Jose Reyes during the Mets' season finale against the Reds....

Jose Reyes during the Mets' season finale against the Reds. (Sept. 28, 2011) Credit: David Pokress


Had this gone down with a team you trusted -- with an ownership you trusted, to be more precise -- then maybe you could swallow this inevitable development.

If you believed that Jose Reyes' departure from Flushing resulted from years of intelligent planning and contemplation, then perhaps you could laugh at the suddenly generous Marlins for promising nine figures to a player more fragile than the Florida housing market.

But that's not the reality, and so the Mets conclude the Reyes era knowing this: Even when they make a sound baseball and business decision, they come off as the losers.

Reyes has agreed to join the Marlins for six years and $106 million, a person familiar with the situation confirmed to Newsday. The Mets never made a formal offer, instead expressing a parameter (believed to be five years and about $80 million) to Reyes' agent, Peter Greenberg.

"You have to draw a line somewhere," Alderson said in his suite at the Hilton Anatole.

Look, $106 million over six years for Reyes isn't the worst contract in recent memory. It was a year ago Sunday, once again on the eve of the winter meetings, when the Nationals committed $126 million over seven years to Jayson Werth. Reyes is only 28, he plays a premium position that currently is experiencing a downturn and he's an exciting player and engaging personality who fires up fan bases.

As Mets fans know all too well, of course.

But he's also a player who hasn't been able to stay on the field regularly since 2008, who relies heavily on his speed and whose legs have been his primary source of agita.

You can make a compelling case why the best move is to let Reyes go. You just can't expect Mets fans to nod their heads in appreciation.

Alderson said, "I don't believe Mets fans will be surprised" about Reyes' decision to switch teams, and indeed, the Mets' GM has done everything short of skywriting "WE'RE NOT BRINGING HIM BACK!!!" over Citi Field.

Concerning the lack of a concrete offer, Alderson said pointedly, "This wasn't an attempt to finish second. We weren't going to get in that business," which is a defined change in strategy from the Mets' past free-agent pursuits.

And that's Alderson's continuing challenge. If those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, at least credit Mets fans for being diligent. So much has gone wrong with this franchise during the last decade, and so much confusion continues to linger about the franchise's future, that it's virtually impossible for anyone, no matter how loyal, to accept this simply as a baseball move. It instead feels like another chapter of Wilpon mismanagement.

(And as long as we're discussing baseball stuff, Alderson really should have traded Reyes in July. The return, particularly from Tampa Bay, would've exceeded the sandwich-round pick and third-round Marlins pick they now receive as compensation.)

Alderson grew agitated when faced again with the Bernie Madoff question -- still fair game -- and he said the team lost $70 million, although he declined to confirm that was the 2011 number. He also got fired up when asked if he should simply use the term "rebuilding" to discuss 2012.

"I'm not conceding anything with respect to 2012," Alderson said. "The Diamondbacks didn't concede anything about 2011. The Cardinals didn't concede anything about September. Stuff happens in baseball."

It does, and my early hunch is that the 2012 Mets won't be as awful as we're envisioning.

Baseball isn't the Mets' main problem, though. It's credibility. Count Sunday as one more demerit, fairly or unfairly, in that uphill climb.

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