So, I prefer to look ahead (again) and wonder how this whole thing will look when Sandy and Co. finish the "house cleaning" and finally put their team on the field. You know, when we actually start to compete again. When we finally put the Phillies and Braves in our rear view mirror. A team that has a dominant pitching staff, a productive lineup and one that can catch and throw the baseball effectively.
I spent a few moments last week discussing what I call the Jose Reyes dilemma and how it relates to the Mets future. It would be nice to keep Jose around, but that is very much up in the air. The other "face of the franchise" is David Wright, and his future is also up in the air, despite being signed for another season, with an option.
There is a popular thought in the media, being spread around by the ESPN types, that Sandy is considering shopping David around this offseason, to see what he is worth. In the unlikely event that Jose Reyes does sign a new contract with the Mets, it is even being rumored that David may be dealt to balance the books and add to our minor league prospects.
From a financial standpoint, it is possible to fit both Jose and David under the rumored salary cap being set by the Wilpons of around 100 to 110 million dollars, for 2012. This issue has been well documented on this site in the past few days. So, in the unlikely event that there are other players in free agency (CJ Wilson), or trades, that will improve the club and significantly add to the payroll, finances should not be the guiding principle when David's future is discussed.
Looking ahead, I don't see how this team becomes the type of team we all want, without David Wright at third base. I am not saying that he is a MVP candidate, but he is still young, plays a difficult and talent scarce position, and when his head is on straight, is a middle of the order force. Granted, his salary demands will only go up from here and his "value ratio" (what he is worth versus what he will cost) will only go down.
BUT, can you name three other third baseman in all of baseball that you would rather have? There just aren't that many quality players at that position. Better still, if David were dealt away, who would replace him in our current system?
Mack does an excellent job profiling each position. Evaluate third base and tell me who can come close to replacing David Wright. Daniel Murphy? Nice kid, decent bat, no glove. He is a better bench player, in my opinion. Zach Lutz? Interesting bat, below average glove and he seems to spend more time on the DL, then the field. Also, consider Murphy will be 27 in 2012 and Lutz will be 26 in 2012. David will play 2012 as a 28 year old (he has a December birthday), so age really isn't an issue, either.
Is David streaky? You bet. Can he struggle on defense? Indeed (especially this week). Does he need to see a sports psychologist regarding Citifield? Maybe.
But, when you consider everything he brings to the table, I think he is one of the few untouchable players on our roster. Look at what the Rays did with Evan Longoria. They pinch pennies tighter then anyone, yet, they found the money to secure Longoria for the foreseeable future. Why? Because they know how hard it is to find a quality third baseman and they know that sometimes you have to pay for what you want/need.
If it were up to me, instead of shopping his services around, I would approach David this offseason and work out an contract extension. Explain to him that the dimensions of Citifield will be altered, that he is an important part of the future and reward him with a market value contract, so he can relax and be productive again (with his recent struggles, you may even get him signed to a below market contract).
I don't want to think about the future without David Wright at third base. The Mets have plenty of other "issues" to address, without opening up another one.