David Wright on the death of optimism
David Wright, the face of the Mets franchise, now feels at liberty to utter truths that are left unsaid, or denied, by the Mets organization itself.
Wright has no idea if he will be a Met in 2013, let alone beyond that. He is unwilling to discuss an extension in-season next year, during the final year of his contract. So if the Mets cannot convince him to stay long-term, or cannot pay him, trading him this winter makes more sense than losing him for nothing next winter.
"Just like players do a lot of times what's best for them, organizations sometimes have to do what's best for them also," Wright said, in an interview with Adam Rubin. "The ideal is you want to get a winning team on the field as quickly as possible. That's the front office's job to make those tough decisions. It would be tough for me personally. But, at the end of the day, I would understand."
Speaking of a player the Mets let go for nothing, Wright was apparently as shocked as much of the fan base was by the departure of Jose Reyes, and it appears the loss of the franchise's best shortstop ever changed his thinking about the Mets' direction.
"I always thought Jose would be back, that it was just a lot to do about nothing," Wright said. "We've known each other since 2001. You're talking about playing around or with each other for 11 years. Yeah, of course it opens your eyes. It makes you realize in a lot of ways there is an ugly business side to this—whether it's from the player's perspective or the team's perspective."
Wright believes that building a team without the ability to add salary via free agency or trade is a problem. This is obvious to everyone, of course, but still isn't acknowledged by the Mets' organization, with plans in place to keep payroll at 2012 levels, leaving no room to add significant salary via trade or free agency for 2013. It appears that Wright, whose career and hopes of winning a championship rests on the direction of the Mets, has noticed.
"I think we've demonstrated we have some talent in our minor leagues," Wright said. "Some of the young arms that have come up have been really impressive. But, at the same time, of course it's important that we can make a trade or sign a free agent and be able to spend some money. This is my philosophy on it. And that's why I'm going to sit down with these guys at some point and discuss it. Yeah, I'd like to know if it's going to be 'what you see is what you get' and we're going to base it solely on the minor leagues."
Equally obvious has been the reason why: the sad state of ownership's finances, even after the Madoff settlement (which, remember, came due to ownership's lack of money). Wright acknowledged that, too.
"Obviously some of the financial things that ownership has gone through have affected the ability to spend," Wright continued, referring to Mets ownership. "I don't think there's any question. I don't know that for a fact, but from what I understand and read it somewhat affected it."
The interview itself, besides making for compelling reading, could serve as an attempt by Wright to publicly raise the stakes for the Mets to re-sign him. That seems unlikely, though: no one really needs to make the case that David Wright is important to the Mets, nor that losing Reyes and Wright in rapid succession will devastate the fan base while taking two of the best everyday players the Mets have ever developed from the team while both are still in their primes.
More likely, David Wright saw how the Mets managed to disparage the reputation of Reyes, who Wright once described as his "baseball brother." Wright looks like he's trying to protect himself, in case the Mets, rather than ponying up the money and building Wright a winning team, smear Wright as some mercenary out for money as they usher him out the door, unable to keep him. It wouldn't be out of character for the organization, something Wright has almost certainly noticed, too.
The very media savviness that has made Wright's stay in New York such a positive one, even when the owner took to the pages of The New Yorker to disparage him, was on display. And it sent the unmistakable message that if Wright isn't certain he's gone, he sure doesn't think it's certain he'll be back.
Or as Wright put it, in response to the idea of joining, of all teams, the Yankees: "I don't know. I've never thought about putting on a different uniform. Hopefully that never happens. But you never know what the future holds. I don't know what's going to happen to me."