Say what you want about New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway, but he is awfully loyal to some of his players.
Even to a fault.
Little represents that sheer devotion more than his almost-blind trust of veteran infielder Jose Reyes, the 34-year-old trudging through a 16th MLB season off the bench. Though trudging might be an understatement.
Reyes has been a burden to the Mets lineup this season, both at the plate and in the field and still has seen a large amount of playing time. Of New York’s 44 games, Reyes has appeared in 35 of them and hasn’t been able to put anything together.
He looks lost at the plate, batting .145 (8-for-55) with one home run, one RBI and a pitiful .403 OPS. If one combines his strikeouts (seven) and double plays hit into (one), it equals the number of hits he’s had this year.
In the field, he hasn’t been any better, slotting in at both shortstop and more recently, third base after Todd Frazier hit the disabled list. He’s come under fire for his play at the hot corner after Tuesday night’s performance against the Miami Marlins in which his second-inning throwing error accounted for two unearned runs, spoiling a rare gem of a start by the inconsistent Zack Wheeler.
Callaway stood by his decision though, speaking with the media after the game.
“I think we have to play the players we have,” he said. “So if it makes sense like it did where we had a left-handed pitcher on the mound and he’s a switch-hitter, versus other guys that can play third or are left-handed, I won’t hesitate to do it.”
With Frazier working his way back from a left hamstring strain, the Mets are left with Reyes, Luis Guillorme and Wilmer Flores to man third base. Flores played first on Tuesday night, leaving Callaway’s decision between Reyes and the left-handed Guillorme, who is batting .286 in his first eight games in the majors.
Oddly enough though, Guillorme is batting .250 against left-handed batters — although it’s a limited sample size at 1-for-4 — while Reyes has a mark of .231.
Then comes the part of the program where casual baseball fans fall asleep and sabermetric lovers perk up because Reyes’ lack of contributions can best be described by his Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, which measures how important a player is to his team.
In 35 games, Reyes has a WAR of -0.6, second-worst on the Mets behind only Jason Vargas, whose solid start on Monday against the Marlins was a huge step to get out of an early-season funk that saw his ERA skyrocket to over 13.00. Guillorme, who has played just eight games, has a WAR of 0.1. Newly-acquired Devin Mesoraco, who came over from the Cincinnati Reds in the Matt Harvey deal, has a 0.3 WAR.
So how long does it have to take before Reyes is shown the door?
First, Frazier would have to get back in the lineup before that’s even considered. Second, Reyes is a free agent after this season and there will be no team that is willing to give up anything for a past-his-prime shortstop who weighs more than his batting average. The Mets’ best course of action would likely be to designate him for assignment, much like they did with Harvey, and cut their losses while they still can.