David Wright said he'd move positions if A-rod came and he'd want him on the Mets. I see him going to the Cubs personally because of Lou.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Can you imagine Alex Rodriguez in a Mets uniform in 2008? It's not just impossible, you say, it's heresy. Or is it? The idea of A-Rod crossing enemy lines has strong support from none other than David Wright – who says he'd give up his position to make room for the Yankee third baseman.
"Are you kidding me? As great a hitter as Alex is, I'd definitely do it," Wright said. "Tell him to come over, tell him to do it."
In a quiet, early morning clubhouse at Tradition Field, Wright was smiling, but apparently not kidding about his crosstown rival. That's how convinced he is that A-Rod's arrival would be the final, missing piece in ensuring the Mets' domination for the rest of the decade.
Wright says so because he knows Rodriguez has an opt-out clause after the 2007 season, one which the Yankee slugger has yet to renounce. The fact that A-Rod has been largely rejected by Yankee fans, and, by his own admission, has seen his friendship with Derek Jeter deteriorate, gives Wright added hope.
Of course, it's one thing to recruit talent in an abstract way; rival stars talk to each other about becoming teammates the way Hollywood's icons make plans to appear in movies together. But Wright has taken this fantasy a step further, repeatedly offering to give up the position to which he was elected as a National League All-Star in 2006.
This might be a trauma to Met fans, who are loathe to defer to the Yankees in any capacity. But to persuade A-Rod to come to Shea, Wright says simply, "I'd have to switch [positions]."
And where, exactly, would the displaced Wright play?
"Anywhere," he said matter-of-factly.
When told of Wright's comments by Record beat writer Pete Caldera, Rodriguez seemed stunned.
"Did he really say that?" A-Rod said of Wright. "Wow, tell him I'm flattered."
All this conjecture is further fueled by the notion that A-Rod always secretly has wanted to be a Met; he was a fan of the '80s-era teams as an adolescent. Some believe the opt-out clause in his contract was inserted by agent Scott Boras as a way to somehow get Rodriguez to Flushing, even after committing to another team.
But that was before Wright inherited the position, which begs an obvious question: Can this scenario really happen? From a marketing standpoint, not really. The Mets just signed Wright to a six-year, $55 million contract, and are counting on him to be the franchise's hub long after Carlos Delgado, Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran have moved on.
Given how they're committed to his future, it's unlikely the Mets would allow Wright to publicly acknowledge he's inferior to another third baseman, even if his replacement, A-Rod, is headed toward an 800 home-run career and, ultimately, Cooperstown.
The other question is, would the Mets pay the 31-year-old A-Rod $25 million a year until he nears his 40th birthday? That's what Boras will be looking for. If A-Rod moves on after 2007, it's because the Yankees wouldn't be interested in giving up their current sweetheart deal; they're paying A-Rod just $16 million per, with the Rangers picking up the rest of the tab.
Finally, even if the cash-soaked Mets did decide they could afford A-Rod, where would Wright play? The real buzz-kill is that Wright would have only one other defensive alternative on the '08 team -- left field -- and he's probably not a good enough athlete to handle that switch.
Granted, he moves relatively well for an infielder with his quick, first-step reactions. But Wright doesn't have the explosive speed or long, loping strides necessary to cover the more expansive terrain. And Wright's short-arm throwing motion is better suited for the infield, not the outfield.
But none of these reality checks prevented Wright from blurring the lines that separate the Met and Yankee cultures. He praised not only Rodriguez, but Derek Jeter for "knowing what it takes to succeed in New York. He's the best there is in knowing how to handle himself off the field. Derek is a role model for us younger players."
And when the discussion drifted to Wright's favorite moments as a spectator – whom he enjoys watching on TV – the Mets' slugger admitted to an attraction to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
"I like watching Jeter and A-Rod hit, and Manny [Ramirez] and [David] Ortiz," he said. "Those are always great games, and those guys are great to watch."
Point-blank, Wright was asked, who's the more dangerous hitter, Manny or A-Rod?
Wright thought long and hard, and finally said, "I'd have to say A-Rod. I mean, that guy has sick power. I saw him hit a home run against us [July 2 at Yankee Stadium] that he was out in front of, off his front foot and he went the opposite way – and he still hit into the black [seats in the bleachers]."
Wright shook his head and said, "What other player hits 30-something home runs, drives in 100, hits .280 and calls that an off year?"
"Case closed," he said.