COMMENTARY | For once, the New York Mets didn't need a September collapse or a Ponzi scheme to make headlines.
Since that unforgettable October night at Shea Stadium back in 2006, when the Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, things have mostly gone downhill for the organization.
On Friday, the doom and gloom subsided -- at least for the time being -- with reports that the Mets had signed third baseman David Wright to an eight-year, $138 million contract. It's the largest contract ever awarded by the team. The recipient of the lucrative deal is the face of the franchise, a six-time All Star who has played nine years with the Mets and who holds many of the organization's most important offensive records, including hits, runs batted in, runs, walks, and extra base hits. The deal should make Wright a Met for life, and by the end of his career, if all goes as the Mets hope, he'll be considered the greatest player in franchise history.
Like most things with the Mets these days, this wasn't an easy process. The contract took some time to get done and there was a thought that the Mets might trade Wright in order to bring back prospects and build for the future. They originally picked up his $16 million option for 2013, but both sides knew that in order to keep him in New York, a long-term deal had to get done this offseason. Finally, reports emerged earlier this week that the Mets had made a substantial offer to Wright. When WFAN Radio's Ed Coleman reported early Friday morning that a deal had been reached, the Mets future looked a whole lot brighter.
While this signing doesn't make the Mets a better team -- keeping David Wright doesn't change the fact that the Mets need serious help in the outfield, and elsewhere -- it does signal that the Mets, as an organization, are a lot better off going forward than many thought. This move proves that Mets ownership is committed to winning and knows it must spend money to do so. For all the criticism of Fred and Jeff Wilpon in recent years, signing David Wright speaks volumes about their commitment to building a winning team. Cash-strapped organizations that don't want to win don't make deals like this one.
What David Wright has is the ability to go down, when all is said and done, as the greatest Met of them all. What he doesn't have is the championship that Tom Seaver won with the Mets in 1969. He doesn't even have Mike Piazza's World Series appearance in 2000. That might come with time, but then again, it's up to the organization to surround Wright with the players who can help him get there.
A career .301 hitter with 204 home runs and 818 runs batted in, Wright is a very good, but not great, offensive player. He's not Miguel Cabrera, for example. Who really is? Truth be told, when Wright is in an offensive groove, he can swing the bat with the best of them.
Signing David Wright to this contract provides hope that better days are ahead. Good news, at last, for the New York Mets.
Charles Costello has followed the Mets closely since the rookie years of Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Dwight Gooden (1984). He was a beat reporter assigned to cover the Mets during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.