MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets

Game Recap July 5: Reyes Reality


Giancarlo Stanton mashed. José Reyes provided no evidence he deserves a spot on the 2016 Mets. Marlins 5, Mets 2.

Discussion and Analysis

You can take this analogy or leave it, but last October, we all rooted hard for a terrible person because he was on the Mets. Just six months after Daniel Murphy publicly announced that he “disagreed with the gay lifestyle,” there was no shortage of “MURPH!!1!! #ImWith28″ tweets as he became the first player ever to homer in six consecutive postseason games.

Obviously, Murphy’s situation is distinguishable on many levels from that of Reyes: Murphy was already a Met when he made his bigoted and uneducated comments, while the Mets chose to bring Reyes on board midseason. Murphy expressed his personal feelings, demonstrating that he doesn’t understand biology, while Reyes physically attacked another human being, one he promised to love and protect. (Allegedly.) The biggest difference, of course, is that Murphy is free to speak his mind (at the risk of personal and professional condemnation), while Reyes would likely have been criminally prosecuted for his actions had his wife agreed to cooperate with police and press charges.

The basic point still stands. Baseball Twitter piles on Alfredo Simon (no relation!), an alleged rapist and acquitted murderer; Delmon Young, who pled guilty to a criminal violation for tackling a yarmulke-wearing panhandler in Manhattan while yelling anti-Semitic slurs; and Josh Leuke, who pled no-contest to “false imprisonment with violence” — a charge reduced from aggravated rape. All these players have one thing in common: They were terrible ballplayers. Young and Leuke were driven out of baseball as relatively young men because they couldn’t perform at a big-league level. Simon has a 9.45 ERA with the Reds, who are not exactly trying to win this season. These players’ alleged and admitted crimes stand in for their baseball careers because their baseball careers flamed out.

A player’s misdeeds are minimized, even ignored, over time if the player performs well enough. We love us some Bartolo, who was suspended for performance-enhancing drug use two years before he became a Met. We still love us some Bartolo even when it’s revealed that he’s committed adultery and fathered two children with a mistress during the course of his 21-year marriage. Colon’s infidelity was discovered through a court proceeding for his failure to pay child support, which failure can result in criminal prosecution. Bartolo may have committed a crime that directly affected his wife and family. Granted, it was not a violent crime, but you know what? Bartolo is a jolly Met mascot who makes behind-the-back flips and hits improbable home run(s). Danny Murphy offered no excuses for his anti-gay position, yet was worshiped last October and is now a Nationals fan-favorite and newly-minted All-Star.

Last night, Reyes was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a weak infield pop-up. He didn’t catch a single ground ball or pop-up at third base. His performance on the field hurt the Mets. And that’s the story. Like it or not, Reyes’s game results will determine how his Mets reunion is judged. Should Reyes rejuvenate himself and revert to the vintage phenom whose ascendancy coincided with the 2006 Mets’ division title, game recaps won’t often refer to the José Reyes who was once suspended under MLB’s domestic violence policy. That’s not to say Reyes’s on-field exploits will have rehabilitated or erased his abusive past. It’s to say that front-office executives, beat reporters, analysts and fans will focus on his hitting, fielding and running while his spousal abuse becomes deep background.

In his pregame press conference, Reyes explained that he’s apologized to his wife and family, that he’s undergone and plans to continue with counseling. He used the word “mistake” several times. It’s not a “mistake” to commit assault, as if one can accidentally throw one’s wife into a sliding glass door. (Allegedly.) But Reyes’s domestic violence truly was a mistake in the dictionary sense of the word — an action that was misguided or wrong. Reyes’s contrition and ongoing counseling is a fine starting point for someone who seeks to make amends. These are necessary but insufficient steps for a professional baseball player.

In the end, whether Reyes ends up like Bartolo, a fan favorite for all time, or Lueke, the personification of athlete-as-terrible-person, depends primarily on how he plays baseball.


Steven Matz pitched to a 5.01 ERA over his last six starts, during which the team revealed that he was suffering through a bone spur in his elbow that will eventually require surgery. Against the Marlins, Matz appeared to show no ill effects. Through the first six innings, Matz allowed no runs, scattering three singles and a walk. Like many Mets starters this season, the third time through the order was his undoing.

In the seventh, Matz allowed a hard single to Marcell Ozuna, then a line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton that may still be rising — Ron Darling said he’d never seen a home run hit like that at Citi Field. Matz gave up another hard hit in the inning to noted awful hitter Jeff Mathis (career .204 TAv), then needed 10 pitches to retire Chen, who’s never had a big-league hit. As good as Matz looked in the first six innings, he ran out of gas in the seventh. Perhaps some day, Terry Collins will remove his starting pitcher proactively, not after the damage is done.

Wei-Yin Chen dominated the Mets, allowing a Yoenis Cespedes single in the first, then a Cespedes dinger in the fourth. Against a Mets offense that appeared to have broken through against the dominant Chicago Cubs staff, Chen threw just 68 pitches through the first six innings. In the seventh, Chen walked Cespedes and, after fly-outs by Wilmer Flores and Asdrubal Cabrera, allowed an opposite-field bloop single to James Loney. Even at 84 pitches, Marlins manager Don Mattingly could have removed the southpaw Chen against righty Juan Lagares with a right-hander in the bullpen. Mattingly made no move, and Lagares smashed a line drive to right field. Stanton sprinted in and slid to catch the ball before it bounced. That’s poor process but good results for Miami.

Stanton connected in the eighth for another no-doubt dinger, this one plating three runs. It was his 17th home run of the season and the 17th time he’d hit multiple home runs in the same game. Stanton may not be a 2016 All-Star, but there may not be a Mets hitter — Cespedes excepted — who is a better bet to produce the rest of the way.

Contemporaneous Thoughts


“As José himself said tonight, I know there are some people who are going to hate me.” — Gary

“He certainly seems to have contrition, but he can only prove that by continuing to work at it, and that usually means classes… The bottom line is this ball club decided that they wanted to sign him and give him a second chance.” — Ron

“How José does off the field is more important than what he does on the field.” — Ron


Today’s Marlins pitcher, Justin Nicolino, was acquired by the Marlins when they salary-dumped Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson on the Blue Jays. The Marlins could have had Noah Syndergaard. Jacob deGrom will try to salvage the series for the Mets.

Photo Credit: Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

Related Articles

1 comment on “Game Recap July 5: Reyes Reality”

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username