The Mets Are Exposed As A Team Without Clubhouse Leaders

Mets Face Of The Team - Francisco Lindor (Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

Someone on the Mets should have been there to corral the outliers who embarrassed the entire team. There was no one, and that’s a problem.

The Mets are playing a doubleheader today against the Marlins, and life goes on. Two of the three engagers in the recent Thumbs Gate episode are in Luis Rojas‘ lineup this afternoon, but Javier Baez is not.

Mets Javier Baez (NY Daily News)
Mets Javier Baez (NY Daily News)

Is that sending a message? Is Baez awaiting disciplinary action from the team as the main culprit, or will Rojas just say he’s giving him the afternoon off?

If not for this year then for 2022, the Mets need to investigate the forensics of what went on, who did what and fix it.

Mets: Don’t Put This One On The Media

It’s not as some claim a media invention to create space on pages like this one – Baez did not “tip” anyone in the media.

Instead, it’s something that happened – a direct assault on Mets fans from players who should know better.

Part of that internal investigation and I stress internal, is to discover why and how Luis Rojas was “unaware” of what was taking place twenty feet from him in the Mets dugout.

Beyond that, though, is the question of which Mets players, much closer to the “action”, where were they and why didn’t they intervene to stop it?

Mets: A Vacuum Of Leadership

Mets Pete Alonso: An Introspective Approach to 2021 (Getty images)
Mets Pete Alonso: An Introspective Approach to 2021 (Getty images)

Since the departure of David Wright in 2018, the Mets have been rudderless and floating with a vacuum of leadership.

Some Mets fans will not like this, but Pete Alonso is not a team leader. He like the limelight of the media too much, and he pops off with meaningless “Yeah rah, go team go” speeches that seem intended to make only himself look good.

Jacob deGrom leads by example and could fit the role, but he is not made of that stuff, choosing instead to perfect his craft, and who can fault him for that?

Francisco Lindor came to the Mets with enthusiasm, making no bones about being The Man on the Mets. He was greeted with equal enthusiasm for a while until his performance on the field failed to meet the bravado.

Mets: Thin-skinned players not welcome
Mets: Thin-skinned players not welcome

Following his friend Baez with the thumbs down message did him no good either, and it’s apparent Lindor has a lot of growing up to do in leading himself before he is qualified to lead others.

By now, the word is likely to have come down from the top to not engage the media on this subject – or else.

While Mets players will hold to that, it does not negate the chance and the hope there is someone who will take Baez, Lindor, and Jonathan Pillar, all newcomers to the team and playing in New York, to say, “Look, this is the way we do things here, and you guys are way off base.”

Coming from Cleveland and Chicago, Lindor and Baez have enjoyed only the adulation from their fans, and this has been used as an “excuse” for their behavior by some.

Except for the fact that each wanted to be here, with Baez practically begging the Cubs to trade him to the Mets.

This only says to this writer that they were impulsive and immature in not realizing the hotbed they were walking into, and they should have known thin-skinned players do not survive in New York.

While the Mets can eliminate Baez simply by not pursuing him as a free agent come November, Lindor is locked into a decade-long contract, with monies that make him virtually untradeable, even if the Mets wanted to move in that direction.

Lindor Has To Be A Mets Project

Lindor’s issues are two-fold. He not only has to grow up in a Mets uniform, but he also needs to recover from his disastrous offensive season in 2022, a dubious task at best.

Lindor is still a talent not worthy of being discarded or ignored, but who will be there to provide the helping hand he will most surely need not to fall off the wagon again.

Wilmer Flores, Giants Second Baseman
Wilmer Flores, Giants Second Baseman

I’m on thin ground here, so bear with me, but the Mets are predominantly a white team of position players. As a native of Puerto Rico, Lindor may need the front office to bring in a player (not named Baez) he can befriend, in much the same way he did with Baez.

In that light, the name that comes to mind is Wilmer Flores, a Venezualan who was with the Mets before. A 2022 free agent, Flores is playing a solid third and second base for the San Francisco Giants and has a slash line of .248, 16 HR, 45 RBI, and a .748 OPS.

But if the Mets intended to bring Baez in to be best buddies with Lindor, the experiment and the dream are over, and they need to compensate for that.

As for the rest of the Mets team, I have no idea where the clubhouse leadership will come from. Brandon Nimmo has the makeup of a team captain to be, and Michael Conforto, until his gruesome season was being groomed for the role, come to mind, but neither has stepped up to the microphone to speak for the team as the season has cratered.

Ironically, as I’m writing this, Mets radio announcers Howie Rose and Gary Cohen are asking the same question: Who among this team is there to be the team leader?

They let it go, getting back to the game at hand, but it was a topic accents the point.

Mets: It’s On The Front Office

With all of this, the focus has to return to the Mets front office and what they will do this offseason, with hopefully an accent on finding players who already have leadership credentials.

It’ll be a tug of war between finding and signing those players versus the need to add starting pitching, but that’s why Sandy Alderson and Zack Scott get paid the big bucks.

As much as the Mets have shown themselves to be a group filled with team spirit, no one player emerges with the credentials of a team leader in the clubhouse.

That was missing in this latest episode that set the Mets back from Steve Cohen’s goal to change the “culture” of the Mets.

There’s a chance to correct that during the upcoming offseason because this group is clearly lacking in mixing in an important ingredient in any team’s recipe for a winning season…

Here’s What Readers Are Saying…

David Rey True story.

Rick Velez If they start winning this will all go away! Because they are losing this has become an ongoing story! The 86 Mets had worst stories than this but because they were winning it wasn’t talked about.

Bruce Sadler Sometimes you want something and get it. Then you wish you can give it back. They wanted Baez, not sure this is what they wanted from him

Paul Costello No leaders, no talent, clueless homer fans, lost management. It goes on and on

JJ Senior We know Degrom is in the clubhouse even though he’s not pitching.

Arthur Esannason Sr. I guess Cohen’s wife, mom or dad should reel him in first. Let’s say your a teacher and the students boo you every day how would you feel. I’ve never met anyone who liked to be criticized for things thrown at them. Baseball is a game of inches and ups and downs

John Bruggeman Well said …

Jonathan Joty Salas The clubhouse leaders are the ones that did the and everyone was cool with it. Yikes, is that true?

Steve Bergon No real leaders.. a man batting 220 cannot lead.. especially a new arrival.. and Alonso repeats the same sentences every day.. where is Mr. MET WHEN WE NEED HIM??

Heidi Stout Nice article Steve. Sadly, I see no one capable of filling our beloved captain’s shoes among our current crop of players.

Wes Clark You are 100% correct. When they’re winning it goes unnoticed. But when there’s a big inter-squad problem, there’s no Keith, or Edgardo, or Knight to step in and guide them thru it. Polar Pete, at least now, isn’t the answer. We thought maybe it’d be Lindor, but uhhhh, nope.

Closing Published Comments And Final Thoughts

With game two underway, we’ll close published comments on this one.

Alas, readers agree. The Mets are minus a team leader who can control and influence the clubhouse.

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Steve Contursi
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.