The Mets Are Above .500 -- Compliments Of David Wright
On Opening Day if someone had offered you a bet that after 41 games the Mets would have a better record than the Yankees, would you have taken it? I think you would. I would have taken it in a heartbeat. But after the Yankees' loss to Cincinnati yesterday in a dreary 5-2 game, and the Mets 6-5 victory over Toronto, the Amazins' are 22-19 to the Yankees' 21-20.
I don't think either record really reflects the relative strength of the two teams. The Yankees have now lost Michael Pineda and three key relievers to freak injuries, and Mark Teixiera is out perhaps indefinitely with a mysterious illness. The Mets are probably playing several games above their heads. At any rate, it's fairly easy to pinpoint the main reason that the Mets are 3 games over .500: David Wright, after going 2 for 4 yesterday, is batting .412.
But what happens if Wright cools off and ends up hitting, say, just a lousy .350? Wright is the closest thing the Mets have to a superstar, and, at age 29, making a pretty strong bid this season for the unofficial title of "Beat Everyday Player in Mets Team History" (think about it: this is his 9th season and his career batting average is .303. If he drives in more than 100 runs this season, it will be for the 6th time; Darryl Strawberry accomplished that only three seasons.).
So why am I thinking every time I see David Wright stroke another hit that he won't finish the season as a Met? It's beginning to look as if anyone who is a few games over .500 is going to be a contender in the NL East, and as long as the Mets maintain something like their current pace they will have to hold onto Wright. They can't justify trading him as long as there's a serious possibility that they can make the playoffs. But if they go into a tailspin and lose, say, 7 or 8 straight, then what would be the point into holding onto a $15 million salary?
The Wilpons can save money just by dumping Wright for a couple of "prospects." Or perhaps maybe even something better since he would be a heck of an insurance policy for a likely pennant contender - I'm thinking either the Cardinals or the Dodgers. Even if the Mets do hold him throughout the season, if they have lousy year after all, they would have little to look forward to in 2013 and a $16 mil price tag on Wright.
And would Wright have any reason to want to stay with the Mets? There aren't exactly a plethora of great third baseman out there -- along with catcher, third base has always been the hardest position to find a Hall of Famer at. And at the end of the 2013 season, Wright will be the only top flight third baseman under age 35 on the free agent market. He'll be worth his weight in platinum, and platinum is something the Mets have in short supply this decade.