I have no coherent thoughts about the team these days, so here is a collection of incoherent thoughts.
Archive for the ‘David Wright’ Category
Since grading the Mets’ hitters first half was such a rousing success, I thought I would grade their whole season now that it has mercilessly ended. This is still a very, very hacky thing to do, but with the World Series possibly shaping up as an Alien vs. Predator-esque Phillies/Yankees finale, I need to distract myself from that impending doom somehow. I will grade the pitchers tomorrow.
Second part in a series. For my plan for the catcher’s spot, go here.
There aren’t as many decisions to make in the infield as there are at catcher. The team is set at shortstop and third base, and likely second base as well. First base is a different story, as they will not have a starting first baseman under contract for 2010. I do think they have good options for the bench already under team control, but it remains to be seen if they view those options the same way I do. Let’s take a look at what they have.
And sadly, I don’t mean GOB Bluth, although somehow that would be appropriate too. But with all of the pratfalls that have befallen the Mets this year, from the Tony Bernazard situation and the Adam Rubin situation that grew from it, to the injuries on the field, to the ridiculous poor play, to the downright agonizing ways that this team has lost games, only an absolute masochist could truly enjoy this year’s Mets.
Here is a look at exactly what has gone wrong for this team:
Yes, I am doing the hackiest of hack ideas, the first half “grades” for each and every player. It will give me a chance to sort through the damage, and figure out exactly how we got to this point and if there is anything we can do about it (the answer: probably not, no). I will start with the hitters today and tackle the pitchers tomorrow. In order from A to F…
Now, I realize writing a column called “Why I hate Mets fans” on a blog about the New York Mets may seem, well, stupid. I myself must be a Mets fan, right? So do I hate myself? What’s up with this?
I have just reached a breaking point with Mets fans. It started last year, when Shea Stadium became at times a very unpleasant place to play. Unfortunately, that wasn’t for the road team, but the home team, which was often lustily booed for the smallest of miscues. Never mind the fact that the 2008 Mets won 48 games at home, good for almost 60% of their home games. But the team got off to a lousy start, and coming off of the collapse of 2007, this was unacceptable. Even players like Aaron Heilman, who were admittedly lousy, deserved more leeway than what they received (by the way, Heilman pitched hurt the entire year and, now healthy, has gotten off to a great start in Chicago).
Fast forward to April 2009. The Mets are off to another slow start. This slow start has come after the second straight late-season collapse, so Mets fans seem even testier than usual. Of course, we’re talking about a sample size of 21 games, or roughly 13% of the long season. It’s the equivalent of giving up on an NFL team after 2 games after a 1-1 start, or giving up on an NBA or NHL team after 11 games after a 5-6 start. This is a very, very small part of the schedule, with a lot of baseball left to play.
And yet, Mets fans with an undeserved sense of entitlement are now filling Citi Field with boos for the team’s best player, the face of the franchise, David Wright. It’s bad enough booing fringe players who aren’t any good; I’ve never understood the point of booing your own team unless they demonstrate a noticable lack of effort. You do not boo your team’s best player, ever, period. That is just classless and it embarrasses me as a fan of the Mets. David Wright may be the best player that has ever come through the Mets’ minor league system, a franchise cornerstone the likes of which this team has never seen before. You do not boo that player. If you boo that player, you are saying, “I don’t care about the great things that you have done in the past, you just struck out in this largely meaningless game and you are an asshole!”
David Wright isn’t playing to his full potential; I would be foolish to say otherwise. That said, I wouldn’t say he has been actively bad; he’s hitting .280 with a .372 on base percentage and a .390 slugging percentage. His power is way down, which is where the problem lies. We can’t even blame that on Citi Field, because four of his six extra base hits have been at home. He’s not making outs at a high rate, which is a very good thing. His “clutch” stats don’t look like much right now, but despite foolhardy sports talk radio hosts and newspaper writers who say otherwise, Wright has always been a fine player in the clutch, as good or even a little bit better in those situations than in meaningless ones. The problem is, folks tend to remember the failures much more than the successes, and that game against the Cubs with the tying run at third and nobody out still runs through the heads of many fans.
It’s this reactionary BS that has caused a rift between me and a large segment of the Mets fanbase. I’m not doing a jig over the slow start, but I’m not losing my mind over it, either. This is a good team. David Wright is a good baseball player. So is Carlos Beltran. So are Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Ryan Church, Daniel Murphy…even Luis Castillo is playing well at the moment. Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball right now. While John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, and even Oliver Perez are not pitching well, they aren’t so old or far enough removed from good seasons to where we shouldn’t expect them to get better. I’m not making excuses for the team at all, I just think this has been a bad month and they will rebound and play better ball; there is too much talent for them not to do so.
Yet the negativity that surrounds this team makes me sick. It’s like the perfect storm; take Mets fans living in the shadow of the latest Yankee dynasty, throw in a rabid New York media all-too-willing to throw gasoline on a fire to sell a few newspapers or radio ads, and add back-to-back heartbreaking ends to the season, and it seems that Mets fans have been pushed up to a new level of insanity. Honestly, it’s embarrassing. There are good, passionate fans out there, but they seem to be getting yelled over by the knuckleheads who just want to hate. All that does is make Mets fans look like the worst fans in baseball, a fanbase that doesn’t deserve to witness a championship team, and a fanbase who no player in their right mind would want to play for. It makes me feel embarrassed to wear my Mets jerseys, because I don’t want to be lumped in that segment of Mets fans.
It’s these sort of slow starts where Mets fans become obsessed with things that just don’t quantitatively help win ballgames, like hustle and grit. Do people really think that the superstars on this team don’t hustle? Jose Reyes had his issues with hustle last year, but Jerry Manuel nipped those in the bud and now I rarely, if ever, notice him failing to run out a ground ball. Mets fans want to try to figure out a reason why so much talent isn’t winning, with answers ranging to “the team has too much talent – who’s going to bunt guys over???” to “this team doesn’t care if they win or lose!!!!” both of which seem absurd when you really think about them.
How did the Mets manage to find not one, not two, but twenty-five separate guys who don’t care if they win or lose all at once? What are the odds of that even happening? You don’t become an elite, major league caliber talent without a drive to win every single game; lack of effort tends to weed players out by the major league level, if not shortly thereafter. As for “too much talent,” that’s ridiculous. The team hasn’t been losing because of a lack of sacrifice bunting; heck, Jerry Manuel has already bunted far more than I’m comfortable with, since I hate one-run strategies. Trust me, in the annals of baseball lore, there has never, ever been a problem with teams having too much talent. Ask fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals if they’d rather have too much talent or no talent; those guys are all a bunch of scrappers because most of their players stink.
There’s basically one reason why this team isn’t winning ballgames right now; the starting pitching after Johan Santana stinks. John Maine is the only starter with two quality starts. Oliver Perez has been dreadful, Livan Hernandez is utterly finished, and Mike Pelfrey is struggling through injury and command issues. Hopefully, this will improve, because the offense has been largely very good so far. But that’s the reason. The hitting has been good, the bullpen has been largely good (although I am concerned about Putz’s velocity and strikeouts both being down). The starting pitching has stunk. At some point, either Ollie, Maine, and Big Pelf are going to have to get better, or changes are going to have to be made. Simple as that.
To answer my above question, no, I do not hate myself. But it’s hard to consider myself a fan of the New York Mets when so many Mets fans are letting negativity run their perception of this ballclub. I haven’t been happy about the way they have performed, but I have not once thought of booing another player on this team, and if I was going to start (after smacking myself in the head with a hammer a few times), I don’t think I’d start with David Wright. He’s done too much for this ballclub to be deserving of such treatment. I may be a fan of the Mets, but I’m no Mets fan. If you’re content to boo the team’s stars because of your own frustrations with the team, then feel free to call yourself a Mets fan. Just know you make those of us who don’t wish to be party to such negativity hang our heads in shame for being associated with the likes of you.
From here on out, it’s the David Wright/Howard Johnson show, so without further ado…
#5: Howard Johnson, 1991
Howard Johnson, like Bret Saberhagen, had a weird even year/odd year thing going. Every other year, he would have a great season, followed by a down season. It continued in 1991, following a disappointing 1990 season, HoJo bounced back with a huge 38 homer/34 double/30 steal season. Call it the 30/30/30 club, the second time he pulled off such a feat. Throw in a career-high 117 RBIs, and you’re left with a damned fine season on a team that went nowhere.
This season was the end of HoJo’s prime; he would spend another two more disappointing seasons in New York, not bouncing back in the odd year 1993 from a poor even year in 1992. He never played every day again and was out of the big leagues for good by age 35. In that way, he’s pretty similar to Edgardo Alfonzo, another Mets star who peaked early and was out of the majors only a few seasons removed from one of his best seasons. It is a shame that HoJo’s last great season wasn’t spent on a team that did anything, but blame management for tearing down the 80’s Mets dynasty brick by brick.
#4: David Wright, 2005
David Wright’s first full season in the big leagues…and it’s the 4th best offensive season at third base in Mets history. I’d say that’s pretty good. In fact, in 2005 this season would have ranked second in Mets history. You could start to see the traits that would make David Wright great develop in this first season. High number of walks, 40+ doubles, 27 homers, 100+ RBIs…there is a lot to love here.
Still, I want to use this season to (once again) point out Willie Randolph’s shortcomings as manager. Here is David Wright, having a phenomenal year; in 2005, he was unquestionably the best hitter on the team. Yet, for almost half the season, Willie had Wright batting 6th and 7th, behind a decomposing Mike Piazza, a light hitting Doug Mientkiewicz, and the atrocious Miguel Cairo. Wright batted third four times all season, all in games that Carlos Beltran sat out after crashing face-first into Mike Cameron, which brought Gerald “Ice” Williams into the lineup to play center field. Best hitter on the team, buried in the batting order. Willie Randolph, ladies and gentlemen.
#3: David Wright, 2008
No longer a rookie, David Wright put together another phenomonal year in 2008. He went over 40 doubles for the fourth straight season, batted .300 or better for the fourth straight season, and 100 RBIs for the fourth straight season. He was over 30 homers for the second straight season and over 90 walks for the second straight season. Basically, 2008 was another continuation of everything he had done since being brought up from the minor leagues, and that’s awesome hitting.
That is why, when you hear talk radio or newspaper writers talk about how there’s a David Wright on every team, laugh in their faces. David Wright is good for a consistent 25+ homers a season, 40+ doubles, 100+ RBIs, .300 or better batting average, .380 or better OBP, he will steal bases at a high percentage, and will draw 70 or more walks. That is the minimum of what he will do each and every season, and often he will surpass that. There are not 29 other players like David Wright playing major league baseball; there probably aren’t more than 5.
#2: David Wright, 2007
Here is where I suspect a lot of folks will be surprised. I argued vehemently that David Wright should have been the MVP in 2007. I still believe that. And I do believe that this season was truly excellent season. It was Wright’s first 30/30/30 season, another high RBI season…I hate ranking this season second. I truly do. But being that I’ve already written so much about David Wright’s 2007 season, I think it’s time I talked a little about…
#1: Howard Johnson, 1989
Howard Johnson set a Mets record in 1989; most extra base hits in a season. How can a season where a man hits 80 extra base hits not rank #1? Throw in 41 steals, and you have a hell of a season. Howard Johnson was really underrated, mostly because he played on teams that had Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and other big hitters, and by the time HoJo became a regular, the Mets had already peaked and were settled into a series of second place finishes.
Still, you can’t blame those seasons on HoJo, he did what he could to keep the Mets in contention. He was second in the NL in homers, third in doubles, and fourth in stolen bases. Yet he finished fifth in the MVP race, behind former teammate Kevin Mitchell. I will happily concede that Mitch had a much better season than HoJo. I will not say the same about Ryne Sandberg and Pedro Guerrero. But what HoJo did that year, hit so many extra base hits in a league that favored pitching, is perhaps unique in Mets history. His 1989 season was special, and yet it feels like it is rarely talked about.
The Mets have been fortunate to have had some great years offensively at third base. Gifted hitters such as Howard Johnson, David Wright, and Robin Ventura, among others, have manned the hot corner extremely well over the past 46 years, a trend that should continue well into the next decade. While the Mets third base list was once a national punchline, the top ten hitting seasons at third base for the Mets match up well with any other team’s third basemen. Take a look at some of these seasons.
Honorable Mention: Ed Charles (1968), Howard Johnson (1988), Edgardo Alfonzo (1997)
Ed Charles was acquired from the Kansas City Athletics in 1967, had a pretty good season in 1968 in limited action, and lost his job in 1969 and was out of baseball. I am kind of surprised he never went to the Yankees, since they didn’t have a third baseman worth anything during much of the 60’s and Charles was stuck in the A’s minor league system during a time where the Yankees repeatedly raided their minor league stars. More on HoJo and Alfonzo below.
#10: Edgardo Alfonzo, 2002
Alfonzo is the first Met to make these lists at two different positions. While he was high atop the second base list, he just makes the third base list despite a good season. He moved to third base because of the Mets’ acquisition of Roberto Alomar the season before, plus Alfonzo had spent time in 2001 hurt, so it was thought that moving to third base may be beneficial for him defensively. The Alomar trade turned out to be a bust, of course, and Alfonzo was gone after the 2002 season, supposedly in part because Fonzie wanted to play second (though he would only play six more games there the rest of his career).
This was the last good season Alfonzo would have. In fact, five seasons later, Alfonzo was out of baseball. It is peculiar, because he was only 28 in 2002. At the final game at Shea, I was struck by how young Alfonzo looked when he was introduced, and how it seemed like he should still be playing ball. I don’t know what happened; it’s been speculated that he isn’t really 34, and that perhaps he had used performance enhancers during his prime. I don’t know if either are true, but I do miss Fonzie, he was a great player for some memorable teams.
#9: Bobby Bonilla, 1994
I had forgotten that Bobby Bonilla had even played third base for the Mets. Alas, he played all 107 games he played in the strike-shortened 1994 season at third base and was doing quite well before the strike. He hit for power, average, and drew walks at a high rate. From a hitting standpoint, Mets fans really couldn’t ask for much more from Bobby Bo in 1994, he had a terrific season.
I have to say, I do think Bobby Bo got a bit of a bad rap from Mets fans. Sure, he wasn’t the most likable player in the world, but his first go-around saw some good years. The problem was, he didn’t hit for a high average, and didn’t have a high number of RBIs. I’m not sure it’s fair, though; the Mets had some low-OBP hitters hitting ahead of him for much of his stay in New York. Bonilla was never the type who could carry an offense, but he could contribute to a good one. Unfortunately, most of the Mets teams Bonilla played on were bad hitting teams.
#8: Robin Ventura, 1999
I am sure Joeadig is going to give me flack for not ranking Ventura higher. Ventura was his favorite player from those teams. But hey, it’s not for any lack of love on my part towards Ventura; he was great in 1999, and as recently as four years ago, this would have ranked fourth on this list. Alas, it’s not Ventura’s fault David Wright happened.
Ventura is a weird case; this was the first year of a four year contract he had signed after the 1998 season, another piece added to the puzzle to put the ‘99 Mets over the top. He was great in ‘99, as was most of that team (you’ll notice that so far, every one of these lists has had a 1999 season, a streak that will end with shortstops). But after this season, Ventura became just an average hitter.
Three seasons later, Ventura was gone, traded to the Yankees for David Justice (who was then flipped to the A’s for Mark Guthrie and Tyler Yates) which in retrospect, was a set-up for the Roberto Alomar trade that was finalized four days later. It seems like a meager haul for a player who finished 6th in the MVP voting just two seasons prior, but nobody ever accused Steve Phillips of making good trades. Still, few Mets fans will forget the year where Robin Ventura was, well, Robin to Mike Piazza’s Batman.
#7: Howard Johnson, 1987
This was Howard Johnson’s breakout season, following the departure of Ray Knight after the 1986 season. At the time, it was thought to be a mistake, but Ray Knight was done and HoJo settled into a five year period where he was the one of the offensive leaders for the Mets. It would be a frustrating time for Mets fans; the Mets finished second four straight seasons from 1987 to 1990, before the bottom fell out in the 1991 season under Bud Harrelson.
Still, you can’t blame HoJo, and here’s one reason why. I’ve always felt HoJo was under-appreciated; he was always good for anywhere between 60-70 extra base hits when healthy. He would get criticized for low batting averages, but if you look at the difference between his great years and his off years, we’re looking at about 25 points of batting average; what we’re talking about is about a single every two weeks. Great hitter, an extra base machine in his prime. This list will do him justice.
#6: David Wright, 2006
Okay, here’s a spoiler: David Wright and Howard Johnson are the only two names you will see on the rest of this list. Objectively speaking, Wright and Johnson are far and away the best third basemen in Mets history, and now Johnson is Wright’s hitting coach. That’s a weird irony, no?
Strangely, the worst of Wright’s full seasons came in the only year he made the playoffs. But “worst” isn’t really fair, because it’s only in comparison to some other really great seasons. Just think; 40 doubles and 26 homers represent Wright’s low totals since his first full-time season in 2006. Seventy-one extra base hits represents Wright’s low totals. And this is with a high number of walks and a high batting average, too. But hey…listen to enough talk radio, and you’ll hear that every team has a David Wright. Sure they do.
Up Next: More Wright and HoJo…er, the top 5.
- The bright future of Jose Reyes and David Wright
- Johan Santana’s changeup.
- Memories of Mike Piazza’s dramatic home runs
- The Immortal Shinjo
- Robin Ventura’s grand slam single
- Endy Chavez’ catch
- Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowel were traded for Juan Samuel; that’s just funny.
- Mookie Wilson’s “hit” in the ’86 Series
- Keith Hernandez’ appearance on Seinfeld
- Al Leiter’s ’99 one-game playoff complete-game shutout
- The 7 train
- The ginormousness of Mr. Mets’ head; it’s so great that the Reds cloned him!
- The drama of the non-stop string of Almost No-Hitters
- Shawn Estes MISSED Roger Clemens; what other team would have a moment like that?
- The half-second during the bottom of the first inning on the last day of the 2007 season when we all thought that Ramon Castro’s line-out was a grand slam.
- Vince Coleman threw fire crackers at kids after a game; he thought he was an NFL running back or something.
- Vince Coleman’s firecracker fun was on the SAME DAY that Anthony Young lost his 27th straight game. Awesome.
- Tom Seaver was in the dugout during the Mets 1986 Series win. The RED SOX’s dugout. Ouch.
- The constant smell of urine and tar at Shea Stadium.
- Suzyan Waldman is not an SNY broadcaster, but Gary Cohen is.