David Wright, anonymity and “Who’s On First”

Who's on First“Who’s On First” is one of the classic American comedy sketches. Performed by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, “Who’s on First” is a short skit in which Costello approaches Abbott about Abbott’s baseball team. Abbott proceeds to talk to Costello about the team, not informing Costello that the names of the players on the team are; Who, What, I Don’t Know, Because, Why, Tomorrow, Today and I Don’t Care (give a darn or give a damn, depending on where you hear the sketch). Costello’s confusion and increased frustration as the sketch goes on is classic and still hilarious to this day. It is so much a part of baseball lore that the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown runs it throughout the day in the museum.

What makes “Who’s on First” funny is the anonymity of the players names and the confusion that results. Unfortunately, Mets fans can directly associate with this concept of anonymity, and those results haven’t been funny over these past two seasons.

The Mets have had identical 74 and 88 records over the last two years. During that time, they’ve had the following number of players start at each position:

Catcher – eight
First Base – seven
Second Base – six
Shortstop – six
Third Base – six
Left Field – 10
Center Field – 11
Right Field – 10

That is the definition of anonymity. The other egregious thing about this has been that the vast majority of the players that have started for the Mets at various positions over the last two years are no longer on the team, no longer a part of the team’s future, or more than likely not to be on the team starting in 2014:

No Longer On the TeamJosh Thole, Mike Nickeas, Kelly Shoppach, Rob Johnson, John Buck, Vinny Rottino, Ronny Cedeno, Jason Bay, Scott Hairston, Collin Cowgill, Mike Baxter, Andres Torres, Rick Ankiel, Marlon Byrd and Fred Lewis

No Longer a Part of the Team’s Future – (Debatable, but the writing is definitely on the wall for these guys), Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Most likely not a part of the team in 2014Ike Davis and Omar Quintanilla

So, to sum up, of the 35 different players to start at least one game as position players the past two seasons, 20 of them will not have a part to play on this team next season. Of the remaining 15, two are players that will start the season at AAA (Wilfredo Tovar and Juan Centeno), three are nothing more than bench players, and are possibilities for not making the team, depending on moves made this offseason (Anthony Recker, Justin Turner and Andrew Brown), one might be traded (Daniel Murphy), three might join Centeno and Tovar in AAA (Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada and Matt den Dekker) and one is nothing more than a platoon player (Josh Satin). That leaves David Wright, the enigma that is Lucas Duda, a borderline starter or bench player in Eric Young Jr. and two unproven second year players (at admittedly different levels of success in the majors), Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud, as the supposed base of the team. That’s pathetic.

Seeing all of that, it’s no wonder that Mets fans, in general, are bitter and pessimistic about what the front office will do this offseason

That feeling of negativity shouldn’t be here. We should be optimistic because this team does have its strengths. The rotation, even with Matt Harvey’s absence, should be a strong point with just minimal offseason additions, considering the depth of young arms in the minor league system, and the young pitchers that should make their debuts during 2014, if they aren’t traded (Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard). The bullpen, with the addition of one veteran arm (hopefully LaTroy Hawkins) should be full of young power arms with high end potential as relievers, not to mention the variety of strong, young relievers that are in the upper levels of the minor league system.

In addition to that, we have our captain, Wright, and a young catcher, who should be good, even if he hasn’t proven anything in d’Arnaud. Lagares should also be solid in center field and a Duda/Satin platoon should be serviceable. Second base will either be manned by the proven in Murphy, the top prospect in Flores or the speedster in Young, and that will be fine. Additionally Young, Murphy and Flores can play other positions, giving the team even more flexibility.

The really weaknesses of this team are at shortstop and in the outfield. This offseason, three players need to be brought into this team and the options are already drying up. Shortstop is really down to Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew to improve the position (Alexei Ramirez isn’t enough, Didi Gregorius, if you look at the minor league numbers, isn’t a whole lot better than Tovar and Rafael Furcal is old), as previous reported targets like Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, Starlin Castro, Yunel Escobar and Troy Tulowitzki all appear to no longer be available. The Mets also don’t appear to have the players Texas wants for Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus.

The outfield market is quickly becoming barren, for various reasons. Marlon Byrd is signed, Norichika Aoki, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer aren’t available, the Mets don’t match up on Jose Bautista and the club won’t pay out for Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury. Curtis Granderson wants to be on “a winner,” Nelson Cruz is coming off of the PED suspension and can’t run or field and Carlos Beltran wants a multi-year deal, lining him up to jump to the first American League team to make that offer. Oh yeah and the Mets don’t want to give up a draft pick so… That leaves the likes of David Murphy, Corey Hart (if he can even still play the outfield), Michael Morse, Franklin Gutierrez and Chris Young. So, any combination of those guys, only, will be an utter disaster.

That leaves a trade, but for whom? Yoenis Cespedes is rumored to be available, but how much will that cost? Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are available, but that’s a whole different level of cost and chance.

Sandy Alderson and company need to make it happen. Sign Peralta to play short. Sign Young to platoon in the outfield with Den Dekker. Go for it and trade Murphy, Davis, Montero, Cesar Puello and Kevin Plawecki for Cespedes and Brett Anderson (if the A’s even accept that deal). If they trade Puello to Oakland, find out what the Dodgers want for Ethier and do it. The bottom line is if the Mets walk away from this offseason with Peralta and any mix of those three outfielders, the team is moving in the right direction.

That’s what makes this offseason so important. “Who’s on First” should be a funny routine that we all enjoy, as opposed to the template that the baseball team we all root for likes to use for its roster. That’s not fair to the good players on this team or the fans that watch the games at Citi Field or on SNY. We shouldn’t be forced to live with the anonymous or the borderline. Mets fans have been patient. It’s time for the front office to step up. No one expects miracles. We just expect more than Who, What, Because, Why, Today,Tomorrow and I don’t know. That’s because, all of us, give a darn.

10 comments for “David Wright, anonymity and “Who’s On First”

  1. November 14, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Sorry Scott but Den Dekker Mr.K should start the year in Las Vegas. A trade and the signing of 1 free agent takes care of left and right field. Young coming off the bench and playing super-sub like a Michael Young would help not to wear him down. We’ll see. SA will probably only do cosmetic changes and we’ll be back here again venting our frustrations once again.

  2. Scott Ferguson
    November 14, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Just for reference, the cardinals have had 26 different players in the starting lineup over the past two years of which only 6 were not on the team as of October 2013. Breakdown is:
    Catcher 4
    1B 8 (Craig and Carpenter have played multiple positions )
    2B 5
    SS 5
    3B 4
    LF 5
    CF 5
    RF 7

    • November 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

      How about the Braves?

      C – 5
      1B – 7
      2B – 8
      3B – 7
      SS – 7
      LF – 11
      CF – 6
      RF – 8

      Hard to say which ones of their reserves will not be back but I’ve got 29 different starters and at least 16 who won’t be back. And the Braves won 190 games the past two years.

  3. Scott Ferguson
    November 14, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I’m beginning to agree with you Pete. I’ve tried to remain optimistic, waiting for the money to clear, but I’m starting to believe they’re going to do the minimal, like David Murphy, Rafael Furcal and Chris Young… Ugghhh….

  4. John Zakour
    November 14, 2013 at 11:52 am

    You know Yoenis Cespedes could be a very interesting player in NY. He certainly has the power to hit it out of Citi. Would the A’s trade him for one of our first basemen and a mid prospect pitcher? I also wouldn’t mind seeing the Mets take a flyer on Josh Johnson. He would be a big upside kind of addition to the rotation.

    • November 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Sorry John but the A’s would not be interested in our garbage. They signed Cespedes with the expectation of IMPROVING their team not looking to trade him for second tier players. Josh Johnson is this years Shawn Marcum. The team doesn’t need him and can wait to see what remains after the off season and sign a minimal contract pitcher for their 4th or 5th starter. Put the 30 million dollars to upgrading their outfield and shortstop.

  5. Scott Ferguson
    November 14, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    The difference between the Braves, Cardinals and Mets is the OF’s. The only reason the Braves are remotely close is that they revamped their OF with the Upton’s and Heyward got hurt. The Mets OF changes were mostly due to ineptitude.
    Think about it this way. Say Murphy and Ike are traded. If Tejada and Turner make the team, they will be two of 4 position players, along with Wright and Duda, to still be on the team since 2012.
    That’s supposed to be the definition of “core” players, the players a team is supposed to be built around, but the only one of those 4 that’s a core player is Wright. The hope is that d’Arnaud and Lagares become part of the core, but that’s not set in stone.

    • November 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      I don’t view multiple starting players as necessarily a bad thing. If you finish with 74 wins — you should be revamping the roster. I don’t want to see Doug Flynn and Frank Taveras year after year. The issue is that they’re not (yet) bringing in high-end talent so the cycle is ongoing.

      Also, I think it would be better to use a longer time frame and up the games played requirement. Last year Daniel Murphy started 148 games at 2B but the Mets had four other guys start there when Murphy didn’t. This gives the false impression that the Mets had a revolving door at 2B when they had a clear and durable starter at the position.

      It might be interesting to look at three and five-year trends at starters by position by club, with a minimum of 10 games played. And somehow there needs to be a distinction between injury replacements and talent replacements. The Mets this year had four different guys make at least 10 starts at 3B but that’s completely different from the ongoing tryout they had in CF, where six different guys made at least 10 starts.

  6. Dave
    November 15, 2013 at 4:13 am

    DON’T trade Murphy, PERIOD!!!!!

  7. November 15, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Sorry Dave but in order to get something in a trade you have to give up something. The only core player on this team is David Wright. Can’t continue to expect teams to give the Mets a good player without having to give a player of equal in return.

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