The New York Mets did a nice job of passing the olive branch to David Wright by signing him to a generous contract extension worth up to $138 million over seven years. However, without Mets GM Sandy Alderson doing more to improve the team, that money amounts to being thrown out the window.
No doubt the signing of Wright, their career third baseman, was a move in the right direction. He has put in his time while producing admirably, with a .302 career batting average and 202 home runs by the age of 29. Wright is also the Mets' all-time hit leader with 1,426.
So far, so good. Wright is happy, Mets fans are happy, and management gets applauded for showing their undying loyalty to the team's most recognizable player. But what good is that, if the Mets can't deliver on the playing field? Losing gets old real fast, and the Mets have been doing a lot of it lately. They have not been to the playoffs in six years.
Only once, in 2006, have the Mets made the playoffs in Wright's nine years with the team.
Alderson needs to do more. Much more. The Mets have already proven they can lose with Wright. Now that he is signed long-term, he needs to be surrounded by a team with a legitimate shot of winning. It is no longer 1962, when losing defined the Mets as being lovable. Most Mets fans probably hate losing these days.
The good news is, the Mets have a few other solid pieces of the puzzle already in place. First baseman Ike Davis provides tremendous power, is improving after early struggles last season, and is 25 years old. Last season, he hit 32 home runs with 90 RBI despite only a .227 batting average. Look for Davis' numbers to increase in 2013.
R.A. Dickey is another piece who must be retained beyond 2013. Dickey provides the Mets the security of a dominant pitcher and a staff ace who could be huge in a playoff series. Letting him get away would be a major mistake. Last season, in winning the Cy Young award, Dickey was 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts.
Also showing promise for the Mets is Jonathon Niese. The 26-year-old lefty starter went 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA and 155 strikeouts. In the field, Ruben Tejada is projected to be the Mets shortstop of the future. Tejada hit for a respectable .289 average in 2012.
The bad news is, the Mets have holes at almost every other position.
Starter Johan Santana enters the season a question mark after going 6-9 with a 4.89 ERA in limited action (117 innings). In the bullpen, the Mets do not have a reliable closer. Last season, Frank Francisco had 23 saves, but finished with an ERA of 5.53 while allowing 47 hits in 42.1 innings.
While I agree with the Mets' signing of David Wright, they need to fill their holes to make the signing a sound investment. Otherwise, Wright's talent will be wasted, along with the Mets' money, because losing leads to less of most everything financially related to the organization.
Prolonged losing results in less attendance, fewer promotional sales, fewer games (no playoffs), and less coverage. That means less income to cover Wright's contract.
The main point of playing the game is to win. Not just to put on a show. Wright has put on a show so far, but now it's time to win as well. It begins with bringing in productive players who can make winning possible. Alderson and Mets management owe that to Wright, along with the money—beginning now.
They owe it to Mets fans as well.
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