The David Wright Trade Watch Should Be On
I was watching SNYs “Wheelhouse” tonight when one of the wheelies Eamon McAnaney gave voice to something I had already been thinking the past few days. The issue on the board was whether the Mets should consider trading Jose Reyes or David Wright or even both as the organization considers how to spend it’s meager current resources and rebuild the organization, the latter even more crucial now that Chris Young is likely down for the season and pitching depth for the team is a contradiction in terms. Frankly, even if finances weren’t an issue–and they may no longer be once the Wilpons take on a new partner–someone other than Carlos Beltran would have to go if this team is to seriously rebuild. Let’s face it, this team has won NOTHING since 2006 WITH Reyes and Wright so the team would be no worse off if one or both were moved.
For more than two years I have been wailing away on blogs and to Met fan friends about my desire to see Jose Reyes traded. Like some Met fans who aren’t swayed by his super-charged energy and the Road Runner-like triple dashes, I have been more than willing to see Reyes out of here because of the kind of stuff we saw the other day against the Dodgers; the sleep-walking on the field, the ridiculous base-running decisions, the almost complete lack of baseball intelligence in a player who mans a position that must be one of the smartest on the field. I was totally on board with the notion of Sandy Alderson moving Reyes as the key chip in bringing in a top of the rotation starter, among other things.
But as of today, like Eamon McAnaney, I’m not so sure of that anymore. I have suddenly moved into the “Keep Reyes, Trade Wright” camp.
Yes, I know David is in a hitting slump that could turn on a dime or on a string of mediocre lefthanded starters. He could start on a tear by the time I finish writing this. And that’s the problem: David Wright is no longer the steady, dependable, line-drive, contact, high average hitter he was early in his career. While he does produce runs, he is also such a streaky, high-strikeout hitter he can no longer be counted on to be an offensive leader who can be the core of the offense. Reyes is clearly the more dynamic offensive player than Wright at this point, plays a more important defensive position, and would be much harder to replace (unless the team found a dynamic second baseman that would allow them to be satisfied with Ruben Tejada at short).
Now some of this is not Wright’s fault. Since the Mets haven’t really had a cleanup hitter since the salad days of Carlos Delgado, Wright has had to take on a job he has never really been suited for once he started whiffing with regularity. How Wright is still hitting in the three hole when he is NOT the kind of bat for that spot is a mystery. Even in the current Mets lineup, Wright should be hitting fifth at best (although second might help him see more fastballs). Wright was at his most consistent when he had a plethora of good hitters around him, like on the 2006 and 2007 teams. He is a very good complementary player. He should not and can not be the focal point or the key to the offense. And with the spacious confines of CitiField in his head, he has lost his way on his hitting personality. The offensive load and leadership load is just too much for him. And perhaps it’s just me, but I also sense that he is incredibly frustrated with the losing and although he talks a good game about being a lifetime Met, I don’t think he’d be shattered if he went to a pennant-contending team in a hitter friendly park that would allow him lineup support.
As for his defense, well, he sure makes great barehanded plays on swinging bunts, but his range is average and his arm erratic. I could definitely see him being a first baseman within the next three or four years. And as far as being the “face” of the franchise? What face? The one on a franchise that has been synonymous with failure for five years running?
And yet given all the negatives I’ve just enumerated here, he’s still a solid player that would be sought after by many teams and could bring at least a number two starter, a top flight prospect, and a stop gap third baseman to replace him. Throw in Mike Pelfrey and you could have the makings of a trade that could bring back a boatload of young talent.
I’m never going to be a big Jose Reyes fan–at least until he learns how not to get picked off first in a key spot or learns how not to swing at pitches in the dirt during a key at-bat or learns not to try stealing third with two outs and a lefty up at the plate (little things like that)–but if I’m going to be totally objective and reasonable and think about what is best for the future of this organization, then it’s becoming more clear that it’s David Wright who has to be the one to go by the trade deadline.
About the Author: Stephen Hanks
Stephen Hanks (Tom Terrific) is a magazine editor and writer based in Brooklyn, NY, who has been the publisher and editorial director of publications ranging in subjects from sports to health to archaeology. Hanks began his career at the late, great SPORT Magazine in 1977 and in 1983, he co-founded NEW YORK SPORTS Magazine (which ceased publication in 1985). He has written and edited coffee table books on baseball history, penned unauthorized biographies of Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky, and in 1990 authored "The Game That Changed Pro Football," an oral history of the 1969 New York Jets Super Bowl Season. Stephen has also played baseball for 45 years and currently plays in an Over-40 hardball league based in Northern New Jersey. Even though he grew up near Yankee Stadium, he loathes the team from the Bronx and has been a die-hard Mets fan since attending his first game at the Polo Grounds in 1963.
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