David Wright Is Still My Superstar


The Mets are a pretty hot team right now.  Despite losing yesterday to the Detroit Tigers, the Mets have won three straight series, including two series victories over top teams in the American League.  The offense has been sizzling, to say the least, and hitters are taking their best approaches to the plate all season.  And yet I can’t help but feel something is still missing: David Wright.

No disrespect to Justin Turner or Ruben Tejada, who have filled in on the infield while Wright has been out (Daniel Murphy also, but he would’ve been playing anyway), or Ike Davis or Johan Santana, who I’d also love to see return to the field.  But David Wright, along with Jose Reyes, is one of the faces of the Mets franchise, and they could use him manning the hot corner and back in the clubhouse.  Fortunately, it seems like his rehab is going well and his return date isn’t too far off.

There are a few reasons why Wright’s return can and should bolster the Mets.  First is that he is an upgrade over whoever will be returned to the minors when David returns.  Yes, Wright was struggling before he went on the disabled list, batting just .226/.337/.404 with a career high strikeout rate of 29.5% (although his walk rate was also a career high 14.5%).  However, he was dealing with the back injury nearly all season, which could have been a contributor to his shortcomings.  He’ll most likely improve his stats to resemble his career batting line of .302/.382/.512.  Wright also can provide some much needed pop the lineup-his six homers rank third on the team, behind Carlos Beltran (12) and Ike Davis (7), who has missed even more time than Wright.

Wright’s return will mean a return to Buffalo for someone.  Although Turner has cooled off considerably from his scorching start and is now hitting .267/.337/.364 overall, he’s probably done enough to stay in the majors.  Tejada is batting .279/.350/.303 and provides solid glove-work at both second and short (he’s also the only available backup shortstop) despite hitting for no power whatsoever.  The team could go in a different direction and send down Jason Pridie, who has also cooled off and lost at bats (now hitting just .233/.295/.367), leaving the backup outfield responsibilities to Scott Hairston and Willie Harris (when he returns), or Lucas Duda, who is hitting .227/.284/.333 in limited at bats.  No matter who is sent down, wouldn’t you rather have David Wright?

Wright’s return also means a stronger batting order.  Angel Pagan could shift up to the two slot, while Wright/Murphy could bath cleanup/fifth and Jason Bay hitting sixth.  Obviously having Davis in the cleanup spot would be ideal, but Wright undoubtedly betters the lineup.

Of course, I’m banking on the fact that a healthy Wright means a productive Wright, and that he will put his early season struggles behind him.  But maybe that’s because I’m a little bit nostalgic for the Wright of old.  Maybe it’s because he is responsible for one of my favorite Shea Stadium moments…

It was July 9, 2006, the last game before the All Star break.  I attended that game against the Florida Marlins, hoping the Amazins could go into the break with a win.  The Mets jumped out to 3-0 lead in the fifth, but Tom Glavine and Chad Bradford allowed a total five runs (two unearned) to score in the sixth and seventh, putting the Mets in a hole.  After not scoring in the bottom of the seventh, the Mets came up in the eighth with a little bit of magic on the way.

Leadoff batter Jose Valentin (Reyes didn’t start due to an injury he suffered right before the break) drew a leadoff walk from Logan Kensing, followed by a bloop single to center field by Paul Lo Duca that center fielder Reggie Abercombie lost in the sun.  Beltran singled to drive in a run, followed by Carlos Delgado flying out.  Trailing by a run, Wright stepped up to the plate, hitless on the afternoon.  On a 1-2 pitch, Wright proceeded to belt a home run over the left field wall, giving the Mets the lead and sending the crowd into a frenzy.  As he circled the bases, “M-V-P” chants reigned down from the crowd.  The Mets went on to win the game 7-6 and I was a happy camper.

Wright is still capable of providing those type of moments.  When he returns from the DL, I have to believe he will receive somewhat of a hero’s welcome from the Citi Field crowd.  And hopefully, as he has done in the past, Wright will reward the fans by playing great baseball.