One Amazin’ Blunder

by Eddie Mayrose

Back in March, just as we were starting to find out that the Wilpons’ involvement in the Madoff scandal would have a significant impact on their franchise, Jose Reyes approached the Mets about a contract extension. Coming off three straight seasons that saw time lost to injury, Reyes wasn’t exactly in a prime bargaining position. However, at 27 years old and entering the prime of his career, he could at least point to the fact that, when healthy, he’d spent a few seasons as one of the game’s elite players. This was an opportunity for the Mets to lock up a core player — one around whom you build a franchise, on the cheap. As is their modus operandi, though, the Wilpons failed to pull the trigger.

Talk radio debates raged among the “first-time, longtime” crowd as to whether or not the Amazins’ should commit to Reyes. Then, the season started and Reyes quickly reminded the baseball world that it was, in fact, injury that had robbed him of his brilliance, not fading skills. He has reestablished himself as the game’s finest shortstop, while becoming an offensive juggernaut in a park seemingly built with his talent in mind. While the middle of the Mets’ order has spent much of 2011 on the disabled list, Reyes has kept his team in Wild Card contention, thrusting himself into the middle of MVP discussions.

That he’s played his best baseball since Fred Wilpon opened mouth and inserted foot in an interview with the New Yorker, opining that Reyes does not warrant the same money as Carl Crawford, only points to the tragic way things have come apart in Flushing. Typically, the Mets have begun to realize too late that Reyes needs to stay. Put yourself in Reyes’ shoes. Do you really want to play for a team that has misdiagnosed injuries and cost you playing time, refused to even discuss the possibility of an extension with a seven-year vet and has an owner that has publicly denigrated your skills? Neither would  I.

Down in Front!

Once you get past how silly it is for the NBA to be making a big deal of its draft with a lockout looming, we resume the annual absurdity of completely ignoring a player’s accomplishments on the college level, while rolling the dice on long untested teenagers from Europe. Now, I know that there are no certainties in this inexact science of player selection. But, since there’s as much chance that a pick is driving a cab in five years as there is he’ll be driving to the hoop, wouldn’t a proven body of work trump a stab in the dark?  Enter Jimmer Fredette. The BYU super shooter, who led the NCAA in scoring last year while leading his largely ordinary teammates to a top-five ranking, currently has many NBA execs doubting his ability to make it with the big boys. However, even if their concerns are about his size and capacity to defend, there’s no getting around the fact that his quick release and unlimited range will be an asset on the next level. Let’s see. Wouldn’t he be a great fit on a team with two post-up superstars that tend to get in each other’s way and could use a shooter to spread the defense? What do you think, Carmelo and A’mare? … No matter how this season turns out for the Yankees, GM Brian Cashman will have had a successful 2011. In resurrecting the careers of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, he’s gotten more bang for his buck than anyone could have imagined. But, in light of the failure of Rafael Soriano before the reliever headed to the DL, and Derek Jeter’s miserable performance, Cashman comes out smelling like a rose. The GM was vilified last year for suggesting that Jeter test the market before the Steinbrenners handed the shortstop $52 million, before being tagged as disloyal for disagreeing with the signing of Soriano. I’m thinking maybe the baseball stuff should be left to the baseball guys, something that Daddy Boss never got. Guess it runs in the family … To tell the truth, if he’d been Congressman Elbow or Congressman Shoulder, it wouldn’t have been so funny … Then there was this missive from Citi Field: “He’ll have all the opportunity in the world to bring anybody he wants in,” team COO Jeff Wilpon said yesterday, without saying that Sandy Alderson will have free reign. “The way for him to do that is to bring the ideas to us and we’ll talk about it. But he does not have restrictions. We’ll deal with everything on a case-by-case basis.” I read that and I think of the woman who owned the Indians and needed the team to lose in order to relocate in the film Major League. As long as the Mets stay in contention, it becomes more difficult for lil’ Jeffy and Papa Fred to justify the dismantling of the team, a course that, I’m sure, has already been charted …You have to love this week if you’re a sports fan. The U.S. Open, interleague play in Major League Baseball and the College World Series from Omaha will all have your remote working overtime.

Eddie Mayrose appears every Sunday on the Fantasy Sports Network with Craig Mish at 3 p.m. Sirius channel 210, XM channel 87. He can also be seen, with Tom DeAngelo, on “Down in Front,” a weekly sports talk show available to Fios customers in Brooklyn and Queens. Check local listings.

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