Getting the Wright Return

An article by posted on April 22, 2011

As time ticks away, and the Mets continue to lose games to inferior franchises, I get closer and closer to the thought that David Wright has to be made publically available for the good of the franchise. 

It’s not a dislike for Wright, or a disgust for the Mets, the Wilpon’s etc. It has nothing to do with any of that. I’m not a Wright hater, I enjoy and appreciate him for everything he has done and has tried to do for the Mets.

What it is about is value, and the future of the franchise. We saw the Dodgers get taken over by MLB yesterday, and you hope that this never happens to the Mets. It’s an embarrassment that the Dodgers are in this position, and it would be more of a joke if it ever becomes the Mets.

Since 2004, when the Mets traded Wiggington, most Mets fans grew very fond of David Wright, and rightfully so. He’s a great talent, from all accounts he is great to the fans both young and old, and he’s been the face of the franchise since 2005.

In some ways, I feel the Mets owe it to Wright to trade him somewhere, where he can get another legitimate shot prior to his contract running out in 2012 (or 2013 with the club option.) 

There’s going to be talks all season about Reyes, K-Rod, Bay, Beltran. If we’re talking about dealing those players away for youth, and a chance to quickly rebuild within 2-3 years, then the Mets have to consider the fact that David Wright can return the most value which would speed up the rebuilding process.

The Mets trade-able pieces in terms of value and other teams’ likely willingness to deal in my view are Wright-Bay-Reyes-Pelfrey-Beltran-KRod. I think people around the league still think Bay is a good player and just needs to get out of New York. Reyes being a free agent hurts, but he still could be a huge lift for teams. Pelfrey could be a quality middle of the rotation guy for teams right now, Beltran they’d be lucky to get 1 good prospect for, and K-Rod punches people in the head. (I don’t think they’d deal Pelfrey this year. Note — Santana is added to this list if he comes back.)

What is the point in keeping David Wright on board if every other veteran could be dealt? One could argue ticket sales, but I have to be honest. Fans would at least understand it if the Mets totally revamped the roster and were committed to turning it around in 2-3 years. Rather than keeping the most valuable trade bait they have, in order to sell tickets that nobody will buy anyway. If the Mets were to trade Reyes and Beltran, what are they left with on the field? A last place team with David Wright and Ike Davis? What is the point?

Consider that every day you do not trade Wright, his value drops. Look at all of the “experts”, when they talk about what the Mets could possibly get for Reyes. Why has Reyes’ value dropped? Because of his age, durability, but most of all, his contract status and likely demands.

A team acquiring Wright, doesn’t have to worry about signing him to a long-term deal until after the 2013 season. Therefore, they would be more apt to give a better handful of prospects for the 3B than a team would for a guy who’s a rent-a-player.

Wright will be 29 years old before Opening Day in 2012. Assuming his club option is picked up, he’ll be a 30 year old 3B, likely wanting a 4-5 year deal. What good does it do the Mets to sign him to a long-term deal after 2013? If they were to trade guys like Reyes, the Mets won’t have a shot in 2013 so how could they justify signing Wright to a long-term deal?

If you look at Wright’s numbers objectively, there is almost nothing about him since 2008 that warrants a huge contract. What good is an underperforming 3B over the age of 30 going to do for this Mets franchise?

Realistically, Wright’s numbers will likely never get to the 2006-2008 standards if he continues to play for the Mets. They will only get worse with age, because in the post-steroid era, players don’t play like 27 year olds when they are 33.

Sure, if the Mets won a World Series in 2006, things would be different. We’d look at Wright as our Jeter, but that didn’t happen. Instead we have a good third baseman, who never hit his true potential. There are going to be a ton of Wright fans who say Wright is great, not just good.

If that is the case, we’d already be projecting a Hall of Fame induction for him. If you’re not “projected”, to be a Hall of Famer by the time you are 28, 29 years old, you likely are a good player who never got over the hump. There’s nothing wrong with being a good player, we just needed him to be great, and it didn’t happen. We have to accept that, and move on.

If David Wright were to play at his current pace until he was 37 years old, he’d be on pace for less than 2,800 hits for his career. He would just barely crack 400 HRs, which if he’s a Met for his entire career, you know that is not happening. So, calling him a “great” player is just shy of the mark in my view. 

In the winter of 2002, the St. Louis Cardinals paid 28 year old Scott Rolen $90 million for 8 years. By the time Rolen was 33, in 2008, the Cardinals needed to shed that contract, so they dumped him to Toronto, who then dumped him to Cincinnati. That turned out to be a bad contract by St. Louis, and Rolen won a World Series with them during it!

If Rolen’s deal was a bad one, what will Wright’s be? At 28 years old, Rolen was a better player than Wright is today.

That’s not a knock on Wright, that’s just a fact. Wright has health over Rolen, but you could swap their offensive numbers out with both sides being happy, however defense isn’t even debatable. 

Again, if you look objectively, tell me a positive reason to keep David Wright on this team past his 30th birthday considering how his hitting has dropped off in the past 2 years?

If you can’t think of one in terms of his performance, then now is the best time to start thinking about trading him. The longer the Mets wait, the less likely they are to get players who are closer to ready. 

Today, many teams around the league likely look at Wright and would accept him with open arms. If they have a legitimate team leader, or a superstar, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. Wright is better suited to be the #2 guy, where there is a strong team leader.

In 2009, the only Major League teams who had their best player (and that player is still on their 2011 team) hit for a lower OPS than David Wright were Baltimore, Oakland, Atlanta, Cubs, Pittsburgh, Houston, San Diego.

In 2010, using the same metric, only Oakland, Seattle, Florida, Atlanta, Cubs, Pittsburgh, Houston, and San Diego qualified.

If you’re going to pay a player to be the best on your team and he isn’t better than 75% of the other team’s best player, then something is not right. It’s not to say he’s not a good player, it’s just that his greatest value to the franchise is through the trade market, not to be our best player.

If Wright is the best guy in your lineup, you’re in trouble. He’s not that type of hitter. Consider this:

Teams like the Angels with Torii Hunter; the White Sox with Konerko and Dunn; the Rockies with Tulo and CarGo; and the Twins with Mauer and Morneau.

All would be amazing places for Wright to land and would all have some serious young players that could be worked out if the two sides could come together. Wright’s career would be rejuvenated in any of those places, and the Mets could net some legitimate youth to get the franchise turned in the right direction.

I could be wrong, but outside of ticket sales, can somebody provide a reason why having a 29, 30+ year old Wright would be good for the Mets?

And if you can’t, can somebody tell why it’d be better to wait until next year or the year after to have this conversation?  

Think about where the franchise is inevitably headed. If we see the giant iceberg ahead and have time to turn the wheel, why would we hit the gas and go straight toward it?

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

Comments are closed.