Friday, November 30, 2012

The Wright Signing Reminds Me Of Santana's No-Hitter

After weeks of speculation regarding the future of the Mets’ franchise player, the team’s fans can finally exhale.  David Wright will indeed remain in orange and blue, as the third baseman has signed a seven-year, $122 million contract extension that will keep him in New York through the 2020 campaign. (Wright’s 2013 option that was picked up by the Mets in effect makes the deal eight years and $138 million.)  By the time his contract expires, Wright will have been a Met for 17 seasons, one year shy of Ed Kranepool’s franchise record for longevity.

Although I am happy that the Mets are finally keeping a homegrown player for the majority, if not the entirety of his career, I can’t get something out of my head.  What if David Wright’s signing is like Johan Santana’s no-hitter?  Allow me to elaborate.

On June 1, 2012, as we all know, Johan Santana became the first Met to throw a no-hitter.  But he needed 134 pitches to complete his gem.  Had Santana allowed a hit earlier in the game, manager Terry Collins likely would have taken him out of the game long before he reached that excessive number of pitches.  Also, if any other Met had authored a no-hitter in the team’s first 50 seasons, perhaps Collins would have removed Santana after six or seven innings, even with the no-hitter still intact.

But given the historic implications of the event, especially with everyone involved knowing that no Mets pitcher had ever hurled a no-no, Collins went against his usual modus operandi and left Santana in the game to chase history.  Santana did get the no-hitter, but at a cost.

The heavy workload, especially after missing the entire 2011 season and the final month of the previous year, brought about a marked change in Santana’s performances on the mound.  After keeping the Cardinals hitless through nine innings on June 1, Santana became quite hittable.  At the time of his gem, Santana was 3-2 with a spectacular 2.38 ERA.  When his season was cut short after 21 starts, his record had fallen to 6-9 and he sported a dismal 4.85 ERA.

Mets fans wanted a no-hitter badly.  They got one on June 1.  And they got it from a pitcher who was a fan-favorite.  But it came with a price, one that coincided with the team’s struggles in the second half.

That brings us back to David Wright and his long-term contract extension.

David Wright's tongue will be earning a total of $138 million through the 2020 season.

 For years, Mets fans have been wanting a homegrown player to remain with the team for his entire career.  The last homegrown player to spend as many as ten years with the Mets was Mookie Wilson.  And he’s been an an ex-Met player since 1989, when Juan Samuel (ugh!) replaced him in the outfield.

David Wright will become the first homegrown Met in nearly a quarter century to spend a decade with the team.  But will his contract end up becoming a financial burden for the Mets, especially once his skills begin to deteriorate?

Mike Piazza signed a seven-year contract to stay with the Mets after the 1998 season.  He was a shadow of his former self during the last three years of the deal.  When Piazza was entering the final year of his contract, Carlos Beltran was playing the first of his.  But Beltran’s seven-year deal was also one that produced a fine start (years two through four were among the best by any player in Mets history), but after Shea took its last breath in 2008, Carlos Beltran went down with the stadium.  Beltran missed huge chunks of the 2009 and 2010 campaigns due to an assortment of injuries before having a good bounceback half-season in 2011, which allowed him to be traded for über-prospect Zack Wheeler.

I understand that the Mets had to re-sign David Wright.  After all, attendance has suffered since Citi Field opened in 2009 and without Wright, Citi Field would have resembled Grant’s Tomb, which was the morbid name given to a mostly empty Shea Stadium after M. Donald Grant started counting his pennies in 1977.  But I only hope the Mets didn’t give Wright too many years to remain the face of a franchise that’s trying to save its face with the fans.

On June 1, Terry Collins kept Johan Santana in the game too long in pursuit of a moment fans had clamored for.  Santana gave the Mets a temporary moment of elation before going down for the count.  Now with the signing of David Wright through the 2020 season, the fans are getting another early present under their blue and orange tree.  Let’s hope this moment of elation lasts longer than the one Santana provided.  The Mets can’t afford to have another present break before its time.

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