Feb 25

Mets Still Unsettled At Shortstop; Not Thrilled With Ruben Tejada

It’s not hard to figure out the New York Mets aren’t thrilled with the prospect of entering the season with Ruben Tejada as their shortstop. Despite off-season assertions from GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins they would be happy with Tejada, there are events to the contrary.

TEJADA: Still under fire.

TEJADA: Still under fire.

Despite praise for Tejada’s participation in an off-season fitness camp in Michigan, there have been reports he’s not exactly buff. This can’t please Collins, who has already called out Tejada on his work ethic.

Perhaps, the most damning stories have been the reports from outside camp, beginning with the incessant drum beating to sign Stephen Drew coupled with Alderson’s reluctance to draw the line on the subject.

Either the Mets want Drew or they don’t. “Most unlikely [we will sign him],’’ as Alderson says, leaves open the door. That’s definitely not good news for Tejada and leaves the impression the Mets don’t know what they are doing.

For those scoring at home, Alderson entered the off-season with upgrading shortstop and first base as priorities and did neither. Funny, in the first week of full-squad workouts both are in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

Next are reports the Mets are interested in Seattle’s Nick Franklin, which tells us Drew’s asking price remains high, and it goes beyond the compensatory draft pick as an obstacle.

Just as they were with Ike Davis, the Mets’ ambivalence in addressing possible Tejada replacements indicate there’s little desire to keep him if there’s an affordable alternative.

As for Drew, his agent Scott Boras, has him working out in a facility he set up outside of Miami. The sticking point is the compensatory draft pick and there have been reports Drew could stay out until after the June amateur draft when that condition is removed.

Hopefully, the Mets will have a shortstop they are happy with by then.

ON DECK:  Have to like what Buck Showalter did.

 

Feb 25

For Ike Davis, Motivation Should Come From Within, Not Yelling At Reporters

One of the more ridiculous things I’ve read in the wake of the Ike Davis-Mike Puma verbal spat is the notion this will motivate the underperforming first baseman. If that’s the case, the New York Mets have a greater problem than they thought.

That thinking is flawed on many levels. As a professional athlete, if Davis needs a confrontation with a reporter to fire him up, it says little about his mental constitution.

DAVIS: Needs to motivate from within (Getty)

DAVIS: Needs to motivate from within (Getty)

It says that constitution is weak.

A professional athlete should be motivated first by pride and a sense of accomplishment. These rank even ahead of money, as often times you’ll hear if a player is solely motivated by dollars his fire dies and the game becomes a grueling job.

The hottest fire is the desire to compete, and yelling at a reporter is misguided and wasted energy. If Davis need jousting with Puma to get him going then he’s in the wrong profession.

If you’ve seen Davis struggle you have to know his pride is wounded. That is where the rebuilding must originate. Arguing with a reporter does nothing to restore his pride, unless he thinks it makes him big in the eyes of his teammates. Even then, most were probably thinking to themselves, “please Ike, shut up.’’

Davis’ confidence is in tatters for the simple reason because what worked for him in high school, college and minor leagues abandoned him in the major leagues.

The competition level is much greater and Davis has not adjusted. Those few good moments he’s enjoyed in his MLB season were snuffed out by superior pitching and betting that he could play through injuries and he doesn’t know how to react.

One just does not restore confidence without a fundamental overhaul, which in Davis’ case is his basic Neanderthal approach to hitting of  “I see ball, I must crush it.’’

Davis labels himself as a “home run’’ hitter with the understanding “strikeouts will happen.’’

What Davis doesn’t understand is why strikeouts happen, which are because of both mechanical and mental flaws. The two become linked.

Davis wants to pull the ball and does use the whole field. Doing so leaves himself open to the mechanical issues of pulling his head off the pitch and opening up too quickly.

When that happens, there’s no way he can hit the outside pitch, especially if it is a breaking ball. He’s simply not in good hitting position.

Davis also has a terrible hitch and dramatically moves his hands before the pitch arrives, leaving him behind and slow in his swing.

The more he struggled with mechanics, the greater the frustration and the more he pressed. It grows into a vicious cycle.

If Davis said he was hurt last year I believe him, but what I don’t accept is the injury did not affect him. Being in pain makes it hard to swing the bat and slows everything.

And, hitting is about being quick. Be quick with your thinking and pitch recognition, with your hands, with your hips.

A slow hitter walks back to the dugout. And, yelling at a reporter does nothing to speed up your swing.

Mechanics are the issue and in Davis’ case they stem from a poor approach. That good stretch of at-bats he needs to get him going – as some said – will never come unless he changes his thinking.

Look, Davis said he wants to be with the Mets and I believe him. Yesterday probably hurt the chances of the Mets making a trade because the perception is Davis is a headache in the clubhouse.

And, in the parking lot.

That Davis continued with Puma in the parking lot shows he didn’t adjust to the incident from earlier in the morning. Much like he hasn’t adjusted to the down-and-away slider.

ON DECK: Ruben Tejada a question – again

Feb 24

Mets’ Manager Terry Collins Wants Players To Reveal Injuries

Ike Davis isn’t the first New York Met to withhold an injury from manager Terry Collins and won’t be the last.

He’s just the latest, and his recent revelation he concealed an oblique injury last season perplexed and frustrated his manager.

COLLINS: Not pleased with Davis. (AP)

COLLINS: Not pleased with Davis. (AP)

As Davis struggled at the plate, he denied anything was bothered him. On Sunday he opened up to the New York Post and indicated he didn’t report anything to the medical staff because it was about the time he was to be optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and didn’t want people to think he was making excuses.

Davis admonished the reporter Monday morning, and by the afternoon Collins was in the storm – and not pleased about it.

“There’s got to be a conversation,’’ Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “And then certainly it’s up to me to decide which way to proceed. … As I look back now, everything would have been better off had he said something, and certainly he’ll hopefully learn from it that he needs to speak up.’’

Davis defended his actions, telling The Post, players perform injured all the time and he didn’t want to come off as making excuses. At the time, Davis said he was fine, but clearly something was off.

Collins said it goes beyond pain and discomfort.

“Once again, I can’t address it because I don’t know how bad it was,’’ Collins said. “Was it aggravating? Was there pain? Did it hurt you to swing? Were you trying to protect it coming off the ball? I mean, there’s all sorts of different things. And I certainly don’t have any answers for you.’’

All managers receive a daily report from the training staff on the extent of an injury and whether the player received treatment. If Davis said nothing, then Collins wasn’t given any information.

That this story came out the way it did is embarrassing to Collins and the Mets, an organization that has received its share of criticism on how it treats injuries.

The Mets received heat for how it dealt with injuries to Ryan Church, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes and Pedro Martinez to name a few.

Last summer, they were embarrassed when the story broke that Matt Harvey wasn’t forthcoming on pain to his forearm, which eventually landed him on the disabled list and under the knife.

There were conflicting reports as to when Collins and the Mets’ hierarchy knew of Harvey’s injury. Collins said he never received a trainer’s report.

Of course we can speculate – and rightfully so – as to whether that lack of disclosure cost Harvey this season.

One understands a player’s desire to perform and help his team, but such intent isn’t always beneficial. Harvey, Davis and the Mets would all have been better off had players reported the injury immediately.

Not doing so shows poor judgment, but it is also something players have done for years, especially young players such as Harvey and struggling ones like Davis. Sometimes fear, and sometimes the competitive juices drown out good judgment.

No, Davis won’t be the last Met to feel something and hold his tongue.

ON DECK: Wrapping the day.

 

Feb 24

No Guarantee Mets Would Have Gotten Nelson Cruz For Bargain Price

It is an oversimplification to suggest the New York Mets could have signed Nelson Cruz for the same $8 million the Orioles did, if not a little more. Especially when juxtaposed against the Chris Young signing for $7.25 million.

I was against the Young signing, but that had nothing to do with Cruz, whom I would have balked against because of his connection to PEDs and defensive liabilities.

The Mets signed Young prior to the Winter Meetings when the market was fresh. Cruz was signed after spring training had begun.

Don’t forget at the time the Mets were apprehensive about giving up a compensatory draft pick. They didn’t have to surrender a pick for Young.

The market has dwindled dramatically since they signed Young. GM Sandy Alderson, who initially suggested he might let things play out in the market, had no way of knowing Cruz would sign for what he did, especially when the early reports had him asking for $75 million over five years.

Signing a power-hitting outfielder was a primary need and Alderson rolled the dice with Young. His odds were more in his favor later with Curtis Granderson.

But, for Cruz, who would have guessed this?

Maybe had the Mets re-visited Cruz with a low-ball offer, he could have signed with them, but the feeling is it wouldn’t have been a good fit because of the PED issue.

And, had they inked both Young and Cruz to one-year deals, the odds are good they would have needed to shop again for outfielders next winter.

As for Cruz, this is the best thing that could happen to him because it affords him an opportunity to put up monster numbers in bandbox Camden Yards and try free agency against next year.

ON DECK: Collins wants players to reveal injuries.

Feb 24

Mets’ Ike Davis Doesn’t Like Story; Did Not Refute Accuracy

New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis isn’t happy with a recent story that concealed an oblique injury last season.

DAVIS:  Unhappy with story. (AP)

DAVIS: Unhappy with story. (AP)

Davis said he didn’t report the injury because he was about to be optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and didn’t want it to sound like an excuse.

On Monday, Davis did not refute the Post’s Mike Puma’s accuracy, but instead took him to task for writing it in the first place.

“You made it look like, you know, it’s an excuse,’’ Davis said. “That’s not what the story — it shouldn’t have been a story anyway. Because that’s what we talked about before you wrote it, was we shouldn’t write this, because that doesn’t matter. But that was nowhere in the article.’’

There are two things to note: 1) if Davis didn’t think it was a story, he shouldn’t have answered the questions, and 2) he should have been more forthcoming about the injury.

When he saw Puma writing in his notebook, he had to know there would be a story.

Even manager Terry Collins said had he known of the injury the team might have handled things differently.

To his credit, Davis didn’t deny the quotes, and in his strongest comment as a Met, said: “I sucked last year because I sucked. It’s not because I had an injury.’’

I’m glad Davis didn’t hide under the “I was misquoted’’ umbrella, and here’s hoping he learned something.

We admire athletes who play with pain, but sometimes playing with an injury could come back to haunt them. I have been critical of Matt Harvey and David Wright playing injured, if for no other reason they risked further injury and might have jeopardized their team’s chances of winning.

With Harvey, doing so might have caused his elbow injury and subsequent surgery. With Davis, it might have lead to a dreadful season and the Mets’ desire to trade him.

When you’re a gamer like Wright, like Harvey and like Davis, nobody will question when you call in sick one day.

ON DECK:  Thoughts on Nelson Cruz