In 1959, New York’s other team, the New York Yankees, finished a disappointing third, 15 games behind the American League Champion Chicago White Sox.

The Yankees best players were Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Bill Skowron, Elston Howard and Tony Kubek. In those days, teams didn’t trade key players for youngsters, hoping that some of the youngsters would fill the void and, of greater importance, reduce salary.

Hank Bauer was old, Norm Siebern was in the doghouse because he lost three fly balls in the sun during the 1958 World Series and Don Larsen never lived up to his potential after his perfect game.

The Yankees sent them, along with Marvelous Marv Throneberry, whose batting stance resembled that of Mickey Mantle but whose production was closer to Juan Miranda, to their Kansas City cousins in exchange for Roger Maris.

Today, it is different.

There have been constant rumors that New York’s most beloved team, the financially strapped New York Mets, will trade the city’s best shortstop, Jose Reyes before the end of July.

The thinking is that the Mets will not be able to meet Reyes’ contract demands and should get as much for him as possible. That thinking may be wrong.

Jose Reyes may be the best shortstop in the game today. Hanley Ramirez and his .202 batting average, along with Troy Tulowitski are the top two among shortstops, but Reyes is right up there with them.

Reyes puts people in the seats with his exciting, thrilling, Jackie Robinson-type approach to the game. It is not being claimed that Reyes is as dedicated as Robinson was, that he hustles as much as Robinson did or that he is even as good as Robinson, but he brings the same excitement to the game. Fans pay to see that.

Shortstop is a difficult position to fill. Reyes has all the defensive tools, although it must be admitted he sometimes loses his concentration.

He already leads the league this season with five triples. He has stolen 12 bases in 14 attempts, is hitting .326, and despite hitting but one home run, is slugging .500. Reyes is an “igniter.”

Reyes is only 28 years old. He is at his peak, and using New York’s other shortstop as an example, Reyes should be productive for another seven or eight seasons.

Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, who is a better escape artist than Houdini, should be allowed to leave, which will free up the money to sign Reyes. Of course, this may be a naive statement considering the Wilpons’ financial situation, but as recently as yesterday, controversial hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen was named the front runner to purchase a minority share of the team.

If Cohen knows anything about baseball, he must realize that keeping Reyes in Mets orange and blue should be a priority. According to reports, he certainly can afford the price.

It is ridiculous to allow a key player in a key position to walk away. Think of it this way. What are the chances that any youngsters they receive in a trade or any compensation picks they get if he signs with another team would be as great? Assuming they receive some outstanding young players, how long will it be before they pay off in performance?

You don’t improve your team by trading your best player.

When the Mets were building a contender during the early 1980s, they traded for Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Ron Darling and Bob Ojeda. They didn’t use key team members Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson or Dwight Gooden as trade bait.

The Mets have some outstanding young players, including Ike Davis and Josh Thole. The left side of the infield has been the Mets’ strength the last few seasons. With David Wright and Reyes, it should remain just that.

There is no question that Jose Reyes must remain with the Mets.


Baseball ReferenceMets Minority Owner

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