David Wright Is Enforcing Manuel's Team First Message: Captain or Not

Wendy AdairAnalyst IFebruary 16, 2009

Jerry Manuel has been saying since he arrived at Port St. Lucie last week that his message this spring and summer will be "Team situation before individual statistics".  Last year with the many adjustments this team endured with the Randolph firing and the revolving bullpen issues, the message was not conveyed strongly enough or at least not executed properly.

Of the four core position players, so far David Wright is the only member currently at Spring Training already. In fact, he has been there working out with Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans since immediately after the Super Bowl, so roughly for two weeks already. 

Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado have yet to arrive, although technically they do not need to be there until mid week. I'm sure it does speak loudly to Mets management that of the four, David Wright is obviously the most committed to improving his own game and being a field and clubhouse leader of his teammates.

Jerry Manuel is reluctant to appoint a Captain, understandably so, but in my opinion, he has to see that he already has a de-facto captain in place and that making it official can help the whole team.  Even if it's not made official this year, as long as Wright plays his own hard nosed game day in and day out and he is there to guide and support his teammates, his leadership will not be questioned. 

He has been criticized greatly for his RISP statistics last season, even though he did have two walk off hits and other hits that negated the already outrageous blown save statistics that the bullpen had, these hits and RBI's were attempts at carrying this team on his back. While individual statistics are telling of a player's performance, they should not be the only gauge in showing a player's contributions to a team. 

 Last season, Wright was not rested until June 24th, which did greatly affect him and everyone on the team, but it was clearly an effort that showed undying support to Willie Randolph as his manager.  Jerry Manuel has said that he recognizes when Wright is showing signs of fatigue and will rest him when needed, and that should take place this year.  If he is not properly rested, he can either be seriously injured or his game  situation focus will suffer and this will hurt the team enormously.

The fact is that his teammates are seeing him work out and encouraging their progress  well as welcoming and bonding with new teammates has to show everyone at Port St. Lucie who the leader of this team really is, whether or not the official "C" is on his chest.