If Reyes leaves it will be the end of Los Mets

Now there’s a rumor out there in cyber space that if the Mets don’t re-sign Jose Reyes that their payroll will dip under $100 million. Which means no impact players will be added in the offseason and a strong likelihood that at least one of their two non-tender candidates will be cut loose. Let’s pretend for a minute that they decide to keep Mike Pelfrey and cut ties with Angel Pagan.

The Mets Opening Day lineup, depending on the health of Johan Santana, could look like this:

Ruben Tejada
Justin Turner
Lucas Duda
David Wright
Ike Davis
Jason Bay
Josh Thole
Jason Pridie
R.A. Dickey

Besides a depressing top of the order, what jumps out to you about the above lineup? To me, if Reyes and Pagan are gone – it definitely means the end of Los Mets. There’s only one Latin player in this lineup and Tejada hardly has the star power that the Mets trotted out back in 2008.

Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes were the stars of Los Mets but there were plenty of complimentary pieces – like Moises Alou, Damion Easley, Pagan, Fernando Tatis and Jose Valentin.

The Mets took a lot of grief over the marketing phrase Los Mets. But it made no sense to me why people were complaining about the racial makeup of our stars. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the National League was the stronger league because its owners were quicker to employ (if not embrace) blacks. Scan the All-Star team rosters from a year – I’ll pick 1965. Here were the first four batters for the NL: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Willie Stargell, Dick Allen. And Ernie Banks hit sixth.

In the AL the first four batters were Dick McAuliffe, Brooks Robinson, Harmon Killebrew and Rocky Colavito. This is not meant to disrespect the AL All-Stars – Robinson and Killebrew are in the Hall of Fame. But the NL had white All-Stars who would wind up in the Hall – Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, along with two others that should be in with Pete Rose and Ron Santo.

But the AL was fighting with one hand behind its back. The AL All-Star roster had three American-born blacks (none of which made the Hall) while the NL All-Star roster had nine, seven of which ended up in Cooperstown.

Bringing this back to the Mets – ask yourself: Who were the team’s stars during its first two decades of existence? Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman are undoubtedly the first two to jump to mind. Perhaps next you mention Bud Harrelson and Ed Kranepool. The biggest African-American star of the first two decades was Cleon Jones. And they got rid of him when he was found with a white woman in a van.

It could have been Ken Singleton, but they traded him away. It could have been Reggie Jackson but they drafted Steve Chilcott instead.

When it came to race, the team that I grew up watching could have been an American League franchise.

Now let’s be honest – a lot of those teams didn’t have white stars either. And you can certainly point to some of the late 70s and early 80s Mets and find African-Americans like Lenny Randle or Steve Henderson or Elliott Maddox. I do think it’s interesting that the three previously mentioned names were all acquired via trade and were not homegrown.

Compare that with the 1986 championship team. The two biggest stars – Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry – were both homegrown black stars and first-round draft picks.

I want my team to embrace stars from all nationalities and races. Right now my team needs a dynamic leadoff hitter and the one we should get (Reyes) hails from the Dominican Republic. We also need pitching and I don’t care if it comes from the heartland or a big metropolis. I don’t care if it comes from the U.S. or overseas. I just want them to be good players, perhaps ones that can become stars.

If Reyes does go and it is indeed the end of Los Mets, I’ll miss that era. All of us will just have to hope that Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Jenrry Mejia, Brandon Nimmo, Cory Vaughn and Zack Wheeler can develop into the team’s next batch of stars.

I want my team to have stars, regardless if they look like me or not.

6 comments for “If Reyes leaves it will be the end of Los Mets

  1. Howard
    November 7, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I could care less about “Los Mets”, as long as we have capable talent regardless of their nationalities. I know there has to be at least one other team without a prominent Latin star. Beltran & Delgado were the guys who had that star power, remember these guys were not “born & bred” Mets. Also Damien Easley isn’t Latin, he’s African-American. Let’s all hope as Mets fans that the future will be rosy & that we’ll RULE THE NYC AREA AGAIN!

    • Brian Joura
      November 7, 2011 at 8:52 am

      Hi Howard – thanks for reading and commenting and providing the Easley correction.

  2. Brian Naranjo
    November 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

    As a latino it pisses me off that people cared that there were so many hispanics. They Won (at least in 06) that’s all that matters baseball not race.

  3. t agee
    November 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I feel the Mets were way behind in scouting and signing players from Latin America. When you think about it Reyes and Alfonzo are two of the very best players the Mets have ever produced. In addition we’ve signed other players who make up very valuable parts of a well conceived 25 man roster for a championship team. Oquendo, Ordonez, Chavez, Cruz, Dotel but it hasn’t been anywhere near enough compared to our competitors and we’ve been quick to get off of them as well.

    Even in the Minaya era our results in the Caribbean and South America have just been middle of the road. For every Familia, Mejia, and Flores the Braves have a Teheran, Delgado or a Bentancourt. The NYY have a Montero, Sanchez, Banuelos or Vizcaino and these are hardly the only examples where we actually fell behind in Latin America even as we finally started to make some in roads. Texas, SD and KC are skimming the cream off the top and we are actually falling behind in this area.

    Sure Fern, Pena and Urbina don’t at this point appear poised to represent us in future All Star games but evaluation of 16 year olds whose work is all geared toward getting signed is a hit and miss situation at best and at a total cost for those three of 3.25 M is merely cab fare for a MLB franchise.

    The flip side of that cost is being held hostage due to need and then getting screwed out 66M on Bay or 36 M on Perez and 24 M on Castillo or missing out on the playoffs by one game two years in a row (and forking over a #1 pick on top of it) because we have no LFer coming up through the system.

    The answer is signing MORE kids from Latin America and signing the absolute top shelf talent available and combining them with 1st, 2nd and 3rd round talent from the June amateur draft.

    Anybody could see the talent in Pedro, Beltran and Delgado but that’s the easy work to do, the hard work is in seeing and developing the talent in guys who’ll be here in their prime and while mostly everything went as well as you could have hoped right up to the 2006 NLCS what kind of a team would we be looking at right now if some of Pedro’s 54 M, Beltran’s 118 M and Delgado’s 60 M had been spread around for the future instead of trying to correct the work undone in the late 90’s and early 2000’s with the quick fix and no depth?

    • Brian Joura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      Hey t agee – thanks for reading and chiming in with this post!

      I think getting top shelf international talent is easier said than done. The players have to want to sign with you and then after you do get them — they have to develop from star 15 year old to star major leaguer.

      It was supposed to be a coup when they got Fernando Martinez but that didn’t work out. They went hard after Jesus Montero but couldn’t get him. They signed Francisco Pena, who was supposed to hit like Piazza and be a top defensive catcher like his dad but it turned out to be the other way around.

      I don’t fault the Mets’ efforts in Latin America the past 8 years or so. Let’s see what happens with Tejada, Familia, Mejia, Flores, Lagares and others before we judge too harshly.

  4. November 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    what this team needs is a team that is built on hustle heart and clutch play kind of like what the 06 and 2011 cardinals team had. the los mets of 06 to 09 never had that

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