New York Mets News

David Wright Throws Down the N.L. East Gauntlet

By Adam Garnett

I’ll say this for the Mets players…..They are never without confidence in late February. Following on the heals of  Carlos Beltran’s famous pronouncement in 2008 of “This year, tell Jimmy Rollins we are the team to beat,” , this time it was David Wright who fired the spring training salvo.

Two days ago, when Wright held his “State of the Mets” gathering with the press, he offered this bold statement:

"“We’re expecting to go out there and win the National League East and go deep in the playoffs and win the World Series. That is the expectation I’ve gotten from the guys who are here early, and I [expect] this team is to get back to where we are winning the National League East.”"

The positive chatter is all well and good and it should hearten Mets fans to hear the face of their franchise refusing to get caught in the negative tidal wave that has swept over the team the past three season. Lord knows the rest of us have. But it is this doozy Wright threw out there that is most telling:

"“I hope its not the underdog role that gets guys fired up, I hope its the embarrassment of last year.”"

If that doesn’t sound like a quote from a guy who ready to claim an active leadership role on this team, then I don’t what would. It is clear now with the departure of Carlos Delgado that this is David Wright’s team. I think we’ve observed over the past few years that it really isn’t in Wright’s nature to be a rah-rah, in your face kind of guy, but there have been instances where it is apparent Wright has what it takes to be the captain of the Mets.

One I remember from last season was during one of Mike Pelfrey’s many maddening performances (this one vs. the Orioles in June). After Pelfrey completed an inning during which he was clearly struggling with command of his pitches and his fragile psyche, Wright dished out a little tough love to Big Pelf in the dugout. Following the game Wright here is what Wright told Adam Rubin of the Daily News:

"“It wasn’t really getting in his face or getting on him. It was more, ‘I think he’s got the kind of stuff to take that next step up.’ Right now, he’s been good. But I think he’s got a chance to really take it up a notch. … I just want to make sure he’s not satisfied with what he did tonight — that he can take it up a notch.”"

That sound like words from a guy who has belief in himself and respect from his teammates, the perfect ingredients for the leader of a baseball team. Again, with the dominating presence or Carlos Delgado gone, and with the energy and competitiveness of Jeff Francoeur by his side, it is time for David to take the reigns. Putting the “C” on the front of No. 5’s jersey would be a step in the right direction for this woebegone organization.