‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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David Wright is in a very difficult place. There are rare situations when being the face of a franchise isn’t enviable. This is one of them.
The Mets have reportedly done nearly everything possible on their end to secure Wright’s future at Citi Field through the 2020 season. The only real sticking point seems to be over deferred money. Now, it’s up to Wright to either sign quickly on the dotted line or risk damaging his reputation with the Mets’ fan base by stalling or rejecting their reported seven-year extension outright.
By all accounts from those who know Wright, he cares deeply about representing the Mets and their traditions. He wants to be part of a Mets team that brings back the glory years of the mid-1980′s, but he hasn’t come anywhere close to experiencing the heights of winning in New York — aside from a heartbreaking National League Championship Series elimination to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.
Wright Is Being Forced To Choose Between His Heart And His Head
Wright grew up a Mets fan and is being forced to choose between his heart and his head. As a Virginia teenager, he listed Benny Agbayani as his favorite player while watching the nearby Norfolk Tides.
Wright always wanted to be a Met and got his wish when he was drafted by New York at age 18. It would be very difficult for Wright to cut ties with the only organization he’s ever known, but it’s a decision he might eventually have to make.
Mets fans — I’m asking you to remove your Mets cap and put yourself in Wright’s shoes for a moment. If he puts the pen to the paper immediately, he’s committing his long-term future to a team that has only made one playoff appearance in the past 12 seasons.
Even should the Mets agree to new deals with Wright and reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, there’s no guarantee that they will be winners unless their outfield gets a serious upgrade and their patchwork bullpen is straightened out. Considering the Mets’ financial situation, the process of combining their wealth of talented Minor League prospects and piecing together complementary stars on a shoestring payroll could take years.
Wright Deserves To Be Part Of A Winning Club
The window to win championships is a short one. Derek Jeter’s desire to match Yogi Berra’s 10 World Series rings never came to fruition. After winning four World Series in five years, the New York Yankees have only won one World Series title after the year 2000. Even with the greatest resources available, it’s not easy to maintain constant World Series ambitions.
Wright will turn 30 on December 20. The best individual years of his career will come over the next four or five seasons. Does he want to risk wasting them with a team that cannot compete with the financial might of the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies?
He will be cheating himself if he agrees to sign an extension out of loyalty rather than the belief that the franchise can turn itself into a winner in the near future.
Would Wright Be Foolish To Throw Away His Only Chance To Test The Market In His Prime?
Why should Wright rush his decision now, when the most competitive clubs can compete over him next offseason and offer him both a very lucrative salary and a far greater chance of competing for World Series titles?
This situation is far different from when Jeter agreed a 10-year, $189 million extension with the Yankees before the 2001 season. Actually, it’s a lot closer to Alex Rodriguez’s final year with the Seattle Mariners.
A-Rod watched the Mariners fail to replace superstars Ken Griffey, Jr. and Randy Johnson. Ruben Tejada will never be the game-changing player that Jose Reyes was during his time in Flushing, and it remains to be seen whether 19-year-old super-prospect Brandon Nimmo can one day become the Mets’ best all-around outfielder since Carlos Beltran.
The current Mets do not possess a star cleanup hitter to give Wright protection. Sure, their rotation is mouth-watering, but their outfield is in shambles and they desperately need Ike Davis to be consistent from start to finish in 2013.
Does Wright want to continue carrying the Mets’ hopes on his back? We’ll find out sooner rather than later.
It All Comes Down To Loyalty Versus The Opportunity To Win
The Mets are indeed a feel-good organization to play for when things are going right and their fans are boisterous. Mets fans are intimately knowledgeable about the game of baseball and they appreciate a winner. Whenever this team starts playing playoff baseball, October nights at Citi Field are going to be special.
General Manager Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta — the vice president of player development and scouting — are highly skilled at recognizing talent, but the Mets’ payroll isn’t going to jump above $100 million any time soon.
One wouldn’t blame Wright for not rushing his decision. The big question remains: Does he want to be a one-team man like Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter, or does he eventually want to test the free-agent waters like most elite players of the modern era?
What would you do if you were in Wright’s shoes? Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.