When David Wright went on the disabled list, Mets fans had to wonder what’s going to happen to their team over the next two months without their team’s only star position player. When Rays fans saw the headline that Price had been injured, they had to have a different reaction: this could be Evan Longoria all over again.
In May of 2012, Evan Longoria went down with a partial tear in his left hamstring. Thanks to setback in his recovery process, he didn’t return until August. And now one year later, David Wright has been placed on the DL with a right hamstring strain, which sounds better but also happens to be the same way that Baseball Prospectus describes Longoria’s injury. What will happen to Wright now?
Evan Longoria and David Wright have a few things in common. They are two of the best third baseman in baseball, both offensively and defensively, and they both just signed to long-term deals that the Rays and Mets hope will keep them in their current uniforms for the rest of their careers. In terms of their actual style of play, they differ quite a bit, with Wright hitting for more average and featuring more speed but Longoria hitting for more power. But this current parallel is scary for Mets fans. Longoria suffered an oblique strain followed by an ankle injury in 2011, went down the hamstring issue in 2012 that required surgery following the season, and now he’s dealing with a planar fasciitis problem in his foot. His recent slump notwithstanding, Longoria remains an excellent player and Rays fans have to hope his injury problems will pass, but now a decent portion of each Rays season is spent worrying whether Longoria can stay healthy. Is Wright going to suffer the same fate?
We have talked about before how the Mets current strategy appears to be mirroring the Rays as they build up pitching prospects and are slowly but surely graduating them to the big leagues and creating one of the most talented young rotations in baseball. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are their Scott Kazmir and James Shields, and they are almost surely better. The Mets still have a ways to go–there’s a big difference between having pitching prospects and turning them into effective major league pitchers like the Rays have done–but they are moving in the right direction and could be a pitching-first contender within just a few years. But no matter what happens to the pitching, the Mets need David Wright to be leading their lineup and scoring the runs to make the pitching performances count. Like Longoria for the Rays, Wright is the Mets’ star, and it remains to be scene whether they can get a consistent threat beside him like the Rays have done with players like Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist. Without Wright’s production, the Mets’ quest to become a contender is going nowhere. And with that in mind, the Mets better hope that Wright’s injury issues stop right here. Being compared to Evan Longoria is usually a good thing, but in this case, Wright has to change course or the Mets’ rebuilding effort could be over before it starts.