David Wright Is a Leader, Jerry Manuel Deserves Credit

Timothy O'BrienCorrespondent IJune 17, 2009

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 12:  Manager Jerry Manuel and David Wright #5 of the New York Mets talk before a game against the Washington Nationals August 12, 2008 at Nationals Park in Washington, DC.   (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Baseball writers and Met fans in particular are quick to blame Jerry Manuel when things go wrong. Many are down on Manuel for the way the Mets have played this season, despite the depleted roster he works with every day.

Some of that criticism is warranted. A consistent lineup would be nice, Ryan Church playing every day would likely improve his numbers, and perhaps a rookie righty shouldn't be facing Chase Utley. 

However, as I've written before, he deserves far more credit than he's receiving. The team is over-achieving. Their active roster is upsettingly similar to that of the Washington Nationals.

Both have a solid Ace who has, at times, struggled, two strong hitters in their lineup, and shaky defense at several positions. The Mets only advantage lies in the bullpen.

The resemblance to the lowly Nats is due to injury. Two core, every day players (Reyes, Delgado), two starting pitchers (Maine, Perez), and two late inning relievers (Wagner, Putz) are all on the DL.

Not only are these players some of the more talented Mets, but they also represent the veteran leadership of the club, namely Wagner and Delgado.

With both out for extended periods of time this left a leadership vacuum in the Mets clubhouse, with only veteran role players and young talent remaining to fill the void.

When Carlos Delgado went down with a hip injury, Jerry Manuel challenged Mets players to step up and act as leaders, specifically naming David Wright.

Players like Alex Cora and Gary Sheffield are veterans who command a certain level of respect. However, as Keith Hernandez mentioned last night, it is easier for a player who is performing at a very high level to step into that leadership role and be vocal to teammates.

Last night David Wright took another step into that leadership position.

After the sixth inning, during which Mike Pelfrey gave up two-run home run to Nick Markakis before being removed, an exuberant David Wright approached Pelfrey in the dugout and told him he could and should do better. 

Certainly, credit should and does go to David Wright for stepping up. He is a veteran now and needs to take a leadership position if this team is to win. However, Jerry Manuel deserves some of those kudos for not only paving the way, but giving Wright the push he needed to take on this role.

In recent weeks Wright has been far more vocal than he's ever been. He visits the mound every time a coach makes a visit. He often makes his own visits, much like Hernandez, to the mound to calm down or pump up his pitcher. It's what the organization has been expecting from Wright. 

What should not be forgotten is the role Jerry Manuel played in getting Wright to step up. Manuel called out Wright when Delgado went down, and David stepped up. 

With all the negativity surrounding Manuel and the New York Mets this season, we can't take this one away from Jerry Manuel.