So, Jose Reyes is out “two to eight weeks,” and no one is really sure what “two to eight weeks” means. Since he’s dealing with a thyroid problem, that’s not two to eight weeks of recovery and rehab: That’s two to eight weeks of sitting around doing nothing but eating right and waiting. Oh, and: Two to eight weeks is, like commenter kdhnyc08 pointed out yesterday, an awfully vast period of time, like waiting for the cable guy. Big difference between “two” and “eight” there. Anyway, the more pressing question: If it’s closer to “eight,” who the heck is gonna play shortstop for this team?
The logical answer is Alex Cora, who, like most thirtysomethings, we will always call Joey Cora without even realizing it. Alex Cora is an average fielder and a below-average hitter, the type of guy you mostly forget is on your team until he’s pinch-running late in a blowout. With the Mets, though, he batted 308 times last year. The team signed him for $2 million this year, with a guaranteed option for $2 million more next season if he starts 80 or more games … such as, if Jose Reyes were hurt. Oops. Alex Cora is very likable and popular among his teammates, but starting him regularly is painful both on the field and in the pocketbook.
That’s probably why Omar Minaya yesterday floated the notion of starting Ruben Tejada, which is such a quintessential baseball name that it’s stunning no one in the major leagues has had it before. Tejada isn’t old enough to drink — he turns 21 on September 1 — but he’s known as unusually mature, intelligent, and fundamentally sound for his age, which is why the Mets have (true to their nature) so aggressively promoted him. He played for Panama in the World Baseball Classic and is generally considered a potential … well, a better hitting Alex Cora who doesn’t have the arm for shortstop. (Adam Rubin reran a solid feature on Tejada yesterday, if you want more info.) He’s a future contributor. But the Mets might want that future to begin in about three weeks.
Neither is a particularly appealing option to start at shortstop, but the Mets were counting on Reyes being 100 percent this year. They have no backup plan. These two are it.