Friday, December 7, 2007

Become What You Are

I know I have to put my mind more into it. Sometimes I felt tired and I still played, but I didn’t perform. I feel strong in my mind. I think this is going to be a good year for me.
I would have written this last week, were it not for the idiotic deal of Lastings Milledge. My point strengthened by this article appearing in Thursday's New York Times in regards to the offseason exploits of Jose Reyes.

It was probably a great relief to Jose Reyes to hear that Omar Minaya adamantly refused to deal him to the Minnesota Twins for Johan Santana. After the way Reyes played out the 2007 season, he might have been justified in thinking he was on some form of thin ice, both with his fans and with his team's management.

The flipside of this is that with Omar and Willie continuing to show their faith in him, Reyes must realize that it is now incumbent upon him to deliver on the promise that we all know he has. It was clear that when Reyes wanted to be, he was by far and away the most energetic and dynamic player on his team, probably in his league and perhaps in all of Baseball. With the output he presented in 2006, there was no reason to believe that we shouldn't expect even better results from Jose in 2007.

Needless to say, we were more than underwhelmed by the results.

It's clear, from reading this article, that Reyes has taken the criticism to heart, which is good to hear. The above quote is in reference to being asked about the pair of incidents where Reyes did not run out ground balls. If it is a matter of focus, then Reyes seems intent on addressing the issue, and making sure it doesn't happen again.

However, if it is an issue where Reyes needs more rest than he is willing to admit he does, it then becomes the responsibility of his manager to realize that Reyes needs a rest, and to sit him for a day or two if he can. Part of the problem, it appears, was that as the Mets fell apart at the end of the season, Willie continued to play Reyes every day, even though Reyes was probably toast. And Reyes, naturally, wanted to play every day, so he wasn't about to go to Willie and say he needed a day off, especially in the middle of a pennant race.

It's an interesting conundrum, for both player and manager. What ought to be the case for now is that not only should Reyes be more open about when he needs a rest, but Willie needs to be able to realize when he needs a rest, and to make sure he's rested more often earlier in the season, so that by the time September and, hopefully, October rolls around, we still have Reyes with fresh legs. One need to look no further than the case of Mike Piazza in 1999 and 2000 for an example; when Piazza had to play every day down the stretch in '99, his postseason performance was miserable, however, when he played in fewer games and rested late in September 2000, he came through with a fabulous run in the playoffs.

But focus is something that can't be gained with rest. And focus is something that seemed to abandon Reyes at times during the 2007 season as well, outside of the baserunning incidents. Reyes is working hard to fix that. Behind the hard work is the desire to do well. Omar will visit Reyes in the Dominican Republic and so will Willie. And it's clear that Reyes wants to show them that he's deserving of their faith, and deserving of the faith of Mets fans to believe in him; to believe that he is capable of being the Jose Reyes of 2006. You know, the guy who almost led this team to the World Series.

Remember him? He'd like you to.

Reyes is Back Home, and Not Going Anywhere [New York Times]

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