge deals tend to not get done this time of the year (Jonathan Papelbon notwithstanding). Even the Marlins, who are openly courting players and all but screaming TAKE OUR MONEY! have thus far signed no one. And with the new CBA yet to be hammered out, I have a feeling it will be a while before they do.
Newspapers are in the business of selling papers and fostering clicks, and they consider sober assessments of a situation as sexy as a fake Al Gore book Lisa would purchase on The Simpsons. ("I hope it's as exciting as his other book, 'Rational Thinking, Reasonable Future'!") They would much rather publish rabble-rousing second guessing to inflame the hair-trigger passions of a wounded fanbase, and it doesn't particularly matter if their proposed solution--to have traded Reyes at the deadline--is historical revisionism. But hey, that's their prerogative. Mine is to call BS on it.