Monday, May 17, 2010
Will the Mets leader please stand up? Part 2
In the second part of our look at the deeper issue facing the Mets, leadership, we will look at the potential leaders on the current roster. As previously mentioned, neither the Carlos Delgado's or Pedro Martinez's of the organization in the past few years has been a true leader or have been able to get others to follow for one reason or another.
However, there are a few players on the current roster who will need to try in order to right this sinking ship that we call the New York Mets. Those players are Johan Santana, David Wright, Francisco Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, Rod Barajas, Ike Davis and Jose Reyes. None of these players are the current leader of this team. They have all led in a particular moment or game, but not for any stretch of time longer than that.
First is Johan Santana. Let me say this before getting into Johan, personally, I like Santana. With that said, he was brought in to put the team over the hump and to carry them on his back at times. He is the supposed to be the team ace. The unwritten definition of an ace is two-fold. They are supposed to bring a reputation and an attitude with them.
They are supposed to stop losing streaks and start winning streaks. They are supposed to be relied on for consistency and dominance, whether at home or in hostile road environments. In the few years that Santana has been here, he has seldom done any of this.
He hasn't lived up to the reputation or the contract of an ace. Injuries have been the frequent excuse, and with good reason. But there comes a point in time when a team must recognize the contributions, or lack thereof, from it's key contributors.
He has one of the lowest run support averages over the last few seasons. That is certainly a factor, but an ace is expected to have a handful of bad outings where his team will have to score several runs as opposed to just a few. The problem in his case, is that too often, he has forced the offense to score more than a few.
That pressure on an inconsistent offense is suicide for a team's success. His boasting and selfish mentality has alienated him to a degree as of late. His lack of production and consistency has dug the hole even deeper. Sooner or later, the impatient fan base that worships and defends his every action, will grow tired of defending stat lines like he posted up in Philadelphia.
They will turn on him if he continues at that pace. He needs to get himself together before he can try to get his team together. I can only speculate that there has been an issue with him so far this season overall. Whether that issue is physical or mechanical, he did right it in his last outing, but his overall consistency has not been there for a team that desperately needs it.
He has not been the pitcher that Mets GM Omar Minaya envisioned him to be when Minaya traded for him from Minnesota. When he makes claims, such as he is the "best pitcher in the NL East", in response to the rival Phillies trading for league ace Roy Halladay, then pitches the way he has, it makes him and the team look foolish. If he were to truly be a leader, he must stop talking until his consistency can back up his boasts.
Next on my list, is David Wright. Personally, I like him too and think he is the best candidate for the role, however, there are issues. He does not routinely show emotion or speak out enough to be the leader of this team. There are three things that are true about him.
First, he shows up everyday and works his tail off to be successful and to maintain success. That example is more than enough to speak volumes for him. But it is not enough to speak loudly enough to gain the collective attentions of those in the locker room to respond to his direction. Some may follow his example, but not his lead.
Second, he always confronts the media and is the face of the franchise. Through good or bad games, he is the last to leave because he is facing the media storm that is New York. He addresses them with grace and character, but again, that example is not enough to be a leader.
Third, he hows little emotion. The other day, he argued with the home plate umpire, and it seemed out of his character due to the rarity of his outbursts. If he showed a little more emotion and addressed members of the team that are at fault a little more, he would be the leader. As it stands, he is not.
Perhaps, this maturity that he is showing as not just the face of the franchise, but the source of its fire as well, will be enough to catapult him into that role. Emotion can be good if not overused. It is a thin rope to balance. Should he learn to do so, he will be the Mets leader for the next decade.
The rest of the names on my list are interesting, but not probable, with one exception. Jose Reyes. I will get into him last, for now, let's move down the list. Next, is K-Rod, Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod is the closer. No team has ever had a closer as its' leader. From Trevor Hoffman and John Franco to Lee Smith and Dennis Eckersly, other players have filled that void for one good reason.
A closer's role is too infrequent. They can be leaders in a core group of players, but not the essential figure. They just aren't on the field enough. K-Rod has the heart and the mouth but not the man hours required to truly take the attention of the clubhouse.
In the final part of this article series, I will examine the rest of the list that includes such names as Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Ike Davis and Jose Reyes among others. As we continue to look for a leader for this ragtag group of misfits that we root for and gladly call, the Metropolitans.