Commentary

Mets star a keeper? Got that Wright

Batting at .400 clip is latest evidence slugger should be part of long-term plans

Updated: May 12, 2012, 10:59 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

MIAMI -- After this season, once Chipper Jones has retired, you will be able to count on Antonio Alfonseca's right hand the number of active players who have appeared in more major league games than David Wright and done so in only one uniform.

Derek Jeter. Todd Helton. Ichiro Suzuki. Michael Young. Jimmy Rollins. Brian Roberts.

And it is difficult to envision Wright, who has logged 1,136 games as a New York Met, moving elsewhere and getting sidetracked from ascending that list.

Wright went 4-for-6 with a homer and three RBIs as the Mets beat ex-teammate Jose Reyes and the Miami Marlins 9-3 on Saturday at Marlins Park.

Wright is hitting a National League-leading .402. That is the second-best average in franchise history on this date for a player with 50 plate appearances, trailing only Cleon Jones' .411 in 1969.

Wright's franchise-record RBI total now stands at 746 -- 13 beyond Darryl Strawberry's previous Mets-best mark.

If you think the Mets can afford to let Wright depart at any point in the next few seasons, think again. Reyes' defection to the Marlins only increases the likelihood that the third baseman stays long term. All Wright, 29, had to do was produce on the field to solidify it.

There are no longer baseball grounds to justify the public relations hit the Mets would take for allowing themselves to be outbid if Wright ultimately reaches free agency after the 2013 season. The Mets hold a $16 million team option next season.

New York teams must keep their stars.

Re-signing Wright likely would cost at least $100 million and at least six years on top of the existing deal. So, in 2019, Wright may be paid more for gravitas than actual performance (although he would be only 36 years old that final season).

[+] EnlargeDavid Wright
Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesDavid Wright is off to a torrid start for the surprising Mets.

Yet it must be done. And you have to believe it will be done at some point, even if it waits until the offseason, when Wright still will be under the Mets' control for one more year.

My curiosity the past couple of years with whether Wright would remain a Met in his next contract actually had far more to do with something not often spoken -- whether Wright, not the team, wanted the marriage to continue.

Politically correct to a fault, Wright would never articulate disgust with the organization's direction. But there had to be some level of concern, even if disgust is too strong, with where things were heading as a club.

Now? Wright is having fun with the group assembled in the clubhouse. And even if this season does not result in a postseason appearance, at least it finally feels like things are trending in the right direction, which could not always be said in recent years.

"There's still a long way to go," Wright said. "We're talking about 30-some games into the season. But it's a good group of guys. I've enjoyed being able to win some games early with this group. We've got guys who have been called up from the minor leagues that just get it. They're good guys. They're great competitors. They put their work in. They see the guys that have been here for a few years, the way that they work, and they try to emulate that.

"And I think that's a tremendous compliment to give these guys -- that they get it. And it's fun to come to the ballpark every day."

Wright's production comes even though he's played much of the season with a fractured right pinkie. He is still not completely out of the woods with that injury.

"I'm getting treated on a daily basis," Wright said. "It shouldn't be too much longer before it actually heals itself. I just have to be careful with the jamming it into bags. Little things like that, I have to be aware what I'm doing and make sure I protect it."

The highest single-season batting average in franchise history belongs to John Olerud, who hit .354 in 1998. Jones finished the '69 season with a .340 average and a World Series title.

Can .400 continue for Wright?

"I'm going to be honest with you," the third baseman replied as he prepared to depart Marlins Park on Saturday. "No."

How does Wright feels looking at the stadium scoreboard and seeing .402?

"It feels like it's May," Wright replied. "There's a long way to go. Those are unrealistic goals."

Said manager Terry Collins: "He is a star. And he is showing you exactly how good he is."

Star.

Not quite superstar. Pretty darn close, though.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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