Mack - David Wright

photo by Mack Ade 
Good morning.

How do I begin to write a post about one of the greatest Mets there has ever been, is still on the team, and probably will be no or very little factor in the future?
It’s sad to think about how easy it would be if this team could keep all its proven talent in one piece and no one fits this example more than past superstar third baseman David Wright.

Wright is fighting two things to keep him in the game… father time and stenosis in his neck. Frankly, he can’t do a thing about either.

I went through the age thing a number of years ago and had to hang up my third baseman glove when it started to seem like the balls hit in the hole were just being hit harder than they had been hit in the past. That wasn’t true. I just couldn’t get there in time anymore.

I also suffer from the same narrowing of the neck canals that Wright is going through and that is chronic. It only can be cured through major surgery that would end his career in a heartbeat.

Those that are currently around Wright see how hard he works to stay in this game. No one gets to the clubhouse earlier that he does and he spends countless hours in the training rooms working out the kinks. Then, on to the practice field for stretches and field practice, followed by more work in the training facility.

Mack's Mets writer, David Rubin, adds -

 As someone who suffers from spinal stenosis for the past 5 years, and has huge problems with his neck and shoulder, I feel the Captain's pain far more intimately then I care to admit. There are mornings when simply getting up and out of bed becomes a problem within itself, let alone going through the daily routines at home and at work that can prove draining before the day has even begun. I work in a stressful profession, but I don't dive for ground-balls nor make long throws across the diamond to justify my paycheck like Wright does; I can't imagine how difficult his daily routine must be just to get into shape where getting onto the field itself doesn't drive him crazy with the pain! I know that he's very highly paid and has the best trainers and doctors money can buy, but he also has a newborn child and a young wife to think about as well. After a while the battling of the pain will grow too tiring and being away from his family will become more and more taxing and at the age of 34 there is only so much more that even a true gamer like the Captain can go through before saying "enough is enough." The selfish part of me, of all Mets fans, wants him back to being his old self so that we can compete once again for the whole shebang. The humanist part of me, of all Mets fans, wants to see David have quality of life and be able to play with his child (and future children) without having to worry about being unable to function normally, or at least close to normally.

We saw this with Don Mattingly; with basketball player Brad Daugherty; and with Islanders great, Mike Bossy, who still had a HOF career in spite of having to retire at 30 due to back problems. The reality is that David Wright won't be back to his old self, but will he be able to come back again to even be 70% of his old self? And will that be enough? I'm guessing no, and no, and that this season, sadly, will see our beloved Captain hang up the cleats once and for all and go down in the record books as one of the best homegrown players the New York Mets ever produced. We can always wonder what could have been; I'd rather thank him for all that he's already done!!!

(Boy oh BOY would I love to be wrong about this!!!)

In addition, Mack's Mets writer Christopher Soto says - 

It's ok to hold out hope that David Wright can be the player he used to be but actually banking on it to happen is just illogical. Wright will be 34 years old in 2017, an age where even healthy players begin to decline. One has to recognize that he is no longer a superstar that can carry a team....but....Wright still can help the club as a role player. 

Despite his age and numerous injuries, there is still one thing that Wright does well.....Crush left-handed pitching. As long as the club can stay focused on that strength, they can maximize Wright's value to the club. Fortunately, unlike past years, the club has plenty of depth in case/when Wright needs to be placed on the disabled list. Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores, and TJ Rivera are all capable of producing at least league average numbers.

Another Mack’s Mets writer, D-Whit, had this to say about Wright –

Over the past two years David Wright has played in 75 games. He’s been healthy enough to take the field for only 23% of the past two season’s games. Very early reports from St. Lucie are promising. He is participating in fielding drills, and according to Wright himself, “feeling fantastic”. The Captain turned 34 in December, 2017 will be his 14th year in blue and orange.
 Will it be his last?

The man who solved the long running Met 3B dilemma, redefining the position in Mets lore, is winding down a legendary Met career. It’s a career that began in the 1st round (38th pick) of the 2001 draft. He signed on July 21st and three years later the then 21 year-old Wright took over as the Mets 3B. Who did he replace? Ty Wiggington. Wright smacked 15 longballs in just 69 games that inaugural season. The baby-faced third sacker was an integral part of the team’s return to prominence from 2005-2008. Not surprisingly, those season’s were arguably his peak. He averaged over 100 RBI’s during that time and over 25 HR’s, peaking at 33 in 2008. It had all the makings of a Cooperstown-bound career.

It seemed like Wright and Jose Reyes would man the left side of the infield over the next decade, collecting pennants, awards and possibly a World Series title. It wasn’t to be. Reyes would depart following the 2011 season, and following the Madoff mess, the Mets sunk to the bottom for several seasons. Through it all Wright as remained the leader of the Mets ship, the Captain and face of the franchise before the Dark Knight arose.

Wright is now in the role of elder, though still boyish in appearance, Stenosis and last year’s neck surgery demonstrates the wear and tear his body has endured since his debut in 2004. Although a shoe-in to have his #5 retired, it appears that David will not be enshrined in Cooperstown. The injuries that have plagued him since the Mets left Shea and difficulties hitting at Citi Field, have sidetracked a career once on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

What he has meant to the fans of the Mets and team itself can’t really be measured though. I would say, only Tom Seaver, stands in front of Wright as the face of the Mets franchise. My prediction is David stays healthy enough to play 120 games, hits 16 HRs and walks off into the sunset as World Series champion. It’s Valentine’s Day, spring training is around the corner, and the season less than two months away. It’s the perfect time to dream of postseason glory.

Opinion – I just don’t see Wright being a factor anymore. And, he doesn’t offer much as a utility infielder since he really only plays one position. I’ve met Wright a few times and interviewed him once. He’s a very intelligent person and no one cares more about this team than he does. I expect him to be the first to realize when the time has come to join his friend Michael Cuddyer and actively retire. Will he last out the season and do one of those retirement parades from one city to another, accepting some stupid gift from teams that only wanted him to make out all his career? No, I expect him to try to play at 120% like he always has and go down within the season with one more diagnosis that neck surgery is the next move for quality of life here.

This is a very sad story with a very sad ending.


Thomas Brennan said...

Wright has had a 3 segment career:

FIRST: His first 4.5 years, in Shea (not a great hitters park), David almost never missed a game, 29 HR, 111 RBI, .310, and about 113K/season. Looking like a future HOF.

SECOND: In 2009, ownership stupidly made Citifield mammoth: Wright pressed more, struck out 301 times in 301 games (a dramatic increase) and hit just an average of 20 HR over the 2 years, hitting about .295. I recall many balls hit towards the unreachable 415 sign in right center that got caught. Or too many of his blasts to left center died on the track, or hit off the ridiculously high fence. His HOF trajectory took a real hit in those 2 years, which should have been the prime years of his career.

THIRD: In a park where the fences were partially made easier to hit in, and then after a lot more clamoring (including yours truly) the fences were moved in yet again to make them reasonable for a hitter, Wright began to run into a variety of health issues, missing an average of 66 games per year over the next 6 years. he still managed to hit over .300 twice in those 6 years, but his HR rate dropped to about 20 per 162 games.

I continue to make the case that if the Mets built Citifield as a hitters' field, with an eye on, for once, getting an offensive player like Wirght into the HOF, his #'s might still have been good enough to get him into the HOF, even with the injuries he's had.

If Citifield were a hitter's park since Day 1 in 2009, I could see where Wright could have 75 more career homers, 125-150 more RBIs, and still have a career average over .300. Real borderline HOF #'s, probably enough to get him in, in this day and age.

But ownership was collossaly stupid in the dimensions of this park for 5 or 6 years. So the Yankees will have all the offensive HOF players (next up - Derek Jeter).

Wright fanned an awful 55 times in 164 plate appearances last year. A very troubling sign for 2017, I'm sorry to say.

Reese Kaplan said...

The team will be the one pushing for the retirement tour rather than Wright himself. Each time they do that it guarantees a bigger gate and more merchandise sold. I would expect not one but two David Wright nights after he announces his retirement in a shameless grab for revenue.

To be fair, however, they are on the hook to Wright for $67 million and anything Wright does voluntarily to help reduce that burden is a help to the Wilpons.

Mack Ade said...

I fear he may not even survive camp.

Zozo said...

Can we sign Kelly Johnson already to a minor league deal. We are going to need him and he can play everywhere, please cover your asses already.

Eddie Corona said...

Professional sports is unforgiving… And David’s story is sad… He should be viewed as highly Derek Jeter unfortunately not the Case… The Mets ruined his career with the early years of Citi field.
Then Matt Cain fast ball, then this back… today He is a liability defensively and Offensively and there are probably 3-5 players on the roster who could perform better.
Unfortunately the best way he helps the team these days is when he is injured… With the Money they re-coupe from his contract from being on the disables list we were able to acquire Cespedes, then the next year Bruce (yes this didn’t work out but wright’s money paid for this)…
Let’s not be fooled that the budget is not a factor… If we need something or try to take on salary at the trade deadline it will be Wrights insurance money not the Wilpon’s Pocket that will pay for it…
Thank you For being the Class act and perhaps the best home grown Position player in the franchise but sometimes the end isn’t a story book ending…

Mack Ade said...

Zozo -

I would love to sign KJ to a minor league deal and stash him in Vegas... get him a top floor suite at Trump Casino... throw in a few showgirls...

I'm just not sure if he would go for it

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