Most of the time, when fall turns to winter, Yankee fans are still discussing their team's post-season exploits, while Mets fans are lost in the fog wondering what the future may bring. The fog cleared a bit for Mets fans this year, as the announcement came late last week that New York has locked up its All-Star third baseman, David Wright, for eight years at a cost of $138 million.
The move was a sign from ownership that David Wright is the player they trust to be the face of their franchise for the future. Some Mets fans are frustrated with the move, wondering whether or not all that cash could have been spent to build up several areas of the team. I've often been critical of the Mets for their personnel moves, but this is one I can easily get behind.
The contract with David Wright is more about what he provides outside the lines. In a time when athletes are heavily scrutinized for their off the field actions, Wright has been one of the good guys. We can debate how clutch he may be or whether he is truly a franchise player, but his ability to be a positive face of the franchise is not debatable. I believe the Wilpons see this and want Wright to be an ambassador for the team long after his playing days are over, much like Tom Seaver was.
As for Wright's on the field ability, it's not realistic to think he can be the guy that hit .325 with 30 home runs, 107 RBIs, and 34 stolen bases in 2007. His stats won't average close to this over the life of his new deal. But if he can give the boys in Queens consistent production like last year (.306, 21 home runs, 93 RBIs, 15 SBs), it's a good deal.
Wright will be a great role model on this team as the younger players come up from the farm system. For the Mets, who have struggled on and off the field, establishing the franchise's character may be just as important as finding quality talent.
With Sandy Alderson and crew down in Nashville for the winter meetings, hopefully the name R.A. Dickey will keep coming up in trade rumors. Unlike Wright, who is younger and more expensive, Dickey has a smaller window at a cheaper price. Had a deal fallen through for Wright, there most likely would have only been a couple of trade options.
Teams will be lining up for Dickey -- big money teams looking for an ace or number 2, and mid-market teams who think Dickey can continue to be Cy Young caliber at less than Cy Young money. The opportunity to trade Dickey for a couple pieces to help the Mets contend in a year or two should be too tempting to pass up.
The David Wright extension should give East End Met fans a reason to believe the Wilpons are more committed to spending than originally thought. That being said, Wright will need quality players around him to make his signing worthwhile. Otherwise, the Mets spent a lot of money for a mascot. Extending a 29 year-old player eight years leads me to believe that Alderson believes he has the ability to field a competitive team by 2014.
And if that's not the case, chalk it up to more wasteful spending that will make even harder to ever fill Citi Field again.
Pete is a lifelong Montauk resident and former sports talk host at 88.7FM WEER. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org