An Open Letter Concerning David Wright
David Wright was my favorite player, too.
I was in third grade in 2006, when he and Jose Reyes lead the Mets to an unforgettable NLCS run. And although that Mets team fell short of the ultimate goal of winning a World Series title, it seemed inevitable that the club’s core, led by Wright and Reyes, was more than capable of contending for years to come.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, the Mets would not return to the playoffs for almost a decade. And now, entering the 2017 season, Reyes is primed to steal Wright’s job full time.
Despite not making the playoffs between 2007 and 2014, Wright represented the Mets with utmost class and in the process, captured the hearts of the team’s loyal fans. The homegrown kid was too good to be true.
Between 2006 and 2009, Wright did not have a batting average below .302 and had two 30 home run seasons. He provided plus defense and was the engine behind the Mets offense, even when the team moved to Citi Field and his power numbers floundered.
Wright’s passion for the game got him named the fourth captain in the team’s history in 2013, following in the footsteps of Mets legends Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and John Franco. For Mets fans, Wright defines an era.
His standing as a Mets legend is etched in the record books. Wright is the club’s all-time leader in at bats, runs, hits, doubles, RBI’s, walks, and plate appearances. He is second in home runs and can pass Darryl Strawberry with just 11 more. He is second in stolen bases, third in batting average, and fourth in OPS.
If the beginning of this letter reads like a eulogy, that’s because it might be. We just learned that Wright will be sidelined for a few weeks with an impingement in his right shoulder and will likely not be ready for Opening Day.
David Wright has not returned to Mets camp because he’s seeking a second opinion on his shoulder impingement. He’s due back later this week.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) March 1, 2017
This latest setback seems to be due to his body’s inability to recover from a neck surgery that ended his 2016 campaign. The Captain has played in just 75 regular season games in the last two years.
However, that’s not the only problem. When Wright has been on the field, he’s struggled. In his limited time last year Wright hit just .226 and had a hard time playing consistent defense.
With a condition (spinal stenosis) that will plague him for the rest of his life, it’s time for Mets fans to take a long, hard look in the mirror and answer this heartbreaking question: is Wright’s inclusion on the Mets roster now an impediment to the team’s success?
It seems fairly obvious now that Reyes is a better option than Wright in the Mets everyday lineup. Though both players are not what they used to be when they carried the team to the 2006 NLCS, Reyes is clearly the more dependable player at this point in his career.
Reyes gives the team a feature in which they otherwise lack completely, speed. He also gives the Mets an obvious leadoff hitter, a role that was otherwise occupied by a makeshift group of players such as Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares. Reyes played well for the Mets in 2016, batting .267 with 8 home runs in just 60 games.
Heck, Wilmer Flores is probably a better option at third base as well. Like Reyes, Flores hit .267 last season. He’s proven to be one of the best hitters against left handed pitchers in the entire sport and is capable of playing any infield position. And like Wright, he is a fan favorite.
Wright is owed $67 million over the next four years, but it seems unlikely that the Mets will allow him to play out the entire contract at that salary. This leaves the club with a few limiting scenarios moving forward.
The first option for the Mets is to buy out Wright’s contract. This would allow the third baseman to enter the open market where he would find difficulty in signing with a National League club. An American League team, where Wright could DH, would make the most sense. This scenario would bring a bitter end to an otherwise celebrated career in the Mets organization.
Another option for the club is to leave Wright on the Major League roster and try to get him into as many games as possible. This would handicap the team’s roster flexibility in the next few years, but would allow the captain to take aim at a World Series title while the Mets’ championship window is still open.
The third and most likely scenario is one where the Mets take after the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez and send Wright into a forced retirement. Wright could subsequently fill a role with the Mets as a coach or advisor, similar to David Ross’s current role with the Chicago Cubs. This will not occur this season, or maybe even the season after that, but this outcome seems inevitable. It makes the most sense for both the Mets, Wright, and the fans.
We’ve come to a point in Wright’s career where he simply cannot be trusted. The most productive parts of Wright’s career are clearly behind him, so now we must say thank you.
Thank you for being the face of the franchise.
Thank you for being the best Mets player of your era.
Thank you for bringing energy and enthusiasm to Queens with every opportunity you received.
Thank you for leading the Mets when no one else would. We know you played on some very poor teams, but you were always proud to be a Met.
And hopefully, we’ll soon be able to thank you for bringing a World Series championship back to New York.