If you haven’t heard by now, Jose Reyes may be out of action for anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. Or longer — there’s really no way to determine just yet.
The issue with his thyroid is not one to be taken lightly, and you have to credit the Mets’ medical staff for spotting the problem — they may have saved his life. Additionally, you have to credit the Mets’ management for taking the cautious route and immediately shutting down Reyes. We don’t want to see Reyes out when Opening Day rolls around, but we DO want to see him happy and healthy over the next several years — the long-term risk is not worth the gamble of one or two months activity.
Yes, the issue could have been handled much better from a PR standpoint. But over the past two years, it has become crystal clear that the Mets have a major flaw in their communications. Over and over again, we receive multiple, incongruous messages from various official sources — in other words, no one is “on the same page”. A few days ago, Omar Minaya stated to the US press that Jose Reyes had an overactive thyroid, while Reyes simultaneously denied he had any issue with his thyroid to ESPN Deportes. This is the latest in a long line of conflicting quotes from the Mets, and perpetuates the image of the organization as a “Mickey Mouse operation”.
You have to wonder how much this public ineptitude affects the thoughts of opposing ballplayers — in particular, those who will be part of next winter’s bumper crop of free agents. The Mets’ reputation has gone backward over the past few years, and as a result the team will have to continue to overpay players to convince them to come to Flushing (see: Jason Bay, Bengie Molina).
It would be easy to blame Jay Horwitz for the problems, but based on what we’ve seen from the Mets as a whole, I’m not so quick to identify a scapegoat. Everything filters from the top, and my gut feeling is that Horwitz has little control over the outgoing communications — despite his title of “VP, Media Relations”. He can’t muzzle players (or the GM) without someone “from the top” giving him the power to do so. As a result, you have an organization that resembles the Wild West, littered with gunslinging cowboys in sheriffless towns who shoot their guns — or in this case, mouths — off in every direction.
One need only look to the other side of town for an example of how external communications should be handled. In the Bronx, there are only one or two sources from where the official, high-level messages flow. Very few Yankees fans can name the teams’ PR person, the VP of Player Development, the Assistant to the GM, or the team doctor. In fact, I’d bet that few casual Yankees fans know the name of the team’s trainer, the pitching coach, or the batting coach — these people as a rule do not speak to the media, and when you do hear from them, it is with information that is barely newsworthy, rarely controversial, and never in conflict with whatever the team’s “main” message. There is consistency across the board, from every Yankees quote — whether it is someone’s sprained finger, Joba’s pitch count, or a PEDs accusation.
But I digress … next post we’ll discuss the possible replacements for Jose Reyes.