(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
You feel the leadership that has grown in the New York Mets clubhouse over the past few weeks. At the trading deadline, Juan Uribe who played for two world championship teams was acquired as was another veteran, Kelly Johnson.
And a young veteran, Yoenis Cespedes became one of those new acquisitions that GM Sandy Alderson acquired before the deadline. Though Johnson has yet to make an impact in the lineup of manager Terry Collins, his leadership skills of being on seven previous teams has also made a contribution.
Collins has more to work with when putting a winning lineup in place, and the bench has more options. Just reflect who Collins had in his lineup as his cleanup hitter a few weeks ago. John Mayberry Jr. batting cleanup with a .189 average and Erik Campbell batting before him with an average a pinch over the .200 mark.
Campbell will return from Triple -A Las Vegas when rosters expand on September 1st, and Mayberry, since released is now in the White Sox organization. So the veterans came and another one, Michael Cuddyer returned from the disabled list.
The complexion of losing became a winning formula for Collins and the New York Mets. And it was Uribe, Cuddyer, and the new so called veteran, Cespedes, who were the latest part of the winning formula Wednesday night at Citi Field as the Mets won their seventh straight 3-0 over the Colorado Rockies.
And with a Nationals loss to the Dodgers, the Mets increased their first place lead in the NL East to 3-½ games. Uribe and Cuddyer with a run scoring double and single, recorded their 1,500 career hits. Cespedes with a two-out home run in the eighth inning got his first one as a Met.
It is obvious how the addition of Cespedes has meant so much to the lineup. And it is obvious that the presence of Uribe has made an impact, even though the most important formula for this team has been the dominant pitching of what is turning out to be the young and dangerous arms of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard.
The last two nights, Harvey and deGrom have gone deep into games and provided New York with consecutive shutouts since July 5-6 at the Dodgers and Giants, and it is the first time Mets hurlers have thrown back-to-back shutouts at home since since last September 9-10 against the Rockies.
Syndergaard will be on the mound for the early Thursday afternoon finale and will try and extend the winning streak and get the four-game sweep over the Rockies. Collins will decide who among the veterans will get the start, and if not he will always have one coming off the bench.
Said Uribe, when asked about what he sees as a veteran on a team that needs his leadership: “I’d say this team, they play together. They play like family. They go play the game to win the game. I think it’s a good team. I like it.”
He has seen some of the best on the mound, including his stints with the world championship San Francisco teams. “Every team should have a pitcher like that,” he said about deGrom. He saw Harvey continue to dominate and Syndergaard once again gets his turn Thursday.
But it is that leadership, something that Collins has alluded to more than once. A few weeks ago, when the Mets could not buy a hit and when the Nationals seemed to be pulling away with the division lead, Cuddyer was one of a few veterans that could take control of a losing clubhouse and that was significant with the absence of David Wright.
Wright will join the fun again soon, and that can only help with the Mets looking more like a playoff bound team. Collins also has said, games the Mets are winning now would not have been won last year and Uribe with a sparkling play at third kept the Rockies off the board.
“Been lucky to get these guys here,” Collins said about Cuddyer and Uribe. “He (Uribe) plays the game right and that’s what makes the difference in the clubhouse. When the star players play like that if you don’t play like that it is so obvious it needs to be addressed.”
He added,” It’s hard to find guys. Michael Cuddyer knows how to win and it’s catchy in there.” Collins went as far to address that if a former player he managed, Jordany Valdespin had been in the same clubhouse with Uribe, well perhaps his tenure with the Mets would have been different.
Cuddyer is showing that leadership. Still a little sore after a brief stint on the disabled list with inflammation to the left knee, Cuddyer is showing the leadership and has been a part of this winning formula and confidence to the younger players.
Collins continues to make that leadership and confidence a point to this winning formula.
Said Cuddyer: “A lot of what you do with veteran leadership is not what you say. “It’s how you act and that is what wears off on younger players. They see that. The veteran guys are always even keel on the higher level. it kinda rubs off on the younger guy.”
And it seems to be working because the Mets have this winning formula that is so evident which has been carrying from the clubhouse on to the field.