David Wright And The Mets: The Game Of Chicken Has Begun

Somewhere between winning, money, reality, and the truth, lurk the Mets.  For now, regulate the fact New York City’s National League representatives are currently a penny pinching organization, and still operating at varying levels of financial instability.  We get that.  And David Wright gets that too.  That’s why if you take the third baseman’s words at face value, you should have picked-up on what he smacked down on the bargaining table.  David just laid the first preemptive brick in an intricate path which could possibly lead out of Flushing.

David Wright intimated that winning, and not necessarily money, will be a paramount factor determining where, and with whom, he will sign his next contract.  That is somewhat good news for Mr. Wilpon, but only if Sandy Alderson can convince Wright in time, things are quickly about to turn around for the better.  Then maybe, David Wright might cut Mr. Wilpon some slack on his asking price and move away from the unofficial Ryan Zimmerman launching pad.

Aug 4, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) walks back to the dugout after being called out on strikes during the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

…Or not.  Because once you exceed a certain dollar amount, what discount are we really talking about?  I mean, if David Wright really wanted to be a benevolent home town hero, his price tag should drop commensurate with his season batting average then?  No?  Well, if this was football, then maybe.  But such cost flexibility and productivity correlations do not exist in baseball.  In this sport, it’s pay up, or get out of the way.  See Jose Reyes.  In an open market system, there is no case to be made like in arbitration hearings, that promote or discredit past service and performance.  On the open market, none of that matters.  For almost all owners, if you want a player, free agency effectively means shut your mouth, cut the check, cross your fingers, and continue writing checks.

The affects of this dynamic are no different on David Wright and the Mets.  After hitting .389 in April; .347 in May; .340 in June; you might have figured out by now where I’m going with this.  David Wright only batted .255 in July, and is currently hitting .273 in August.  Since hitting his post-April zenith with a .415 batting average on May 21st, he has landed at a more realistic .323 mark.  Oh, but what a fall; ninety-two points to be exact, and dropping.  And like lemmings following one another, David’s OPS is officially now below 1.00, and his slugging and on-base percentage have dropped by nearly one-hundred points as well.  But that’s only a play on numbers, because David Wright, after all, continues slugging over .500, his OBP remains over the .400 mark, and he is still batting twenty-one points better than his career average.  So, at this point, fluctuations in his season are so inconsequential.

Now here’s the kicker.  Even if David Wright’s season continues to fall like a piano from the sky, as it has over the last month and a half, it doesn’t matter, price wise.  Does it?  But Tuesday night’s ninth inning, game winning three run home run by Jay Bruce, off Josh Edgin, does.  Why not believe another blown save is bad news for the Mets?  From this latest loss, and after too many similar meltdowns this season, one can deduce things aren’t going so well in contract negotiations then, if you’re taking David Wright at his word that is.  He knows very well what ails this team, and clearly understands the Front Office’s ability to fix the outfield, and the bullpen, either concurrently, otherwise, or not at all.  So if we are to gauge David Wright’s confidence the club can accomplish those two tasks, ask yourself as a fan first, if you too have the confidence the Mets can reconstruct the bullpen, and renovate the outfield by either this winter, or next season’s trade deadline.  Odds are David Wright and many fans are coming up with the same answer.  But I could be wrong.

What is true however, is that no later than Manny Acosta walking the lead-off batter Tuesday night in the ninth inning versus Cincinnati, that the game of Chicken between David Wright and the Mets had begun.


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