Roundtable: David Wright’s 2013 (and longer) forecast

After a two-month hiatus, it’s way past time for a Roundtable!  I reached out to friends in the blogosphere to answer the following questions:

Were you in favor of the David Wright extension?

What do you expect him to produce in 2013?

These people all do great work and their names are hyperlinked to their blogs so please go ahead and click on them to check out their real stuff.

Michael Geus – President of the Bob Heise fan club

Yes.

My reasoning is as follows.

- Right now the fans do not trust the ownership at all. Letting Wright go would have amped up the negativity, and that cannot be afforded.

- Wright is the correct type of player to make a multi-year deal with. Hard working, dedicated, etc.

- He is a hitter, we need more hitters, not less

- He will be the same age at the end of this contract that Dickey is now. Signing Wright is consistent with building for 2014 and beyond.

For 2013 I expect totals that look similar to 2012, but with less dramatic swings between first half and second half.

John Coppinger – Turned to writing about the Mets after an internship with Madam Marie

I understood the feeling that if you wanted to rebuild the Mets quickly, you had to trade David Wright. Two problems: 1) If you trade him, you had to be sure that you got multiple blue chip prospects ready to play in the majors within the season. How many teams that need third basemen had those prospects? It would have been hard to find the right fit. And 2) If you strip away absolutely everyone, you have the Houston Astros. It’s hard enough to sell the Mets in New York, try selling the Astros. So yes, I was in favor of the Wright extension.

Expectations? I expect that he shows up to work on time, avoids performance enhancing drugs, doesn’t get injured slicing tomatoes or opening packages, and that he not punch any family members in any rooms especially designated for them. As long as he does this, the numbers that everybody likes to create expectation benchmarks for will come. I’m not worried about that. It’s everybody else on the roster I worry about.

Jason FryRichie Ashburn’s boat captain

In favor of Wright extension? Yes — Wright’s demands seemed pretty reasonable and I thought he was a better bet to avoid injury and stay productive than Jose Reyes,. Plus there’s another factor at work here, one I’ve only started trying to think about and articulate. There’s a necessity in building a franchise that defies statistical measure and I think gets neglected in discussions like the ones we heard about the Marlins’ recent fire sale. The old line is that we root for laundry, but I don’t think that’s true. Building and maintaining a fanbase demands a certain continuity — players can come and go, but not all at once. There has to be a certain percentage of guys we feel we can assume are “ours,” that will put down roots and stay for the long term. Without that, I think it’s harder to attract new fans and prevent current fans’ connection to the team from eroding. I think the Mets were at that point as a franchise, making it critical for them to keep Wright for reasons that were hard or impossible to quantify, but still very real.

What do I expect? Ah, predictions are a mug’s game. Let’s pencil him in for 20 homers, 80 RBIs and hitting above .280. Plus I hope last year’s terrific defense is the new normal. The biggest problem with Wright as a player, it seems to me, really isn’t his fault — when he feels naked in the lineup, you can see him get anxious at the plate and start trying to do the impossible. The Mets aren’t in a position to address that yet, but for now let’s say that the better Ike Davis does, the better I bet Wright does.

Howard Megdal – Offered to donate his feet to Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace

1. Yes. Logically, it made sense to deal him if you were dealing Dickey and letting Reyes go for nothing. But I don’t know what the Mets will be able to put on the field for many years to come. If current ownership cannot alter their circumstances, it doesn’t matter, they can’t keep up, and at least David Wright is around to cheer for. If they can, or new ownership comes in, Wright shouldn’t be prohibitive to building a team, and maybe gets to be part of the next great team. Eight years, after all, is a long time. Feels like forever since Madoff was uncovered. It was four years ago. Wright’s signed for twice that long.

2. .302/.386/.522, 25 home runs, 107 RBI. No more, no less.

Jon Springer – Back in his rightful spot atop the ELO rankings

Yes, I was in favor of the Wright extension. From a pure baseball standpoint, I don’t think it’s inconsistent with the rebuilding to hang onto your best offensive player, and unless the team is willing to roll the dice on Flores (which they’re not) there was no easy solution to third base this year that wouldn’t involve something stupid like playing Justin Turner everyday or hoping Murphy can make another positional switch. Plus there’s the whole emotional angle: People often say it’s a shame that too few players stay with an organization for their entire career; in reality it’s just rare where it makes sense to. This is one case where it does. For 2013, provided he’s healthy etc etc, his numbers will resemble the back of his baseball card, as they tend to do: 300/370/490, something like that.

Eric Stashin – Wondering if he should grade the Mets’ acquisitions on the fantasy curve

I am going to have to split the baby on this and say that I am in favor of the signing in general, but I also think it will eventually cause a burden on the franchise.  Had the Mets not traded R.A. Dickey to improve their future outlook, I would’ve been highly against the move.  That said, the team does need some type of continuity and a “face of the franchise”, so retaining Wright (after trading Dickey and letting Jose Reyes walk a year earlier) makes sense and was a necessary move.

However, it feels like they were paying more for Wright off the field than on it.  He is no longer a 30 SB threat and appears to be nothing more than a low 20s HR hitter (especially in Citi Field).  Throw in an average that easily could be under .300, as it was in 2010 & 2011, and he appears to be more of a complimentary player, while he’s being paid like a superstar (and being paid as such into his late 30s).

Actual 2013 Projection – .290, 20 HR, 95 RBI, 90 R, 18 SB

*****

To me, the big unknown is which player – Dickey or Wright – had more trade value. My guess is that Dickey had more trade value and that’s why he’s gone.  I would have been okay with trading either player and if Sandy Alderson could have gotten similar value for Wright, then it was a mistake not to deal him, too.

The extension seems like a lot, both in dollars and years.  As a Wright fan, I want to believe that last year’s final numbers are what he’ll contribute this year.  But I’m scared by how the second half slump so closely mirrors what he did in 2011.  And if that’s what he ends up producing in 2013, I’m frightened to think what he’ll be doing at the end of the deal.

My projection: .270/.360/.440 with 20 HR and 85 RBIs

*****

Thanks to Michael, John, Jason, Howard, Jon and Eric for participating!

15 comments for “Roundtable: David Wright’s 2013 (and longer) forecast

  1. January 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Nice post, cool format. I’m with you, Brian, I could have gone either way — but with so many unknowables, it’s hard to say “trade him” with any conviction. At this point, I’m glad he’s around. Sadly, however, I’m also with you on the offensive production. Can a RH Power Hitter ever be great at Citi Field? Long ago I felt the best comp for Wright was Scott Rolen, and I’m still pretty satisfied with that assessment.

  2. JerryGrote
    January 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Isn’t the question here … should Alderson have placed the bet on the younger SS or the more conservative 3B? Reyes is already on his second team. My guess is that in three years he will have been traded once again.

    David needs a coaching staff that will force him to sit down for five or ten games in July. He runs out of steam every August, in that brutal NYC heat. He tries to do too much, takes on too many responsibilities and in so doing absolutely destroys any chance the team had.

    I’m happy with keeping Wright, and I’m thinking we need to consistently see him deliver around 25 WAR over the next five seasons to make that contract work. Not out of the range of possibilities, if he gets some rest.

    • January 5, 2013 at 9:51 am

      If there’s one thing we know about the Mets — given a choice they will pick conservative every time. Look back to the ’86 championship team. They let go of fiery Ray Knight and kept HoJo. They traded controversial Kevin Mitchell and got the laid back Kevin McReynolds. They let Nails go (and threw in McDowell, too). Randy Myers brings guns into the clubhouse and he’s dealt.

      The Mets were the only ones who ever claimed Art Howe “lit up the room.” But I guess when you make it your mission to trade anyone with a personality, that’s what you have left.

      • JerryGrote
        January 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

        … agreed. And not for nothing, but basically one of the most racist organizations in sport as well.

  3. Metsense
    January 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Metsense – a knuclehead who liked a knuckleballer.
    In favor because: Wright signing for 8 years @ 138M and the contract being reworked to give some salary flexibility was a good move by Alderson. Prior to the signing, Wright averaged 26 HR’s, 105 RBI’s , 301 BA and a slash of .386/.501/.887. The Mets have now set a spending ceiling of 17.25M/year for free agents and should only exceed it if the potential free agent has better numbers then that.
    Even with the second half, Wright had a good season. and had a 7.8 WAR which equals around 35M in value. A WAR above 4.0 would be about 18M a value Wright should be able to achieve over the next few years and a 31 WAR is not unachieveable over the life of the contract.
    Prediction: .301 BA, 26 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, .386/.501/.887

    • January 5, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Where do you get that spending ceiling? Is that what you think the Mets have to spend for 2013? Or is it that no one will get more than that money from the Mets from now on because they want Wright to be their highest-paid player?

      Your point about his 2012 WAR is noted but how much of that was produced by his defense? Wright was outstanding in the field last year but that reversed a three-year trend of being awful. I sure hope he maintains his Gold Glove-type defense. But I have to admit that I’m leery of a guy who’s UZR doubled his previous career best on the heels of three straight double-digit negative performances. From 2009-2011, Wright was a (minus 3-win player on defense and then last year he was a 1.5-Win guy in the field.

      I’m not saying those numbers are wrong. From the naked eye he looked bad from 2009-2011 and looked great last year. What I’m saying is that it’s not a given he’s going to continue to be such a great defender. So, if he puts up his second half offensive numbers and slips in the field — he’s not going to be remotely near a 7.8 WAR guy and even 4.0 is not written in stone.

      In his 144-game season in 2009, Wright posted a 3.5 fWAR. True, that’s been his worst year among the seven seasons that he played 140 games. But it’s also true he’s now on the wrong side of 30 and those years are coming again. The question is if they come in 2017 or 2013.

      • Metsense
        January 6, 2013 at 8:14 am

        The spending ceiling is 138÷8=17.25. If a future free agent wants more per year to sign with the Mets then his numbers need to be better than Wright’s .887 OPS. This simple “rule of thumb” would be a reality check before overspending on free agents.

        • Name
          January 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

          I don’t think Wright is a good reference point for other free agents.
          Most free agents want years more than dollars, for job security. And the more years, the less the average annual amount. The reason that the Mets were able to get Wright so “cheap” is because they gave him 8 years. If he had been willing to accept a 3 or 4 year deal, it’s much more likely his average annual value would be above 20 million.
          So i don’t think we can use Wright’s AAV as a hard cap for other free agents.

        • January 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm

          In addition to what Name said, I’d also put forth the idea that the Mets are paying Wright for being a hometown star and the face of the franchise. So they value his raw production quite a bit less than the dollar figure they are paying him.

  4. AJ
    January 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Excellent post. I especially like certain points made by Geus, Fry and Springer. Brian, I know you’re all about statistical analysis and quantifiable information, but most of what makes the Wright signing the right signing is stuff that goes beyond that.

    In their 50-year history the Mets have never had a Ripken/Chipper/Jeter – type player; that is, a certifiable star who came up in the organization and played his whole career with the one team. Even the Astros, with the same amount of time in existence and without a World Series championship to their credit, have produced Craig Biggio. David Wright is the best candidate the Mets have to be that player.

    And how special would it be if Wright, who was at the beginning of his career back when the Mets were on the threshold of being a great team, and went through the collapse and debacle of the last 6 years, should be there as a veteran and team captain should the Mets manage to achieve greatness in the years ahead? Yeah, I know… what if, what if, what if. But this is what makes the game attractive to some of us. Just preserving the chance of that happening has value of its own.

    In the end, baseball is more than the sum of its numbers, be they on a page of sabermetrical analysis or the accountant’s speed sheet. Dismiss the idea of a team having a “heart” if you like, but if the Mets had let David Wright walk away it would have done the same sort of damage that trading Tom Seaver did back in the seventies. For better or worse, at this point in time David Wright is the heart of the New York Mets. I’m just grateful that the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson decided against selling off the team’s heart.

    • January 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      I’ve always felt an individual story took a back seat to a team story.

      Ask Astros fans if they would trade Biggio and Bagwell finishing their careers with other teams if it meant a World Series title. I’d bet that it would be near unanimous support in favor of the championship.

      Willie Mays didn’t finish playing with just one team. Neither did Hank Aaron or Warren Spahn or a host of other inner circle Hall of Famers.

      To me, chasing a feel-good story at the expense of the big picture is not the way to go about things.

      • NormE
        January 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm

        Given the Mets recent history one could conclude that there is no “big picture,” thus we chase the “feel-good story.”

      • AJ
        January 6, 2013 at 12:48 pm

        “I’ve always felt an individual story took a back seat to a team story.”
        In this case the individual story and the team story come together. Potentially good for Wright to play his entire career with the same team he started with, and potentially good for the Mets to finally have a star player who spends his whole career in Flushing.

        “Ask Astros fans if they would trade Biggio and Bagwell finishing their careers with other teams if it meant a World Series title. I’d bet that it would be near unanimous support in favor of the championship.”
        You’re probably right, but I don’t think it matters unless you’re saying that trading Wright = winning a championship. Otherwise, we’re talking about two different things and their comparative value doesn’t enter into it.

        “Willie Mays didn’t finish playing with just one team. Neither did Hank Aaron or Warren Spahn or a host of other inner circle Hall of Famers.”
        Agreed. In fact, it seems to be a relatively rare occurrence (and increasingly so) that a star player should spend his whole career with one team. That’s what makes it special. It’s obviously not critical, but it has value for its emotional appeal. I think emotional appeal is at the heart of being a fan of any team. If we were to make our choice of who we root for in baseball based solely on statistical analysis, we’d all be Yankee fans.

        “To me, chasing a feel-good story at the expense of the big picture is not the way to go about things.”
        You’ve been pretty clear in stating your concerns that Wright may never again be as good as he once was and that the Mets overpaid to keep him, and I respect your opinion. I concede that reading statistical data is a much more reliable way to predict the future than, say, reading tarot cards or astrological events, but it’s still a crap shoot. So, from a perspective that more generously allows the influence of emotional factors, I’m going to stay with my contention that signing Wright was a good move. I’m going to look for the Mets to continue to build a better team, with David Wright providing veteran leadership on the field and in the clubhouse, while being an almost ideal public face for the franchise.

        If guys like Wright were a more common commodity I could more easily agree with your perspective, but they are not.

        • January 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

          I respect your opinion, too.

          I’m saying that trading Wright for a Dickey-like package has a greater chance of producing a championship than paying him $130-something million for the decline phase of his career.

          I disagree that it’s increasingly rare for a player to play his entire career for one club. I don’t know the numbers but you cannot do just a raw comparison because there’s more teams now and also there are options for players to leave that weren’t there in the reserve clause days. I think this is one way where we romanticize the past but whatever era you want to point to – there was no lack of stars and superstars that played for multiple teams.

          Actually, if we made our choice of who we root for on a statistical basis – we would all be Marlins fans. They make it extremely easy to know when they are “going for it” and when you should pay attention. The Marlins gave up on last season when they traded Hanley Ramirez – allowing their fans to move on and do other things. And while the Yankees “go for it” every year, they’ve won as many World Series in the last decade as the Marlins. The seamheads appreciate efficiency, you know…

    • Name
      January 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      I’ve never felt that Wright was ever truly the heart of the team(to the fans at least). He probably held the “position” from the start of last season, but I think Dickey overtook him as that title during June of last year. In 2011, Reyes was probably the heart of the team.

      The truth is, actions and results speak louder than anything else, and like Wilpon said, David is a really good player, but he just isn’t a superstar. Granted, there aren’t many superstars in the game(you could probably count them all on both hands), but Alderson decided to pay him like one.

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