Michelle Ioannou, MetsBlog | Twitter |
It's impossible for anyone to write a piece about Mets veterans and leadership without acknowledging David Wright. He's been the face of the franchise. He's been the guy in the clubhouse mentoring young players, both in on the field and off the field actions. He has been the guy who is great with the New York media. He has been our Captain.
But unfortunately, Wright isn't able to be the Wright we all want him to be right now. His presence is still extremely important. But his future is unknown -- he even admits this. And with the potential of Wright not being there (and having not physically been there these past couple of seasons) this is a huge void that needs to be filled.
It's been great seeing Wright in Port St. Lucie so far, training (as much as he can) with his team, and just being there with his teammates. But at the same time, it's been a bit bittersweet, as none of us know what to expect from him.
At the end of last season, I was all set to write a piece about the lack of veteran leadership in the clubhouse and how the 24-year-old Michael Conforto would likely be the one to fill this void, as we all know not only is he wise beyond his years, but was also led and mentored by some of the best, including Wright.
But, now here we are into Spring Training and we have veterans who can take the pressure off Conforto having to be that guy. And no, it's not fair to compare anyone to Wright, or say that having one or two other veteran players compensates for his absence. Wright is Wright, and that is all. But, the young players need to be guided by teammates who will be playing regularly, and will be in that clubhouse daily. And now there are players on this team who can lead by example, be positive clubhouse presences, and work with them -- something that was lacking at the end of last season.
There are two in particular I'm focusing on who I think can make a difference -- Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier.
Bruce already has a great rapport with the players. They know him, trust him, and some of them (such as Conforto) have reached the playoffs with him. On top of that? Bruce is entering this season verbally acknowledging that he has unfinished business with the Mets. This message should be contagious and spread like wildfire in the clubhouse -- the entire team should have the same mentality, and play and act like they have some making up to do.
In addition to wanting to finish business in Queens, Bruce also wants to be a player who leads by example.
"I want them to know that they can trust me," he said about his teammates. Did you hear that, Mets players? Trust him. Learn from him. He did lead your team in hits, home runs, and RBI at the time of his trade last season. Bruce's bat served in itself as a great role model, in addition to his demeanor and attitude.
As far as Frazier, he has been getting some heat for his .213 batting average. But if you take a deeper look, the guy had 27 home runs and a .344 OBP in 2017 -- along with being one of the best defensive third baseman in baseball. Plus, he has experience and leadership skills. It says something that Yankees fans were upset to see him go.
In fact, his leadership skills were one of the reasons Sandy Alderson signed him, which is something Frazier addressed in his introductory press conference.
"Once you get to know the guys, along you go," Frazier said. "In baseball, you come together a lot quicker than you do in other sports. I love it (being a leader). ... I think we have a really good opportunity in New York to make some noise."
He knows the game, he has the right attitude, and he wants to work with his teammates. All great traits to have.
This offseason wasn't what we expected it to be, but the Mets have come a far way from where they were during the Winter Meetings. They have brought in strong veteran leaders who the kids can learn from. As great as some of them handled themselves when they came up (looking at you, Amed Rosario), they can still learn from these guys. Plus, a strong clubhouse and positive attitude never hurt, right?