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Jose Reyes Will Not Negotiate With Mets During Season; Good Strategy or Albert Pujols-like Mistake?

Before last night’s 7-3 loss to the Oakland A’s, Jose Reyes led the National League in batting average, hits, runs and triples, placing the pending free agent in a great position to negotiate a new long term contract. On the one hand, there is Reyes, who has gone on record stating that he wanted to be with the New York Mets for life. On the other is Mets GM, Sandy Alderson, who has stated that he hopes to retain Reyes long term. Those have been the public stances of the two, but then there’s reality.

Yesterday the Mets announced shortstop Jose Reyes did not want to enter negotiations for a new contract until the regular season ends. As Jose put it, “I don’t want any distractions on my mind.”

To be fair, while Alderson claims his preference would be to re-sign Reyes, the words that come out of his mouth are inconsistent at best. Even during an attempt to explain that he hopes to retain Reyes long-term, before last night’s game he stated, “We’ll just have to see where events take us over the next four or five weeks.” Alderson’s conflicting comments and apparent hedging to me means that he is being disingenuous and trying to appease the Mets fan base making it look like he’s trying to sign the All-Star shortstop. 

Alderson tossed Mets fans another bone, adding, “I think if we’re in it, it would be hard for me to see us trading Jose Reyes.” Then later he even tacked on, “If we’re playing lousy, it doesn’t mean Jose is gone.”

From Jose’s point of view at this point he has to play the game. Everything he says and does is part of the pre-negotiation; the jockeying for position, laying the groundwork for any team that may be interested in his services going forward, including the Mets. Let’s face it; Jose signed an awful contract with the Mets last time around and he’s not about to give them a hometown discount again. On August 3, 2006, Reyes signed a four-year, $23.25 million contract extension with the Mets avoiding salary arbitration. The contract included an $11 million option for 2011 with a buy-out of $500,000 if the Mets did not pick up the option. Reyes also received a $1.5 million signing bonus. It’s not often that you say someone who gets paid millions to play baseball signed a bad contract, but by baseball standards, compared to his peers he did.

While it’s caveat emptor for the team that gives Jose his next contract, it’s not like Reyes is not taking a risk by taking this stance too. Jose Reyes needs to be conscious of the fact that by taking the position of not negotiating during the season he may meet the same fate as Albert Pujols. All it takes is one significant injury to remove much of the very leverage he is trying to create by playing well in an effort to further increase his value, and it’s not like Jose has never had health problems before. Jose is looking for a Carl Crawford type contract and if he stays healthy and continues to play well he may get it. If he sustains a serious injury however, that’s not going to happen and he’s going to wish he negotiated during the season.

Jeter to Remain in Leadoff Spot, At Least For Now

Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, stated after Tuesday’s rainout against the Reds at Great American Ball Park that that whenever Derek Jeter returns from the DL he will return to the leadoff spot. There has been much speculation about this topic in New York of late as both Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher have thrived in the he leadoff spot in his absence. Adding fuel to the fire was Bobby Valentine who stated on ESPN’s latest Yankees telecast that he thought Jeter would be moved down to the 9th spot in the order.

In response to whether or not Jeter would return to the leadoff spot Girardi said, “He has been our leadoff guy. We will see how he feels but, yeah.”

You can be sure that Jeter will not be moved from the leadoff spot before he gets his 3,000th hit, but it will be interesting to see what happens during the second half of the season if Jeter continues to struggle at the plate.

Hanley Ramirez Called Out In Front Of Teammates

The Florida Marlins ended their losing streak Tuesday night with a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels, ending their 11-game loosing streak giving them only their 4th win in their last 26 games. Stealing the headlines, however, was Marlins sophomore left fielder Logan Morrison, who reportedly ripped Hanley Ramirez for routinely arriving so much later than everyone else for pre-game routines, going so far as to tell the All-Star shortstop that’s why he was batting .200.

Morrison is having a pretty good year for a second year player, hitting .277 with 9 HRs and 28 RBI and had already been pointed to as somewhat of a leader on the team, but for a guy making $414,000 with no real track record to go on, the kid has some set of balls. You have to love the spunk that this kid has, but I’m not certain this was the best career move he could have made for himself. Morrison just upped the ante on the level of scrutiny of his own production.

Ramirez simply hasn’t been healthy this year and when he is, he’s one of the best players in the game today. Hanley Ramirez will be weighing his money while Logan Morrison is counting his. Perhaps Morrison might want to think twice before he speaks from here on out.

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