Mets David Wright Not a Golden Goose (Pt. 1)

As the hot stove league kicks into full gear, Mets third baseman David Wright has taken center stage as reports have the Anaheim Angels a potential trade partner. With centerfielder Peter Bourjos rumored to be on New York’s wish list along with a couple of pitching prospects, Mets fans seem to believe Wright, one of the better players in franchise history, is worth significantly more in return.

On Twitter, I’ve asked a number of followers why with answers ranging from “Wright is the Mets Derek Jeter” to “CITI Field has depressed his value”. With Mets fans screaming “The fence, the fence” much like “Tattoo” screamed “The plane, the plane” on “Fantasy Island”, it seems as if Wright’s return to the seven-to-eight win player he once was is just around the corner. And while I can somewhat buy the park being a factor in Wright’s diminishing returns, outfield fences have little to do with Wright’s -31.1 UZR over the past three seasons.

Even with Wright’s poor fielding, he has still been able to accumulate 9.5 WAR between 2009 and 2011. However, this leaves him sandwiched between Dodgers Casey Blake and Phillies Placido Polanco amongst true third baseman. This isn’t to say I’d prefer either to David Wright, but both Polanco and Blake earned 5.25 million in 2011 while Wright received more than two-and-a-half times as much.

And while both the Phillies and Dodgers are now looking for upgrades at the position, Wright is owed 15 million in 2012 before possibly hitting free agency the first time on the wrong side of his prime. Sure, this assessment may seem like I’m piling on the doom and gloom, but David Wright is a long ways away from the 27-plus WAR player who many viewed as a future Hall of Famer as recently as 2008.

When assessing Wright’s trade value, it’s important to view it in terms of his expected value versus how much his production will cost. And while Wright very well may rebound into a three-to-four win player, I’m still waiting for a piece to be written laying out a reasonable path to his returning to All-Star level or more.

Fellow Fangraphs writer Eno Sarris sums it up Wright’s BEST case scenario this way,

a rosy projection would have Wright worth about four wins a season for the next two, minus his $30ish million in salary (if he allows the second year option to be picked up despite the trade). Plus, the $5.5 million the compensation picks gives him about $15 million in surplus value. According to Victor Wang, that’s worth a top 51-75 hitter ($14.2 million plus inflation) or anywhere from a top ten pitcher to a top-50 pitcher ($15ish million).

At 30, does Wright allow his option to be picked up in lieu of what could potentially be a last chance at a multi-year deal? Maybe he pulls an Adrian Beltre, but it’s a risky proposition and would only happen if Wright posted a second consecutive disappointing season.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Peter Bourjos coming off a 4.3 WAR season as a 24-year old in Anaheim. The antithesis of David Wright, he’s an overachiever with little name value whose sum of the parts offset his not being supremely gifted in any one area. He’s the type of player the Fangraphs crowd loves, but the average Mets fan won’t be particularly excited about based on the .271/.327/.438 triple slash line.

However, a quick glance at the Mets’ organizational depth chart leaves many more questions than answers in centerfield at this point as injuries, inconsistency and questions leave the system without a surefire everyday prospect at the position.

Prior to injury, Kirk Nieuwenhuis was productive in triple-A buoyed by a .407 BABIP offsetting a nearly 27% strikeout rate. Of Mets centerfield prospects, he’s the only one I haven’t had the opportunity to scout in person except for the newly drafted Brandon Nimmo. Unfortunately, his season was cut short by labrum surgery of which he’s expected to be healthy by spring. He’s the closest to the show, but not without significant question marks going forward.

Between high-A and double-A, Matt Den Dekker combined for 17 HR and 24 steals while maintaining a .190+ ISO throughout. With a reputation for being an elite defensive centerfielder, the player I scouted in 2010 was more above average which is still quite an accomplishment. However, strikeouts are definitely a concern and spiked to nearly 30% against more age-appropriate competition. For me, Den Dekker is more of a fourth outfielder at his peak than an everyday player in center.

In high-A, Cesar Puello, a personal favorite and prospect who received dark horse top-100 consideration heading into 2011 spent time in centerfield after playing right for most of 2010. I applauded the move as Puello’s tools are good enough for him to have to be forced off of a premium position.

However, Puello stumbled to a sub-.300 on base percentage in the first half before a strong second half once again brought his overall stat line back to respectability. He has the highest upside of any outfielder in the system not named Brandon Nimmo, but his development could go in a number of directions leaving him far from a sure thing.

Of course Brandon Nimmo is eons away, but deserves a mention as Mets centerfielder of the future. Just 18, he’s the definition of a high upside talent, but will need considerable development time. With Peter Bourjos arbitration eligible for the first time after the 2014 season and under team control through 2017, Bourjos would function as a dependable bridge to Brandon Nimmo should the first round pick develop as planned.

In part two, I’ll wrap up this “twin killing” by looking at the pitching depth in the Mets organization and the roster flexibility the team has gained from minimum salaried big league options.




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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


105 Responses to “Mets David Wright Not a Golden Goose (Pt. 1)”

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  1. fjmanuel says:

    I care far more about his offensive struggles than his defensive ones, mostly because I don’t buy the veracity of his UZR

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Look, I am not sure I buy the veracity of it either. However, at what point does UZR force some sort of attention? For me, his being ranked the 2nd worst 3B in baseball the past three years with three consecutive -10 UZR seasons forced me to pay attention. I just don’t see how it can simply be shrugged off as happenstance.

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    • Matt K says:

      The numbers may not matter, but it’s clear that he’s not a good defensive 3bman. He never was, even when he was winning his gold gloves (what a joke).
      Honestly, he makes the spectacular plays, and i love that….but those routine throws… it’s almost like he has the yips…

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      • Russ says:

        Wright’s throwing improved when he returned from the DL. This is when he stopped throwing everything side-armed.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Even his spectacular plays are because he has poor range and takes poor routes. I feel like he won gold gloves based on that ridiculous one handed bare hand fly dive grab. I say ridiculous because he took a poor route and made a dumb decision, was just athletic enough to make the play. He’s not a good defender with or without a good throw.

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    • NS says:

      You don’t have to buy UZR. Every metric we have rates him similarly.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        This. Over the last 3 years, UZR has him at -31.1, BIS’s DRS has him at -30, and Total Zone has him at -36. Total Zone w/ Location numbers aren’t out for 2011 yet, but they were in live with everything else in 2009-2010.

        Also: eyeballs, experts, scouts, etc.

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      • fjmanuel says:

        when BIS incorporates positioning into it’s data, that isn’t already heavily biased by reporting error and other factors, then I’ll pay more heed.

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    • Someanalyst says:

      UZR is not bad for the 3-yr sample. No way a -31.1UZR over 3 seasons is not a significantly below average fielder at 3B.

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  2. Colin says:

    Mets fans need to wake up. Getting Peter Bourjos and pitching prospects while dumping Wright’s salary would be an absolute steal.

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    • DNL says:

      I’m a Mets fan. And I agree.

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    • Evan_S says:

      Let’s see how good Bourjos is when his BABIP drops. A .338 BABIP with 16% LD%, he’s keeping that up. I’ll keep Dubs, the Wilpon’s money issues are temporary, and Wright will be as valuable as Bourjos.

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    • MC says:

      I agree that the Mets have to trade Wright, but I’m not sure Bourjous is the answer…he’s coming off 1 good season. He’s similar to Pagan and Pagan actually came off a better season last year.

      I would rather have someone with more upside and a better overall hitter like Domonic Brown, though I’m not sure where they’d put him and how valid those rumors were.

      My point I guess is, I think this guy is too similar to Pagan, and the pitching prospects would have to be very good to make this trade work for me.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Domonic Brown for David Wright? That wouldn’t happen in a million years. Honestly, I’m not even sure Bourjos-Plus is a realistic expectation of return here considering what Adrian Gonzalez netted last off-season

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    • Syler says:

      No, it wouldn’t.

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  3. David P. says:

    What, that his UZR undersells just how poor he’s been at third? That said, I agree with you that the offensive struggles are of a concern going forward. Unfortunately, I am of the opinion that Wright’s already peaked. He is still relatively young, but his production’s been depressed from his 2006-2008 peak for three seasons now. His declining range, combined with his always fringe-average arm and injuries, mean that the most likely trajectory for his defensive future at third is regression. Offensively, I just don’t think he’s the same player and I doubt that he will be going forward. I think he’ll still be a 3 to 4 WAR player for a few more years (which is valuable), but I don’t think we’ll see him have 6 to 9 WAR seasons going forward. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, as he’s one of my favorite Mets ever, but I don’t see why it would be such a catastrophe to trade him while he still retains value. If comparable value is available, and it works within the framework of what Alderson et al. wish to build going forward, then why would TRAIDING DAIVID WRONGZ be such a disastuh, bro?

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      The Citi Field argument is particularly specious. It’s not power that he’s had a problem with. Look at his 2010-2011 peripherals compared to his 2005-2009 numbers:
      bases per hit: 1.67 -> 1.74
      BABIP: .349 -> .322
      K%: 17.7% -> 23.1%
      BB%: 11.8% -> 10.8%
      linedrive%: 23.9 % -> 18.6 %
      HR/FB%: 14.0 % -> 14.1 %

      Everything has declined except the power.

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      • Zen Madman says:

        Except that 2009 was played at Citi Field, so your numbers are off. He only hit 10 HRs in 2009, so that’s going to skew the stats a lot. Also, he visibly changed his approach following the 2009 season (perhaps as a result of Citi), and not for the better.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        Honestly, I thought Citi opened in 2010. Oops. Blame the fact that my team plays in the other league.

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  4. bender says:

    “The antithesis of David Wright, he’s an overachiever with little name value whose sum of the parts offset his not being supremely gifted in any one area.”
    You don’t consider a UZR/150 of +19 in CF to be supremely gifted?

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    • Mike Newman says:

      You make a valid point, but I was looking at defense from 201l when looking at the sum of Bourjos’ parts. I am honestly not sure what to make of his crazy UZR totals from 2010 in which he seems to have roamed centerfield on a magic carpet.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      No poop.

      I love the graphic where the average centerfielder’s range is shaded in red and Borkjous’s is shaded in blue (or vice versa). Putting it another way, he makes other centerfielders look slow.

      He’s pretty amazing.

      I don;t understand where the idea comes that Borjous isn’t supremely gifted, as if one can be that much better than other CF defensively accidently or just through work. I don’t see how he’s an over-achiever, either. I think the case could be made that we over-value one aspect of baseball, while under-valuing another. Just so happens that Borjous is the best at one of the most under-valued aspects.

      I also don;t understand why CF defense is being under-valued. You’d think the team that acquired Torii Hunter would understand the importance of a strong defensive CF. To a lesser degree you’d think they’d understand the vlaue of that while being under a team-controlled contract, with another strong defensive player potentially playing to his right.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Excellent points CircleChange. Part of my labeling him an over-achiever is the simple fact he wasn’t exactly highly ranked within the organization and not very highly regarded. He has been bantered about as a secondary piece in deals for quite awhile and few really expected him to produce this way.

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  5. NM says:

    As a Mets fan it’s going to be painful seeing Wright go anywhere, but for the better of the future of the team, I’d easily do Wright for Bourjos+. Even if you think Wright could be a 3 to 4 WAR player moving forward, I think Bourjos could match that (4.3 this year), and he’s getting paid nothing and is under team control through 2016.

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    • NM says:

      And I should add, while I’m sure some people are skeptical of Bourjos being a +10 or better defender in CF, know that he’s always been touted as a near-80 glove at the position. Doubt it’s just small sample noise.

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    • Yeah, the attachement to Wright is pretty much sentimental at this point, Bourjos is cheap, and has at least a coin flip’s chance of being better than Wright in 2012 and 2013. Plus, the Mets have MLB ready 3B options (Murphy, Lutz). That said, trading Wright will suck personally for me, but we probably have to accept that the next Mets playoff team will be lead by Davis and Harvey, not Wright and Reyes.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Perhaps more importantly, Bourjos’s skill set is classically undervalued in arbitration, so he’s likely to remain a huge bargain throughout his arbitration years.

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  6. Eminor3rd says:

    Citi Field is in his head. Seems like as good of a change-of-scenery candidate as I’ve ever seen.

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  7. Matt says:

    I’m a Mets fan and I’d take Bourjos for Wright in a second. But would DiPoto?

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  8. Brad Johnson says:

    I assume that Wright will decline his right to opt out of the 2013 year for a nominal fee. I kind of assume that the clause was added as a limited no-trade function and to extract a relocation fee.

    If I was a high level player, I certainly would require any contract to include a relocation fee, either explicit or – as in this case – implied.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Brad, I think it comes down to his production in 2012. If he’s dealt and rebounds, he will probably look for what could be a final long term deal. If he were to struggle, he will probably take the option and allow himself another year to rebound at an awfully good salary.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Honestly, were I making a trade to acquire him, I would force him to make his decision now. Even if it takes a $3 million “fee” for him to give up that year (and the Mets probably end up on the hook for that anyway), it has a huge impact on Wright’s value to another team. Two years of Wright sounds a lot more worthwhile of a Bourjos + package than one year.

        A large market team like the Angels might simply want to extend Wright as part of the trade. Much like Santana or Halladay in recent years.

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  9. VCarver says:

    It’s reasonable to think that Wright’s struggles at the plate since the team moved to Citi Field may have also impacted his fielding. Obviously, players shouldn’t let their woes in one part of their game impact another part, but since the game is very much mental as much as anything, it happens.

    I would also think Wright’s UZR in 2011 was severely impacted by fielding his position for weeks with a broken back — and then being tentative when fielding after coming back from that same injury after it had mostly healed.

    At any rate, it would make the most sense for the Mets to see first how the change in Citi’s dimensions impact Wright before giving up on him. His decline in fielding and OPS occurred exactly at the same time the Mets moved into the new park. Too much of a coincidence to be unrelated.

    I believe Wright for the next 3-4 years will return to at least a 5-6 WAR player. Bourjos is a talented player but it remains to be seen if he reaches 5-6 WAR annually over the next few years. I would bet Wright will be the superior player for the foreseeable future, and I would not trade him now if I were Alderson.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Believing is fine, but I still can’t find a statistical path for it to be possible. Quite simply, he’s at the end of his prime, strikes out more and fields less than he did when he was a franchise cornerstone.

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      • VCarver says:

        Well, we don’t know that for sure, right? It remains to be seen how his game was impacted by Citi Field and other factors such as concussion and a broken back during the last 3 years.

        I predict he will outWAR Bourjos over the next 3 years. By a significant amount.

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      • VCarver says:

        At any rate, we will find out soon whether Citi’s new dimensions change the player, because I highly doubt Alderson trades him this winter. If nothing else, the fan base won’t like him trading away players that have recently put up numbers like Wright did as recently as 2010. Obviously some fans won’t mind. But the I think the majority will.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Wright very well may out WAR Bourjos, but the point is 4ish WAR at 15 million/year is much less valuable than 4ish WAR at the league minimum.

      An even bigger point of the piece is that Wright’s trade value simply isn’t that much at present.

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      • VCarver says:

        The problem is that you seem to assume the Mets need to get the highest cost-efficiency out of every position. Sure they have had financial woes, but their budget for 2012 will be 100-110 million. They are not the Royals who may need to shed less cost-efficient contracts even if they are more productive ones.

        So simply saying a 4 WAR at XYZ amount is less productive than a 4 WAR at minimum is not terribly relevant here, especially if one believes (as many do) that Wright will bounce back to pre-2008 levels when the dimensions are changed at Citi, and will thus likely be much more productive than Bourjos.

        The Yankees have some of the least cost-effective players in the majors right now, but jettisoning some of those players might not be the best route if you’re going to get a downgrade overall on the team.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Show me one of the “many” who believe Wright will rebound to the pre-2008 years who can back it with statistical evidence and I’ll send them some Omaha Steaks for the holidays.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        VCarver, why would a team who isn’t going to compete for the playoffs in 2012 NOT want the best cost efficiency possible? I’d rather see the Mets sell on Wright or whoever to free up spots for kids AND potentially shift savings to signing Wheeler/Harvey/Niese to long term extensions early on similar to what the Rays have done with their young arms.

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      • VCarver says:

        Mike, Mark Simon of ESPN, Alderson, and Ted Berg (a blogger) are just 3 examples of the many people surrounding or following the team who believe Wright will benefit from the new dimensions. See below for quotes and links:
        ==================

        “Give any hitter seven more hits and two fewer outs and check out the wonders it will do for his stat line and his confidence. That’s something the Mets management should keep in mind when they try to figure out the right (or Wright) thing to do with their ballpark’s dimensions.” –Mark Simon

        http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/12002/david-wright-empathizes-with-justin-morneau

        “But at the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spend half its time there, as opposed to a team that comes in there for three games, doesn’t really have to alter an approach or think about it too much, and leaves.” –Alderson

        http://www.nj.com/mets/index.ssf/2011/09/mets_general_manager_sandy_ald_5.html

        “Alderson said the ballpark should lie roughly in the middle of NL stadiums in terms of homer friendliness after the changes. He added that there should be a disproportionate benefit to the Mets from the perspective that home players may have been psychologically deflated by the imposing previous dimensions, which included a 16-foot wall in left-field and a right-center alley that measured 415 feet.”

        http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/7174665/new-york-mets-officially-announce-citi-field-dimension-changes

        “One high-ranking front office insider said that, when Citi Field’s new dimensions were being considered, “there was a lot of discussion about Wright,” and how it would help him. Wright hit 14 home runs last season, in an injury-shortened year. The Mets expect the new homer-friendlier field to boost his value far higher than it is right now. The team’s top decision-makers view it as illogical to deal Wright before he has the chance to benefit from the alterations.”

        http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/ny-mets-gm-sandy-alderson-bowled-trade-baseman-david-wright-article-1.973132#ixzz1d3dpZnSK

        “If the Mets believe the Citi Field walls had some effect on their hitters beyond those that can be measured — the psychological or mechanical ones so often suggested, for example — then it makes no sense to trade the hitter most obviously impacted by those walls before he can even play in the reconfigured stadium … But I mean, look at the back of the baseball card. Wright was amazingly consistent from 2005 to 2008. There’s no obvious reason he should suddenly lose his power and start striking out way more at age 26. And don’t tell me it’s the Matt Cain fastball, either — Wright was having a very strange 2009 long before that happened.”

        http://www.tedquarters.net/2011/11/07/this-so-hard/

        =======================

        Mike, while certainly not unanimous, there is a large group of people who closely follow the team and believe that Citi and its huge dimensions have been detrimental to Wright.

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      • VCarver says:

        “VCarver, why would a team who isn’t going to compete for the playoffs in 2012 NOT want the best cost efficiency possible?”

        I disagree with this assumptions which forms the basis of your opinion for trading Wright.

        Personally, the Mets were on the periphery of the WC race this year but with injuries to Davis, Wright and Reyes, just couldn’t get over the hump. So assuming all 3 are healthy next season, there is no reason they couldn’t at least be very competitive. And we all saw what happened this year with the D-Backs and the Cards’ unexpected run to the title. In baseball, it’s not hard to turn a team around quickly, or to make unexpected runs, and it happens with frequency.

        In terms of Alderson, I’m not convinced he believes the Mets can’t be competitive in 2012 or has given up on the season. I talk more about that below in relation to Joel Sherman’s stories.

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      • VCarver says:

        Mike, I posted the below information with links, but it got held up in moderation. So I am reposting this without the links …

        Mark Simon of ESPN, Alderson, and Ted Berg (a blogger) are just 3 examples of the many people surrounding or following the team who believe Wright will benefit from the new dimensions. See below for quotes and links:
        ==================

        “Give any hitter seven more hits and two fewer outs and check out the wonders it will do for his stat line and his confidence. That’s something the Mets management should keep in mind when they try to figure out the right (or Wright) thing to do with their ballpark’s dimensions.” –Mark Simon

        “But at the same time, I think there is some sense that the park is a little more overwhelming to a team that spend half its time there, as opposed to a team that comes in there for three games, doesn’t really have to alter an approach or think about it too much, and leaves.” –Alderson

        “Alderson said the ballpark should lie roughly in the middle of NL stadiums in terms of homer friendliness after the changes. He added that there should be a disproportionate benefit to the Mets from the perspective that home players may have been psychologically deflated by the imposing previous dimensions, which included a 16-foot wall in left-field and a right-center alley that measured 415 feet.” –Adam Rubin

        “One high-ranking front office insider said that, when Citi Field’s new dimensions were being considered, “there was a lot of discussion about Wright,” and how it would help him. Wright hit 14 home runs last season, in an injury-shortened year. The Mets expect the new homer-friendlier field to boost his value far higher than it is right now. The team’s top decision-makers view it as illogical to deal Wright before he has the chance to benefit from the alterations.”
        –Andy Martino

        “If the Mets believe the Citi Field walls had some effect on their hitters beyond those that can be measured — the psychological or mechanical ones so often suggested, for example — then it makes no sense to trade the hitter most obviously impacted by those walls before he can even play in the reconfigured stadium … But I mean, look at the back of the baseball card. Wright was amazingly consistent from 2005 to 2008. There’s no obvious reason he should suddenly lose his power and start striking out way more at age 26. And don’t tell me it’s the Matt Cain fastball, either — Wright was having a very strange 2009 long before that happened.”
        –Ted Berg

        =======================

        Mike, while certainly not unanimous, there is a large group of people who closely follow the team and believe that Citi and its huge dimensions have been detrimental to Wright.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        With the quotes, I always struggle to take snippets from people who WORK for the organization at face value. What is somebody in the front office going to say?

        “Yeah, that Wright guy took a big dump because he’s just not the guy he once was.”

        “David Wright is a bad fielder because…well…I don’t know? Maybe he’s just not that good.”

        “At one point, David Wright was a great hitter, but we are going to play up the field dimensions angle because we want to goat another team into paying top dollar for his services.”

        The “truthiness” of a front office exec. when it comes to his or her players value is always something to be questioned. It’s their job to be tight lipped, tow the company line AND SAY THINGS TO MAXIMIZE THE VALUE OF THEIR ASSETS.

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      • VCarver says:

        1) Mike, why would Alderson be pushing for the fence changes — in his first year as GM — if he didn’t believe it would have a big impact on the team? After all, money is tight with the Mets and these fence changes are pretty huge, changing the distances and height of the walls in virtually every section of the OF. I’m guessing these changes will cost millions of dollars (as they are also adding new seats), money that could be spent on bullpen arms or other needs in a year in which money is tight. So it would make zero sense to do the changes unless he felt they will really make a difference. The Mets are not in a position to just throw money around without expecting a return.

        2) If you looked at Martino’s article, some of the quotes from the front office are anonymous. They didn’t need to say anything at all. But they offered up to Martino their belief that the change in dimensions will impact Wright a lot.

        3) You only asked for one name right? Well in addition to Alderson, I gave you Simon and Berg, neither of whom work for the team and can say anything they want.

        That’s OK. We can agree to disagree. You can continue to believe the Mets are spending millions to bring in the fences without any expectation the changes are going to help Wright and the hitters a lot. I’m just proving to you that it’s not just a few Mets fans on twitter or fangraphs who believe Citi’s dimensions have negatively impacted Wright (and other hitters).

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      • Mike Newman says:

        VCarver,

        You are pretty caught up in the black and white here. I concede there are many shades of gray to David Wright’s struggles and the fence is one of those. However, in acknowledging the shades of gray, I also understand multiple things need to go right for Wright to recover his previous value BEYOND simply bringing in the fence. Odd are some adjustments will go well while others will not bringing him back to the level of a 3-4 win player. For me to see a potential for more, you simply can’t tie his build, defense, hitting ability, injuries, age, etc. to the fence dimensions like it’s a cure all.

        Everybody and their mother thought Adrian Gonzalez would show off crazy power with a move to Fenway from PETCO. 2011 marked his lowest home run total since becoming a regular.

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      • VCarver says:

        Mike, I’m not sure where you are getting this “black and white” thing from. Nowhere did I say the park dimensions were the only reason for Wright’s decline – just that they were a significant factor. I also believe health issues were at work – the broken back in 2011, and the concussion in 2009. I also believe hitting in lineups depleted of players who were frequently on the DL was also a factor.

        So, assuming Wright’s back is fully healed in 2012 – and there is no reason to believe it won’t be – and assuming the rest of the lineup stays relatively healthy, all 3 of those hurdles to performance should be gone or substantially reduced in 2012.

        So, no, I am not saying nor have I ever said the fences are a “cure-all.” Nor am I saying he will definitely become a 5-6 WAR player again. However, I do think it’s reasonable to think he can achieve that level again. I would much rather wait to see if that player emerges again than take a chance that Bourjos can reach that level.

        As for Adrian Gonzalez, I think you’re missing the fact that this season his BA was the highest ever for his career, as was his OBP. Meanwhile, his SLG and OPS were both just a smidgen below the highest of his career. So it seems like his approach at the plate may have changed somewhat. Didn’t he have multiple nagging injuries this year? Maybe that is why he changed his approach. Regardless, his numbers were overall every bit as good as those in SD. You also have to think that since it was a new league, team, city and park, that once he becomes more acclimated and knows the pitchers better, he might do even better his second year. We all saw how Crawford struggled his first year in Boston so it’s not far-fetched to believe that Gonzalez also need time to acclimate. So I’m not taking A-Gon’s first year in Boston as proof of anything.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Wright will be in his 30s for the next 3-4 years and hasn’t been that kind of player in a while. I think “hope” is a better word than “believe” like “I hope Chipper Jones plays 145 games next year”

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      • VCarver says:

        Quite an exaggeration. Over the next 4 seasons, Wright will be 29, 30, 31, and 32, still considered to be prime years for a baseball player, if not peak years.

        There is no hope that one can reverse the age of a 40-year-old Chipper Jones. His decline is inevitable.

        There is a reasonable belief, however, that the sudden decline in Wright which coincided directly with a move to a huge stadium can be reversed to a large extent by bringing the walls in to make it a neutral park.

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  10. VCarver says:

    Juan Lagares should at least be mentioned in a discussion of prospective centerfielders for the Mets. While he might be best suited as a corner outfielder, I think for short-term needs he can certainly fit the bill.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      I’ve scouted Lagares extensively and would disagree. He’s a good athlete, but not a burner who made poor reads – even in an easier position like left field.

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      • VCarver says:

        When did you see him play CF? Since he’s a converted infielder with little time in the outfield prior to recent years, is it possible his fielding has improved in 2011 with more time there?

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    • Mike Newman says:

      I lived in Savannah and had the opportunity to see Lagares play the outfield 50? times across all three slots between 2009-2010.

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      • VCarver says:

        Well there ya go, Mike. Lagares just converted over from SS in 2009, so that year was likely to be ugly in the outfield. 2010 was just his second year playing the OF. Don’t you think by now he might have improved considerably in the OF?

        And, no, I’m not saying he’ll ever be as good as Bourjos defensively or a gold glover by any means. But if he can play a passable CF, his bat may be enough to allow him to man the position for a few years at least.

        The point being that perhaps the Mets CF needs are not as dire as some think — with Den Dekker, Neiuwenhuis, and Lagares all in the mix in the near future. And Nimmo and Vaughn at the lower levels of the farm system.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Well there ya go? I’ve probably seen Den Dekker and Lagares more than any other baseball writer not named Toby Hyde who actually works for the Savannah franchise.

        May I ask how many times you’ve seen Den Dekker and Lagares play in person? To simply say he’s a converted SS so he essentially gets a pass is a head scratcher. Lagares is a hit tool which offsets poor pitch recognition, average speed, and little more.

        I’m familiar with the back story, the injuries and the fact he brought his prospect status back from the dead and applaud him for it.

        However, I wouldn’t want him manning centerfield in A-Ball and neither did the Mets as he spent his time in right. He’s in CF in Arizona which I’m all for given the idea prospects should be FORCED from the middle of the diamond due to defensive limitations and that didn’t happen with Lagares. Plus, his bat really ONLY plays at a premium defensive position or he will be relegated to tweener status.

        As for Den Dekker, I already explained his limitations. Like I said in the piece, there’s not a true everyday centerfielder in the system IMO other than Nimmo who is eons away.

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      • VCarver says:

        I don’t doubt you’ve seen the Mets minor leaguers much more than anyone not named Hyde. My only point is that you haven’t seen Lagares in the OF since 2010, a year in which he was injured a lot. So combined with the fact 2009 was the first year he played the OF professionally, you probably haven’t seen him at his best defensively.

        Do you not think it is possible that he’s improved between the time you last saw him and now …. to the point where he plays at least a decent centerfield? So, no, I’m not giving him a pass. I’m just throwing out the possibility he may be a somewhat more polished fielder at this point than the last time you saw him.

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      • acerimusdux says:

        I probably saw both Lagares and den Dekker 15+ times last year in St. Lucie (both only spent half the season there), and I agree with Mike here.

        Lagares has some potential as an offensive bench bat, will need to improve power and plate discipline to ever have a shot to start in a corner OF spot.

        Den Dekker plays good defense, but strikes out too much at this point to think he will handle MLB pitching. He probably needs another year in the minors to continue to adjust to higher level pitching, and might end up not too much more than a Jason Pridie type.

        Kirk Nieuwenhuis is the a guy I think you could get away with playing CF some time next year, and I think he might be better than Pagan was in 2011, but in the long run I think he would eventually end up in a corner.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        VCarver,

        This is what player projection is all about. After scouting Lagares extensively, I project him to be a corner outfielder without enough bat to truly profile at a corner. This comes from taking what I saw, envisioning how his skill set will eventually play at the big league level based off of other prospects and players I’ve seen.

        Yes, Lagares is probably a better defensive outfielder than when I saw him in 2010. However, I project his ultimate defensive ability to fall short of what is needed to be a centerfielder and am comfortable with that. Overall, I have a pretty decent track record when it comes to identifying that sort of thing.

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      • VCarver says:

        Mike, I really respect your experience and background. However, since you saw Lagares only when he was relatively new to playing in the OF, you were projecting off of skills that might have grown since then. I just don’t know how you can be confident that projection is still valid.

        Also, my original point was that Lagares could be a backup or temp CF solution, especially if they retain Pagan which looks like what they are going to do. He would add to their depth at that position, making a Bourjos trade not that important.

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  11. Dunston says:

    I think the average Mets fan has good reason to be wary of a slap-hitting centerfielder whose value (according to Fangraphs) predominantly comes from his defense – that sounds an awful lot like Angel Pagan to me. As frustrating as Pagan can be at times (and I’m a big supporter of him), he’s also arbitration eligible this year, and I would be shocked if the Mets didn’t extend him for one more year in the 5-million range.

    Not to mention that trading Wright for Bourjos would also create a much bigger hole at 3B for the Mets – for all of his struggles in the field over the last 3 years, he’s still one of the top hitting third basemen in the majors (from 2009-11, he’s sixth overall in wRC), and no one in the Mets farm system is close to being ready at 3B. Unless you’re sold on Daniel Murphy being able to bounce back from major knee surgery and stay healthy, I think trading Wright for a CF, even a cheap one, creates more holes than it solves.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Bourjos can be had for 1/10th of Pagan. That money could be redistributed while moving Murphy over to third base.

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      • VCarver says:

        I think you take a hit on both defense and offense with Murphy at third vs. Wright. And while Bourjos has more upside than Pagan, Angel did put up a 5.5 WAR in 2010, which is higher than what Bourjos produced this year. So at least for the short-term, the Mets get worse with that trade scenario, IMO.

        The Mets are not so cash-strapped that they have to emulate the Royals and look for the highest cost-efficiency at every position.

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      • Dunston says:

        But the value of Bourjos doesn’t make Pagan expendable. Depending on whether or not you think Pagan will bounce back to his 2010 form (when he was “worth” 21.8 million), he’s still a cheap centerfielder that the Mets have under contract right now. By acquiring Bourjos, the Mets would have to non-tender Pagan or trade him when his value is at the absolute lowest, and entrust 3B to an injury-prone player coming off an injury.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      VCarver,

      Pagan was great in 2010! not so much in 2011 and do the Mets want to risk a repeat at 5 million? For me, it’s a toss up in the grand scheme of things.

      It’s not that I disagree with anything you are saying (although I don’t know how one can rate much worse at defense than Wright has over the past three seasons), but you are playing for 2012 and I’m already conceding the Mets won’t be in contention and should make moves for 2013-2014 when Wheeler and Harvey are ready to potentially anchor a rotation.

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      • VCarver says:

        You can’t give up on any season in NY unless absolutely necessary, and it’s not necessary the Mets do that next year. They don’t need to trade Wright and concede 2012. In terms of how the Mets front office feels about the team’s chances for 2012, I know you’re probably going off the quotes in the NY media by the likes of Joel Sherman, but you really have to consider the source there. Not only does Sherman have a poor record for legitimate sourcing of his stories, but it seems rather unprofessional that anyone in the Mets front office would have said those things to Sherman of all people. Sherman may have talked with someone who works for the Mets, but I would be shocked if it is anyone close to Alderson, Depodesta or Ricciardi. It is probably some lower level assistant at best.

        Anything can happen in baseball as the D-Backs proved this year and the Cards proved with their unexpected run to the title. The Mets were on the periphery of this year’s wildcard race but couldn’t overcome injuries to Davis, Wright and Reyes. If they remain relatively healthy next year, they can be competitive.

        I think some of the arms may be ready to help the Mets by mid-season.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        VCarver,

        in part 2, I’ll be pointing out some reasons why a Wright deal would potentially be a good thing. I honestly don’t read the New York media at all. I pulled that trade rumor off of a site and just listened to Mets fans talking about it on Twitter.

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      • VCarver says:

        Mike, but those trade/Mets rumors that you pulled from a site ALL come from the NY media — most specifically Joel Sherman and the NY Post who are notorious for their poorly sourced articles and hazy super anonymous potentially fictitious sources. So you — and many others — are essentially basing your opinions on what may likely be pure (or mostly) fiction. Makes for great banter and debate, but if the underlying assumptions aren’t true, then the opinions are moot or weak. For example, it’s highly debatable and doubtful whether Alderson feels the 2012 Mets won’t be competitive and has already given up on the season. This is what Sherman is reporting Mets officials believe and have told him. At the very least, it’s irresponsible and unprofessional for anyone in the Mets organization with real authority to tell this to a reporter because it will depress ticket sales if Mets fans believe stars will be dealt and there is nothing to play for in 2012. I just don’t believe this happened.

        It’s relevant because the only way trading Wright for Bourjos makes sense is if the Mets believed there was no chance to be competitive in 2012.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Wherever the rumor came from, it’s a great starting point when discussing Wright’s trade value. I think the Mets know they aren’t really going to compete in 2012 – especially if they can’t sign Reyes. They just don’t have the horses.

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      • VCarver says:

        Again, Mike, I disagree about what Alderson & company believe about the Mets chances in 2012. If you want to believe Joel Sherman and the NY Post, knock yourself out. But I’ll wait till I hear it from a journalist or publication with a better track record than them before I believe that story.

        They had the horses this year to compete for the WC until 3 of them got hurt.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        VCarver, the D’Backs had a talented young offense, a talented young rotation, and played in a winnable division where the previous winner’s best position player went down early. The Mets have an older team without as many cheap players with key players either possibly leaving or being expensive and older and they play in the same division as the Phillies and Braves, as well as the “on the rise” nationals and the Marlins who are supposedly adding 15M to their payroll and getting Josh Johnson back. It’s a lost season. The D’Backs were a surprise but not THAT much of a surprise given their extremely talented young offensive core and division.

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      • VCarver says:

        Sorry, but the D-Backs lost more games than the Mets in 2010. No one predicted they would do as well as even the Mets in 2011.

        And don’t talk about the D-Back’s offense as being superior. The Mets had the third best wRC+ in the NL. The D-Backs were 6th.

        For you to say that the D-Backs were not “THAT” much of a surprise in 2011 is pure 20-20 hindsight and comical. A year ago, not a soul would have predicted they end up anyplace but last or next to last in their division.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        It’s not about Joel Sherman. it’s about assessing the roster on it’s strengths and weaknesses and going from there. At this point, the Mets don’t have the pitching to compete with the Phillies or Braves. If this were the NL West like Bananas pointed out, I might take a different view. Unfortunately, it’s the best division in the National League and their rotation simply can’t compete over 162 with other teams in the division except the Marlins.

        Add to this the probably loss of Jose Reyes and what’s left is a 3-4-5 of Wright/Ike/Bay? That middle of the order scares absolutely nobody.

        At best, I view this roster as one battling to simply be .500 which falls far short of the pace the Braves and Phillies should set.

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      • VCarver says:

        I think it’s reasonable to expect the Phillies pitching to decline at least a little next year, since they probably won’t have Oswalt, and Halladay and Lee are moving well past 30. The braves rotation and entire roster is very much in flux so no one knows how that team will come together.

        Seeing how the Mets were able to hang around the periphery of the WC race this year even with extensive injuries to Wright, Davis and Reyes, I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to again be competitive next season if they stayed healthy. Especially since Ryan Howard may be out for the first half of 2012.

        We saw with the Cards and Rangers this year that you always don’t have to have elite pitching to compete or win.

        The Mets also had the most runs scored and best wRC+ in the division this year, and third best in the NL. So their offense was better than both the Phillies and Braves. With better team health next year and new park dimensions, I think that offense could get better – with or without Reyes.

        In terms of the middle of the order, it would be a mixture of Wright-Bay-Davis-Duda-Murphy. Most of those players formed the basis for the offense that was division-best this year. And Davis, before he got hurt, had a .391 wOBA. He’s a very good hitter.

        Sure I’m looking at things optimistically. But then I think you are taking an overly pessimistic stance.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Dunston, at 24, I wouldn’t call 49 XBH from a speed/defense centerfielder “slap hitting”.

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  12. Greg says:

    David Wright claims that his range has slipped the past few years because he’s put on extra muscle mass to compensate for the ballpark. I know fangraphs readers are generally not big believers in how big of an impact a ballpark can have on a player mentally, but just look at David Wright’s walk rates and fly ball rates on the road vs. at home. He’s much more aggressive and hits way more fly balls on the road.

    I think park factors don’t do David Wright justice because he’s always been a power frequency guy and not a raw power guy. For example, Ike Davis is probably only going to be a 20-25 HR guy but when he gets a hold of one, he absolutely demolishes it. An extra few feet of fences brought in will barely affect him, but it could mean a lot to a guy like Wright who flies out to the warning track quite often.

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    • VCarver says:

      Excellent point about the muscle mass and workouts. That would make sense given how many believe the park caused Wright to change his swing and approach at the plate, which is what’s messed him up. I can see where he would have increased his workouts to compensate for the greater distances of the walls at Citi, and how that could have a negative impact on fielding.

      I’m thrilled that Alderson decided to change Citi’s dimensions and I look forward to seeing how the changes impact Wright.

      I think the larger dimensions will help Ike, Bay and Duda as well.

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    • vivalajeter says:

      “For example, Ike Davis is probably only going to be a 20-25 HR guy but when he gets a hold of one, he absolutely demolishes it.”

      This is something that I just don’t understand. If he has so much power that he demolishes the ball – and he has definitely hit a number of moonshots – why can’t he hit more than 20-25 HRs? Is it a matter of him being a ‘guess’ hitter? When he guesses right, it’s a bomb, but when he guesses wrong it’s a swing-and-miss?

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      • Greg says:

        You have it basically correct. He has a lot of uppercut in his swing and doesn’t make a ton of solid contact because of it. It’s not a frequent occurrence for him to barrel the ball, but when he does…watch out.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      Greg,

      I’m much more open to this line of thinking as my background is more scouting than numbers. Anybody who played baseball – even in little league – remembers muscling up and trying to hit home runs at the local park with a shorter fence.

      However, the park argument concedes many balls being in play here and we can’t possibly expect them all to bounce the right way. Lesser defense, concussions, back injury, high K rate, age, etc. etc. all play a factor.

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      • Greg says:

        I’m not sure exactly how to put my response in paragraph form, so I guess I’ll just do a little point by point reply:

        Lesser defense: David Wright claims his range has slipped from adding muscle mass to compensate for the ballpark

        Concussions: that issue appears to be behind him now, but if he gets hit again it would be a very serious concern. That is a fair point.

        Back injury: that was on a freak accident where he dove into 3B while on defense to try to tag the runner out, and has since healed completely. I don’t think it’s a concern at all.

        High k rate: this goes along with the changes to his swing he’s done to adjust to the ballpark. In 2010 he started to pull the ball much more and his batted ball distance increased, and in 2009 he tried to be Jose Reyes. His K rate drastically dropped this year down into the 14% range once he came off the DL with a swing more similar to the one he had in 2008 once it was apparent the Mets were going to change their dimensions.

        Age: a fair concern. He probably only has 3-5 more years where he has a realistic shot at 4-5+ WAR.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Greg, my point is that it seems at least a decent percentage of Mets fans expect things to simply click again for Wright like the last three years never happened. For a number of reasons, I just can’t buy into it. I’m just not willing to overlook three years of 3 WAR average production and simply believe he’ll produce twice that because of field dimensions. Nothing in baseball is that simple.

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  13. Barbara Schriebman says:

    If Jerry is as good a man, as I “feel”, he will absolutely turn this down and not Trumbo either.
    Trumbo may not have a high OBP but doesn’t he deserve a chance to improve? Texas doesn’t trade their youth. If healthy, I like Wright. But it is a salary dump. After Wells, the Angels can’t afford this, especially with the only bright spots!

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  14. Melkman says:

    Nobody has made the point that they would be trading an established middle of the order run producer for a 7(?) hole hitter. I mean you can’t bat him leadoff right? 327 OBP and 22.5 K%? If Reyes is gone too what type of batting order are we looking at here? Bourjos(8), Murphy(4), Davis(3), Bay(7), Duda(9), Turner(5), Thole(2), Tejada(6).

    Possible Turner and maybe Murphy would be replaced, but with the mets planning on shedding 30$ mil more, who are we really talking about adding here?

    Fan reaction should count for something, they will be pissed off at losing the faces of their franchise who were home-grown. Everybody thought #s 5 & 7 would be hanging on citifields wall 10 yrs from now. Now they are gone and they are supposed to watch Bourjos, Turner, and Tejada? Not sure its a great buisness move.

    Stars bring in fans, money, and more stars.

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    • Mike Newman says:

      You are absolutely right Melkman, but at what point does it become a cycle of just being okay much like the Cubs? The Mets have an opportunity to really build it the right way from the ground up with a few more tweaks. I personally want to see Evans, Tejeda, Duda, F-Mart, Nieuwenhuis, Havens, etc. given the opportunity to contribute.

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      • VCarver says:

        Ahhh, OK, I see where you’re coming from. You’re completely on the side of giving prospects or young players opportunity — even when they’ve already been given many chances but failed to produce.

        As for you list of Mets prospects, I say YES to Duda, Tejada, Nieuwenuis and Havens. But F-Mart and Evans have been given enough chances and haven’t shown much. Additionally, F-Mart is as fragile as glass and has a chronic knee condition which makes him unfit to play the OF on any regular basis. .

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      • Mike Newman says:

        In general, it takes 1200-1500 plate appearances to really assess a player. F-Mart has 145 major league plate appearances. Nick Evans has 419. I’m not sure if either will ever be anything of value, but it’s hard to assess based off of inconsistent playing time and up-and-down time spent between triple-A and the bigs. Evans had a month? of consistent playing time and he wasn’t particularly good, but he was pretty much a league average player in part time duty in 2011. At the league minimum, he’s certainly good enough to keep around.

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      • VCarver says:

        If I’m not mistaken, Mike, F-Mart has degenerative arthritis in his knee/knees. Apart from that, he’s always getting other injuries. Seriously, even if he still has promise with the bat, there is no place for him on a NL team.

        The Mets would be better served trying to trade him to an AL team for another young prospect.

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      • Mike Newman says:

        Why trade a guy with no value at 23 with 145 plate appearances for absolutely nothing in return? F-Mart may need to eventually switch leagues to prolong his career, but you let him play in the hope he builds back some of his previous value.

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      • VCarver says:

        Because he’s simply not healthy/strong enough to play his position for any significant length of time? I’m going to guess that F-Mart has never played ball for more than two consecutive months in any of his 6 minor league seasons. I could be wrong, but then if I am I’m probably not that too far off.

        And I suggested they trade him for another prospect – not give him away.

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  15. kick me in the GO NATS says:

    i would love it if the Nats found a way to trade for Bourjos.

    Wright is a good player, but not great anymore.

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  16. LLJ says:

    As a Mets fan, I wouldn’t make that deal. Yes, Wright has declined, but I’d like to see him in the new park before making a decision to ship him out. And if he does get traded I’d want more than just a speedy CF with a good glove and an iffy bat. If defense in CF is that big of an issue, they might as well just keep Pagan…in 2011 he was awful, but rated well above average defensively the prior two years.

    And personally I just value offense more than defense. I’d take the guy who provides more offense over the one who provides better D just about every time. If Wright is to be moved, I’d much rather it be for pitching or for someone with more solid offensive potential…not just for a bottom of the order guy who can run around in CF

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    • Mike Newman says:

      At 24, Bourjos totaled 49 XBH as a centerfielder including 12 HR. Once again, I’m not sure how that’s considered a bad offensive player. With 2-3 more years before he hits his prime, the potential is there for him to be a 30 2B, 10 3B, 15 HR player.

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  17. Chris Blessing says:

    The David Wright of old was a player who used all fields and wasn’t your classic home run hitter. From the moment Wright came up through 2007(I know 08 was a good yr too but his approach was different), he was a guy who hit the ball to all fields. I was in love (nh) with him because he’d hit a flat fastball or hanger over the LF wall or hit good pitches to the right centerfield gap. He was going to be a great hitter. Then, he became pull happy. He stopped lining the ball to right center in 2008.

    David Wright was once a great player. He’s now a solid performer not worth the money he is being paid. Daniel Murphy is a solid performer too. Had he stayed healthy, I fully expected Murph battling for the batting title with Reyes and Braun. He’s not going to hit for Wright’s power but he will get on base a higher clip imo and not strike out nearly as much as Wright.

    I would also like to dump Bay’s salary or eat some of his salary and get rid of him. I have no hope in him rebounding to the player he was in Boston. i would rather slot Kirk Nieuwenhuis in Left with Duda in Right. Kirk will give you the effort you need in Center but I just don’t think, from the contacts I have (Not as good as Mike’s) that he can play a MLB everyday centerfield.

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  18. tcnjsteve says:

    Im not sure Duda should be anywhere near the field. Had like a -10 UZR in half a season in 2011. And anecdotally, he looks like a DH out there. Doesn’t seem like much more than a Jason Kubel type.

    I’m surprised at the love Murphy gets here. Limited power, doesn’t walk a whole lot, looks awful in the field, his one standout skill is batting average.

    Any chance the Mets could trade for Bourjous and keep Wright?

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  19. Sagecoll says:

    “He’s the type of player the Fangraphs crowd loves, but the average Mets fan won’t be particularly excited about based on the .271/.327/.438 triple slash line.”

    It pains me to be part of a fanbase with this reputation. There are a lot of forward thinking Mets fans, who sadly get overshadowed by idiots on talk radio.

    That being said, this year will be big for Wright. If he doesn’t perform with these new fences, media will likely be calling for him to go. It’s crazy to imagine what type of hitting numbers he could’ve put up without that Cain pitch to the head. That’s wayyyy bigger of a culprit than Citi Field.

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