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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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A Seat for David

I'll bet David Wright is in the lineup tonight. I'll bet David Wright, good health willing, will be in the lineup 158 times this year.
Would it kill Willie to sit him once in a while?
Boy is he pressing. I've never seen David look as lost as he does at present. Saturday, in particular, he seemed to be swinging at an idea of a pitch as opposed to anything he was actually thrown.
He'll pull out of it. The good ones do. When he does, lord help the pitchers who happen to be on the mound that week. Like anybody buying a five-dollar ice cream sandwich at Shea, they will pay through the nose.
But what's the harm of giving him a seat for a night? Or a day? I'm thinking Sunday. This isn't second-guessing (though I've never quite seen what's so bad about second-guessing since it might improve your next first guess). Watching David flail cluelessly on Saturday and seeing Damion Easley find his power stroke, I wondered aloud if maybe Willie should give David the day off tomorrow — now yesterday — and let Easley play third, partly to take advantage of the utilityman's momentum and keep him game-ready but mostly to take a load off David's shoulders for an afternoon.
I would have been shocked if it had happened. Willie doesn't readily rest guys, certainly not the ones under 30. And who'd want to not have David Wright in the lineup most of the time? But sometimes you're not helping yourself and you're not helping the team. So sit down, watch somebody else play, wave a towel like you're Lenny Harris. It's not as if you're going to lose your job to Damion Easley.
David won't volunteer for a day off and Willie won't initiate it. Both of them would say something to the effect of you can't sit your way out of a slump. Mr. Wright's neighbors in that fancy Flatiron co-op of his must be getting tired of hearing him take practice swings in the wee hours. I'm glad he wants to play baseball as much as he does. Once in a while he shouldn't. We don't need a Ripken per se. We need a whole club.
Though I'm highly pro-Randolph, it irked me a bit during the NLCS how the lineup remained so static even when it was clear the Mets were hitting with the donuts still attached to their bats. Granted, there wasn't much of a bench to deploy after Floyd went down and Endy went in, but a little juggling seemed in order. La Russa, of whom I'm no fan, kept finding spots for everybody and (grrr) it paid off. With Willie, it was the same eight night-in, night-out from Games Two through Seven, no shifting in the batting order, not even a hunch to play. The cumulative effect, save for the Game Four blowout, was lead weight on the offense.
This isn't October when you're going to roll your starters out there no matter what. This is April. This is a time to, if not experiment, then be flexible. To look at a 24-year-old superstar and see that he's struggling and take him aside and say “watch for a night,” and to look at a 37-year-old role player and take him aside and say “play for a night.” Easley and Newhan have had no chance and when we really need them, the rust may very well show. Same for the holdovers. Alou and Green have made themselves tough to rest, hoorah, but a little Endy here and there might make their long-term prospects (June, July, August) a lot brighter. As Delgado struggles, why not give Franco a start at first — for Franco's sake as much as Delgado's? And what's the harm of letting Lo Duca's finger and psyche heal an extra day? Castro couldn't be any hotter.
Keep 'em fresh, keep 'em sharp, keep 'em whatever you want to call it. Maybe you can't sit your way out of a slump, but you can certainly swing your way into a deeper one.

9 comments to A Seat for David

  • Anonymous

    His new clown shoes are even uglier. Wright's basically been Paul LoDuca with three times the strikeouts since last August. But I'm giving him 100 ABs before I bench him, move in the order or demote him to New Orleans.

  • Anonymous

    I could not agree more. With all of this. More Rrrrrramon, Easley, Newhan and of course ENDY is just what we need right now. It's APRIL, Willie. Put the egos and paychecks aside for a game or two.
    He works this team like Pat Riley used to work the Knicks… run the same guys ragged every night, and leave everyone else rotting on the bench until garbage time, Only vets play, rookies and “scrubs” sit unless there's an emergency. After a while it takes its toll, as does letting the vets and “names” decide if they want a day off. You're the manager, Willie… MANAGE.

  • Anonymous

    could it be that ill health early last year was the best thing that happened to the 2006 mets? that injuries forced willie to do what he would not on his own?

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,I'm hoping that it's just that we are not used to seeing David in a slump before, but, on the other hand, I am concerned that his power going south after last year's home run derby is not an indication of of something more being wrong. The second half of last season found David struggling to keep his average above .300 and while his rbi total was again over 100 it fell short of the mark we thought he would amass. There was also something missing in the authority of many of his hits – the hard line drives became a bit softer, less shots up the alley and the three-hit games less and less frequent. One wonders if this built up in David's thoughts all winter and that he's still pressing too hard. As you said, slumps are part of the game and nobody, even in stratomatic, can avoid them. Am sure David will come out of his but do wonder what has been different since last year's all star break.One thing not to overlook is David not letting his frustrations affect his play in the field – his glovework at third has shown much improvement these first three weeks of the season.

  • Anonymous

    This trend of playing paychecks rather than players, which has gone on for the last maybe 15 years or so since megacontracts have become more common, is for the birds (and I don't mean the ones in Baltimore). Nobody should be above a benching, no matter how much money they make. I have to wonder where the pressure comes from to keep the big-money players on the field even when they're not producing — is it the agents? Do they blackmail the ballclubs into doing it?

  • Anonymous

    .167…I believe thats what he hit in the post season..I would say he was about as useful as that wax dummy I saw in the paper last week..Sit him down? Why not!..Make sure he dosent have a Blackberry with him on the bench..Just in case Lettermans people need to 'touch base'..
    Sorry greg i'm in a rotten mood tonight

  • Anonymous

    I'm all for using the bench players — Bobby V (who I still hate, duct-tape moustache notwithstanding) was really good at that. Keep all of your guys loose and in playing condition. But I don't agree that a night off will somehow help Wright break out of this funk. I'm with your imaginary Willie — you don't sit your way out of a slump. He's not tired, he's just… off. He's got to play his way out of it, and the more he plays the more likely (I think) he is to snap back to his old self. Baseball, frankly, is not that exhausting a sport. A day off doesn't energize you, unless you're a catcher. I'm in the “David will be fine” camp, steady as she goes. So… dare I say it?… Stay the course. If Willie sits Wright, he'll just be emboldening the enemy.

  • Anonymous

    Everybody needs to stop blaming the publicity for Wright's slump. There's always a compulsion to attribute some moral qualities to a player's performance — he's slumping, it must be because he's lost focus, or doesn't care, or is a bad person. David comes to play. I've never seen a single sign that he's doing anything but busting his ass out there every day (even if his assbusting as been pretty ineffective lately). I'm frustrated with his play too, but there's no reason to be mad at the guy. By the way, this is not directed at you, really, but at the hordes of neanderthal commentors on who keep saying things like, “Stop waxing your chest and bleaching your teeth and head to the batting cages, pretty boy, you suck.” I'm just desperately afraid that Met fans are going to turn him into our own A-Rod.

  • Anonymous

    I'm expecting that Newhan will start at third on Wednesday afternoon.