Mets Card of the Week: 2012 NL Batting Leaders (Jose Reyes)

2012 TOPPS NL BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS (JOSE REYES)

From my perch on the kitchen floor gazing up at a large-knobbed black-and-white Sylvania, I saw Armstrong walk on the moon.

In the spring of 1986 I spied Halley’s comet, carrying with it the dim portent of a Mets’ World Series victory that October.

I watched the Berlin wall crumble. I marked the turn of the second millennium.

But there is one thing that I’d never had the privilege of witnessing until late last week: a National League Batting Leaders card that contained a Mets’ player at the top of the list.

The closest I had come to date was the 1970 Topps NL Batting Leaders card , which presents that glorious tableau of Cleon Jones and his .340 average sharing space with the number 1 and 2 hitters in 1969: Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente. While John Olerud finished second in the 1998 batting race, Topps opted not to print league leader cards in their regular issue 1999 set.

So, even if you’re not a collector, I’d suggest that it is your duty as a Mets’ fan to head over to eBay and drop a few quarters on a copy of this 2012 card.

Make your peace with the bittersweet fact that Jose Reyes is gone from us, put the card in a neat plastic holder, and save a space on a shelf and in your memory for this signal event…

Has David Wright passed Strawberry for best position player?

Who is the best position player in Mets history? The immediate answer is Darryl Strawberry although a quick look at the record book shows that Jose Reyes and David Wright also deserve consideration for that honor. Let’s look at their overall lines and then break the players down by categories.

Rk Player R Age G PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO HBP SB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Jose Reyes 735 20-28 1050 4840 4453 1300 222 99 81 423 333 509 7 370 .292 .341 .441 .782
2 David Wright 699 21-28 1106 4782 4161 1248 281 17 183 725 535 897 33 151 .300 .380 .508 .887
3 Darryl Strawberry 662 21-28 1109 4549 3903 1025 187 30 252 733 580 960 26 191 .263 .359 .520 .878
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/17/2012.

Average
Wright – 2nd
Reyes – T 5th
Strawberry – Not in top 10

OBP
Wright – 4th
Strawberry – 10th
Reyes – Not in top 10

SLG
Strawberry – 2nd
Wright – 3rd
Reyes – Not in top 10

Games
Strawberry – 7th
Wright – 8th
Reyes – 10th

PA
Reyes – 3rd
Wright – 4th
Strawberry 7th

Runs
Reyes – 1st
Wright – 2nd
Strawberry – 3rd

Hits
Reyes – 2nd
Wright – 3rd
Strawberry – 9th

Total Bases
Wright – 1st
Strawberry – 3rd
Reyes – 4th

Doubles
Wright – 1st
Reyes – 3rd
Strawberry – 8th

Triples
Reyes – 1st
Strawberry – 6th
Wright – Not in top 10

Home Runs
Strawberry – 1st
Wright – 4th
Reyes – Not in top 10

RBIs
Strawberry – 1st
Wright – 2nd
Reyes – Not in top 10

Walks
Strawberry – 1st
Wright – 4th
Reyes – Not in top 10

Stolen Bases
Reyes – 1st
Strawberry – 4th
Wright – 6th

Adjusted OPS+
Strawberry – 1st
Wright – 4th
Reyes – Not in top 10

Runs Created
Wright – 1st (825)
Strawberry – 2nd (759)
Reyes – 3rd (706)

WAR
Strawberry – 1st (37.7)
Wright – 2nd (32.6)
Reyes – 4th (29.3)

The above category leaders in franchise history
Reyes (3) – Runs, triples, stolen bases
Strawberry (5) – Home runs, RBIs, walks, adjusted OPS+, WAR
Wright (3) – Total bases, doubles, runs created

If Wright plays a full season with the Mets in 2012, he has a good shot to become the Mets’ leader in runs, hits, RBIs and walks. And a return to his 05-’08 offensive level could put him above Strawberry in WAR. Strawberry will still have a claim to greatest offensive player, since he did it in fewer PA than Wright, but by the end of this season, Wright will hold more lifetime offensive records than any player in franchise history.

Mets Card of the Week: 2003 Jose Reyes

2003 FLEER MYSTIQUE JOSE REYES

Fleer took its initial steps into the baseball card market in the late ’50s/early ’60s, producing a set dedicated to the career of Ted Williams, and a couple of “all-time greats” issues that focused on retired players.

Come 1963, they were suitably emboldened to attempt a run at the Topps monopoly on current-player cards. That year, Fleer introduced a rather no-frills series of 66 cards in wax packs, accompanied not by gum but rather by a cherry-flavored cookie.

Well, the lawyers for Topps clamped down quicker than you can say “series two” and Fleer stopped the presses.

Throughout the remainder of the ’60s and into the next decade, Fleer came out with a cavalcade of baseball-related sets that steered well clear of Topps waters.

Finally, in 1981, the monopoly was broken, and Fleer and Donruss entered the market with sets that competed directly with Topps.

The first few Fleer issues were fairly nondescript. The designs were lackluster, the paper stock and production values were poor, and the cards were prone to all manner of distracting errors.

The company hit its stride in 1984, and printed several attractive sets in the following years.

Fleer eventually succumbed to the insert mania of the late ’90s, producing a greater number of “limited” subsets than the market could possibly bear.

They took this to its logical extreme by issuing some of the first parallel cards serial numbered 1 of 1. This was the formal death knell for a certain kind of collecting, and the big bang for another entirely different type of collecting.

The company entered a steady, sad decline and finally collapsed in on itself in 2005– Upper Deck then bought the Fleer name for an out-of-key song, and kept the brand alive through 2007.

This Jose Reyes card is an emblem of that decline. It is from a 2003 set named Fleer Mystique, and it is a limited parallel version of the base card, serial numbered 001/075 on the back. According to the Standard Catalog, this set contained a gold parallel numbered to either 150 (veterans) or 50 (rookies), so I’m not even sure what the hell this card is.

But in the spirit of the holiday season, and in recognition of all Jose meant to the Mets over the years, I’m going to have a small contest to give the card away. Simply leave a haiku in the comments that expresses your feelings over the loss of Jose. Here’s mine:

Jo-se, Jo-se, Jo-
se, Jo-se, Jo-se, Jo-se
Jo-se, Jo-se, Jo-

A winner will be selected based on the whims of Card of the Week, who is, it must be said, a right capricious bastard.

Employees of Mets360 and their families are indeed eligible. No purchase necessary.

Happy haikuing!

Wilpons: What were you thinking about Reyes?

While I’ve never been a drinker of the Wilpon Kool-aid, you’ll notice that I tend to support the team’s leadership more often than not.

The Jose Reyes action, or inaction to be more precise, has me in an unusual state – angry, depressed and unsure.

I always have been and will be loyal to my family, friends and causes. Every Sunday I don my Justin Tuck jersey no matter the final score. And any time I’m not sleeping, at a wedding or riding roller coasters, you can find me sporting a Mets cap. Sure it blocks the sun and keeps my hair out of my face, but it’s also a proud sign that I love my team, even if they haven’t won it all in 25 years.

And yet as I write this in the wee hours of Monday morning, there is considerable doubt if my faithful cap will move from its hook later. I am so perturbed by this news on Reyes, it has shaken the very foundation of my baseball core.

Unless the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson know some dark secret about Reyes’ hamstrings the rest of us are not privy to, their latest decision makes no sense.

In Reyes, the team had a homegrown player who developed into a fan-favorite with the ability to carry the team on his back. He could hit, steal and field all with his trademark energy. An average season for Reyes included a .292 batting average, .341 OBP, 57 stolen bases and 15 triples. His career offensive numbers are equally as strong whether they’re home v.s. away, right-handed v.s. left-handed or first-half v.s. second-half.

Hell, as Reyes went, so did the team. The all-star shortstop hit .328, carried a .379 OBP and sported an .889 OPS in 546 wins as a Met; in losses those numbers dropped to .251, .297 and .659.

Born in June 1983, he’ll turn 29 a month before next year’s mid-season classic and is entering his prime. Coming off a team-friendly four year/$23.25 million deal, Reyes is the prime example of a core player. His raw talent is unmatched, enthusiasm for the game still peaking and following among the fan base soaring, all while churning out numbers worthy of four all-star nods in nine seasons.

To be fair, injuries have been a concern with Jose. He missed a month with an ankle injury in 2003. The next year he missed nearly all of the first half with his first of many hamstring injuries, along back woes. Leg injuries also nagged him in 2009-2011. He played in at least 153 games a season from 2005-2008, but played in just 36 during 2009. Those number rebounded to 133 and 126 in 2010 and 2011.

Is there an injury concern with Reyes, sure, but it certainly does appear that the worst is over. And I’ll admit more frequent injuries and decreased production would probably occur in the latter stages of his career, not dissimilar of many speed-based players.

But $85 million over five years? Sandy, was that really your best offer? This is a homegrown Met who has excelled on the field, remained a positive character in the community and obviously the most important single part of team (I got this one wrong last winter). I can understand not wanting to toss out bids just for the sake of raising the price, but when word comes that your all-star player is on the verge of signing long term with a division foe for six years/$106 million, you wave the white flag?

I understand much of your MLB experience came with the Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres, but this is New York. Even if the team sucks, there is no “rebuilding phase.” New Yorkers don’t stand for years of horrific seasons to rebuild internally in exchange for being gouged on prices for tickets, food and parking.

At the very least, you need to keep a great core – especially a homegrown, fan favorite, to keep us entertained in the years before our next World Series win. I was expecting 2012 to be another lost season with Reyes, Wright and Davis to keep me watching until the young arms come up in 2013.

Unless there’s more to Reyes’ hamstring, you’ve probably lost a lot of my business this year. Why should I bother going to Citi Field, even with free tickets, when all I’m going to see is a sub-par team with a front office that needs a geography lesson?

No time to sulk if Reyes leaves Mets

If you are immersed in the Mets’ blogosphere, you assuredly have read the obituary that has been written for the Mets, since it seems unlikely that the Mets will retain their franchise shortstop Jose Reyes.

If Reyes leaves- it is told through many others-the Mets will be one chaotic mess. Expect the demise of the Mets to be greatly exaggerated.

Look, the Mets haven’t been a good baseball ball club for the last three years. The Mets’ record in the last three years (226 and 260) suggests that they have been an incompetent team. Mets’ fans have to face the reality that their team hasn’t been a player in NL for years.  2006 was five years ago and gone is the thought they are close to resembling a playoff caliber team.

By the way, in those three years, who was playing shortstop for the majority of the time? Jose Reyes. The same player many Mets’ fans are obsessing to keep.

I am in no way advocating for the Mets to not pursue Reyes and make an appropriate offer, but rather I am cushioning myself for the blow when and if Reyes bolts Queens.

I get it. Reyes is a fan favorite. His exciting brand of baseball has broad appeal and his impact on the franchise goes beyond what he does on the field. His charm is marketable. These are factors that cannot be overlooked. For a cash-strapped franchise, losing a player of Reyes’ caliber will hurt the team in regards to tickets sold and trumping up casual fan interest.

However, look at it from on-the-field perspective. Reyes has battled lingering hamstring injuries for far too long and what if the Mets resign him and he misses big chunks of the season/s again? What happens then? Well, the Mets would be right back where they started. At least if they lose him they can save some money, which then can be used toward the rebuilding process.

The Mets need to build from within; develop a core of home grown players (think Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy along with pitchers Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia) and then add pieces through free agency/trades when they can logistically and financially afford to.

If the Mets were to resign Reyes, a player in his prime, wouldn’t it be ideal for them to build around him and add more pieces? At this point for the Mets, that’s not fiscally possible and that’s probably why the Mets aren’t going to get in a bidding war. So, if you bring back Reyes, you’re just bringing him back to an already mediocre team. If Reyes walks, at the very least you can expedite the rebuilding plans.

Losing a homegrown player of Reyes ilk will of course sting in any context you put it in. In his nine years here, Reyes has captivated the hearts of many fans. However, it’s not like it’s without precedence.

Back in 1990, the Mets faced the same issue when Darryl Strawberry fled New York to take his talents to La La Land. Strawberry devastated a fanbase that adored him ever since he came up through the farm system.

One man doesn’t make a team. The Mets will still report to Port St. Lucie in February for spring training and we will move forward. It’s what we do.

These are trying times no doubt, with ownership continually letting down the fans. Let’s, though, trust Sandy Alderson and put some stock in his vision. We have to put faith the process that he has a plan to make the Mets relevant in the near future.

As fans, we have to be prepared to take Reyes’ possible departure on the chin. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but let’s not treat his departure as apocalyptic either. The sun will rise in the morning. And taking a cue from last year’s mantra after the Madoff scandal, I’ll leave you with this:  Keep calm and carry on.

Reyes, Pagan and the importance of SB for the Mets

The Mets have never been known as a team that steals a lot of bases. Yet if you look at their year-by-year stolen base totals, you notice that eight of the top 10 Mets teams in stolen bases also finished above .500 for the season. On the surface that may not seem so meaningful, but when you recall that only 20 teams in the franchise’s 50-year history have finished above .500, it is enough to make you sit up and take notice.

That factoid becomes even more interesting when you consider that the 2012 Mets may not have the top two basestealers from 2011. Jose Reyes, who led the club with 39 SB, is a free agent while Angel Pagan, who had 32 steals, is a non-tender candidate. Those two accounted for 71 of the team’s 130 SB.

Ruben Tejada is the most likely player to replace Reyes, and it would be a surprise if he reached 20 SB in a full season. There’s no clear-cut replacement for Pagan. Jason Pridie posted three straight seasons in the minors with 20+ SB but his career high is the 26 he stole in 2007 and it is very unlikely he would top that total in the majors.

The Mets figure to get little to no SB production from catcher, first base or right field, barring a shakeup in the roster. Tejada, Jason Bay and David Wright would likely vie for the team lead on a team without Pagan and Reyes. While Wright did notch 34 SB in 2007, he has been under 20 the past two seasons and seems unlikely to threaten 30 thefts in 2012.

Since making the World Series in 2000, the Mets have had six seasons where they had someone steal at least 30 bases and five where they did not. In the latter five years, they finished under .500 four times, the lone exception being the 2001 edition which went 82-80. On the flip side, the six seasons where they did have someone swipe at least 30 bags, they finished over .500 four times.

The stolen base does not hold the place in today’s game as it did during the 70s and 80s when artificial turf parks littered the baseball landscape. We know now that if you’re not successful at least two out of every three stolen base attempts, you’re hurting the club. But if the Mets are not going to hit a bunch of HR, they need to do other things well to help them score runs.

Since Reyes became a full-time player in 2005, the Mets have had a consistent speed threat. A 2012 lineup without Reyes will have the Mets struggling to find steals, especially if Pagan is not around to pick up the slack. Pagan has 69 steals the past two seasons and his 87 steals with the Mets is the 17th-best total in club history, three behind Frank Taveras. Reyes is the franchise’s all-time leader in steals with 370, which is the 92nd-best total in MLB history.

Where do Mets spend money if Jose Reyes leaves?

All Mets fans are hoping the club brings back Jose Reyes for 2012 and the rest of his career. At the same time no one should feel confident about the Mets re-signing their star shortstop. While the Mets have some money to spend this offseason, even with the well-publicized reports of a payroll significantly lower than the 2011 version, they do not have a blank checkbook.

How high and how long will Sandy Alderson be willing to go to re-up Reyes? My opinion is that the salary will be more of a sticking point than the length of the deal. While the Mets would prefer a four or five-year deal, if Reyes stands firm on a six-year deal, I see the Mets accepting those terms. But I don’t see six years (or even four) at $20 million.

Reyes might give a slight home-team discount to the Mets if they are willing to go long term. It seems that a six-year, $100 million deal might work for both sides. Reyes made $11 million this past year, and would get a roughly $6 million raise under those terms. Plus it would more than double the amount that rival shortstop Jimmy Rollins got from the Phillies. Rollins signed a five-year deal with an option and ended up making $46.5 million over the last six seasons with Philadelphia.

However, it’s all well and good to speculate about Reyes giving a home team discount but if some team comes up with sacks of money no one should blame Reyes for refusing to leave $25 million or more on the table. Few ever imagined that Jayson Werth would command $126 million last year but that’s exactly what happened.

The bottom line is that Reyes will be one of the most attractive free agents out there and the Mets could easily get outbid.

Then the question becomes: Where do the Mets spend the money they had earmarked for Reyes on instead? The immediate reaction is pitching but there are no Cliff Lee types on the market this year, unless C.C. Sabathia opts out of his deal. The top pitcher likely to be available is C.J. Wilson. Wilson has been very good the past two seasons but do the Mets want to invest a lot of money in another LHP when they already have Johan Santana and Jonathon Niese penciled in the 2012 rotation?

It seems unlikely to me that Alderson would sink a ton of money into the free agent market for starting pitching. Center field and catcher are the next two obvious choices for the Mets to spend money. But there’s no catcher worthy of a big-money deal and the best CF option is probably Coco Crisp But the soon to be 32-year old did not have a good defensive season in 2011 and his 91 OPS+ was a shade beneath the 93 OPS+ mark turned in by Angel Pagan.

Checking the list of potential free agents compiled by Cot’s there’s just not a lot of names that jump out. There are some veteran starting pitchers – Mark Buehrle, Aaron Harang, Edwin Jackson – but do you really see Alderson giving $10 million a year or more to this type of pitcher? Buehrle has earned $15 million a year or more the past five years according to FanGraphs and is coming off a four-year, $56 million contract.

After a 14-win season in 2011, Harang will not sign for anything approaching what FanGraphs suggests his true value ($2.9 million) was this past year. Jackson’s numbers indicated he’s been worth $16.3, $15.2 and $17.0 million the past three years, during which time he made $15.55 million. He figures to look to cash in on this contract. Plus, when was the last time the Cardinals acquired someone and that person turned around after performing well and left St. Louis? I’m sure it has happened but it also seems like we hear about the Matt Holliday or Jake Westbrook or Lance Berkman types a whole lot more with St. Louis than just about any other city.

Last year, the fans were disappointed but not to an extreme extent when the Mets did not dip heavily into the free agent market. But if they lose Reyes and don’t bring anyone on bigger than, say Chris Capuano, it’s hard to imagine them not getting killed in the press and on talk radio. Generally, I don’t see Alderson being swayed too much by that type of thing, but when attendance dropped this past season by an average of nearly 2,300 per game, one figures ownership will want to appear to be doing something to reverse that trend.

Could it be that Reyes’ departure might be the ticket back in town for Carlos Beltran?

Mets fans finally embraced Beltran this season and it’s not a coincidence that the team played just .423 ball (25-34) after he was traded. And what might have flied under the radar some since the Giants did not advance to the playoffs is how well Beltran played in San Francisco. After getting off to a slow start with the Giants, which included a stint on the DL, Beltran was outstanding in September. In the final month of the season, Beltran put up a .378/.434/.700 line in 99 PA.

For the season, Beltran had a .910 OPS and FanGraphs pegged his season as being worth $21.1 million. It’s unclear how many teams will be interested in Beltran this offseason but there were quite a few looking to add him as a rental during the year. It would be surprising if the Giants did not make a big play to retain him for next season and beyond.

But the offseason is the time for wishcasting and it’s still fun for me to figure out a way for Beltran to return. Of course the issue would be where he would play for the 2012 Mets? Lucas Duda appears penciled in as the team’s right fielder but it’s no secret that Duda is stretched defensively in right. Can Beltran still play CF? It’s scary to think of a defensive alignment where Jason Bay is the best fielder but it’s fun to think what the team’s lineup could be:

Tejada
Murphy
Wright
Beltran
Davis
Duda
Bay
Thole

Defense is important but we saw the Cardinals move Lance Berkman to the outfield and make the playoffs. We saw the Brewers essentially punt defense this past season and they make the playoffs, too. There’s not just one blueprint to success.

While it’s fun to think about, I believe the chances of the Mets re-signing Beltran to be in single digits, maybe five percent. But even if it’s not Beltran, the Mets need to have a contingency plan for if Reyes moves on to greener pastures.

If Reyes leaves, who do you think the Mets turn their attention to on the free agency market?

Finding solace in Jose Reyes’ quest for batting title

Here we go again!

As I pointed out in a previous post, it could have done the Mets a lot of good if they had continued to win in September. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be as the Mets have now dropped five straight games and seven out of their last eight.

These next 12 games could prove to tedious given how the Mets have been playing, but there is one storyline which all Mets’ fans can get behind.

That is Jose Reyes’ quest to be the Mets’ first ever National League batting champion.

As of Thursday, Reyes had the slimmest of leads over Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun. After Wednesday night, Reyes was batting .331, while Braun was batting .329.

While Reyes continues to hit, what he isn’t doing is what is causing some alarms to sound off.

Since Reyes returned from his second stint on the DL on August 29, Reyes only has one stolen base (back on August 30). Since August 30, Reyes has played in 15 games and has not even attempted one stolen base. What gives?

Is Reyes not running so he can finish the season fully healthy, thus, giving him more leverage going into the offseason? Fans won’t like this approach. Terry Collins insists Reyes is ‘fine’ but he is just being cautious.

Eventually, whatever team signs Reyes this offseason will want Reyes for not only his bat but his legs as well. He has to start running, or some red flags will be raised.

Reyes’ propensity for injuries combined with his current hesitancy to run could be costing him some dollars. Hopefully the Mets can offer Reyes a reasonable five-year deal in the $80-100 million range (which most pundits are predicting) that he can feel comfortable with.

In any event, Reyes is still a thrill to watch. His energy is contagious and his passion for the game goes unmatched by almost no one. Whether he is at the plate or on base, Reyes still elicits a palpable sense of awe.

Let’s relish the opportunity that Reyes has in front of him. John Olerud (among other withing ten points of the title) came real close to winning the NL batting title in 1998 with a .354 batting average, losing out to the Rockie’s Larry Walker who had a .363 batting average.

With a season now bordering on apathy, at least Mets’ fans can take some solace in Reyes race for history. It gives us fans something-anything-to get excited about.

If these are Reyes’ last days with the Mets, he certainly is going to make it memorable. Hopefully, these final weeks are not a swan song, but more of a medley of how he will continue to tee off against National League pitching in Flushing.

Mets Notes: DH results, Bay’s resurgence and Byrdak’s splits

The Mets lost both games of a doubleheader to the Braves on Thursday. It was the second time this year New York fell in both games of a DH to Atlanta and the third time in four tries this season it has been swept in a twin bill. The Mets are 70-73 (.490) overall this year but 2-6 (.250) in doubleheaders. Fortunately, there are no more doubleheaders on the schedule in 2011 for the club.

The Mets’ struggles with twin bills are not a recent phenomenon. Since 2008, the Mets have played 15 doubleheaders and their record is 11-19 (.367). They have won just two DH in the past four years, when they swept the Dodgers in April of 2010. The Mets have seven splits and have lost both games six times in this span.

Their high-water mark is a 3-3 record last year. Even in 2008, when the Mets won 89 games, they had a 5-7 mark in twin bills. In the past four years, the Mets have an overall record of 308-321 (.490) but their record in DH is significantly worse. I don’t care what Ernie Banks said, the Mets need to stick to single games.

BAY BASHES ON – While the Mets struggled yesterday, it was not the fault of Jason Bay. In the doubleheader, Bay went 3-6 with a homer, a walk 5 RBIs and a SB. In his last eight games, Bay is 10-28, with five extra-base hits, including 2 HR. This is what the Mets signed up for when they inked Bay to the big free agent contract following the 2009 season.

But before we start thinking that Bay is back, we should remember that he had 14-game stretch starting in late July where he went 22-53 (.415) with eight extra-base hits. He immediately followed up that hot streak with a 2-45 stretch. Now, streaky is better than terrible, so we should be grateful for this recent improvement.

Since the All-Star break, which includes both of Bay’s recent hot streaks, he has a .249/.323/.414 line. Overall this year he has a .241/.321/.368 slash output. His AVG and OBP numbers are similar – where he’s displayed improvement is with his SLG. Bay has 16 extra-base hits in the second half, including 6 HR.

There are 21 LF who qualify for the FanGraphs leaderboards. The median OPS is .760 for the group. So even the second-half Bay, who has increased his slugging considerably and upped his OPS to .737, still finds himself below average in OPS for his position.

THE FEEL-GOOD STORY OF BATISTA – The Mets picked up Miguel Batista on July 4th after he was released by the Cardinals. The 40-year-old Batista won all three of his decisions in Buffalo and was called up when rosters were expanded. He started and picked up the win on September 1st and earned his 100th career victory in the majors. Five days later, he turned in another Quality Start, as he allowed just 1 ER in 6 IP although he did not get a decision.

In addition to his 17-year career in the majors, Batista is known for his humanitarian efforts and his intellectual pursuits. He has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, for his work in delivering medical supplies and stressing education throughout Latin America. Batista is also a published poet and novelist.

REYES CHASES BATTING TITLE – Jose Reyes was given the first day of Thursday’s doubleheader off but went 1-4 in the nightcap. He has a .335 AVG and is leading the National League in hitting, with a .006 edge over Ryan Braun. As recently as September 5th, Braun was in the lead but a recent 1-12 stretch for the Milwaukee star has allowed Reyes to re-claim first. With 509 PA already, Reyes has enough trips to the plate to qualify for the title. Now he just needs to maintain his lead to become the first player in Mets’ history to lead the league in batting.

BYRDAK’S SPLITS – Lefty specialist Tim Byrdak has been on a role since the All-Star break, with a 1.64 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP in his last 23 games, covering 11 IP. He’s limited LHP to a .584 OPS. Manager Terry Collins has done a very good job limiting Byrdak’s exposure to righty batters. So far this year, 96 of Byrdak’s 150 PA have come against lefties. That means Byrdak has had the platoon advantage 64 percent of the time. Most LOOGYs face about the same number of lefties and righties over the course of a season. Since Byrdak’s OPS against versus RHB is 320 points higher, Collins has done a very good job optimizing his LOOGY.

Jose Reyes lays an egg in stretch run for big bucks

When I was younger, “sublime” was a word which I had a hard time accepting the definition. It sounded like a word that should describe something that was mediocre, if not worse. If I could travel back in time, I would tell the younger me that the first half of the 2011 season of Jose Reyes was sublime. His at-bats were truly something to behold, something usually only found in power hitters on a hot streak.

Unfortunately, the second half off the season has been entirely different for Reyes. Undoubtedly, the injuries and the two stints on the disabled list have disrupted the flow of what was a magical season. As a Mets fan I feel cheated that I didn’t get to see this tremendous performance over an entire season. It was exhilarating knowing that Reyes was going to hit the ball hard and fly around the bases multiple times per night.

Since the All-Star break, Reyes has a .259/.277/.380 line in 113 PA. It’s hard for a non-slugger to put up an impressive batting line with just a .260 BABIP. Baseball is a humbling game and every hitter is going to go through streaks like this. The fact that hits are not falling in for Reyes right now is disappointing. What’s depressing is the way his at-bats are unfolding.

The worst thing to see is Reyes popping the ball up. In his outstanding first half of the year, he had a pop-up rate of just 6.05 percent, according to the data at TexasLeaguers.com. Reyes was too busy driving balls into the gap to hit weak pop-ups to infielders barely on the outfield grass.

But, in the second half of the year, Reyes has a pop-up rate of 13.27 percent.

It’s hard to be sublime when so many of your at-bats deprive fans of seeing you have the chance to run the bases. Even on ground outs, Reyes instills fear into fielders, who may rush their throws and at least offer the hint of something exciting to happen. A pop-up is just so deflating.

The other depressing thing to witness from Reyes here in the second half has been the collapse of his walk rate. While it is important to note that Reyes has never been known for his ability to draw a ton of walks, what he is doing here in the second half of the season is downright discouraging.

Walks are a wonderful by-product of a selective approach at the plate. Ideally a batter waits for his pitch and then drives it into the gap for an extra-base hit. Sometimes that pitch to drive comes early in the count and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. And when it doesn’t come at all is when you should pile up walks.

In Monday’s game, Reyes came to the plate four times and saw a total of nine pitches. He drew no walks, had no extra-base hits and went 1-4.

In the first half of the season, Reyes had a 7.1 BB% and 40 extra-base hits in 350 ABs, which produced a .175 ISO. Here in the second half of the year, he has a 2.7 BB% and 8 extra-base hits in 108 ABs, which has produced a .121 ISO.

Most likely it was unrealistic to expect Reyes to maintain his level of production from the first half of the year. But what Reyes has given the club here in the second half is simply unacceptable. Since the All-Star break, Reyes has a .656 OPS, or essentially what Yuniesky Betancourt has produced this year with the Brewers. Betancourt ranks 16th out of 23 full-time shortstops in 2011 with a .653 OPS. And the 15th-ranked shortstop has a 41-point OPS lead on him.

For another point of comparison, Ruben Tejada has a .706 OPS this year in 288 PA.

It’s wise to keep in mind that Reyes’ poor second half is just 113 PA. But we should also recall that this is a player in the prime of his career, playing for what will likely be the biggest contract of his life, and he is laying an egg.

It will be fascinating to see how the Reyes contract talks play out in the offseason. For three months, we witnessed the impact that he can have on a team, as he was in the discussion, if not the winner, of the mythical first-half MVP.

But here in the second half we’ve seen all the reasons to avoid giving Reyes a nine-figure contract. We have the injuries and we have the over-aggressiveness which has led to weak contact and easy outs. A Reyes who plays every day and puts up a .927 OPS is easily worth a Carl Crawford-type contract. A Reyes constantly nursing injuries and putting up a .656 OPS is a non-tender candidate.

Here’s hoping Reyes rediscovers his patience and results from earlier in the year for the final three weeks of the season. He was a joy to watch the first three months of the year and I want nothing more than to see that player finish his career with the Mets.

Just what is Jose Reyes’ and David Wright’s future with the Mets?

A lot has been made this week about David Wright being placed on waivers. The thing is many players-and even stars- go through waivers to see how they are “valued” throughout the league.

It didn’t stop many in the mainstream media from declaring that Wright was persona non grata with the Mets, and that the club wants to move in another direction. That’s not to say that might not be true. More on that later.

Also making news this week is Jose Reyes’ anticipated return from the DL. He is now rehabbing in Binghamton, and is expected to be activated on Monday.

And with the Mets stumbling down the stretch (Chris Capuano’s stellar performance on Friday vs. the Braves notwithstanding), a lot of eyes will be focused on what the Mets plans are for 2012 and beyond.

So, will Reyes and Wright both be a part of those plans?

You would hope so, considering all they have done for this club. It just wouldn’t be the same without them in Flushing. They have been here through thick and thin. They are icons with Mets’ fans.

But, here’s a wacky idea to consider: Either keep the two of them or dump both.

This way you are either committed to making a run while building around two of your franchise players, or conversely, admitting  the team is in need of a shakeup and that the direction to go is  young.

To keep one and not the other (and for the purpose of assumption let’s pencil in the Mets keeping Wright since he is under contract), well, that could put the team in limbo. It would signify that you’re not entirely set up to win now or if you have some inclination toward rebuilding. Go all in or fold.

If the Mets are not committed to resigning Reyes, or just simply don’t have the cash to keep him in town, then maybe the Mets should see what kind of prospects Wright may be able to pull in via a trade. Maybe that was part of Sandy Alderson’s plans when placing Wright on waivers, just to get a feel for where Wright stands in the eyes of other MLB GM’s.

Let me also reiterate, I would like the Mets to pony up the cash and keep Reyes in town, and by extension not dealing Wright. However, if they are not able to do so, I think it may be in the best interest to rebuild this team from the inside out.

When factoring how much pitching matters in this league, if Wright can get you some top tier pitching prospects as well as other position players, than it might be an idea worth considering.

Look, 2006 was five years ago. This is not a veteran club anymore. Gone are Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and by his own volition, so could Reyes by year’s end. It just might be time to say hello to a whole new brand of Met baseball.

Have you seen the roster lately? It is littered with young up and comers like Ike Davis (ok, when he is healthy), Daniel Murphy (ditto), Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Josh Thole etc. Don’t forget the young arms in the minors like Matt Harvey, Jenrry Mejia (although out for the year), Jeurys Familia and the newly acquired Zack Wheeler.

So, my message to the Mets is either gather up the money somehow and not only resign Reyes but add other key ingredients to the squad so you can compete with the Phillies and the Braves. If not, then maybe it’s time to go with a youth overhaul. Some of the pieces are already there and if you can add a few more we could be looking at a very good club a few years down the line.

It’s poop or get off the pot time for the Mets (I swear that’s not an Angel Pagan joke). Either commit to spending and competing or go full rebuilding mode, nothing in between. That is what got the Mets in trouble in the first place.

Is Ruben Tejada up for good?

With Jose Reyes going on the DL yet again with a strained hamstring, Ruben Tejada was recalled to play shortstop in his place. So far, Tejada has gone 4-12 with two doubles and an RBI in his most recent promotion.

So, this begs the question: Is Ruben Tejada up for good with the Mets?

Well, let’s not jump the gun. Reyes’ injury is not considered that serious and he should return no later than early September. By then, Reyes will resume his duties as the everyday shortstop. With rosters expanding in September, Tejada should also be part of the club until the end of the season.

This post, though, has more to do with how 2012 will shake out. Basically, who will play shortstop for the Mets next year?

A funny (more like not so funny) thing happened in Reyes’ exhilarating MVP-type season, his contract year: He got hurt. Twice.

Of course, this raises major red flags. Sandy Alderson and the Mets have to factor in Reyes’ propensity for getting hurt when approaching him with a contract offer. How many years do the Mets guarantee Reyes, and at what price?

All of these questions have to be addressed. The Mets have to think about contingency plans if some team, somehow, guarantees six or seven years in excess of $100 million to Reyes. If some team offers that kind of deal, then the Mets may have no other choice than to say goodbye to Reyes.

If the Mets were to part ways with Reyes, is Tejada ready to be the everyday starting shortstop going forward?

Internally, there does not seem to be any other logical choice. Prospect Wilmer Flores seems years away from contributing. The free agent market will also likely be barren of any impact players. So if Reyes does leave, it seems like Tejada or bust.

You have to love Tejada’s defense, passion and smarts for the game (excluding last night’s inexplicable baserunning blunder when Tejada did not slide into home on a sacrifice fly), but he’s too limited offensively to get excited about. He’s a good complementary player and not much more than that.

In 396 at-bats with the Mets, Tejada has batted .232 to go along with a career OBP of .322. In that time, Tejada has only 19 extra-base hits (one home run) for an incredibly weak .607 OPS. It’s also not like Tejada offsets his lack of power for speed, as he has only three career stolen bases.

Granted Tejada has a lot of room for improvement and will only get better as he’s only 21-years-old. However, Tejada’s ceiling is limited. I don’t see Tejada being anything more than a Brendan Ryan or a Jamey Carroll type of middle infielder.

Maybe I am underselling Tejada, but I’m really hoping that this becomes moot and that the Mets and Reyes can come to an agreement.

In other words I want Tejada on the Mets, but would not feel comfortable handing him the keys at shortstop long term if Reyes bolts.