In The Wind…
There appears to be an attempt afoot for the Mets to put little whispers in the wind about players that they let go to soften the blow of public protest. The latest is Ruben Gotay. On today’s Mike and the Mad Dog radio show on WFAN, there were implications (nothing specific) that Gotay may have been a bad influence on Jose Reyes. This dovetails with the nuggets that were planted in the media this past off season about Luis Castillo when there was a question as to whether he was going to return to the Mets as a free agent. There was circumstantial evidence that Castillo was having a "bad" influence on Reyes, which led to Reyes’s awful second half swoon. I do not understand the idea behind this other than self-preservation.
First, is Jose Reyes so easily influenced and naive that he blindly follows other players into their behaviors? One would think that Reyes, given his burgeoning fame and gregarious reputation, would be the one that the other players would be following, not the other way around. If Gotay is being let go because he’s truly a "bad" influence, it would be one thing, but if the Mets are just putting this out there to shield themselves for making a decision that could come back to haunt them, it’s a trend that has been in practice for awhile. They did the same thing with Scott Kazmir when they stupidly traded him to the Devil Rays, and Lastings Milledge received similar treatment on his way out the door.
Both Kazmir and Milledge were top round draft picks who received hefty signing bonuses from the Mets when they were drafted. Didn’t the Mets look into the backgrounds of these players before using a top pick and doling out millions of dollars for their signatures on a contract? Or is it just politically expedient to say, "We were concerned about him off the field," and justify an ill-thought-out decision? This is the same team that put up with Paul Lo Duca for two years; kept a maniac like Mike DiFelice around; had guys like Tony Tarasco on their roster; and allowed John Franco to essentially make personnel decisions for the front office. None of these players have squeaky clean resumes either.
Once David Eckstein turned down the Mets offer to play second base for them, they had few options other than to get Castillo back, then came the stories that the Mets "looked into" the Reyes/Castillo allegations and found nothing to substantiate the claims. Ruben Gotay might very well be a bad influence on Reyes and if that’s the case, good riddance; but is it necessary to plant these little stories to protect themselves in the case of a player who leaves and becomes productive if it’s not even true? It strikes me as hedging bets and if a person in the front office has confidence in his decisions—-even if they don’t work out—-he should have the confidence to make the move and not resort to making the player look bad as he’s heading out the door. It’s called taking the high road.
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