When the Mets sent 7 players to Seattle and Cleveland last December in a three-team deal centered around J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed was an afterthought. As it turned out, Reed had more of an impact on the Mets than the closer-turned-setup man.
Though, that wasn’t a difficult feat, considering that J.J. went kaPutz by June. Reed wasn’t especially overwhelming, but he did stay healthy and make contributions from April through October.
In fact, Reed did everything he was asked to do. He effectively handled all three outfield positions, finished 4th in MLB with 15 pinch-hits, and performed admirably — save for one bad throw — when pressed into service at first base.
But for whatever reason, Reed was underused and seemingly underappreciated by manager Jerry Manuel.
It began immediately after spring training, when Reed led the Mets in batting average — hitting .393 in 61 ABs. That scorching spring earned him a seat on the dugout bench. Granted, both Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy also had strong springs, but Reed didn’t get a start until May 6 — after accumulating all of 11 at-bats on the season. He saw more playing time in May than any other month, hitting .275 in 40 ABs while splitting time between the outfield and first base — a position he hadn’t played since college. Despite his inexperience, he looked pretty good around the bag, handling grounders and infielders’ throws smoothly. But after throwing the ball beyond Omir Santos to allow the winning run to score (the inning after Ryan Church infamously missed third base), Reed never played 1B again.
A few weeks later — on June 1 and 2 — Reed went 5-for-7 in two consecutive losses to the Pirates, but his next start came 18 days later (he did get 6 ABs as a pinch-hitter). It was during this stretch that Daniel Murphy was looking like a butcher at first base and hitting in the .240s, Fernando Tatis was hitting into a DP every other at-bat, and Fernando Martinez was struggling mightily to adjust to MLB pitching.
From that point on, Reed was relegated to pinch-hitting duty, and was fairly successful — he finished the year with a .278 AVG in that role, which isn’t shabby. But starts were few and far between, despite all the Mets’ injuries. His name was written into the lineup only twice in August and four times in September.
Granted, a big part of Reed’s bench time down the stretch was due to the emergence of Angel Pagan and the acquisition of Jeff Francoeur. But that was the way Reed’s entire season went — when others weren’t earning at-bats away from him, he was pushed aside to allow someone else an opportunity.
While Jeremy Reed doesn’t have enough power to be a starting corner outfielder, he has shown the versatility, defensive skills, baserunning speed, fundamentals, and pinch-hitting ability to be a valuable bench player on a championship ballclub. Unfortunately, his salary — $975K in 2009 — likely precludes him from being a Met in 2010. Chances are the club will non-tender Reed and allow him to become a free agent. Which in the end may turn out best for both the Mets and Reed — as the Mets have plenty of backup OF options and Reed could find more playing time with another team.
And when/if Reed leaves the organization, the Mets will have nothing left from that blockbuster deal other than reliever Sean Green. Ouch.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.