What David Wright Must Do to Live Up to His New Contract, Mets' Captain Title

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What David Wright Must Do to Live Up to His New Contract, Mets' Captain Title
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On Thursday, the New York Mets made a formality an official title: David Wright was named the fourth captain in franchise history.

The announcement completed a busy, life-changing offseason for Wright. In November, he became the highest-paid player in franchise history, agreeing to an eight-year, $138 million deal to keep him in Flushing through the time he turns 36 years old. Now, he'll be the official leader of the franchise for that tenure.

Naturally, the pressure has been turned up for the All-Star third baseman. As his team continues through an arduous rebuilding process, the future seems bright.

Wright's play will be a major factor in how high the young Mets can soar in 2014 and beyond.

With great power comes great responsibility. While some may throw out numbers, accolades or individual measurements to define how Wright must go about justifying the contract and captaincy, don't look for that here.

For Wright to prove the Mets brass correct in their assessment of his play and leadership ability, he simply has to be himself over the next eight years.

Sandy Alderson isn't short-sighted; there certainly weren't delusions of grandeur when offering Wright nearly $140 million last fall.

He's never been the best player in baseball. He likely never will be. He's never led the league in home runs or slugging percentage. He likely never will. He's never been considered close to the best defensive third baseman in baseball. He likely never will.

On the other hand, it's Wright's consistent excellence across the board that makes him so dynamic. He can hit, run, field, possess plate discipline and is durable. 

For a franchise that has employed all-time greats such as Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza and Carlos Beltran, Wright stands out among his peers. He's potentially a career Met, a good bet for 3,000 career hits and, of course, a model teammate.

As pointed out by Mike Puma in Friday's New York Post, Wright speaks softly but carries a big stick:

Sandy Alderson cited an example last season when the brass, along with David Wright's imput, discussed sending down the struggling Ike Davis.

Alderson called leadership a product of “professional expertise” and “personal character” and said Wright combines both elements. Asked to provide an example of Wright’s qualities, Alderson cited a late-night meeting last season when team brass was deciding if struggling Ike Davis should be demoted to Triple-A.

What’s memorable about that night is not that Ike stayed and performed well thereafter,” Alderson said. “But the fact David hung around to make sure if the decision was otherwise that [Davis] would have somebody there to help him through his disappointment.

“There’s stuff that is visible to every fan. There’s stuff that isn’t seen by most people, but is just as critical in terms of how both the credibility and respect factors are developed.

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Much like his captain counterpart in New York, Derek Jeter, Wright leads by example more than through words. Ironically, his actual on-field performance feels secondary when assessing the captain moniker.

When the Yankees re-signed Derek Jeter to a 10-year, $189 million contract in 2001, the franchise knew it was getting a great player for his best seasons, but it also understood that he wasn't the best in the sport.

The intangibles, leadership and consistency made up for that in the Bronx.

When it comes to David Wright, don't listen to the idea that he has to hit .350/.450/.550 in 2013 to justify the money.

Shrug off the idea that he must lead the young Mets to the postseason as early as 2014.

Brush away the notion that his career is "defined" by winning a World Series.  

Wright is a prolific player, an excellent leader is and worth the praise and security given to him this offseason.

 

Joe Giglio is an MLB Lead Writer covering the NL and AL East. Follow him on Twitter @JoeGiglioSports or "Like" him on Facebook.

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