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May 24, 2005
  
Rob Neyer Chat

John (Baltimore, MD): Rob, the error’s in the last two games aside, do you think Wright and Reyes have the potential to become the best left side combo in baseball? Thanks.

Rob Neyer: No, I don’t. Wright’s a fine young player and will only get better, but Reyes is, at the moment, one of the very worst everyday players in the majors. He’s still only 21 and will of course improve, but it’s far too early to predict that he’ll actually become a *good* player.

Joe (NY): Why won’t you address your comment on Reyes…”worst everyday player in the majors?” Perhaps it is a good thing you aren’t running the Mets cause you would trade him for Rey Sanchez I bet. I heard Sanchez drew a walk this weekend and that seems to be all you care about.

>Rob Neyer: I guess because the comment seems to explain itself. But if you insist . . . He’s got a .294 on-base percentage (which isn’t balanced by his power) and he’s not done much with the glove at shortstop. I do think he’ll improve, but then he’d almost have to.

This is just ridiculous. As of right now, Jose Reyes has the 11th best OPS among major league shortstops. Has he been consistent? Of course not, but then again, thats what you’d expect out of the youngest position player in the major leagues.


19 Responses to “Rob Neyer Chat”

  1. Comment posted by Gatts on May 24, 2005 at 7:41 pm (#3113)

    Hell, Jose’s been the best shortstop in the division.

  2. Comment posted by Luis on May 24, 2005 at 8:08 pm (#3116)

    neyer is correct- as much as i like reyes, he is NOT the kind of ss that wins titles- no walks, iffy D, no power-with a great surrounding cast, you could overlook these things- the good news, most 21 yr olds are in A ball- go to baseball reference and check his age comps

  3. Comment posted by Russlan on May 25, 2005 at 12:56 am (#3127)

    I don’t know how Neyer can call Reyes the worst position player in the majors. He’s got a 9.2 VORP which is on pace for a season total of 31.7. That’s a very respectable total and miles better than guys whom Neyer likes such as Eric Chavez (-5.1). It’s ridicilous to call him one of the worst everyday players in baseball.

    There are some defensive metrics that rate Reyes very badly defensively. As a guy who watchs him play nearly everyday, I don’t agree with them. Defense is still the hardest thing for stat guys to measure.

  4. Comment posted by Benny Blanco from da Bronx on May 25, 2005 at 1:00 am (#3128)

    But then agian you got Orlando Cabrera who’s “earning” a hefty paycheck and has an OBP just as bad as Reyes and his BA is worse too. People would say the Angels are a contender and a championship caliber team.

  5. Comment posted by erik from tha bronx on May 25, 2005 at 1:54 am (#3129)

    Pretty smart of Neyer to say that after the guy hit five triples in the past nine games and is hittin .341 in that span.Reyes will have a big finish with his bat and with his glove,neyer’s a number’s nerd who works for ESPN what do you expect??

  6. Comment posted by IanB in NJ on May 25, 2005 at 9:11 am (#3133)

    It will be a cold day in Hell before Neyer admits to any NY player being good. Reyes could one day win the MPV, and Neyer’s next article will use the most obscure numbers available to prove that he was the worst of all time.

  7. Comment posted by Yo La Tengo on May 25, 2005 at 1:39 pm (#3139)

    I think that you guys are overreacting against Neyer here. Jose has clearly been a disappointment tus far, but part of the problem is that his shortcomings are exaggerated by Willie’s insistence at batting Jose leadoff. Sure, Neyer’s overstating his case a bit, but he’s a smart baseball guy and he’s not unwilling to admit that NY players are valuable.

  8. Comment posted by Danny1986 on May 25, 2005 at 3:25 pm (#3148)

    It’s very difficult to disagree with some of the negative points on Reyes. He frustrates the hell out of me with his lack of plate discipline and batting intelligence. A great example last night was when, trailing in the ball game, Reyes leads off in both both the 5th and 8th innings. Both times he pops out to to the left side of the infield on similar pitches early in the count. This tells me numerous things:

    1) He is swinging at bad pitches.
    2) He is not learning from his prior at bats.
    3) He is not being a true lead off hitter by hitting the ball on the ground.
    4) He has zero ability to make the pitcher work.

    Reyes not learning from his mistakes is the most frustrating of all my points. The Mets need to bring in someone to teach this kid discipline. Bring in Dykstra, pay Rickey Henderson a consulting fee, acquire a lead-off hitting veteran. Do something besides excusing him for his age!

    However, contrary to Neyer’s waek argument, Reyes/Wright have unlimited potential to be the best left side duo in the league. They are proving so with more reps each day. Already….Wright is among the NL offensive leaders at his position and is making tough defensive plays. Reyes, though frustrating, is top 10 in the NL in hits and SBs, top 20 in total bases (not bad for a leadoff man), and 1st in triples. If that is not potential, than what are the criteria in the holy book of Neyer?

    Neyer’s answer to the Wright/Reyes question was lazy, condescending (to Reyes and especially Wright), lacking thorough analysis, and above all, insufficient. Wright’s contribution to this duo alone renders at least a ‘Maybe’ as an answer to the question.

    Let’s Put Neyer’s ridiculous and prematurely negative answer in context. Based on his analysis of Wright/Reyes, Neyer would have also thrown the early 70’s Schmidt/Bowa combo under the bus as well. And he would have done it based solely on the fact that Bowa hovered around a .270 OBP in his early years. However, as we all know, the POTENTIAL of Schmidt/Bowa came to truition as they were arguably the best MLB left side duo throughtout the 70’s.

    I challenge Neyer to effectively answer the question and name a higher potential left side duo similar in age, receiving the high number of reps, and putting up similar numbers as Wright/Reyes. Otherwise, he shouldn’t make a blanket statemetn and just throw out one stat to back up a negative preminition he has on just one element of the question (Reyes), and thus ignore the premise of the entire question asked. That’s lazy.

    This is a good example as to why Neyer doesn’t think before he writes and fails to completely and intelligently answer a question. All he does is run to a stat book to back his points, neglecting history or providing reasonable comparisons. He has the best job in the world and consistently abuses it.

  9. Comment posted by Ian on May 25, 2005 at 5:26 pm (#3155)

    First off, Rob Neyer is one of my favorite sports columnists, and is as thorough and impartial as they get when it comes to analyzing questions about ballplayers. But in his ‘chats’ he tends to be quick and humorous, as the format usually validates.

    Rob is also notoriously quick to throw aside stupid Met/Yankee questions, as it is obvious he gets bomarded with the always, “How can you say Derek Jeter isn’t the best player in the league?” type of comment. This question was not of that ilk at all, but he addressed it in that manner, so for shame Rob. Like most non-NYers, he LOVES to watch the big market flounder, and being we’re on the short end of that stick usually(compared to our Bronx neighbors) we tend to get defensive. But he’s right on about Reyes in saying he may never really be much of a player. If he was 26, you’d wonder if he should even be starting. But he’s not, and we tend to assume he’s going to get better. Unfortunately, with his history of injuries AND inability to draw walks it is quite feasible he turns into Desi Relaford or someone like him. Hope to all hell he’s Ozzie Smith w/more pop, but only time will tell…

  10. Comment posted by Russlan on May 25, 2005 at 5:37 pm (#3156)

    Is it fair to say that Reyes isn’t learning from his mistakes? He is hitting .287/.326/.425 this month. That’s very good. If he could do that the rest of the season I’d very, very happy.

  11. Comment posted by Blue on May 26, 2005 at 1:24 am (#3308)

    2 GIDP in one day… Oi vey.

  12. Comment posted by Ian on May 26, 2005 at 1:57 pm (#3330)

    The biggest problem w/predicting Reyes future is that fact that there’s not much of a sample size to look at. He’s the epitome of a ‘tools’ guy. If I remember, Alex Escobar was of a similiar mold a few years back, and I havn’t exactly seen him lighting up the boxscore….

  13. Comment posted by David G on May 26, 2005 at 3:47 pm (#3340)

    ***Warning – this is a long posting****

    The biggest issue about Reyes is his ability to learn. There was another Rey (Ordonez) in NY not long ago and it was clear very early on that he had no ability to learn how to be an effective major league player. He was successful (at a fairly young age) in Cuba and in his first minor league season, but to succeed in a big way at the MLB level it is important for a player to adjust his game: learning from mistakes, picking up new approaches from coaches and other players, or putting in the tough work to eliminate weaknesses that are constantly exposed. Rey – had none of those abilities – he played the way he played and tuned everything else out. What we got was a very good defensive player with a god awful bat who’d make bad in-game decisions. Put simply, he never matured.

    And this is will be the issue that faces Reyes – how will he learn?, how determined is he to be a great MLB player? He’s young and playing at a level well above almost all others his age – so flaws and problems are not only likely, they’re expected. And Reyes has his fair share. As Danny1986 pointed out and as my 2 year old could tell you –

    (1) he has horrible plate discipline – and if it’s possible, it’s even worse when he gets behind in the count. There’s almost a formulaic way to pitch him to get him out and it’s confounding how easy it is.

    (2) he doesn’t use his speed to his advantage. Look at Ichiro – who is the poster boy for bunt and infield singles as an example. Reyes could add 20-30 hits a year if learned to bunt effectively and how to chop down on a ball.

    (3)he can make terrific defensive plays, but doesn’t make routine plays consistently. Worse than this, he doesn’t appear to be well schooled in understanding priorities and some fundementals. Jeter is the poster boy here – this is about intangibles – understanding what to do in different situations, pre-thinking between pitches, understanding when to go for more vs taking what you can. Jeter had these qualities at Reyes’ current age (Jeter was well beyond his years – but it’s just an illustrative point that Reyes doesn’t yet have this capacity).

    So how’s Reyes’ learning going so far in his roughly two years of MLB experience? Not all that well – and I think that’s what Rob Neyer is focusing on (without stating it outright). There’s still time to improve, but Reyes’ current learning process isn’t offering much evidence that he’ll improve. Look at David Wright as a comparison. He’s one year older in age, but light years ahead in his maturity (his ability to learn and apply). Last year Wright had a good year at the plate (much like Reyes’ first late year call up), but there were some issues in that good year – for one, Wright didn’t walk all that much and was potentially trying to slug or pull the ball too much. This year – his game has adjusted and grown. He’s not swinging at as many bad pitches, he’s making pitchers work much harder than last year (and walking more), he’s using all fields in hitting and slugging when the opportunity comes to him (not whenever he gets to the plate). On offensive you can see Wright’s learning process and you know he’s getting it. That’s not to say he won’t have slumps or that there wont be new flaws exposed in his game. He’s young and you can bet there are bad days/periods ahead. But we know now that Wright knows how to learn and has an active process for learning – he will find his way out of his problems (let’s keep an eye on his fielding – that’s an area he clearly must be more circumspect about and learn as diligently as he has learned at the plate).

    When you look at Reyes his profile isn’t the same as Wright. He does appear eager to learn and is willing to try new things. Look at his last 50 plate appearances vs. those before – he’s taking more pitches, walking more (compared to nothing), and trying to bunt at times – and that’s good (Ordonez never had this) – attitude is important, but it’s only the starting point. The greatest fear about Reyes is that his learning ability doesn’t go much further. If I were to describe Reyes’ learning process (his ability to understand and apply) – it is, at best, strained. When he’s taking pitches, he’s doing so because he has to – he’s been ordered to. It doesn’t appear he’s gaining much by watching the pitcher – judging velocity, movement, location. He appears simply to be waiting for his turn to swing the bat – and that’s not good. Sure, if the pitcher falls behind, he’ll get a better pitch to hit, but it works the other way to – and it’s just rolling the dice. One of the ultimate tests for Reyes (as for Matsui and several other Met players) is discipline not to chase the down-and-in ball with two strikes. If you look at Wright when he was in a slump this year – pitchers were getting him to chase pitches away (off the plate) with two strikes – but he adjusted, he didn’t chase and then got better pitches to hit. Reyes hasn’t learned the equivilent on down-and-in pitches – he’s an easy mark and continues to be. He’s overly eager and somewhat blind to the strategy being used against him – that’s “not learning” anyway you cut it. And it is “not learning” that will limit his ceiling from being a great player to a somewhat better than average player.

    Reyes stats will only improve when his learning improves – and that’s what is vital this year – getting him to learn well. On that score Willie Randolph and his coaching staff are failing Reyes miserably. They are asking him to be a leadoff hitter – and he does not have the skill set to be effective in that role (outside of stealing and base speed – he’s never had great plate discipline). We can all say Reyes has the 11th best OBP of current leadoff hitters, but that misses the point. Most winning teams don’t have leadoff hitters with OBPs under .300 (let alone .330). Reyes has never shown a good ability to walk through his minor league career. Asking him to do so now is setting him up for failure. Rather than try to put Reyes’ “round” skills into a “square” (leadoff) hole, Randolph should put Reyes in the eighth spot in the order. He did so with Victor Diaz and that move paid off tremendously. Diaz had a history of not walking well through his minor league career, but learned patience in the eighth spot. Expecting he’d be pitched around, Diaz learned to pull back his aggressive behavior of swinging at almost anything – and he learned unbelievably well. Reyes could get the same education and not feel the weight of the world in leading off games feeling like he’s failing if he doesn’t get on base. (By the way – Wright should be leading off – period. He would be a similar leadoff player as Brad Wilkerson of the Nationals – who is highly underrecognized for what he provides that team). Randolph has gotten a lot of good press in his first season (I think undeservedly so – he doesn’t manage much differently than Howe – he just got better players and others who have been having career years so far) – but he needs to understand Reyes’ development better and put him in a position to succeed. Until that happens, we’ll just have to cross our fingers that Reyes figures out how to learn better in the current position he’s in…

  14. Comment posted by Mike in SF on May 27, 2005 at 1:22 am (#3354)

    Jose Reyes is one of the most exciting young shortstops I’ve ever seen in the Major Leagues. He has such breathtaking speed on the basepaths, I watch him bat just in case he lets lose on one…I love watch him round the bases!

    Tonight, he hit two (!) more triples, and I believe he leads baseball in this statistic. He also stole his tenth base, and drove in several runs. He’s become slightly more selective at the plate, and doesn’t look as lost on off speed pitches (although he’s still more or less a fastball hitter – and must learn greater discipline).

    In the field, he has good range, and a fantastic throwing arm. He must learn to play pitches, hitters, and situations better so that he can rely more on getting in front of the ball, and less on athletic back hand plays. He needs to focus more on completing basic plays, and less on flash.

    He’s only 21 years old.

    Have you compared where Jose Reyes is, at his age, compared to two of the better shortstops of his era – Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel.

    First, Omar Vizquel:

    1989 22yrs .220 BA / .273 OBP / .261 SLG in 387 ABs
    1990 23yrs .247 BA / .295 OBP / .298 SLG in 255 ABs
    1991 24yrs .230 BA / .302 OBP / .293 SLG in 426 ABs

    Second, Ozzie Smith:

    1978 23 yrs .258 BA / .311 OBP / .312 SLG in 590 ABs
    1979 24 yrs .211 BA / .260 OBP / .262 SLG in 590 ABs
    1980 25 yrs .230 BA / .313 OBP / .276 SLG in 609 ABs

    So, both of these shortstops were older than Jose Reyes when they broke into the big leagues.

    Jose, at the age of 21 (!) is hitting .270 with an OBP of .294 and an SLG of .426. He’s far ahead of Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Smith, two of the best all around short stops of the modern era, at their comparable age.

    Being a New York Mets fan frustrates me from time to time. I’m embarassed when my fellow fans can’t recognize an exciting young talent, demonstrate some patience, and give him time to develop.

    Let’s all stop expecting the second coming of Honus Wagner, and let Reyes develop into the explosive (though flawed) mutli-faceted player he has the potential to evolve into.

  15. Comment posted by erik from tha bronx on May 27, 2005 at 2:04 am (#3356)

    PREACH MIKE PREACH!

  16. Comment posted by chris from Boston on May 27, 2005 at 9:50 am (#3363)

    Yeah, that Reyes will NEVER be any good. Let’s dump him. Same thing with that Melvin Mora — he will never develop into a hitter or everyday player….
    Everyone relax. Kid is 21. 20 freaking 1. What were you like as a professional when you were 21??? The worst everday player hit two triples last night. He is a triples machine! Also walked. He will improve!

  17. Comment posted by Seo’s Super Secret Friend (not really) on May 29, 2005 at 12:02 am (#3406)

    Mike, you do realize that Neyer doesn’t hold the two players you mentioned in highest esteem, right? IIRC, he thinks they’re alright, but not HOF material. That said, Neyer has a nasty habit of writing off Saber-unfriendly players very quickly. Reyes’ youth provides much hope. I think a much more apt comparison would be Adrian Beltre, who led the NL in taters last season: Young, inconsistent, with possibility of brilliance despite crappy stats. I do think that the Mets might have called him up a little too fast. When a hitter is a little overmatched in the majors, he might try to do what little he can do consistently, which might result in him not working on things he should be working on since he doesn’t want to risk trying an uncertain skill with the game is on the line. This might not be such a good thing for a young player on a contending team. Of course, they can’t send him back to the minors now, because that would just destroy his confidence. I guess it’s a good thing the clubhouse is full of good influences.

  18. Comment posted by Sam M on May 31, 2005 at 11:11 am (#3486)

    Reyes could add 20-30 hits a year if learned to bunt effectively and how to chop down on a ball.

    Lord, I hope not. At least not the chop down on a ball part. That would nullify the development of his power. I want him swinging for line drives jumping off his bat, not becoming some punch-and-judy singles hitter. Line Drive Reyes can be a 50 2b, 15 3b, 15 HR guy in his prime. Chopper Reyes loses at least 10 of those doubles, a third of those triples, and most of those home runs.

    Neyer’s comment was lunacy. Reyes has not been great, but he is obviously NOT one of the worst players in the game. Counting pitchers, there are 100 worse than him. If he’d avoided hyperbole, and just said Reyes has a long way to go to become the player Mets’ fans are hoping for, he’d have no problem with me. That’s 100% correct. One of the worst in the game? Nonsense.

  19. Comment posted by Mets Geek » Rob Neyer Chat on July 26, 2005 at 4:57 pm (#7870)

    […] ted by Eric Simon on July 26, 2005 at 4:57 pm Back in May, Rob Neyer said, “Reyes is, at the moment, one of the very worst everyday […]

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