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As Jose Reyes departs for Marlins, dark days ahead for the Mets

Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes Credit: Jose Reyes acknowledges fans after his last game as a Met on Sept. 28 (Getty Images)

With Jose Reyes speeding off to the Miami Marlins, Mets fans shouldn't expect anything amazin' in Flushing anytime soon.

Though the loss of fan-favorite Reyes -- who received a six-year deal worth $106 million -- may not have shocked many Mets diehards, a veteran National League scout said allowing a division rival to snap up their batting champ is "like blasphemy.

“I think they're really going to struggle,” the scout told amNewYork. “They’re stuck where they are.”

Without their star shortstop or any other big signings before next season, the depleted team may be as unfit as ever to make its first playoff run since 2006, observers said.

“The way the team is probably going to look you just can’t picture them — without squinting really hard — as a contender in 2012,” said Mets blogger Rob Castellano of Amazin’ Avenue.

“I certainly don’t thing he’s bagging the year,” Castellano added, referring to Mets general manager Sandy Alderson. “But there’s only so many wins to be had in this division.”

At baseball’s winter meetings in Dallas, Alderson told reporters, “I'm not conceding anything with respect to 2012,” though he acknowledged that millions of dollars that vanished in Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme and $70 million more in unspecified losses limited ownership’s ability match expensive offers for players.

“You have to draw a line somewhere,” Alderson said on Sunday when asked why the Mets didn’t try to match the Marlins’ offer. ?“We decided that there were some conceptual limitations to where we would go.”

NYU sports management professor Robert Boland, a self-described “lifelong Mets fan,” said the team’s restraint shows “the Mets management gets it.”

“This is the greatest day to be a Mets fan you can possibly imagine,” said Boland. “I think the Marlins made a contract that they’re going to regret,” he added, in part because of the 28-year-old Reyes’ history of injuries and inconsistent play.

Going forward, Boland said the team will target young, cheap players for the future — be it to play for the Mets or to be used as trading pieces.

“This is a team that is really looking at 2014,” he added.

Mets fans seemed to accept the news Monday with a mixture of disappointment and sarcasm.

“Jose Reyes was my favorite recent Met but proved to be only about the $,” tweeted @CoreyNYC.

Chimed in @RobinLundberg: “The Marlins signed Jose Reyes to a $106 million deal. The Mets thought their money could be better spent elsewhere, like in ponzi schemes.”

(with Max J. Dickstein)

The past five years have been a bumpy ride for the Mets — and the finances of the team’s owners, the Wilpons. Here are key moments in a journey that has proved frustrating for loyal fans.

April 2006 — Mets announce plans for a new ballpark next to Shea Stadium that will cost about $600 million. Citibank gets naming rights for $20 million a year.

 February 2008 – Mets trade for starting pitcher Johan Santana, forking over $137.5 million for six years and making him the highest-paid pitcher at the time.

December 2008 — Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme collapses, and Sterling Equities, owned by the Wilpons, reportedly lost up to $700 million invested with him. Sterling is still battling a $386 million lawsuit filed by Madoff victims.

February 2009 – Mets re-sign starting pitcher Oliver Perez to a three-year contract worth $36 million. He goes 3-9 during the next two years, and is released in 2011.

July 2011 — Mets trade outfielder Carlos Beltran to Giants and closer Francisco Rodriguez to Brewers, saving at least $5 million. The team would have likely had to pay Rodriguez an extra $17.5 million if they kept him.

Follow reporter Marc Beja on Twitter: @marc_beja

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