May 17

Mets Must Option Ike Davis; It’s The Only Way To Save Him

The Mets’ lineup for today’s game in Chicago has Ike Davis batting clean up, just where Terry Collins promised he would. Collins said Davis will hit fourth today and tomorrow, but doesn’t know where he’ll bat – if he bats at all – Sunday against left-hander Travis Wood.

“Through this weekend,’’ Collins told reporters yesterday in St. Louis after Davis went 0-for-5, including four strikeouts. “I told him last week that this week, when we play against right-handed pitchers, he’s going to hit fourth. That’s where he belongs. And that’s where he’s supposed to hit.’’

DAVIS: We've seen this reaction a lot.

DAVIS: We’ve seen this reaction a lot.

That is, of course, if he’s hitting at all, which Davis is not. He takes a 0-for-22 slide and .157 average into today’s game. Davis already has 45 strikeouts and is on pace for 192. Here’s another way to look at things: If his strikeouts were hits, he would be batting .354.

I realize this is a different era, but Davis’ strikeouts are inexcusable. He didn’t seemed concerned about them when I spoke with him earlier this spring, telling me he’s a home run hitter, that he likes to hit home runs and strike outs are part of the package.

That’s nonsense, and in some ways, just as selfish as Jordany Valdespin’s styling after hitting a meaningless home run.

No matter how you slice it, a strike out is a wasted at-bat. So many things can happen if you put the ball in play: you can get a hit; reach on an error; drive in a run; or simply advance the runner into scoring position.

You don’t do anything when you strike out, and the worst thing about Davis now is that he doesn’t grasp that concept.

Mets hitters average just under ten strikeouts a game, which,means they aren’t putting the ball in play for a third of the game. No wonder they are losing.

Everybody in the normal starting line up but Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy are on pace for over 100 strikeouts, and the double-play combination is on pace for nearly 170, so it’s not like we’re talking that great an improvement.

I don’t know what Collins will do after this weekend, but the Mets need to move Davis, and I don’t mean to seventh in the order.

If the Mets honestly believe Davis is their future first baseman based on the 32 homers he gave them last year, then sending him to the minor leagues is their best option so he can straighten his head and shorten his swing. If the Mets don’t believe he’s their future, then sending him to the minor leagues is their best option because it will give somebody else a chance to play.

Davis said he’s been hitting the ball well during this slide, which is puzzling, and he’s not even in agreement with Collins on what’s the problem. Collins said Davis is missing off-speed and breaking pitches, but Davis says otherwise.

Collins said teams are giving Davis a steady dose of off-speed pitches. Davis said that’s only partially true. He’s missing fastballs early in the count and becomes vulnerable for the off-speed pitches with two strikes.

“It’s not the off-speed that I’m missing,’’ Davis said. “I’m missing the fastballs. When you miss the fastballs, they have pretty good off-speed pitches in the big leagues. `And when you have two strikes, you’ve got to protect [against] the fastball at 97 mph. And then there’s a good off-speed pitch. The bottom line is I need to hit the pitch earlier in the count that’s over the plate, and hit it in fair play.’’

Huh? Did you get all that? If you did you should get frequent flier miles for following him all over the map.

Overall, Davis is missing the off-speed pitch because that’s what he’s getting. There’s not reason why a pitcher would throw him a fastball. Yes, he’s missing them, too, when he gets one.

One scout told me Davis isn’t doing anything right at the plate, that he’s pull happy and doesn’t use the entire field, let alone go to left. He said Davis is in love with the home run, which is killing any chance he has to become a solid hitter.

Is it too late for Davis to live up to the expectations?

Davis can be salvaged, but not on this level. When he gets home he’ll hear the booing just as Jason Bay heard them and the pressure will only intensify.

The Mets must send him to the minor leagues and keep him there until he changes his approach. Minor league results are meaningless; the Mets must see a change in style. Davis must learn to be patient and wait for his pitch. He must eschew the low-and-away breaking stuff; he must stop trying to pull everything.

If his approach improves and he’s making consistent contact, the home runs will come. If he stays on his current approach, he’ll soon be an ex-Met. Josh Statin and Zach Lutz can be brought up, if nothing else, to see what they can give the Mets. As of now, it can’t be any less than what Davis gives  them.

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May 16

Mets Wrap: Jon Niese Shines In Win Over Cards

Four more strikeouts from Ike Davis, another boneheaded play from Jordany Valdespin, and another lumbering Met thrown out trying to steal, and yet The Boys From Flushing beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-2, today to snap a six-game losing streak. The reasons were mostly Jon Niese’s strong performance of working into the eighth inning and four hits from Daniel Murphy.

NIESE: Breaks slide.

NIESE: Breaks slide.

ON THE MOUND: Niese was superb, and it didn’t have anything to do with the color of his wife’s panties. Niese threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 29 hitters and registered 14 groundball outs. … He gave up two runs in 6.2 innings. … Bobby Parnell earned his fourth save.

AT THE PLATE: Murphy went 4-for-4. … David Wright drove in two runs. … Davis’ four strikeouts upped his total to 45 and put him on pace for 192. Here’s another way to look at things: If his strikeouts were hits, he would be batting .354. … Unbelievably, with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, Valdespin bunted on his own. … Mets hitters struck out 11 more times.

THEY SAID IT: “Today was an awful day. I can’t really say anything else. Just really bad.’’ – Davis after going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts Thursday.

BY THE NUMBERS:  22: Consecutive hitless at-bats by Davis.

ON DECK: Matt Harvey will attempt to break his string of four straight no-decisions Friday at Wrigley Field.

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May 16

Found: Guts In Mets Clubhouse

Finally, guts.

LaTroy Hawkins has been around a long time. He has forgotten more about clubhouse protocol than most Mets will ever know.

Yes, we’re talking again about Jordany Valdespin, this time Hawkins’ take on the matter to national baseball writer Bob Nightengale.

Nightengale has been around a long time. He knows the ropes, and after years of living in Minneapolis developed a relationship of trust with Hawkins, a long-time Twin.

“What were we supposed to do there? We were down six runs, he hits a home run and he acts like it’s a walk-off,’’ Nightengale said of Valdespin’s posing after a meaningless home run.

“This isn’t Little League. What, now we’re supposed to get into a fight for that? We’re supposed to throw at somebody because he did a bonehead thing? Now, if they throw at him for no reason, that’s a different story. We protect our team. But to do what he did put us in a bad spot, a real bad spot.

“He showed absolutely no respect. If you’re going to pimp it, you’re going to suffer the consequences. I have no problem defending my teammates, but some things, you just can’t defend against. He’s created a lot of unnecessary tension around here.’’

Earlier today, I listed several action steps for Sandy Alderson. I wonder if he’s taken the temperature in his clubhouse. I wonder if he’s spoken to a veteran like Hawkins.

I don’t expect a general manager to act on the basis of one quote, but I do expect him to know the sentiments of his players.

Perhaps the Mets will wise up and get rid of Valdespin soon, but for now he’s in the starting line-up as the leadoff hitter in right field.

Here’s today’s line-up as the Mets attempt in St. Louis to avoid a seventh straight defeat:

Jordany Valdespin, RF: Whatever he does today, let’s hope he’s quiet about it.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Broke out of slump with seven hits in last four games.

David Wright, 3B: Coming off his worst game of the season with a costly run-generating error and three strikeouts. Is batting .419 with runners in scoring position.

Ike Davis, 1B: Hitless in 11 at-bats in the three games so far against Cardinals. Overall, one hit in last 20 at-bats and hitting .164.

Lucas Duda, LF: Hitless in ten at-bats in the series. Is .143 (3-21) with runners in scoring position.

John Buck, C: Thrown out twice at second Wednesday night. Why was he trying to steal?

Rick Ankiel, CF: Homered last night.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Batting .174 for month of May.

Jonathan Niese, LHP: Hasn’t won in five starts. Has to try to do it with this line-up.

May 13

Mets Wrap: Jeremy Hefner Gives Quality Start; Offense Does Not

The newest Met, Rick Ankiel, couldn’t hold onto Ty Wigginton’s sinking line drive for a double. Wigginton then scored from second on an infield hit off pitcher Scott Rice. Matt Holliday followed with a two-run homer, and just like that it was over and the Mets had their fourth straight loss, 6-3, at St. Louis to fall seven games below .500.

HEFNER: Good, just not good enough. (AP)

HEFNER: Good, just not good enough. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Jeremy Hefner had his third straight quality start, giving up three runs in six innings. Hefner retired the last ten hitters he faced. Even so, the Mets are now 0-7 when he starts. … Rice and Scott Atchison combined to give up three runs on five hits.

AT THE PLATE: The Mets had four hits, three from Daniel Murphy. … Ten more strikeouts by Mets hitters, surprisingly, none by Ike Davis or Lucas Duda.

METS MATTERS: Reliever Frank Francisco has a mild strain of the flexor pronator in his right elbow. He will be shut down for 72 hours before he resumes throwing. … Outfielder Andrew Brown was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Ankiel.

THEY SAID IT:  “We aren’t scoring. I told him he got us to where we needed to be.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on Hefner’s performance.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12: Number of times in their last 16 games the Mets scored three runs or less.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee (2-4), Shaun Marcum (0-3) and Jonathan Niese (2-4) will be the Mets’ next three starters in this series against John Gast (0-0), Shelby Miller (5-2) and Adam Wainwright (5-2) for the Cardinals.

 

 

 

May 13

Mets Add Rick Ankiel As Their Season Goes To The Brink

How much will Rick Ankiel help the Mets is hard to say. After all, he misses on 42 percent of his swings, which even exceeds Ike Davis’ ineptitude.

Even so, I like today’s signing because he can play better defense in center than anybody else the Mets will throw out there. Plus, he can hit the occasional home run.

I guess best of all, is it should reduce Jordany Valdespin’s playing time even more.

Ankiel was hitting .194 with five homers before being released by Houston. Ankiel will start tonight, but the plan is to platoon him with Juan Lagares.

The Mets, losers of three straight to Pittsburgh, begin a four-game series tonight in St. Louis against the Cardinals, who have the National League’s best record.

Jeremy Hefner (0-4), Dillon Gee (2-4), Shaun Marcum (0-3) and Jonathan Niese (2-4) will pitch in this series against Lance Lynn (5-1), John Gast (0-0), Shelby Miller (5-2) and Adam Wainwright (5-2) for the Cardinals. That is a combined 4-15 against 15-5, which is about as lopsided as you can get.

After St. Louis, the Mets will have three games in Wrigley Field, where they have not played well in recent years.

The Mets will then have three games each against Cincinnati and Atlanta, and four with the Yankees. That’s an imposing stretch for the Mets, who are a season-low six games below .500.

It is sad to say, but the Mets could be a dozen games or more below .500 before June. Forget about them being out of it by the All-Star break, their season could be over before we get into summer.

Yes, the Mets’ season is clearly on the brink not long after they’ve thawed out from Minnesota and Colorado. If the rest of the month plays out as expected, then there’s not much else to look forward to than more Jordany Valdespin tantrums.

Here’s tonight’s lineup in St. Louis:

Mike Baxter, RF

Daniel Murphy, 2B

David Wright, 3B

Ike Davis, 1B

Lucas Duda, LF

John Buck, C

Rick Ankiel, CF

Ruben Tejada, SS

Jeremy Hefner, RHP