Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 18 May 2012 00:00
His story was too good to be true. He grew up as a New York Mets fan and was drafted by his favorite team in 2001, making his professional debut in 2004 at third base at Shea Stadium.
He has been the face of Flushing and with Jose Reyes now playing shortstop for the Miami Marlins, there’s one clear fact that should be carved in stone: The Mets must keep David Wright.
General manager Sandy Alderson is trading in signing big name free agents for building from within the Mets minor league system, hoping developmental prospects come along faster than expected. The Mets have indicated they want to cut payroll, but how far?
Alderson must realize the clear course of action is to pay Wright. He is in the final year of a six-year contract extension with the Mets worth $55 million.
Will he command more cash on the open market? Absolutely. Would New York expect a hometown discount? Probably, since they reportedly tried that with Reyes, who stated he never really got a solid offer from the Mets.
But Wright has also preached the development of the farm system, indicating he knows where the true talent lies.
Last week, the Mets had 13 homegrown players touch the field. Sound familiar? See the New York Yankees in 1996, when a band of second-hand players and homegrown future stars took the league by storm all the way to the World Series.
Wright, a homegrown, minor league developed talent who replaced Ty Wigginton 11 years ago, is a prime example that success can be found through development versus spending boatloads of cash for stars.
But if there’s one star the Mets need to right the ship in Queens and keep the Amazins’ on the right track, it’s Wright.
As of Monday, May 14, his batting average (BA) is .400, the longest he’s had a .400 BA or higher this point in the season, 4 home runs and 21 RBI. Wright also recently became the Mets all-time RBI leader. Imagine what he could do with another six to eight years in New York?
He has been the unofficial team captain and is always the first one to laud his team’s performance and hold himself or others accountable for struggles; and if there’s any team that has had to answer for their struggles, it’s the Mets, with their involvement with Bernie Madoff and lackluster on-field performance.
Every franchise needs a leader, a face, a point-man. Wright is all three.
An argument can be made that first baseman Ike Davis can assume that role if Wright were to depart via trade or free agency, but his poor performance so far this season suggests he needs time to develop before he can shoulder the load if the Mets find themselves in the midst of a multi-game losing streak.
Hopefully, players like outfielder Lucas Duda and Davis will rise to lighten the load on Wright and take the reigns of the franchise if he stays on and finishes his career as a Met.
Wright has proven he can shoulder that load and is the clear choice to lead the organization. The Mets must choose…wisely.