New York Mets Vs Oakland AthleticsA chill wind is blowing through our burgs here in the Northeast. The Polar Vortex – a fancy new term for “cold snap” – is swooping down from Canada and threatening to congeal everything in its path. With Christmas a bare two weeks away, thoughts of warm weather and baseball seem quite remote at the moment. Even so, the Met fan will have a lot on his or her mind. Will all that great starting pitching come back healthy? How are they going to fix the bullpen? How will the outfield be configured? Can the Mets continue to contend?

The one question no one seems to be asking, though, is what about David Wright? Last year, the Captain exited the fray early on – it was Memorial Day weekend, when he homered in the Mets’ walk-off victory over the Dodgers. At that point, he had played in 37 games, one less than his total for 2015, when he brought his damaged spine back to the field and helped fuel the pennant express. There would be no such return this time. It was soon determined that Wright needed neck fusion surgery, a procedure that any fan of Peyton Manning can tell you will put you on your back for a considerable length of time. Wright made an appearance at Citi Field in July, fresh off the surgery and unable to turn his head in any direction. He watched the game from the distant right field bullpen, to avoid any chance he may have to duck out of the way of a foul ball in the dugout. In interviews, he seemed shaky and tentative and while most of that can be attributed to the recent proximity of his surgery, it still made the long-time Wright-watcher sad. This vibrant young man, the exemplar the team had been lacking since the downfall of Dwight Gooden, seemed to be aging before our eyes. Let’s face it: spinal stenosis isn’t something that gets better as one gets older. At the start of 2017, Wright will be 34 years old. That’s usually around the time the typical baseball player hears the clock start to tick: he has to at least be thinking about the close of his career. Yet, Sandy Alderson and the rest of the Mets’ hierarchy talk as if they’re counting on him for the long haul in 2017.

This is baffling. How many games do you think Wright can be counted on to play? Over here, it looks like 80 at best – half a year, with judicious rest and a lot of luck. With Wright, we’re starting to get into Moises Alou territory. If you recall 2007, a lot of stock was put into the veteran slugger Alou to take up the slack for the departed Cliff Floyd. When he was on the field, he did that and better. He absolutely raked in his Met tenure. When he was on the field. Omar Minaya signed him up, knowing full well that Alou had developed a reputation for being brittle at that point in his career. Yet, Minaya and manager Willie Randolph continued to treat Alou’s presence in the lineup as a given. As it was, he ended up having a great 328 at-bats for those doomed Mets. They tried it out again the next year, but he was done after 54 plate appearances. The fear here, of course, is that management seems to be going down a similar road with Wright. No one has any idea how much is left in his tank and there doesn’t seem to be a contingency in place to deal with the seemingly inevitable. Yes, it’s great to have Jose Reyes around again, and boy, didn’t they catch lightning in a bottle with him last year? But there doesn’t seem to be any awareness that it may have been just that: a great last spurt to Reyes’s career as well. At the Winter Meetings just concluded, the Chicago White Sox sold off a great number of assets. Their slugging third baseman Todd Frazier could have been one of them and he could have found himself patrolling the Citi Field dirt. Instead, we cross our fingers and hope the best from Wright/Reyes.

It’s all we can do.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

17 comments on “Whither David Wright?

  • frank from jersey

    I know there is still time left but there are several head scratchers for Sandy. Wright being one of them although i can see the reasoning. If he actually is healthy and you have replaced him, then what do you do? My head scratchers are how do you stand pat offensively when you just had one of the worst offensive seasons in recent history. RISP hitting was historically bad. Next, how do you let all the top relievers go without even trying to get one when you will be without your closer for at least 30 games and the rest of the bullpen after Reed is shaky? So we are going for a tier 2 reliever now, that’s just great. Sandy is acting like this team is finishing up a rebuilding process and are still a year or 2 away – no urgency to win now. Getting Cespedes back was an absolute neccessity but again, we now have all the same hitters back who stunk up the joint last year. We have to hope Duda, Wright and Walker all recover. To me, not the greatest strategy for a win now team

    • Matt Netter

      Despite suffering a ridiculous number of injuries and an anomalous drop in RISP, we still won 87 games and made the playoffs. I don’t expect us to be 100% healthy. But if we have a normal season with just some injuries, as opposed to nearly everyone hitting the DL, there’s no reason this team can’t win 90+ games and go back to the playoffs. We can always tinker at the trade deadline. The only glaring hole right now is Jerry Blevins. We either need him or someone similar like Boone Logan.

  • Nym

    I don’t think it’s all that baffling. I doubt they are “expecting” Wright to play a ton of games. They are just not going to trash him in public. And are being respectful. They have spoken of Wright with much less certainty than the other guys coming off injury.

    And Frazier is nothing special. It would be nice to stop hearing about that guy. He’s not awful but with all the complaints about the Mets being too streaky and too all or nothing Frazier is just about the worst guy to add.

    • Jimmy P

      I agree with this, and on Frazier, who is yet another slow-footed streaky slugger.

      I don’t know why some people can’t grasp the David Wright situation, and the challenges that Alderson faces.

      This is a human being, not Strat-O-Matic.

      We should all know what David Wright has meant to the franchise.

      He can’t be thrown to the curb like yesterday’s garbage. It’s a delicate situation and has to be dealt with sensitively. DW still wants to try to play, he’s under contract, he’s earned that respect — and maybe he kind of can contribute. Or not. The Mets have Reyes on the roster, as well as an everyday SS who is probably best-suited for 3B, with a hot-shot SS in AAA. To my mind, the team very well could be better off if Wright goes away. But we don’t absolutely know how he’ll play yet.

      Yes, it would be best if Wright and his contract just vanished. Poof, gone. But that’s not reality. Alderson and the Mets and Wright all have to try to navigate this situation with respect and grace. Right now, I think the proper move is to support his efforts; should he falter again this season, it will be time to speak to him about the future in more forceful terms. It has to play out.

      I think his production, just as much as his health, will be what makes Wright re-think his future. If he’s hitting .220, striking out 30% of the time, unable to make the plays he used to make, he’s going to have to face the music. But he’s earned the right to find out on the diamond.

      I don’t think it’s a situation that anyone likes.

      • Nym

        Agreed. It’s unfortunate he has had such serious injuries to deal with and bad timing for the Mets for it to happen shortly after he signed a big deal and when the team is contending. But I respect the guy for working as hard as he has for trying to come back. He clearly loves baseball and the Mets. And while he wasn’t the player he used to be he’s still been relatively solid when he has played. I think it’s reasonable to give him a shot and see if it’s possible he can manage the condition enough to play

      • Metsense

        Jimmy P, well said and they are my thoughts also.

      • Chris F

        David Wright is a professional baseball player. His response to the manager will be “I can play tonight skip” even if he was just in a car wreck. Of course thats what we want out of players. Its the coaches and FO that need to look out for the team and player. David is a career Met, and always will be. He will have a job with this club for decades. He is also a grown up and can handle this. The FO also needs to recognize, as a business, it has a orimary responsibility to run out the best team imaginable, and getting Wright to see this is an essential aspect for both his health (the number 1 priority) and the team. David has played in 75 games in 2 years, and placing a heavy burden on finding a real solution to 3B. Chipper Jones went to LF, Ryan Zimmerman to1B, John Smoltz to relief pitching. As age happens and bodies change, there is no shame in moving positions. Not only do we have his spine to deal with, his arm slot is falling because he has significant throwing shoulder issues. I hope that Sandy can rapidly make the right calls personally and professionally to protect this cherished member of the Orange and Blue.

        • TexasGusCC

          Very well discussed by all of you, Nym, Jimmy, Metsense and Chris.

          Definitely will be the most scrutinized item during March.

  • Mike Walczak

    When Carlos Beltran stood and watched strike three go by him in the 2006 playoffs, David Wright and Jose Reyes were two outstanding young players.

    It is insane to expect either to be a reliable productive option eleven years later.

    There are too many what ifs on this team. As an aggregate the Mets have too many good what ifs to happen for them to be a playoff team in 2017.

    I hope that David Wright plays well in 2017 and contributes to the team, but if he is again besieged by injuries or plays poorly, I hope that he has the sense to hang up the spikes rather than hang on.

    • Chris B

      Carlos Beltran is still a relatively productive player.

  • Eraff

    David Starting 80-110 Games..Fine. David unable to enter a game or PH when he hasn’t Started–Zero Games. That’s the really tough part. He’s a completely useable player when he can be used. Heck…he’d be completely usable as a Latter Day Ed Charles– start some games…PH…. but that’s not part of his capacity now, and it’s a killer.

    He deserves the space to try one more time…but they are planning on “Without Him.

    • Jimmy P

      Whenever I’m completely convinced he’s toast, he hits a HR.

      But my strong feeling is that the Mets would be better off with him on the DL than with him on the roster, struggling to perform, unable to PH, etc.

      Yet again, this is man of great character & talent & drive. He keeps proving me wrong.

      While I think RISP stats are useless as indicators, I think last season’s 40% K-rate was a harbinger of doom. His BA was .226. He still had an insane walk rate to inflate his OBP and OPS numbers, but I think smart pitchers will stop treating him as if it’s 2013. The power is evaporating, he’s just not that dangerous anymore.

      Career-wise, his OBP is .080 about his career BA. That’s impressive. Last year it was at an all-time high of .124 for an OBP of .350. I don’t think that can last, and it’s partly inflated by the fact that pitchers didn’t have time to adjust and normalize how they pitched to him before he was out for the season.

      It’s not hard to imagine him hitting .215 with an OBP below .300.

      The 40% K-rate shows that the bat speed just wasn’t there. He’s trying to do it with smoke, mirrors, guile, and experience. Amazing that he did as well as he did last season. But the boat is taking on water.

      Still: He’s earned the shot, and his .788 OPS last year was not enough to convince any fair observer that he was done.(But it sure looked like it during many, many ABs.)

      Note: I did K-rate by K/AB; I’ve seen it done by K/PA, and that shows a sunnier line, but still a pretty horrific 34% rate. If he was a minor leaguer, you’d say he strikes out too much.

  • Brian Joura

    My hope is that for the home opener that they play Wright at 3B and Reyes at SS for one last time.

    It’s disappointing that the new CBA didn’t come through with the promise of an additional roster spot. This would have been handy for carrying Wright in his non-starting days, as Eraff mentioned above.

    And I agree with Charlie in that the Mets caught lightning with Reyes. A .176 ISO?!? Who saw that coming and who thinks we’re getting it again?

    • Name

      I’m glad they didn’t get an extra roster spot. It’s not really needed and most teams would probably use it for an extra pitcher and not bench player.

      They did reduce the DL time significantly though from 15 to 10 days. Now, when the prognosis is to wait/rest a week, you might as well DL the guy, as it would only potentially cost the player 2-3 games when they are ready rather than 7+ games.

      A rough league ISO average for the last 13 years was .144 and in 2016 it was .166, a 15% increase.
      Reyes had a .141 career ISO so he outproduced it by 25%. But much of the production was early as he had 3 HRs in his first 6 games (including a 2 HR-game). Take those 6 early games out and he had a .148 ISO the other 54 games. Take away 1 of those HRs and he’s down to .160, about a 15% increase as well. It’s likely that if he got more games in, that ISO would have continued to drop.
      Basically you could look at it like the Mets got 1 “extra” HR from Reyes than they should have. But maybe using his career is too high of a base as he was <110 the last 2 years.

      • TexasGusCC

        While I don’t disagree with your numbers, that 2-run HR in August against the Phillies with two outs and the Mets losing 6-4 sure was nice and clutch. Two innings later he extended the game and Cabrerra won it with a three run bat flipping bomb. Reyes showed consistency and every player has homeruns in streaks anyway. Except for Flores, he hits them when it hurts the other guys the most.

  • Eraff

    I believe Reyes has a good shot to be a usable player over the next Few Years, at least. He has a variety of skills that will play well as a “Rover”…especially if he can learn an OF Glove.

  • Jimmy P

    In 2016, Jose had an OPS of 1.200 vs LHP.

    But under .700 vs. RHP.

    One of the biggest disappointments of the WC game was Jose’s inability to produce against MadBum. We needed him.

    I think his future is consistent rest, picking spots. TC got into the habit of rolling him out every day and it’s crazy. Think of the way BV used Ricky Henderson in his last productive season.

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