I’ve been having this internal debate with myself over the past few months. With so much riding on 2015, the Mets have put a huge burden on several players. While a lot will be expected of the returning Matt Harvey and the elite stable of pitchers that follow him in the rotation, so much more rides on the bats of Curtis Granderson and David Wright.
Granderson has morphed into a veteran presence in the lineup. As we saw last year and as Yankees fans saw for a few years, Granderson has pop and is going to strikeout a ton. He’s not a high average hitter and while he’s extremely important in the Mets lineup, there’s no question about who the best hitter is. The team captain, #5 David Wright will have the weight of the world on his shoulders in 2015 and I’m just not sure he can handle it.
In 2008, the last year the Mets finished above .500, Wright did lead the team in batting average, but he was bracketed on all sides. He had Jose Reyes slashing .297/.358/.475/.833 ahead of him while the middle of the lineup featured 38 home runs from Carlos Delgado and 27 from Carlos Beltran. That year, Wright hit .302/.390/.534/.924 with 33 home runs. It remains his career best year for home runs and RBIs.
2015 has a very different tone. In 2008 Wright was surrounded by All-Star caliber talent. In 2015 he will be the guy with a lot of really good support. Granderson and Michael Cuddyer will provide some sparks in the middle of the lineup while the burden of pure power lies with Lucas Duda. None of those three, Duda, Granderson or Cuddyer compare in any way to the talents of Beltran, Delgado and Reyes. Currently Wright is the best hitter on the team and I’m not sure that’s a recipe for success.
For months, I’ve been pushing for a strong pursuit of Troy Tulowitzki. It’s clear now that the Mets will not be obtaining the All-Star shortstop but my reasons for wanting him aren’t all about his immense talent. Wright is a great player by today’s standards and heading into 2015 there won’t be more than 20 to 30 hitters projected above him. It’s difficult to find a complimentary piece for Wright that is actually a better hitter than him. Unfortunately, I believe that’s what the Mets needed and what they won’t find now.
Sandy Alderson did everything in his power to enforce Wright’s spot in the lineup. Bringing in Cuddyer might not produce a ton more runs but having a childhood friend of Wright’s there can only help him mentally. He’ll be able to lean on him when things are going bad and celebrate with him when things turn around. It’s odd to sign a player to help another but I think the Cuddyer signing was more about Wright than filling the void in left field.
In order for the Mets to win, I’m not sure Wright can be the centerpiece. I believe he needs to be the second best hitter on the team and the options for that number one spot have all but dried up. I hope I’m wrong. I hope Wright has a magical season and turns his career and the direction of the Mets around. I’m just not sure he’s up for the task right now.