Many of you who know me recognize how much I love movies and one of my favorite films is The Paper, which gives us a sneak peek inside a newspaper newsroom. One of the best scenes in the film is when Michael Keaton is trying to get his editor Robert Duvall to print a story with a flimsy source.
Duvall says, "Get a quote. You know...They speak...You write...We print." And it occurred to me that is what we need in this Reyes story -- a quote.
Too many people are guessing, theorizing, and pontificating as to what is going on. The agents for Reyes and most of the teams interested in him (including the Mets) have not leaked much information and that has people grasping for things. And to generate stories, people are taking leaps of faith. The biggest was of those was on Sunday when it was leaked by one member of the media that a Reyes deal with the Marlins was done except for some minor details. PLEASE STOP THE INSANITY!
For example, some people suggest that Hanley Ramirez has been asked to switch positions -- others contend he has not. Some says it is a slam dunk he will move anywhere -- even center field. The only thing I can tell you is Hanley Ramirez said as recently as Friday,"I am the shortstop right now."
Not exactly a ringing endorsement he'd move and it could be argued he may ask for more money down the road if he does indeed move. Here is what I know: Reyes has been offered a contract by the Marlins but I am not sure about the length of the contact or the money terms. He will continue to look at his options and both the Mets and Reyes have agreed to speak once the offers come in. In the interim, the two parties will keep in touch. I'd be very surprised if anything is decided before Thanksgiving because the timeline dictates otherwise.
I also have too much respect for Mets fans who read my blogs to mislead them with erroneous information. On this story, I'd rather be second and right than first and wrong. I have been saying for the past 12 months I think Reyes will stay here and although so much info is out there to the contrary, the truth is there is still so much game time left in the Reyes chase. And for Reyes there are many things to consider with money being high on that list but not the only thing to consider. His representatives have always put "whats best for their client" well in front of "setting the market price" and that is very important to consider here. I do know Jose felt hurt by the comments attributed to Fred Wilpon earlier this year and that too plays into the equation here.
If Reyes is telling the truth here that the Mets will get a final chance before he agrees to a contract, then the Mets must decide what they are prepared to do. For the record, I've known Reyes since his rookie year and he always been straight and honest with me so I have no reason not to believe him now. Still, there will be much to process on both sides. From a Mets perspective, would they go past a four-year deal and at what dollar level? Is $100 million the magic number for Reyes? Will Jose look at some players like Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford who got the big payday but had unhappy years as something to be ever mindful of? Does he feel the Mets financial situation will preclude them from improving the team down the road with high ticket free agents? Is the Marlin pursuit of free agents just a smokescreen to stimulate ticket sales? Would forcing Hanley to change positions create locker room issues as opposed being in a Mets locker room where everyone now gets along?
These are important things for both sides to consider and will take time. Of course in the world of Twitter and other social media sources, waiting is never tolerated. It is like the Wild West. Write anything you want, say anything you want, you can always change your position later. Because of that, you -- the Mets fan have to separate fact from fiction but I will promise you this. You will only get from me what I know -- not what I think will gain attention for me. I learned from early in my reporting life-being wrong about a story could hurt your career much more than breaking a story can help it.
And as Robert Duvall said in The Paper, "For crying out loud, get a quote and we will print the story."
It is sometimes very difficult to pinpoint the exact moment a player stops being a prospect and starts being a major league-ready player but clearly Ruben Tejada had that moment during this past season. Injuries forced him to play both second base and shortstop and despite playing well, he was sent down during the season when those injured players returned simply because he had options. But Tejada never sulked-he simply worked at becoming a better player and once he returned to the big leagues, Jose Reyes was there to help him every step of the way.
"Jose taught me so many things about defense and putting yourself in the best possible position to make a play", says Tejada, "and spent so much time with both Justin Turner and myself on how to be prepared to make the right play."
Certainly, Tejada has a smoothness to his defensive game that few young players possess and has the arm strength to turn the double play in very much the same way Edgardo Alfonzo did for the Mets a decade ago. "Tejada has the knack to do that," says Alfonzo, " but more than that, he has a confidence in his defensive game that you need at this level."
It was the offensive part of his game that needed to improve and for advice on that, Tejada went to the NL Batting champion. "Reyes told me to always be aggressive at the plate", says Tejada, "but don't be foolish. I learned that with two strikes you can foul off tough pitches and maybe the next pitch will be easier to hit. And when you are ahead in the count, you must be ready to attack the ball."
When you look at the season Reyes had, that piece of advice he gave Tejada illustrates why Jose has become such a better hitter and he wanted to impart that advice to Tejada at a time when he was learning on-the job at the big league level.
So where does Tejada think he will be playing next year? Shortstop? Second Base? First and foremost, Tejada wants Reyes to stay but does not take anything for granted. "I want Jose to be here next year but whether he is or not, I have to continue to get better. Turner is a very good player and deserves playing time as well but I must be focused on making myself a better player -- getting stronger so I can hit for a high average as well as help with my glove."
The thing that impresses me most about Tejada is that he is mature beyond his years. He is a confident young player but is not afraid to ask for help and has a high degree of humility when talking about himself. I do think the Mets discovered that he is as good as any other NL second basemen defensively and a DP combo of Reyes/Tejada would really help a pitching staff that, for the most part, pitches to contact. Offensively, he is a work in progress but showed real flashes this past year in two specific areas. He was an outstanding 2 strike hitter and very good with runners in scoring position.
Clearly, Ruben Tejada is the Mets second basemen of 2012 and could be the shortstop if Jose Reyes leaves. But my sense is Jose Reyes and Ruben Tejada will be the double play combination for the Mets for years to come.
What's Tejada's role on the 2012 Mets? Leave a comment below.