Monday, December 5, 2011
Reyes impacts Marlins in many ways
By Jim Bowden
Jose Reyes will impact the Miami Marlins with his bat, glove and personality.
With the signing of free-agent Jose Reyes to a six-year, $106 million contract on Sunday, the Miami Marlins netted themselves the one of the best shortstops in baseball, second only to the Colorado Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki. It also gives the new-look Marlins much-needed dose of star power.
From a baseball sense, Reyes is a terrific fielder. He has great range to his left and boasts one of the strongest arms at the position. His high energy and enthusiasm will positively influence Hanley Ramirez on the field and in clubhouse. Though there has been talk that Ramirez would head to center field, a team source confirmed that Ramirez will go to third base, with Emilio Bonafacio and Chris Coghlan sharing time in center field. Reyes is also one of baseball's best leadoff hitters, and he should activate a lineup that has lacked decent pop and on-base percentage at the top of the lineup.
Risk? Certainly any time a team signs a player to a long-term contract there is some inherent risk in the latter years as the player ages. Reyes has already had a history of injury, but working in the Marlins' favor is the fact that Reyes is entering his prime years physically, so the next six years should be as good if not better than the first six.
Further risk involves Ramirez. As with any shift in position, it's unknown how Ramirez will adjust and perform at the hot corner. The position change is similar to that of Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken Jr. in regards to bigger shortstops. When I moved Tony Fernandez from shortstop to third base, he made the transition because he had quick hands, quick feet, handled the balls that came straight at him, as well being good coming in on the ball. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Ramirez should be able to make that transition, though he doesn't have the feet like Fernandez, so it'll be more like A-Rod and Ripken and he will make his share of errors.
Worst-case scenario is it doesn't work well, so they move him to center field at a later time. What is important is Ramirez was on board with the position change and supports the Reyes acquisition.
From a business sense, Reyes has that fan draw; they will pay to watch him play. And for a team looking for ways to bring the fans to their new ballpark, which in turn brings in the advertising and promotional dollars, Reyes could bring in as much money as he costs.
The big loser in all this is the New York Mets. By offering Reyes a five-year, $80-million deal, they should've just gone the extra year if they really wanted to retain him. In six years, the team's position and the economy in general will be much different and to surrender Reyes because they couldn't add an extra year is myopic.
With Reyes, manager Ozzie Gullien and closer Heath Bell, the Marlins are quickly changing the clubhouse culture. They've quickly become at worst an instant wild-card contender, and they aren't done. Marlins management said they were going to come out swinging, and they have. Do not be surprised if they sign Mark Buehrle by week's end and Albert Pujols remains on their radar.