If you were to judge by what is in someone’s heart and not some costume he wears on his head and body, Jose Reyes would qualify more than anyone else on the active roster to be Mr. Met. He loves being here and playing here, which is what makes this situation so tough.
The time has come for Reyes’ favorite team to at least consider taking him out of the lineup. His hitless afternoon Thursday in a 2-1 loss to the Brewers at Citi Field left him in an 0-for-15 slide and dropped his batting average to .193. Given that he’s 187 at-bats into the season and nine days shy of his 34th birthday, you have to wonder if this is more than just a bad start.
Maybe this is who he is. With Wilmer Flores having heated up and with Amed Rosario red-hot in Las Vegas, it might just be time to give someone else a try.
A little adrenaline could not hurt a team that just can’t seem to get on track and stay there. It appeared the Mets had turned a corner with four wins in five games, but they have lost two in a row since then, putting Citi Field back under a shroud. It grew so bad this week that fans heckled Mr. Met, who became so incensed that he made an obscene gesture.
That occurred on the 53rd anniversary of Mr. Met’s debut, between games of a doubleheader on May 31, 1964. You could look it up, in a 2007 book by Dan Reilly, the ticket-office employee who debuted the mascot costume: “The Original Mr. Met Remembers: When the Miracle Began.” Reilly and A.J. Mass, another Mr. Met who also wrote a book (“Yes, It Is Hot in Here”) agreed that whoever wears that big baseball on his shoulders must put up with his fair share of abuse.
Everyone can laugh about such episodes in retrospect, or when the club is winning. The past couple of days made a Mets fan feel anxious about whether this year’s team ever will pull it together. As much as the organization has a warm spot for Reyes, it cannot keep depending on someone with a cold bat.
Not that he is the only one. Not by a long shot. Curtis Granderson is back under .200. Even Michael Conforto, the brightest light of the season, is in a 4-for-25 slump. “I think it’s just baseball,’’ Conforto said. “There are ups and downs, there are going to be games when you’re just not hitting well. It’s part of the game.”
But in Reyes’ case, the club has logical replacements very handy. The Mets could give the everyday third base job to Flores. Or they could promote Rosario to play shortstop to give the team a burst of energy, as Conforto did when the outfielder was promoted two years ago.
A point in Reyes’ favor is he appeared to be getting hot a week ago. “He’s just kind of jumping at the ball again,’’ Terry Collins said Thursday. “He’s just kind of coming open a little quick. You can go in and out, it’s easy.”
Reyes, ever optimistic, said, “I was feeling good until I got to this homestand. You have to give credit to the Brewers’ pitchers. They were doing a very good job. You feel like you’re feeling good and you go 0-for. That’s the way this game is.”
Mets fans understand that. They dearly would like to see Reyes bounce back, knowing how much he cares. They know he would do anything to help this team. But at some point, and maybe we have reached it, he might help it most by taking a seat.