Oct 23

Mets Player Review: Ike Davis

ike-davis-gordon-donovan

IKE DAVIS, 1B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS

After missing most of the 2011 season with an ankle injury, Davis struggled for much of the first half but avoided a trip to the minor leagues with the promise of the 19 homers he slugged in his 2010 rookie season when he finished seventh in the Rookie of the Year balloting. Davis responded with a scorching second half in 2012 that salvaged his season with 32 homers and 90 RBI. The wishful thinking on the Mets’ part was two strong halves could lay the groundwork for perhaps the breakout season they had long hoped for the first baseman with the looping swing and game-breaking power. Even with the homers Davis produced some worrisome numbers, such as a .227 average, .308 on-base percentage, and 141-61 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. If Davis could cut down on his swing and improve his patience at the plate, why couldn’t he become a star?

CAREER STATS

Screenshot_2

2013 SEASON REVIEW

Davis didn’t come close to two strong halves. He didn’t even have two mediocre halves; try an awful first half and a poor second half. Davis couldn’t avoid the minor leagues this year, and consequently played in just 103 games with 317 at-bats. Davis hit .305 with a .326 on-base percentage, .334 slugging percentage, nine homers, 33 RBI and 101 strikeouts with 57 walks, and most discouraging, had no better plate presence when he returned than when he left for Triple-A Las Vegas. The season ended with speculation the Mets might not tender him a contract and let him leave as a free agent. Davis made $3.1 million last year, and even a miniscule arbitration raise would seem too much for the budget conscious Mets. The current plan is for Davis and Lucas Duda competing for the first base job in spring training.

LOOKING AT 2014

John Delcos Says: Manager Terry Collins said after the season he didn’t think it would be likely the Mets could carry both Davis and Duda coming out of spring training. Trading Davis for anything of quality would be highly unlikely this winter. Teams needing a first baseman might gamble on the Mets waiving Davis as not to give up a player. Should Davis make the Opening Day roster, how could anybody project with any confidence he will finally have a breakout season? Davis’ track record is one of injury and poor performance, with one good second half in 2012. Given that, there’s nothing other than blind hope for the Mets to expect anything productive from Davis. The season ended with Davis needing a lot of work to become a viable major leaguer let alone a good one. He didn’t get that work over the winter.

Satish R. Says: You know, if you asked me a couple days ago what I thought the organizational opinion was on Ike Davis — I’d tell you that they had no faith in him whatsoever. When they mentioned that first base is a position they wanted to upgrade at, it felt like the Mets were saying they had no confidence in Lucas Duda or Ike Davis — which is the feeling of most of the fanbase as well. But then I read this tweet from Jon Heyman that said the Mets passed on Abreu because of Davis, Duda, and guys like Josh SatinDaniel Murphy, and Wilmer Flores. Talk about your mixed signals, right?

If Sandy Alderson meant anything that he said about spending this offseason, and the team turns out to be in a better position — you have probably seen the last of Ike Davis in a Mets uniform. But honestly, if we’re not going to make any actual moves this winter, the Mets might as well tender Ike a contract and give him one last chance. As I always say, players don’t hit 32 home runs by accident, especially 22 in one half — so there’s potential there. I just don’t know if he’ll be able to tap into it again…

TOMORROW: Lucas Duda

Oct 17

Mets Won’t Go Long Term With Murphy, Gee Or Parnell

Should the New York Mets make any long-term contract offers, expect them to be made to those outside the organization.

The Mets locked up Jonathan Niese to a five-year, $25.5 million deal last season, but reportedly won’t make similar offers to extend those still under team control, a short list that includes Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee and Bobby Parnell. As of now, the Mets aren’t prepared to dole out to avoid their free-agent seasons.

Murphy and Parnell are signed through 2015 and Gee is signed through 2016. Because of their contractual status, all three are extremely tradable and the Mets will listen to offers.

Gee is arbitration eligible, but isn’t expected to break the bank. Neither would Murphy when it is his turn, and Parnell is currently coming off neck surgery.

Considering their financial structure, the Mets have exactly what they want with these players: low-cost certainty within the next three years.

The Mets announced Thursday outfielder Mike Baxter was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers, and lefty reliever Robert Carson was claimed by the Los Angeles Angels.

Baxter, the local kid from Whitestone who got the chance to play for his childhood team, hit only .189 with four RBI this season. He will always be remembered for making a circus catch to preserve Johan Santana’s 2012 no-hitter.

Baxter was injured on the play, which manager Terry Collins said impacted him this season.

Carson, 24, meanwhile threw hard and made a good first impression in 2012, but served up nine homers in 19.2 innings this year.

The Mets also removed ineffective relievers Greg Burke and Sean Henn from the 40-man roster. Both are expected to become free agents.

Oct 14

Mets Have Few Spots Without Questions

Let’s assume for a moment the New York Mets’ health questions – outside from Matt Harvey – are answered in the positive heading into spring training. If that’s the case, then let’s look what issues the Mets’ don’t qualify as pressing.

They don’t have a lot.

As I see it, they are only three deep in their rotation with Dillon Gee, Jon Niese and Zack Wheeler. All have performance questions, but if healthy I’m not overly concerned.

Gee won 12 games last year and 15 should not be out of the question. The same goes for Niese. Who among us doesn’t expect Wheeler to pitch the way Harvey did before he was injured?

Who wouldn’t take that now?

As far as the position players are concerned, the Mets are set in just two spots, and possibly a third. David Wright, of course, and can we please stop trying to replace Daniel Murphy when there are other concerns?

I have no problem with Murphy at second base, and for that matter, I’m also fine with Eric Young in left field, primarily because he surfaced above nine other options to be a productive leadoff hitter. Yes, a high on-base percentage would be good to see, but he made things happen at the top of the order and lead the National League in stolen bases.

And, don’t forget, the Mets only had him for half a season.

The expectations are high for Juan Lagares in center, but he has too many offensive issues. The same goes for Matt den Dekker. Translation: The outfield remains a mess.

There are no answers in the minor leagues and little chips to use to trade. That means they will have to spend, but is there anybody out there that makes you salivate?

I wrote optimistically the other day about the bullpen, but that’s if everything comes together. They appear to have plenty of options to build around, but nothing concrete, especially considering Bobby Parnell’s injury. Should Parnell not come back that’s a source for serious worry.

The back end of the rotation is a concern just as it was last year before Jeremy Hefner and Gee started pitching well. They have options they could bring back and others in the minors, but there’s too much uncertainty.

First base is a black hole and catcher Travis d’Arnaud hasn’t proven he can hit, although the pitchers appear to like him and his defense is promising.

The Mets as we know them today will not be your team come Opening Day. And, that’s a positive.

Oct 11

2013 Season Review: Daniel Murphy

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

DANIEL MURPHY, 2B

PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS

As often has been the case with Daniel Murphy, expectations were moderate at best. If given the chance, the Mets would have replaced him, but with more pressing needs they spent their limited resources elsewhere so Murphy remained in the lineup. After several years of searching for a position, Murphy finally settled in at second base and has improved defensively. As a .290 lifetime hitter with limited power, Murphy was expected to get on base and be a table setter as opposed to being a run producer. Murphy’s lifetime 162-game average is .290 with ten homers, 70 RBI and a .333 on-base percentage. However, for his reputation for being a contact hitter, Murphy has averaged 81 strikeouts with just 38 walks, which isn’t a good ratio. One thing the Mets could expect from Murphy is durability, as he played in 156 games with 571 at-bats in 2012.

2013 SEASON REVIEW

Murphy played in 161 games and settled in as the No. 2 hitter with 113 games started batting second. However, he started games batting first through six, plus ninth in the order. With injuries throughout the lineup, Murphy was a consistent presence. Murphy posted career highs in at-bats (658), hits (188), runs scored (92), homers (13), RBI (78), total bases (273) and stolen bases (23). A strong case can be made for him being the Mets’ MVP. However, Murphy also struck out a career-high 95 times while drawing only 32 walks. For his reputation as being a patient hitter, Murphy only had a .319 on-base percentage. Murphy proved reliable in the clutch with a .354 average with runners in scoring position and two outs; .305 with the game tied; and .297 with the Mets within one run.

LOOKING AT 2014

John Delcos Says:

General manager Sandy Alderson, in listing the Mets’ offseason priorities, said he could live with Murphy at second base. With Murphy’s propensity for delivering in the clutch, if the Mets can’t add a power bat, they might go with Juan Lagares hitting second and drop Murphy to the middle of the order where he would be in more RBI situations. Murphy will never be mistaken for Roberto Alomar defensively, but is gradually improving, especially in turning the double play. With Murphy coming off his most productive season, he’ll go into spring training for the first time as an established player, and not fighting for a spot in the lineup. Conventional thinking dictates, as a player gets older and stronger, and more familiar with the pitchers, he should hit for more power. Murphy is a doubles machine – ideal for Citi Field – but it isn’t expected he’ll be a 20-homer hitter.

Joe D. Says:

As Ed Leyro recently wrote, Daniel Murphy had one of the greatest seasons ever recorded by a Mets second baseman in 2013.  He finished the year with a .286 batting average, 38 doubles, 13 homers, 78 RBI, 92 runs scored and 23 stolen bases.  Prior to Murphy, the only second basemen in franchise history to reach double digits in both home runs and RBI in the same season were Gregg Jefferies and Roberto Alomar.  But neither player matched Murphy’s totals in batting average, runs scored, runs batted in and stolen bases.  In fact, the only two players in team history who had better numbers than Murphy in all six offensive categories (batting average, doubles, home runs, RBI, runs scored, stolen bases), regardless of their defensive position, were Howard Johnson in 1989 (.287 average, 41 doubles, 36 HR, 101 RBI, 104 runs scored, 41 SB) and David Wright in 2007 (.325 average, 42 doubles, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 113 runs scored, 34 SB).

In a season that saw the 28-year old finish in the National League’s top ten in base hits, doubles, runs scored and even stolen bases, you would think Murphy’s job security with the Mets would be a slam dunk. However, given the pattern of this front office to sell high on any player who performs above major league replacement level, Murphy’s hold on second base is anything but certain. His name is often brought up as a potential trade chip this offseason by the mother ship, MetsBlog. That scares me.

Can you imagine how much worse this underwhelming offense would be without Murphy? They’ve already got their hands full trying to replace the 37 home runs from Marlon Byrd and John Buck, and if Murphy goes that will be 200+ RBIs the Mets will have to account for. In my opinion, any trade for Murphy will most likely create another gaping hole in the lineup and at best would be a lateral move that could possibly backfire. At some point we have to break this current cycle of shedding quality major leaguers not named David Wright for untested minor leaguers.

Oct 06

Mets Have Little To Offer In Trade Market

The New York Mets say they will spend on free agents this winter, in large part because they have little to offer up in the trade market.

Really, their only chance to immediately improve is to write checks.

What losing Matt Harvey for the 2014 season also does, is it greatly reduces the Mets’ inability to execute trades. In the wake of Harvey’s injury, general manager Sandy Alderson said he would be reluctant to deal Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard or any of the Mets’ other young pitching this winter to acquire the power hitter they are seeking.

Alderson said he has three starters heading into spring training – Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler – so none of them are available to deal. And, with Jenrry Mejia recovering from elbow surgery, there’s an even greater need to hold onto their pitching.

There’s nothing on the minor league level regarding position players that are major-league ready. If there’s nobody whom the Mets can bring up, that also means there’s nothing they can trade to a team that wants to add to the major league level.

On the major league level, the Mets have one star player capable of bringing something in return and that’s David Wright, assuming, of course, they could get anybody to bite on that contract.

There’s Daniel Murphy, but he won’t bring back anything in the way of an impact player or pitcher. Eric Young is a role player, while Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud are major league prospects, but if they are traded that merely creates more holes for the Mets.

What about Ike Davis and/or Lucas Duda? The Mets would like to get something for either, and don’t think for a second they haven’t been trying. Whenever Alderson is on the phone with another general manager, before he hangs up he’ll ask, “Any interest in Davis?  How about Duda?’’

When Alderson talks about the need to increase the Mets’ depth on the minor league level, he means more than just with their pitching prospects. To reach contending status, a team must have a strong farm system to not only bring up players, but also trade them to fill holes.

That’s something the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves have been doing for years. Alderson’s words aren’t ringing hollow. Improving depth in the farm system is essential if the Mets are to reach the next level. Buying players might help on a temporary basis, but it isn’t something they will be able to live on winter after winter.