So we’re sensing that after one game, the Twitterati is in “Panic Citi” mode on New York Mets third baseman David Wright, after he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and failed to make a couple of defensive plays in the team’s Opening Day loss.
This looked a lot like the same Wright who hit .185 and soft-tossed every throw across the diamond last postseason. He looked old and he looked slow, and the reality of his current situation is that, quite frankly, he is old (33, in a game in which more and more stars are 22 to 26) and he is slow (due to his spinal stenosis).
But what should the Mets do about this?
For the short term, nothing (but for one tweak that we’ll get to in a moment). Wright’s the captain and one of the best players in Mets history, and there’s every reason to believe he can still be a productive player, even if it’s going to take him a little while to get going.
We’re not ready to proclaim that he’s Derek Jeter or Kobe Bryant at the end of their respective careers just yet. His 38-game regular-season offensive numbers from 2015 (a .379 on-base percentage and a homer every 30 at-bats) tell us that he’s still got something good in him.
The most troublesome issue for Wright in these eyes is the defensive one. Wright had trouble going to his right last season. He finished at -8 defensive runs saved overall last season and if you break it down to its core components, almost all of it was because he couldn’t make plays on balls hit down the third-base line. He already got statistical demerits from the folks who track that stuff because he couldn’t get the out on Omar Infante’s grounder down the third-base line on Sunday.
The fix for now might be to adjust Wright’s positioning against right-handed pull hitters, play him closer to the line, sacrifice a few singles, maybe save a few doubles and hope for the best. Tim Teufel, who positions the infielders, is pretty savvy with regards to this stuff, so we’re guessing he’s already thought this through.
For the long term, it’s way too early to talk about moving him to other spots in the lineup (you’ll be hard-pressed to convince me he shouldn’t hit second versus lefties, given his history against them) or positional switches (though we did bring that up in November).
The good news is that this isn’t the NFL. They’re only 1/162 of the way through. Wright could wake up tomorrow, get a couple of hits, make a nice defensive play, and you’ll be singing his praises again.
But as for the worry and the uncertainty over how he’s going to fare: That’s probably not going to go away. Welcome to 2016 David Wright, Mets. You’re in for a bit of a roller coaster.