New York Mets: David Wright Is Not the Leader the Clubhouse Needs

Shale BriskinContributor IIIJuly 31, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22:  David Wright #5 of the New York Mets reacts after striking out during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at CitiField on July 22, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

When Mets' third baseman David Wright first got promoted to the major leagues in 2004, he was a highly touted prospect and was expected to be a great player for years to come.

However, his hype was in a way offset by the veteran presences of Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, John Franco and Tom Glavine. They all helped groom him into the superstar player he is today as he learned the ropes of the game at its highest level.

Wright did not really emerge as a leader for the Mets until 2006 when the team that year won 97 games and ran away with the NL East division title. That year, he became part of the Mets' core of him, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. While Delgado was on the Mets through early in 2009, Beltran got traded to the Giants in 2011, while Reyes departed for the Marlins last offseason.

Despite being a young player, Wright was already looked up to by his peers for his consistent work ethic and his desire to win by any means necessary. He became even more of a leader in 2007, as a result of a season in which he hit .325 with 30 home runs, 107 RBI and 34 stolen bases. He followed this up with a .302 average, 33 home runs and 124 RBI a year later.

In the Mets' forgettable 2009 season, Wright really became the leader of the team, despite having a very disappointing year. That year, Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, and plenty of other teammates all spent time on the disabled list as the season became a lost cause. Even Wright himself was forced onto the disabled list for the first time in his career after getting hit in the head by Matt Cain of the Giants.

In 2010, Wright bounced back and hit 29 home runs and drove in 103 RBI, despite a .283 average. Reyes and Beltran kept battling injuries, while Wright put the team on his back and did what he could to help the Mets win.

2011 was a different story, though, mainly because Wright ended up missing two months of the season with a stress fracture in his lower back. His .254 average was by far the worst of his career and the Mets certainly missed his leadership that season.

This year, though, Wright has been having a career season and has really taken control of being the sole clubhouse leader of the Mets. While his current average might be .330, he flirted with an average over .400 for the first two months of the year.

He has been an NL MVP candidate all season, but this may not end up happening now if the Mets continue to struggle as much as they have so far in the second half.

Speaking of struggling, the Mets have not been in the postseason since 2006 and have not had a winning season since 2008. Ever since Wright really took the reigns of being the Mets' clubhouse leader, the team simply has not performed well, which basically has been every year since Citi Field opened.

While the Mets over the past few years have had various injuries to certain players, plus an underachieving bullpen that really hasn't been solid since 2006, there are many areas that deserve some blame for the lack of success. And, of course, there was also the financial situation that owner Fred Wilpon had to deal with in relation to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, which has since been settled.

Furthermore, the front office was rather chaotic in 2009 and 2010, due to various moves made by former general manager Omar Minaya and the distraction that former Director of Player Personnel Tony Bernazard brought upon himself in 2009. As a result, there really hasn't been much to enjoy for the Mets and their fans since 2008.

One thing that might be overlooked is the overall clubhouse leadership. While the Mets' team chemistry has been rather good in this current season for one, there might be a lack of overall leadership simply because the team is so young. Wright is not even 30 years old right now, yet he's one of the few veterans on the team and the one player who everyone really looks up to.

As the default clubhouse leader, Wright spends time comforting his teammates when needed and is always willing to offer advice to his younger peers. However, Wright does not particularly show that much visible emotion around his teammates when a certain degree of emotion could be necessary to motivate everyone.

The fact of the matter is that Wright is not exactly designed to be a genuine clubhouse leader and is better suited for being a complimentary presence in the clubhouse. In addition, the Mets have not been particularly successful since 2009 when Wright really became the clubhouse leader, so it's definitely possible that having a change in clubhouse leadership could have a better effect on the team going forward.

The Mets currently do not have a player in the organization who could overtake Wright as the new clubhouse leader. If Jason Bay was hitting well, this could be a different story, but he has struggled mightily ever since he put on a Mets uniform. Johan Santana has spent too much time on the disabled list over the past few years to qualify as well.

In order for the Mets to get a new leader in the clubhouse, they would have to sign a high profiled free agent in the offseason. With the Mets not trying particularly hard to raise their payroll, this is not likely to happen next offseason.

Whether it be a more established veteran or a more emotional teammate who can fire up the whole team at any given moment, the Mets' clubhouse leadership could certainly use an upgrade. That could be what it may take to be able to get back into the postseason.

For now, Wright remains the Mets' clubhouse leader and is doing a good job overall with the personality he has.