Just what kind of a baseball player do you want to be, anyway? What kind of a career do you want to have?What type of legacy would you like to leave behind?How would you like to be remembered, as another Derek Jeter? Or another Rey OrdoÃ±ez?
You’re probably too young to remember Rey OrdoÃ±ez, but for those of us who have followed the Mets for longer than you’ve been alive, Rey-Rey is impossible to forget.He, too, came up with the kind of hype that has attached itself to you from the day you signed a Mets’ minor-league contract. When OrdoÃ±ez was a rookie, there was actually debate among otherwise rational people over which young shortstop would have the better career, him or Jeter.
Now, of course, we know the answer. Jeter’s name is synonymous with winner; OrdoÃ±ez’s name is synonymous with bust. So which is it going to be for you? Clearly, you can go either way. And depending upon which way you go, so, too, will go the Mets.I’m glad you’re having fun again, with your celebrations and your dugout dance routines. But for thousands of Mets fans throughout the city, the only fun is seeing this team win and seeing you play well.The two go hand-in-hand, like one of your silly handshakes.In a lot of ways, you are a symbol of your team, this breathtakingly talented and profoundly frustrating array of ballplayers that so far has given us more days to forget than to remember.
I realize there is plenty of blame to spread around for the slow start of the 2008 Mets, who on some days look suspiciously like a continuation of the 2007 Mets. But all blame starts at the top – of the batting order, that is – and that is where you come in.Through 19 games last year, you were hitting .329. Your on-base percentage, all important for a leadoff hitter, was .421. You had scored 21 runs, drawn 13 walks, stolen 12 bases in 14 attempts. The Mets’ record at the time was 13-6, and that was not coincidence. It was cause and effect.This year, you are hitting only .280. You have drawn a mere four walks, stolen only three bases in five tries, scored only 12 runs. Your OBP, .313, is worse than all but three other NL leadoff hitters. Even Rickie Weeks, batting .192 at the top of the Brewers’ lineup, is getting on base more often than you.As a result, the Mets are struggling, a mere game over .500 going into last night’s game against the Nationals.In large part, this is because you, Jose Reyes, are not doing your job, which is to create runs at the top of the batting order and prevent runs on the field. You can’t do the first if your body isn’t on base and you can’t do the second if your head isn’t in the game.
The other day in Chicago, your decision to throw home on what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball led directly to the grand slam that blew the game open. What exactly were you thinking?You can blame Jorge Sosa if you like. But had you made the right play, he never would have been in the position to throw that pitch. And you might have come up in the ninth with a chance to do something meaningful. Instead, you grounded out to end a game that was already out of reach.You can shrug the blame off on the manager or the GM or the bullpen or the first baseman or the centerfielder, and on any given day, any one of them can be measured for the clown suit.But day in and day out, it is you that makes this engine go – or stall in the mud.
When it comes down to it, the long-term success of this ballclub depends on you and David Wright, the axis around which all Mets teams for the next 15 years are supposed to be built.Wright not only has delivered on his promise, but exceeded it. But on too many days, we wonder if you will ever keep yours.I sincerely hope so. Over the past two seasons, the fortunes of the Mets have risen and fallen with you. Since 2006, they have gone from the presumed best team in the league to the official second-best team in the division. Likewise, you have gone from one of the best players in the game to no better than the third-best shortstop in your division.No coincidence there, either.In April, it is not too late for the Mets to regroup and at 24, it is certainly not too late for you to keep the promises you have made to your team, and the promises that have been made to the fans in your behalf.But it is all up to you, Jose Reyes. Who do you want to be when you grow up? DJ? Or Rey-Rey?
Eagerly awaiting your reply,Wallace Matthews