Are Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario the Next Wright and Reyes?

By Ethan Marshall

 

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David Wright and Jose Reyes celebrating the Mets division title in 2006.  Photo credit: Ron Antonelli.

The left side of the Mets infield played a big role in making them playoff contenders from 2005 to 2008.  Jose Reyes, nicknamed “Mr. Excitement,” presented a threat to opposing pitchers and catchers every time he got on base.  He provided life at the top of the lineup. So often would he start the first inning with a single and a stolen base or a triple before scoring, that the term “Reyes run” was used to refer to this.  Over this four-year period, Reyes stole a combined 258 bases, leading the league in that category in all but one year, including a franchise-record 78 stolen bases in 2007.  He had no fewer than 190 hits in any of these seasons.  In 2008, he posted a league-best 204 hits.  Reyes also combined for 65 triples, leading the league in that category in three of the four years.

While Reyes provided the speed, Wright provided the power.  He hit 116 home runs and drove in 449 runs over that span.  He finished fourth in MVP-voting in 2007, when he had a 30-30 year, batted .325, slugged .546 and had an OBP of .416.  It became a familiar sight for Mets fans to see David Wright driving in Jose Reyes.  Not since Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry in the 1980s had there been such a talented and admired duo of Mets. The young dynamic duo seemed destined for Hall of Fame careers, but injuries kept sidelining them, likely ruining their chances.

While the two have been reunited as teammates on the Mets, Wright has yet to take the field since Reyes was signed to replace his injured buddy.  Injuries have kept the captain sidelined for over a year, but he recently took a big step forward when he was cleared to resume baseball activities.  Reyes has been vocal of how much he misses Wright, and is optimistic that the captain will play this season.

While Strawberry and Gooden were terrific athletes in their Mets careers, they didn’t get along as well as many people actually believed.  Throughout their baseball careers, David Wright and Jose Reyes have been known to be very close friends.  Reyes often described their bond as similar to that of brothers.

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Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario hanging out together during Spring Training.  Photo credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images.

Now, 13 years after Wright and Reyes shared the left side of the infield for the first time, a new young duo has appeared in Queens.  Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, the Mets top two prospects, have now made their MLB debuts.  Their relationship in the minors was very similar to that of Wright’s and Reyes’.  After the game in which Smith made his MLB debut and Rosario hit his first career homer, both players spoke highly of each other and described the bond they shared as akin to that of brothers, just as Wright and Reyes have described their relationship.

Many Mets fans have already expressed that the new duo reminds them in both skills and personalities of those of Wright and Reyes.  Like Reyes at his age, Rosario is a speedy shortstop with strong defensive skills and the potential to be a great hitter.  Reyes has even become a mentor to Rosario since Spring Training, texting him almost every day.  Since Rosario’s promotion to the Mets, he and Reyes are often spotted fooling around and having fun together.  They both have a youthful and bubbly personality, making them likable in the clubhouse.

While Dominic Smith doesn’t play the same position as Wright, he has shown the same defensive ability as a young Wright.  Perhaps the biggest similarity between the two is their ability to use the whole field effectively.  Smith has shown strong opposite-field power in AAA Vegas this season, something Wright made a career doing (until Citi Field opened, designed basically against him with a deep rightfield).  Both Smith and Wright showed a strong maturity despite their young ages.  Perhaps Wright can become a mentor to Smith in the same way Reyes has for Rosario.

Whether or not Rosario and Smith can be as successful as Wright and Reyes, while also avoiding the constant injuries that slowed down the latter two, has yet to be seen.  They haven’t played a month in the big leagues, but the hype surrounding them is very similar to when Reyes and Wright were top prospects.  Time will tell whether or not they live up to the expectations presented to them.

 

Who’s at First?

By Ethan Marshall

 

With Mets first baseman Lucas Duda dealing with back and hip issues, now is the time for the Mets to test out some of their other players at first base.  While there is no reason to think right now that Duda won’t be healthy by opening day, the Mets will need to have a backup plan at first in case Duda gets hurt, remains hurt, or struggles.  It is worth noting that Duda missed most of last season due to a stress fracture in his back.

The leading candidates to take over first base for Duda are Neil Walker and Jay Bruce.  Both players have been taking reps at the position this spring.  While Walker moving to first base provides flexibility around the infield, allowing for Reyes and Wright to be in the lineup at the same time, it makes way more sense for the Mets to move Bruce to first base.  With Bruce playing first base, Michael Conforto would be able to fit in at right field, solving the logjam the Mets face in their outfield.  Additionally, Wilmer Flores would still see plenty of playing time at first base against lefties if the Mets were to go with Bruce at first base.

Duda’s injury couldn’t have come at a better time.  Since it’s still very early in spring training, Bruce and Walker have plenty of time to get acclimated to the first base position. Even if Duda is healthy again before the end of spring training, the Mets would have should something happen to Duda.

Another first base option could be David Wright.  Wright is still trying to get his arm strength back.  Moving Wright to first base would allow for Reyes to play third while also sparing Wright from having to throw across the diamond.  While this seems practical, it isn’t really necessary for the Mets to have another right-handed hitting first baseman.  The Mets want Flores in the lineup against lefties.  Last season against lefties, Flores hit .340, with a .319 on-base-percentage, .710 slugging percentage, and 11 homers.

 

 

 

 

Is David All-Wright?

The Mets and David Wright are trying to do everything they can to keep him healthy enough to make it through the 2017 season.  Wright has been spending the first week of spring training continuing his rehab from the surgery he had to remove a herniated disk in his neck.  So far, his rehab has gone smoothly.  Wright has been able to take ground balls, do some light running, and can now take some swings.  However, he still hasn’t been cleared to throw the baseball, and has yet to face live pitching.  Still, Wright’s goal is to be ready to play come opening day.

There have been discussions about the possibility of Wright seeing some time at first base this spring.  Manager Terry Collins said, “If we decide he needs to get some ground balls at first base, that can be done late in spring training.  He’s such a good athlete, he’ll catch on to that easily.”  If Wright’s throwing becomes an issue, he could very well find himself at first base, similar to what the Nationals did with his buddy Ryan Zimmerman in 2015.

Wright said recently that he is open to playing first base if necessary.  “I’m open to doing anything that helps this team win.  I haven;t been approached about it so right now I’m a third baseman until somebody tells me different.  But of course I’m all ears because we think we’re on the cusp of being a World Series-contending team, and I want to help in any way I can with that.”

A platoon at first base with Lucas Duda may actually prove to be beneficial to Wright, Duda, and the Mets.  Duda is a very good hitter, but struggles against lefties.  Wright has tortured lefties throughout his playing career.  Additionally, a platoon would allow for Wright to get several days off, something he needs in order to play a full season with spinal stenosis.  Moving Wright to first base would also allow for the Mets to put Jose Reyes in the lineup every day lineup at third base.  Reyes adds much-needed speed to a Mets lineup that is otherwise harmless on the basepaths.

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David Wright speaks to reporters for the first time after undergoing surgery to remove a herniated disk in his neck.  Photo credit: SNY.TV/ Mets Blog/ Matthew Cerrone.

“He hasn’t thrown in a long time, so we’ve got to get that arm back.  That’s why we’ve got to be careful, because if you force it, tendinitis can pop in there in a second.  So, we’ll bring him along slow on the throwing side,” manager Terry Collins said about Wright.

Wright recently revealed to reporters where he currently stands in his rehab process.  Wright said,”I have been put on a shoulder strengthening program, that should be wrapping up here soon.  And then I go on to a throwing program, which for position players shouldn’t take that long to get going if everything is OK.”  However, there is no guarantee that everything will be OK at that point for him.  Wright will be limited in his workouts by his spinal stenosis, which, along with the neck surgery, bring Wright’s future with the team into question.  There is no guarantee that Wright will be able to make it through the 2017 season.

As much as Wright wants to be back on the field, he knows he needs to be careful in his rehab.  A healthy David Wright provides a solid bat on the field, and leadership in the clubhouse.  His presence has been missed over the majority of the last two seasons.  Over his 13 year career with the Mets, Wright has been through the good times and the bad times, always remaining loyal to the only team he knows.  The Mets ultimate goal going into the 2017 season is to get their captain a World Series title, a goal shared by Wright.  For now, Wright’s current goal is to be in the Mets starting lineup for opening day on April 3rd.

 

 

Written by Ethan Marshall