Mailbag: Dump David Wright
Off the heels of the recent news that Sandy Alderson will “move quickly” on extensions for R.A. Dickey and David Wright, I’ve received a flood of email from the teeming millions (OK, maybe not “millions;” more like, “dozens”). People are on both sides of the fence — a good mix of those supporting and against the plan for extending the two highest-performing Mets.
Here is an email from one side of the fence:
I just read about the Mets planning to extend David Wright…if the Mets do, it will be their biggest mistake.
Wright completely disappeared in the 2nd half and his hitting had been pathetic … I do not want him back with the Mets and it is time for the Mets to deal him to another team (throw in Mike Pelfrey and closer Frank Francisco for proven veterans who will be able to help the Mets … Wright has been a damn joke and I am sick and tired of him.
We need a power hitter who also hits for average and don’t tell me Wright is that kind of hitter…he is most assuredly not so…
We also need quality pitchers as a starter and a closer … Pelfrey had been out all year and I don’t want him back and neither do I want Francisco back … he’s been horrific as a closer …
The Mets had gone through another tiresome collapse and I just want to puke … it’s time to end all this nonsense and start building the team from inside out … if it means a couple more years before they can reach postseason status, I am all for it … Wright is garbage and he belongs in the dumpster!
– Jay H., Bernardsville, NJ
Jay, thank you for your email. Though you did not ask for my response, I’ll post it here anyway.
First off, Mike Pelfrey is likely to be non-tendered this winter. Though, it is possible to trade him before he’s non-tendered. But regardless, there’s some chance that you won’t see him in a Mets uniform next year.
Second, I’m with you on Francisco. If the Mets can find a taker, and can get something of value in return, I’m in support of moving him.
Third, I agree with you on the need for pitching, the collapses, and the need to rebuild.
Where I disagree with you somewhat, however, is on David Wright.
While I share your feelings that he may not be a true, feared, homerun threat, and that the Mets probably need to trade him toward that rebuilding process, I don’t see Wright as “garbage.” On the contrary, he’s far and away the best all-around player in the Mets’ possession, and he’d be either the best or one of the top three players on every other MLB team. He doesn’t strike the kind of fear in a pitcher that Prince Fielder does, but he’s still an excellent hitter. His lack of production in the second half had less to do with his skill set and everything to do with having very little help around him in the lineup. Yes, Ike Davis walloped 32 homeruns, but he also had enormous holes in his swing that pitchers exploited to prevent him from being a consistent threat. Scott Hairston surprised everyone with his 20-homer season, but I don’t think any pitcher consciously threw strikes to Wright because they saw Hairston on deck. After Wright’s red-hot start, and as the season wore on, opponents realized that once they go through Wright, the rest of the Mets lineup was a cakewalk. So, they threw fewer pitches in the strike zone to Wright, and pitched him more carefully, feeding him breaking balls at the edges of the strike zone. Perhaps in response to this, Wright changed his approach, expanding the strike zone and “getting big” — that is, swinging for the fence. It was similar to what we’d seen from him in 2010 and 2011, when he felt he had to hit more homeruns and completely changed his swing and approach. As a result, the David Wright we saw as of July was similar to the one we saw in ’10 and ’11.
I feel strongly that David Wright will hit .300+ and 25+ HR in a lineup that includes other proven MLB run producers. You’re right, he’s not a Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder type of hitter, who can carry a club on his own. Though, even Fielder and Cabrera had each other in 2012, and Fielder had Ryan Braun previously, while Cabrera had Victor Martinez. As nice a player as Ike Davis is, he’s no Martinez, and certainly, no Braun. Most great hitters have at least one strong-hitting “sidekick” that helps them be great; Wright has had no such complementary teammate since Carlos Beltran‘s last full season as a Met in 2008 (when Wright last hit 30+ HRs, drove in 100+ RBI, and hit .300+). Off the top of my head, the only other really good NL hitters who didn’t have an established sidekick were Andrew McCutchen and Chase Headley. McCutchen is a bonafide superstar while Headley may have benefited from a combination of a second-half hot streak and the fact that people were not expecting him to be as good as he performed. In comparison, Wright finished with very good numbers — though he did, as you say, more or less disappear in the second half (similarly, Headley was only so-so in the first half).
But going back to trading Wright: the Mets likely need to deal him, now, in order to secure a successful future. I will get into that further tomorrow, but in the meantime, please, everyone, post your response to Jay’s email and my reply in the comments.