The sentimental among us were hoping to see David Wright and Jose Reyes take the field together one more time. But you can forgive anyone who feels like Wright has already retired and the clamor for Reyes to beat him to actually announcing the end of his career grows louder day by day. Many forget how controversial it was to bring Reyes back after the domestic violence charges against him. Now the controversial thing is keeping him on the active roster.
It seemed at the start of the year that the Mets were going to have solid infield reserves with Wilmer Flores and Reyes. The former provided power, the latter speed and they both were willing to stand at several different defensive positions. But neither one has particularly played well, an issue even more pressing now with Todd Frazier on the DL and at least one of them starting every game.
Flores is hitting righties to make up for his dismal performance so far against LHP. But Reyes isn’t doing anything particularly well at the moment. When he got off to a poor start, his backers could point to bad results in the early going in 2017 that gave way to a strong performance in the second half of the year. But how much should the Mets wait on a similar type of regression, especially with dreams of a playoff berth still alive? It was one thing to play him every day last year when the team was going nowhere. It’s another to count on him right now.
Complicating matters is the fact that Luis Guillorme has been called up and done well in the very few chances he’s received. A pinch-hit double last night was just the latest example. He’s had four hits in six at-bats and has handled himself well in the field in brief appearances at both second and third base. But this isn’t about six PA in the majors. It’s about 558 in Double-A and 105 in Triple-A which have shown that his particular style can work. Plus, no one doubts his ability to contribute defensively in the middle infield. If he can make the plays at third base, that makes Reyes’ spot on the roster even more in jeopardy.
The one thing that Reyes has going for him is people’s fascination with veterans. Generally, a veteran is more productive coming off the bench than a rookie/youngster. They have a better understanding of how to handle themselves in these situations. But just because something is true most of the time doesn’t mean it’s always the case. In 2017, the veteran Reyes had a .586 OPS in 11 PH appearances and this year he’s even worse. He’s 1-12 as a pinch-hitter and in 13 PA he has a .237 OPS.
Meanwhile, Guillorme has come up twice as a pinch-hitter and delivered hits both times. Manager Mickey Callaway is treating Guillorme as the 25th man on the roster. It’s good not to place unreasonable expectations on a rookie. However, it feels more like Guillorme is being handled as if he has a communicable disease. Despite the rotten production of Flores and Reyes, Guillorme has just one start and when it comes time for a pinch-hitter, he ranks ahead of only the catcher – and only there because of the near universal preference of managers to save their backup catcher as long as possible.
With no previous ties to players, Callaway should not be beholden to what Flores and Reyes have done in the past. He should see Flores’ .494 OPS versus LHP and Reyes’ .367 overall OPS and be open to alternatives. And he should be grateful to have a reserve on his roster who is a plus defender with his glove. Guillorme has good range, excellent hands and a strong arm.
Guillorme should be in the mix for starts while Frazier is on the disabled list. And once Frazier is activated, Guillorme should stay on the roster and Reyes should be invited to remain in the organization as a coach somewhere. The argument will be that Guillorme needs to play every day and will be better served going to the minors. But Guillorme makes the Mets a better team, offering a better backup defensive infielder and right now a better offensive option, too. And that shouldn’t be ignored.