Do the Mets Have a Problem With Jose Reyes?

Can and should they change Reyes' style of play?

In a post to his Twitter account, Jon Heyman of writes that someone from the Mets who told him that he wanted to acquire a player with "toughness" and that "smarts wouldn't hurt either." It probably isn't a coincidence that he told Heyman those things after two days of baserunning errors by Jose Reyes, nor that it was on the same day that Reyes would miss a game with stiffness in his right calf.

The frustration isn't new. Reyes has always matched his immense talent with an air of baseball cluelessness that's straight from the Manny Ramirez collection. In the field, at the plate and, especially, on the bases, Reyes makes the kinds of errors that you wouldn't expect in his fifth full major league season. There are mistakes of overagressiveness followed by ones of passivity, times where he tries to do too much followed by instances where he doesn't do enough and all of it adds up to a puzzling whole.

Can the Mets fix Reyes? It would seem doubtful at this point in his career. Should they try to fix him? Not if they accept that it will probably be futile, and that benching or otherwise negatively enforcing discipline for mistakes could make the situation worse. Reyes may share Ramirez's airheadedness, but he doesn't share his penchant for making things difficult off the field.

Furthermore, making Reyes think, for lack of a better way of putting it, could limit how effective he is as a player. It's easy to say he should just play smarter, but that may not happen unless he starts playing a slower style than the one that's made him a special player. Reyes, for better or worse, is who is, and that's not likely to change.

If the Mets can't accept that, then they've got a decision to make about Reyes' future with the team. To go back to the Ramirez comparison one last time, the Red Sox traded him when the non-playing stuff outweighed his productivity. Reyes hasn't reached that point yet, but the exasperation will only continue to rise.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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