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One Mets' Trash is another Yankees' Treasure

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I’ve been thinking about the Mets today, which I know I’m not supposed to do, but a piece I wrote for ESPN required it. As you no doubt have heard, Fred Wilpon slagged off his team in the New Yorker this week, denigrating Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran in particular.

It is always fascinating how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Now, before you read on, keep in mind I am not suggesting that the following can or should happen. I’m just making an observation:

Alex Rodriguez is 35. David Wright is 28. The Yankees would be much better off having Wright.

Derek Jeter is 37. Jose Reyes is 28. The Yankees would be much better off having Reyes.

Jorge Posada is 39. Carlos Beltran is 34. The Yankees would be much better off… You get the picture. Want to swap in Nick Swisher for Posada? There is more hope for Swisher, who is 30 and should pull out of his dreadful slump any day/week/month now, but if you prefer to think of Beltran as an outfielder and not a designated hitter, go ahead.

All three Mets are younger than the player they would be replacing in this scheme. Reyes can out-hit Jeter at this stage of his career, and Beltran, even after knee problems held him to one season in the last two, retains more of his peak form than does Posada—who doesn’t seem to retain any. Wright, currently injured, has slipped since he was dragged unwillingly from Shea Stadium to Citi Field, and Alex Rodriguez remains the better hitter. Given the seven-year age difference between the two, how long is that going to last?

The one great advantage that all three have is that they can quickly be disappeared, unlike Jeter and A-Rod, who will be collecting their AARP cards while on the Yankees’ payroll. Beltran and Reyes’s contracts are up after this season. If one wanted to re-sign them, the former’s compensation will be coming down from pre-recession prices, while the latter’s will likely be going up, but probably not a great deal in comparison to what the Yankees are already burning on Jeter (again, in this alternate reality, the Yankees aren’t burning it). Wright is signed through 2012 with a $16 million option for 2013. The buyout is $1 million. Regardless of if he plays well or poorly, he’s not going to be the same team’s problem after (at latest) his 30th birthday. In this he is unlike A-Rod, who will go on forever, like Cats.

Wilpon is a bitter man, and he has reason to be. However, in these three players he has a potency and a flexibility that the Yankees currently lack. Sure, he’s being sued for $1 Billion, but in baseball terms, and only in baseball terms, in some ways his crosstown rivals have more difficult problems.