Before you start to jump all over me on this, I am not by any means saying that David Wright is on Frank Robinson’s level. Robinson is one of the best hitters of all time, Wright is trying to get his career back on track. Though with all of the trade rumors surrounding Wright going into 2012, I was reminded of the infamous trade of Robinson to the Orioles on the premise that his best years were behind him, that he was “an old 30”. Now facing a very similar situation with Wright, are we about to see history repeat itself?
Entering the 1965 season, Robinson was coming off two down years –for his standards– following two monster years in ’61 and ’62. At 29 years of age at the time, the Hall-of-Fame outfielder/first baseman bounced back for an exceptional year by anyone else’s standards, just not at the level he performed at at age 25-26. Figuring that the past three seasons were a sign of the beginning of his decline, Reds owner BIll DeWitt sent Robinson to Baltimore for a package headed by up and coming fireballer Milt Pappas. Many in Cincinnati were upset over the deal to begin with, but how that deal played out still outrages some Reds fans today.
Robinson, in his age 30 season, won the Al-Triple Crown and MVP honors, all the while leading the Orioles to their first World Series title. Going on to play five addition successful years in Baltimore, Robinson became a centerpiece of an Orioles dynasty that won three straight pennants from 1969-1971 including the 1970 championship. After having only one postseason berth with the Reds, Robinson and the 1969-1971 Orioles went on to become one of the greatest teams in baseball history.
The Reds got barely anything out of Pappas –or the other players in the deal– and was traded after 3 seasons. The Cincinnati faithful would have to wait another ten seasons after the Robinson trade to enjoy a World Series title.
So now you’re probably wondering how the could apply to Wright? Well, he is entering his own age 29 season, and is coming off several up-and-down years following his spectacular ’07 and ’08 campaigns. With an organization falling further into rebuilding mode, the trade rumors have begun to buzz around the 5-time all-star. With the fences moved in a bit and being injury-free, Wright is looking primed to have a bounce back year. Without Reyes in the lineup, we may not see numbers quite at the level of his age 24-25 seasons, but 30 and 100 is still possible.
My question is, whether it be at the deadline, or next winter, if David Wright is traded to a contender, with a change of scenery and decent protection in the lineup, could we see Wright explode with another club? Could he become that centerpiece someone else needs to create a dynasty? If he is traded, that may be a very probable outcome.
Also, there is the factor of what the Mets would receive in return. We do not know what Alderson could get for Wright, but what if it is something similar to the Reds “haul” for Robinson. What if it is so promising on the outside, yet when the trigger is pulled on the deal, the Amazin’s get nothing of value out of parting with their franchise slugger. They already got nothing in return for Reyes, can the Mets afford to let Wright go with little compensation too?
Obviously this is all hypothetical on the Wright aspect of this, but what if? What if Wright does have a great first half or 2012 campaign, and Alderson decides to sell high? What if Wright goes to a contending team, takes off, and leads them to perennial pennant runs? Above all, is Alderson on the verge of making the same mistake DeWitt made nearly 50 years ago?
It is a legitimate question to pose, and the potential for history to repeat itself is indeed there. Maybe it might be better to keep Wright, than to presume his best years are behind him. Maybe, the Mets should learn from the Reds mistake, and assume that at age 29-30, Wright may have a bit more left in the tank than once thought.