As the season mercifully comes to a close, the Mets have two cornerstone players in Jose Reyes and Johan Santana that are battling nagging injuries. Perhaps the best course of action calls for shutting them down for the season.

That course of action may not be a popular one, but it may be the right one.

As a paying customer, fans want to see the stars play and Reyes and Santana are certainly marquee players that fans come to see. How can you blame some fan’s anger if the Mets did go ahead and shut down Reyes and Santana? With the team not winning many ball games, fans at least want to see electrifying individual efforts that appease their dollar value

However, with noting to play for this season (the Mets are now 11 ½ games out of the Wild Card), sans pride, it may best suit the Mets to shelf Reyes and Santana for the season and make sure the 2011 season starts off on the right foot.

Looking back, don’t you think the Mets would have been better off shelving Carlos Beltran at the end of last year, and giving his knee all the rest and treatment it needed before trotting him out last year in meaningless action and further damaging that knee. Bringing back Beltran early led to off-season arthroscopic surgery and created tensions between Beltran and the front office. Beltran has not been the same since, and has batted only .231 since he returned this year with only two home runs and 17 RBI’s.

Playing devil’s advocate for a second, though, the injuries don’t seem to be all that serious. But with the Mets history of injuries, they should treat hangnails as serious.

Reyes has been battling a strained oblique for most of the season, and has not completely gotten over it since initially injuring it in late June while playing the Marlins in Puerto Rico. Since aggravating his oblique in a game vs. the Marlins back on August 26, Reyes has missed the last 11 games.

Reyes took batting practice on Monday and felt a lot better but still sat out the game. He was not expected to play in Tuesday’s game vs. the Nationals either. He may play in Wednesday’s series finale though.

Santana, meanwhile, strained his left pectoral muscle in his last start vs. the Braves on September 2 and was to miss tonight’s start vs. the Washington Nationals. Santana threw a bullpen session on Sunday in Chicago and said he was feeling fine.

Both Reyes and Santana have stated their desire to play again, and their commitment to get back on the field despite the lousy circumstances that surround them is commendable. However, if the last year few years have taught Mets fans anything is that you don’t rush back players from injuries.

Just look at the track record of players like Beltran, Ryan Church and John Maine for instances of not playing it safe and ending up sorry.

So, while it may not be fair to Met fans who show up at Citi Field hoping to be dazzled by Santana and Reyes, we all got to think big picture here.

And forget about all this talk about breaking up the core. Reyes and Santana will be Mets for the foreseeable future, and 2011 should not be considered a rebuilding effort.

With that in mind, let’s hope the Mets shelf Reyes and Santana soon, while giving some youngsters in their absence (Luis Hernandez, Joaquin Arias and Ruben Tejada for Reyes and Dillon Gee, Pat Misch for Santana) some valuable big league experience.

As always, it’s better to play it safe than sorry.

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