Mets Spring Training Question 4: Who Will Be the Leader?
With four days before pitchers and Molinas report to spring training, the #4 question to be answered in Port St. Lucie comes from my wife:
David Wright is supposed to be the “face of the franchise”, but he seems more of a figurehead than a team leader — and besides, we all know the Mets are going to deal him away by the trading deadline. So if not David, who will jockey for power and take over leadership of this club?
She raises interesting points. There’s no doubt that David Wright is the face of the franchise, so by default he is perceived as the “team leader”. But is he?
In Wright’s 8 years in the big leagues (yes, it’s been EIGHT years), the Mets have never been “his” team. The Mets had veterans such as Todd Zeile, Al Leiter, John Franco, Pedro Martinez, Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and others who assumed leadership roles. Even last spring, it was difficult to identify Wright as the team leader with Beltran still around. Some would argue that the Mets have been “leaderless” for a long time. Still others believe a team doesn’t need a leader — that’s what the manager is for. As someone who has played baseball at a fairly high level and for 30+ years, I’ve never been on a team — from little league through college and semipro — that didn’t have at least one individual player (if not several) who the rest of the club looked to for guidance, and set an example that others followed. Maybe that changes in MLB, but I doubt it.
For the sake of this exercise, let’s pretend that my theory is correct: that MLB teams have players who either take over or find themselves in leadership roles. And let’s examine the New York Mets and try to figure out who will be their leader in 2012.
My vote would be for Wright, but can he be if others think he won’t be around by the end of July? More importantly, is he ready and equipped to take on a leadership role? If not David, then who? R.A. Dickey would seem to be a leader in terms of speaking with the media, but does that necessarily translate to leadership on the field? And can a pitcher truly be a leader, or does it have to be a position player? I think a pitcher can be ONE of the team’s leaders, but that at least one everyday player tends to separate himself as well. Jason Bay has the veteran experience to be a leader, but it’s difficult to be one when he’s struggling so much with his hitting; that said, I wonder if he’d become a leader if he returned to a feared slugger? Or do one of the youngsters — such as Ike Davis or Daniel Murphy — have the type of personality to “take over” the team?
What’s your thought? Will someone establish himself as a team leader this spring, and if so, who will it be? Answer in the comments.