The first thing to cross my mind hearing about the Ike Davis demotion is: What grievous thing did he do that he hasn’t done all season to finally cause Sandy Alderson to act?
Seriously, what took Alderson so long? All of a sudden Alderson watched the flailing first baseman and said, “Hey, this has to stop.’’ I find that hard to believe. What I don’t find hard to believe is Alderson and his GM posse started feeling their own heat and acted to deflect the attention from them. Davis’ mounting strikeouts – on a pace for nearly 200 – were too close to home to ignore any longer.
It was a move that had to be made, but should have been done a month ago. I wonder if doing it now will have the roster-wide impact it might have had if made before the season spiraled away.
Davis should have been out of here some thirty strikeouts ago. Sacking him, along with Mike Baxter and Robert Carson, barely registers a yawn, especially when they are to be replaced by Josh Satin, Josh Edgin and Collin Cowgill. Seriously, that’s going to turn things around?
This long overdue move after losing another series to the Miami Marlins – at least with Davis – smacks of knee-jerk panic. What better way to erase the image of last weekend than with a purge of a player who has become a fan target?
The Davis demotion reminds me of Oliver Perez in that two non-producing players became polarizing presences in the clubhouse. When Alderson finally got rid of Perez, it really didn’t matter because under-performing had become accepted.
Reportedly, Davis was kept afloat because he was supposedly “a good guy’’ and David Wright lobbied for him. If Alderson didn’t do something because of Davis’ personality, he’s at fault for not acting in the best interests of the team.
Personality-wise, Davis was the anti-Perez, but was he really? Like Perez, Davis resisted the minor leagues because he insisted he had to learn to hit pitchers on the major league level.
Contractually, Perez was within his rights, but that didn’t win him points in the clubhouse as the Mets continued to lose and others lost their jobs for not producing. It didn’t help Perez that he became sullen and moody and refused to go to the minor leagues to work on his mechanics.
Davis is the flip side; he is a good teammate. Even so, there’s not a lot of goodwill that can be purchased with a .161 batting average. Others, notably Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, were sent down after long stretches of ineptitude that barely sniffed Davis’ droughts. Davis has more strikeouts than hits and walks combined, which is incomprehensible. Yet, he stayed?
The stock answer is Davis will be in Triple-A Las Vegas until he shows he’s capable of hitting, but his return can’t be a results-driven decision. The Mets can’t be seduced by a hot weekend from Davis and assume he’s better.
Success must be measured by an attitude and mechanics change, which is exceedingly difficult to judge as Davis is a mess in everything he does at the plate.
When asked Davis about his strikeouts totals this spring, his response was, “I am a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs. There’s going to be strikeouts.’’
That response is garbage on so many levels, beginning with the statement of being a home run hitter. Davis is NOT a home run hitter; he is a strikeouts machine. He is a rally killer. For him, home runs are the product of being lucky.
Davis resists the idea of using the whole field and is consumed by pulling the ball in the air. He knows nothing about patience at the plate and protecting himself. That’s a mental approach that must be torn down and rebuilt.
Mechanically, he’s off-balance and slowed by a horrid hitch. He drops his hands prior to the start of the swing and raises them again before striking at the ball. It’s going to take a long time to reshape his swing. With Davis, contact isn’t the by-product of hard work, but by accident.
I know what hitter Davis wants to become, but it won’t happen with that approach and those mechanics. Davis needs to start over, and if that means staying in Vegas the entire season, then so be it.
I hope Davis packed more than just a carry on bag for this trip.
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