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.


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fjmanuel
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fjmanuel
4 years 10 months ago

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

Matt K
Guest
Matt K
4 years 10 months ago

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…

Russ
Member
Member
Russ
4 years 10 months ago

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

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 10 months ago

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.

NS
Guest
NS
4 years 10 months ago

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

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu
4 years 10 months ago

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.

fjmanuel
Guest
fjmanuel
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Someanalyst
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Someanalyst
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Colin
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Colin
4 years 10 months ago

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

DNL
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

I’m a Mets fan. And I agree.

Evan_S
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Evan_S
4 years 10 months ago

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.

MC
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MC
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Syler
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Syler
4 years 10 months ago

No, it wouldn’t.

David P.
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David P.
4 years 10 months ago

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?

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Zen Madman
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu
4 years 10 months ago

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

bender
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bender
4 years 10 months ago

“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?

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
4 years 10 months ago

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.

NM
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

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.

NM
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Jeffrey Paternostro
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Jeffrey Paternostro
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Right. I think if you can get Bourjos and a B-/B arm, you probably have to pull the trigger, objectively.

Brian
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Brian
4 years 8 months ago

The Wright and Reyes era has to be looked at mostly as a failure from a team perspective, with merely one playoff appearance in over half a decade. Sadness.

Brad Johnson
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Eminor3rd
Member
Eminor3rd
4 years 10 months ago

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

Matt
Guest
Matt
4 years 10 months ago

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

Brad Johnson
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

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.

VCarver
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VCarver
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 10 months ago

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”

VCarver
Guest
VCarver
4 years 10 months ago

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.

VCarver
Guest
VCarver
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Dunston
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Dunston
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 10 months ago

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.

VCarver
Guest
VCarver
4 years 10 months ago

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.

VCarver
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VCarver
4 years 10 months ago

should read: shorter dimensions

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
4 years 10 months ago

“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?

Greg
Guest
Greg
4 years 10 months ago

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.

Barbara Schriebman
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Barbara Schriebman
4 years 10 months ago

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!

Melkman
Guest
Melkman
4 years 10 months ago

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.

kick me in the GO NATS
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kick me in the GO NATS
4 years 10 months ago

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

Wright is a good player, but not great anymore.

LLJ
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LLJ
4 years 10 months ago

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

Chris Blessing
Guest
Chris Blessing
4 years 10 months ago

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.

tcnjsteve
Guest
tcnjsteve
4 years 10 months ago

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?

BlackOps
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BlackOps
4 years 10 months ago

“half a season in 2011”

Sagecoll
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Sagecoll
4 years 10 months ago

“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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