David Wright's New York Mets Debut Led to Controversial Trade Deadline in 2004

By Paul Festa
David Wright and Yadier Molina
Getty Images

My how time flies. Ten years ago today, David Wright made his major league debut with the New York Mets. His debut – in part –  lead to a sequence that resulted in one of the busiest and most controversial trade deadlines in team history.

It was against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. Batting seventh in the order, Wright went 0-4. The Mets won that game 5-4, scoring the go-ahead run when Todd Zeile reached on an error, allowing Ty Wigginton to score from third. Ironicallly, Wigginton’s days were numbered the moment Wright arrived on the scene. Wigginton had been the Mets’ regular third baseman (he played first on this day), but New York knew their future third baseman had arrived. At the July 31 trade deadline, Wigginton was dealt.

The Mets had hope in July of 2004. They were five games out of first place when they decided to become buyers. The trade Wigginton was involved in looks so much different today than it did then. He was part of a package the Mets used to acquire starting pitcher Kris Benson from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Mets acquired Benson and minor league infielder Jeff Keppinger for Wigginton, Matt Peterson and Jose Bautista.

Keppinger went on to be a solid infielder/utility man and is a career .282/.329/.384 hitter. The Chicago White Sox released him in May, and he’s yet to play a big league game in 2014. Peterson was a highly-regarded pitching prospect. He was 6-f0ot-5, 230 pounds and had a 3.27 ERA for double-A Binghamton at the time. He toiled in the minor leagues until 2010, and never made it to the majors. Then, of course, there was Jose Bautista.

The Mets acquired Bautista earlier in the day from the Kansas City Royals for catcher Justin Huber. At the time, Jose was a young utility man with no career homers. He would show some pop in 2005, when he hit 23 bombs for double-A Altoona. He filled part-time roles with the Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays from 2006-2009, averaging about 15 home runs per season. Then, in 2010, something clicked. He opened his stance and learned to turn on inside fastballs. All he did that year was hit 54 home runs, and he hasn’t stopped mashing since.

As for Benson, he was only the second-biggest (and most controversial) acquisition that day. The other involved the Mets’ top pitching prospect, Scott Kazmir, and a guy named Victor Zambrano. The Mets decided to mortgage their future to make a run at the playoffs in 2004, and they geld Benson and Zambrano would help round out their pitching rotation. Benson spent the rest of 2004 and all of 2005 with New York, and was basically a major-league average pitcher. Zambrano was simply a disappointment. Neither he nor Zambrano could help the Mets in 2004. They ended up in fourth place, 20 games under .500.

Ten years later, David Wright has gone on to be the best hitter in Mets history. He holds team records in career WAR, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, RBIs, walks (also strikeouts), runs created, extra base hits, sacrifice flies and is in the top ten in countless other categories.

Now, in 2014, as in 2004, the Mets are trying to figure out if they should be buyers or sellers. No matter what happens, hopefully the Mets can make the playoffs again, and someday soon, get Wright the championship he deserves.

Paul J. Festa is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @pauljfesta and add him on Google.

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