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.

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. MikeT October 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm
    Why should we respond to someone who has a rudimentary understanding of baseball economics? Mike Pelfrey is due arbitration and if the Mets are dumb enough to offer it to him no one would want to trade for him at the salary he is likely to get coming off Tommy John surgery. If he returns to the Mets, it will be after non-tendering him and Mike deciding as a free agent to return (mostly likely because he’d prefer to rehab with the Mets, due to familiarity with the staff, but also likely because no one will offer him much).

    As for Francisco, he has one year left and very little production last year. He’s actually a pretty good candidate to have a bounce back year. If they Mets could trade him they would not get much of use in return due to his salary and injuries suffered this year.

    Joe I completely agree on Wright. As much as fans dislike him for disappointing us because he is ‘not good enough,’ the truth is he is good enough, but he’s not on a good enough team. Relative to other third basemen, Wright is probably a top five player in baseball. Cabrera, Zimmerman, Wright, Longoria, Beltre. Of those only one is not also excellent with the glove (but he is also perhaps the best hitter in the game).

    If we accept that Wright is great than why do so many want him gone? Again it is because we think he is not good enough. Just because he does not hit for power like Piazza does not mean he is not as good or better than him. What we need is more around him and the irony is that to get it (now) we need to move Wright. That’s the conundrum. Either that or wait another year until Santana and Bay are off the books and the team has money to spend again.

    Hmm, something about that last sentence seems right to me. Oh wait that’s because that’s the plan, and that’s what is going to happen. The one thing you forgot about Wright is that he is currently the best ever position player in team history and is on track to be a Hall of Famer. The Mets will not move him unless they can get in return a surefire replacement for him at that level. Don’t bet on that.

  2. RealityChuck October 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm
    If you trade him, who are you going to get back who’s at least as good? That’s always the question that this type of person neglects to ask. Sending him off for “prospects” is a self-defeating system: there’s no guarantee if the prospect will be as good as Wright, and they wouldn’t help the team for a year or two, if at all. Trading him for an established player? Maybe, except that Wright can then void his 2013 option and be a free agent. So who can you get for a player who will walk before he shows up at the ballpark? Nothing.

    The way to build a team is to keep you best players and upgrade your weaker players, not trade your best players and hope your weaker players will get better. The team should be looking for outfielders, not to replace an all-star with minor leaguers.

  3. FreeBald October 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm
    I’ve been a Mets fan since the late 70s and, starting with Tom Seaver, I’ve seen many talented players leave through trade or free agency to continue their careers elsewhere. I long ago learned to root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.

    I’m happy with Wright’s overall individual performance as a member of the Mets but it is concerning that Wright did not learn the lessons of 2010 and 2011. As a veteran of 9 seasons I’d like to think he’d have understood the trap of “trying to do too much” and been better able to avoid it in 2012.

    He’ll play 2013 as a 30 year old and thus it’s hard for me to imagine him getting better. Given the state of the major league team, and the organization as a whole, it’s easy for me to believe that the best service Wright can provide to the organization at this stage of his career is to bring talent back in trade.

    That Wright has no bona fide major league hitters in the lineup to support him is not his fault and should not be held against him. Is he garbage? Far from it. He’s one of the best every day players the Mets organization has ever produced. But now is the time for him to “get his ring(s)” elsewhere, and in the process stock the organization with the talent it needs to return to the post season.

    • MikeT October 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm
      FreeBald, this might not be your argument and this might not even be you, but I’ve never understood the logic behind the argument: “I’ve been a fan for x number of years, thus I’m done waiting for another (or first) championship.”

      If you’ve been a fan for the past thirty years, then you are going to likely be a fan for the following five or ten or 15 (etc). So shouldn’t your arguments be always in the long run? Shouldn’t you root for the best possible long term success? Would people who make this argument trade several years of being awesome for one year of a guaranteed championship? Not that this is realistic, but if so then at what point do you make that trade again (and expect sympathy from everyone about how long you waited for it). The fact is that we are all in this for the long term. If not then in my opinion your opinion does not matter. I’m going to be with this team in five years regardless of where they are in the standings, so for me it is always about long term sustained success. I personally do not think that trading Wright this offseason will result in a championship (meaning that the direct trade will be sited as the turning point of a championship club). So might as well keep him a Met for life and in a few years we will be back in the playoffs as a lifetime Met with a couple of shots at a title. As a fan that is the best case scenario.

      • FreeBald October 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm
        I never said I was “done waiting for a championship” so I’m not sure why that became the focal point for your rebuttal.

        What I want for my favorite team, more than anything else, is for the organization to be built from the bottom up to be able to sustain annual World Series contention.

        In that context, it is simply my opinion that the Mets will be better able to achieve that without paying David Wright fair market value to buy out his free agency, thus limiting their already tenuous financial flexibility for the foreseeable future, while Wright passes out of his “prime.”

        I blame the Wilpons for being, or at least for taking advantage of being portrayed as, unable to sustain a payroll much over $90 million. Given these real or perceived financial limitations I feel the Mets can sooner reach annual contender status by trading Wright for multiple valuable pieces, rather than paying him and being “stuck” unable to fill the lineup, and the bullpen, with players capable of contending with him.

        So for me it’s also about, to quote you exactly from your rebuttal, “long term sustained success.” Again it’s just my opinion, but I feel the Mets have a better chance of achieving that by trading Wright than they do by re-signing him.

  4. WhodoyouthinkyouareIam October 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm
    Well let me start by saying, I hope the Mets keep Wright. I don’t think the team is years and years and years away from competing so I like the idea of keeping the team’s best player and not just banking the entire near future on “prospects” panning out. Fixing the OF and the bullpen (the latter of which generally isn’t a particularly expensive endeavor) could go a long way to improving the team.

    And there have been plenty of quick turnarounds in MLB in recent years. Only 4 of the 10 playoff teams this year made the playoffs last yr. And 4 of the current playoff teams were under .500 last year. Similarly in 2011, only 4 teams made the playoffs that year made the playoffs the prior year…and 3 of the remaining 4 were .500 or below in 2010. So its not impossible to improve a good amount from one year to the next.

    And to address an issue in the original email….. the idea of Wright being “garbage”…well too put it simply .. is a garbage idea. For sure it would have bee nice for him to not got cold the last couple months of the year…but still all in all it was a great year. 143 OPS+ and 7.8 WAR,…I’d love it if we had other guys on the team who were even half that good this year. Wright has been a great player for the Mets.

    Now all that being said….and after I’ve rambled long enough to the point that most have stopped reading…IF the Mets do decide they really aren’t going to invest in the team at all even after the Santana and Bay money come off the books. If they don’t really plan on making any serious attempts to put together a winning team over the next few years…then yes it makes sense to deal Wright and commence with the “rebuilding” (I hate that word) process. HOWEVER, throwing Pelfrey (who is gone anyway) and Frank Francisco into a Wright deal would be asinine. Wright is one of the Mets best trade chips and if they are going to trade him they need to capitalize on his value…not make the team acquiring him take on a poor performing player just so the Mets can save a few more dollars in 2013. That would only serve to decrease the return the Mets would get.

  5. NormE October 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm
    First of all, Jay H., you’re dead wrong on David W. and Joe Janish made the case very nicely.
    There are solid arguments both ways about trading DW. However, I believe that the decision will be made by the Wilpons handcuffing Sandy A. and putting him in a situation where David W. and his agent will turn down a below market offer. Thus, the Mets will be dealing out of weakness. David W. will be traded or he will walk after next year.
    History teaches us to never underestimate the Wilpons ability to screw things up.
  6. Acoustic567 October 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm
    It’s quite a commentary on how disgusted Mets fans have gotten that the assertion that Wright is “pathetic” and “a damn joke” is given respectful attention. This is not an assertion about which reasonable people can disagree. It is a rant, an irrational projection onto one player of the frustration Mets fans have come to feel with the state of the team.

    Like others have said, there are arguments for trading Wright just as there arguments against it. But the argument for trading him rests on the (correct) assumption that there would be numerous teams willing to give up quite a bit for him. That alone should be enough to dispel the notion that he is “pathetic.”

  7. Tommy2cat October 8, 2012 at 7:20 pm
    Joe – Nice analysis on David Wright.

    I think too many fans take him for granted. Going into this season, my primary concern was whether he could stay healthy and productive and he appeared to accomplish those basic goals. His defense was outstanding.

    David Wright’s value to the organization and to Met fans generally transcend his numbers. He grew up a life-long Met fan, was drafted by the Mets with a compensation pick when Mike Hampton walked, developed through our farm system and has been the consummate professional. He owns many club records.

    Every once in a while, its important for an organization to take a step back and understand that certain players help create the team’s identity. Tom Seaver was once of them, and M. Donald Grant clearly dropped the ball in his handling of “The Franchise.”

    If the Mets are as Fred Wilpon describes – an “emotional investment”, then there really is no ball player that can take David Wright’s place at third base for the Mets, and no ball player that can take David Wright’s place in Met history.

  8. Dan October 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm
    Jay,

    I hope you enjoyed the joke, because that is absolutely the only sane reason why someone would completely miss the mark evaluating David Wright.

  9. argonbunnies October 8, 2012 at 10:24 pm
    Were Wright’s overall stats this year excellent? Yes.

    Was he an easy out for 2 months, giving us reason to doubt his continued excellence? Also yes.

    Will trading him improve our chances of contending any time soon? No idea.

    I read a long ESPN article that concluded that the team trading away the established star almost always loses the trade from a talent perspective. The sole downside for the team acquiring the star is how much they wind up paying him. Accordingly, we should not count on a trade of Wright to fill our system with players who will win us championships in a few years. If we do part with Wright, what we can count on is more payroll flexibility.

    Is that worth it? Well, I think it kinda depends on how much cash it takes to sign Wright. If we can pay him based on objective projections of how good he’s likely to be going forward, then I’m all for it. I imagine for the next 7 years, that’s likely to be something like $18M, $17M, $15M, $12M, $9M, $6M, $3M. So, $80mil for 7 years. If the Wilpons think Wright will earn them an extra $3 million a year at the gate, then sure, tack that on and give him $100mil for 7.

    Much beyond that, and I imagine we’ll regret it.

    • Dan B October 9, 2012 at 8:38 am
      Payroll flexibility only matters if a team has a legitimate payroll. The Mets freed up $50 million last year but kept the vast majority of it to help pay off debt. Does anyone believe if they trade Wright away the savings will be put back into payroll? Does anyone think if Bay and Santana mysteriously disappeared that their money would go back into the payroll? Large market teams should be around $150 million. Mets have plenty of payroll flexibility if they were run properly.
      • Joe Janish October 10, 2012 at 8:47 am
        EXACTLY.

        I keep reading and hearing about how the Mets need to cut down their payroll for “future flexibility” but that’s nonsense. They’ve needed to cut payroll because they’re broke!

        Any cash they can acquire or remove must be put toward the hundreds of millions in debt. It will take a minor economic miracle for the Mets to come near a $120M payroll anytime in the next three years.

    • DaveSchneck October 9, 2012 at 8:49 am
      Argon,
      Good points. I’d just like to add one thing to the “it depends”. It depends on what Wright will sign for, and it depends on what he can bring back in a trade. To use an extreme example – would it be smart to trade Wright for Trout? Of course, even though the Angels wouldn’t do it. I am very critical with the Mets approach, but I do agree that they need to move quickly on Wright and Dickey, and go to plan B should both or either not work out. No way DW is sigining for 7 yrs/$80 mil. If fact, I think he would be insulted with that offer. Numbers floated of 7/$125mil could get it done. I agreee with Joe that his 2nd half numbers had more to do with the players around him than with him. I was vbery happy with his glove this year, which was disappointing for the prior few seasons. He is a notch below a superstar, but I think getting him at 7/$125, or 6 yrs. guaranteed with some vesting would be very good for the team and the franchise. There is no reason why he cannot play at a high level through age 35. Despite the end of the roids era and crackdown on greenies, there are still players that age performing at all-star level – look no farther than Carlos Beltran. I would be very reluctant to trade him unless he either asks for way too much $$$ or a team is ready to provide 2 top caliber MLB prospects that are ready in 2013.
      • argonbunnies October 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm
        Just because paying Wright what he’s worth would be insulting, and just because the going rate is stupid, doesn’t mean we should pay him the going rate and be stupid. Let someone else pay Wright $25mil in 2018 to strike out 180 times and lumber around the diamond. This ain’t 2001 anymore, and 36-year-olds now suck more often than not.

        If the team wants to give Wright an extra $20mil beyond his on-field value and call it an investment in merch sales, cool. But I dunno if team budgets compartmentalize that way, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t with a $45mil margin.

        • Joe Janish October 10, 2012 at 8:49 am
          But will the Mets be paying Wright for his performance, or for the fact he’s the only well-known entity on the team? It’s obvious that ownership is more focused on selling tickets and revenue generation than it is on winning.
  10. Andy October 9, 2012 at 1:19 am
    Not sure it’s worth debating whether to keep Wright. They are going to keep him. I actually like Wright, and I agree that he has suffered from lack of a sidekick. It also seems he’s going to have to go at least one more year without one, given the Mets’ financial situation and lack of good prospects.

    Here’s hoping the Mets can get things going again in 2014, and at least not bore us completely in 2013.

  11. Chris October 9, 2012 at 6:37 am
    Deal Wright? In exchange for what? Some pitching prospects?

    I can’t stand how so many of you so-called Met “fans” are down on Wright. He was the one shining star throughout the season in a H O R R E N D O U S lineup. Yeah, he wilted noticeably in the last 2 months, but so did the ENTIRE team. But he kept fighting.

    Wright deserves a new 3 or 4 year deal from the Mets, at least as good as what they gave Bay, PLUS an enormous amount of credit and respect. What you geniuses obviously fail to note is that Wright made a HUGE adjustment at the plate this year, cut WAY down on his strikeouts and absolutely made the most of his ability and what pitchers gave him to work with. Plus his defense was much improved too. His throwing was noticeably improved.

    When you consider his performance in light of the stinko lineup Alderson and Collins put around him, it’s clear Wright deserves serious consideration for Comeback Player of the Year.

    Put the blame where it belongs: On the Wilpons, Alderson, Collins, Duda, Thole, Bay, Torres, and one of the truly worst bullpens in the majors. Not on Wright.

    Trivia: Who led the 2011 Mets in RBI?

    Note that Pagan and Beltran are playing in the post-season, while Reyes had an average Reyes year. Their replacements on the 2012 Mets did not achieve even close to half of their post-Mets production. If that’s what we can expect from the Wilpons and Alderson The Great, the future is indeed dim for the Mets and their long-suffering fans.

  12. jerseymet October 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm
    David Wright is a class person and player. He deserves to play for a championship team. The Mets should make him their “best offer” to stay with the Team. They should admit the poor situation of the club. If Wright wants a market value contract, the Mets should work out the best deal possible with a Team of Wrights choosing. I’ll miss him but hey; were not at our best.
  13. Mic October 17, 2012 at 3:26 am
    This is probably one of the most interesting quandries since Tom seaver left the mets.

    I see both sides: jersey’s opinion is valid. The Mets can ans will offer ryan Zimmerman money, but that might not be enough. Expect teams to top that. On the other hand what do the Mets do if they dont sign him?

    -Carlos Beltran AND Angel Pagan are making idiots of the front office who lost both of these players for what? Note: Wheeler has not thrown a ball in the majors and questions will remain on him for a long time…..while Beltran is a shoe in for the HOF.