Jun 15

Is Jordany Valdespin Experiment Part Of Mets’ Greater Plan To Trade Ike Davis?

We are almost over with the great Jordany Valdespin experiment by the New York Mets of playing him at second and hitting leadoff.

Now what?

VALDESPIN: Is there a plan here?

VALDESPIN: Is there a plan here?

Six days doesn’t seem like a long time because it isn’t. However, Terry Collins is staying with this a lot longer than some of his other experiments such as Collin Cowgill in center; Daniel Murphy at leadoff; a half-dozen other guys hitting first. The assumption is Collins will stay with this as long as Ike Davis is in Triple-A Las Vegas, but after that, by his own admission the manager doesn’t have a plan.

The path of least resistance would have been to play first baseman Josh Satin at first and leave Murphy alone at second, a position where he’s made strides.

What will the Mets infield look like as of August 1, the day after the trade deadline? Are they showcasing Valdespin for a trade? How about Murphy? Perhaps, they are hoping Davis pulls himself out of this funk so they can trade him.

The Mets could non-tender Davis as they did Mike Pelfrey last winter and let him walk, or, they could hope he finds some life in his bat and find a taker. If Davis isn’t part of their future, there are worse options. If Davis isn’t part of their future, they should move him as soon as possible.

So, the Mets, losers of five of their last six games and eight of ten, will attempt to salvage this homestand today and Sunday before starting a killer trip that includes five games in Atlanta; three in Philadelphia; two in Chicago against the White Sox; and a make-up game in Denver, before returning home to start a three-game series with Washington.

The Mets’ next off day will be July 11, the day after a three-game series in San Francisco. The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for a team now 14 games below .500.

This afternoon, Jon Niese will attempt to start putting his season back together. Niese, 3-5, hasn’t won a start since May 16 in St. Louis, which seems ages ago. He is coming off a quality start last Sunday in a no-decision in a game lost to Miami.

Here’s Niese’s line-up, which only once in the past week scored as many as five runs:

Jordany Valdespin, 2B: Is making the most of this opportunity and to his credit is making clubhouse strides.

Daniel Murphy, 1B: Hitting just .219 in last 17 games.

David Wright, 3B: Hitting .462 during homestand and .333 this year with RISP.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has 10 homers with 31 RBI. That has to interest some team.

Lucas Duda, LF: Ten of his 11 homers have been with nobody on base.

Justin Turner, SS: Giving Omar Quintanilla a rest.

Anthony Recker, C: John Buck can’t catch them all.

Juan Lagares, CF: Got a hit last night, so Collins riding the hot hand.

Jonathon Niese, LHP: Is 2-3 with a 5.61 lifetime ERA in six starts against Cubs.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 14

David Wright Shows Graciousness In Embarrassing Moment

For those scoring at home, the website Cougarlife.com, has over 3.9 million members, which is probably close to double what the New York Mets will draw this year. And, a fraction of that would be enough to select David Wright to the All-Star Game this July at Citi Field.

So, despite the obvious reaction of “what were they thinking?’’ the potential numbers indicate it might not have been that horrible an idea. But, numbers aren’t the only, or most significant measure of what this is about.

WRIGHT: Worthy of applause.

WRIGHT: Worthy of applause.

Where it becomes horrible is the appearance of desperation, and that the Mets can’t draw enough on their own to put Wright into the All-Star Game.

My initial reaction, like most, was the partnership idea, and in this era of political correctness, once that door is opened what other sexually-oriented websites and business would demand equal representation?

While there is little doubt a “Sodom and Gomorrah Night’’ at Citi Field would probably bring more people than Foreigner will tonight, do the Mets really want to go there?

To their credit, the Mets – unlike your average politician – owned up to their intentions after they backed out of the potential partnership. Also, to his credit, Wright handled the matter with grace and composure, and admitted this drive to get him elected was embarrassing.

“It’s nice when the organization is trying so hard to do something for one of their players,’’ Wright told reporters after the Mets lost another game. “And I can’t thank them enough for that. At the same time, I’ve asked them to back it down a little bit, especially with the stuff in between innings.

“You appreciate what they’re trying to do, and they’re very good-hearted. At the same time, this is a team game. As much as I’d like to be here to represent this team in the All-Star Game, we can’t let this become an in-between-inning, one-player production. Especially with the way we’re playing as a team, I feel very uncomfortable being singled out for All-Star Game-type stuff.’’

That’s exactly the type of persona the Mets and Major League Baseball should be marketing. Class is a decreasing commodity today in sports, so when it’s there it should be appreciated. Wright is such a figure. So is San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, who at the start of the second half last night, walked over to Miami’s Dwayne Wade to ask how he was feeling as the two collided earlier and Wade aggravated an injury.

As far as Cougarlife.com naming him baseball’s hottest cub, the question was going to get asked and Wright had two ways he could have gone with it. He either could have been a jerk or could have been gracious.

“Serious? Ummm, I guess it’s a nice honor,’’ Wright said. “Did you guys have to draw straws for who asked that question? I guess I’d like to thanks my parents for the genes.’’

It’s non-stop now with Twitter and the Internet. Times have changed, and not always for the better. This reminds me of a story about Babe Ruth, who stark naked chased a woman through a train car when that’s how teams traveled.

Reporters also traveled with the teams at that time. Upon seeing Ruth, one reporter turned to another and said, “I guess this is one more story we’re not going to write.’’

No chance today. The pressures are enormous and if you’ve seen it up close, you can understand why some players can’t take it.

When Wright first came up, a lot in the media wrote how they hoped he wouldn’t change. He has somewhat, but on the things that matter, the core person – at least the public image – hasn’t changed and that’s one of the best things he brings to the table.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 10

Mets Might Have Waited Too Late To Save Ike Davis

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.

DAVIS: Needs to start over. (AP)

DAVIS: Needs to start over. (AP)

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.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 05

Mets Wrap: Dillon Gee, Marlon Byrd Power Rout Of Nationals

It hasn’t happened often this season, but tonight the Mets received strong pitching from Dillon Gee and top-to-bottom hitting to rout the Washington Nationals, 10-1. It was just the third time this year the Mets scored in double-figures.

GEE: Another strong start. (AP)

GEE: Another strong start. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Gee was again superb to beg the question: Why should he be moved from the rotation to make room for Zack Wheeler? Gee have up a run and struck out seven in seven innings. He gave up nine hits and walked a batter, but managed to escape trouble. … Greg Burke and Robert Carson each threw a scoreless inning.

AT THE PLATE: Marlon Byrd hit two homers and David Wright added one. … The Mets had 15 hits to match a season high, including going 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position. … Every starter, including Gee, had at least one hit. … Byrd and Anthony Recker drove in three runs each.

THEY SAID IT: “We needed one bad. Been in our share of close games. To have a game where you can take a breath and relax was important for us.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on getting a blowout victory.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5: Combined hits for Recker and Juan Lagares, both of whom entered the game hitting less than .200. … For Lagares, he had a career-high three hits.

METS MATTERS: Jon Niese threw a successful bullpen session and said he’ll be ready to make Saturday’s start against Miami at Citi Field. “How I felt then and today is night and day,’’ Niese said. … Lagares is expected to get another start Thursday.

ON DECK: Shaun Marcum (0-6) goes against Gio Gonzalez.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 04

David Wright Personifies Slumping Mets’ Offense

We’ve seen this before from David Wright, a hot start cools and descends into a frigid abyss where he’s consumed by mechanical flaws borne out of a major psychological problem – the need to carry the Mets on his shoulders.

We can’t blame it on the pressures of being captain, as he’s fallen into this trap before, notably last season said manager Terry Collins, whose lineup includes as many as six starters hitting below .240. Teams can’t win with such limited production, and Wright can’t catch the free-falling Mets, who come into Washington tonight ten games under .500 and 11 ½ games behind the first place Braves.

WRIGHT: Where did this swing go?

       WRIGHT: Where did this swing go?

“He did it in the second half of last year, too,’’ Collins told reporters after the Mets were crushed in a three-game series in Florida. “When things started to go bad last year, he took it upon himself to be the guy to get us out of it.’’

The slide begins with a gradual expansion of the strike zone; the balls Wright once resisted off the plate he’s now chasing. The walks decline; the strikeouts increase. His average plummets.

Instead of driving the ball to center and right field, Wright falls into the habit of trying to pull, with the results often pop-ups and weak ground balls. His swing is now long and slow instead of short and quick. The more he tries to break out of it the more suffocating becomes the slump. There is such a thing as pressing and that’s what’s happening to Wright the past two weeks with a .163 average, .241 on-base percentage with one homer and two RBI.

Wright alluded to his problems after the Yankees series when he said: “I’m maybe trying to do a little too much and trying to make things happen. … I can’t be going up there and getting myself out or swinging at pitcher’s pitches early in the count.’’

However, that’s what he’s doing and it defines the futility and anguish of a slump. Wright hasn’t yet reached Ike Davis proportions, but is headed in that direction.

On some teams, a slumping player can be camouflaged, or at least protected, if others in the lineup are hitting. However, Daniel Murphy is the only one and he doesn’t do it with power. Considering his track record, Davis’ homer Sunday must be looked at as an aberration and not a sign of a breakout. Lucas Duda has 10 homers, but only 20 RBI, which the more you think about it is hard to believe. It’s almost unfathomable.

Collectively, the Mets are averaging less than four runs a game and hold the major league’s worst team average at .227. Their hitters are averaging under ten strikeouts a game.

At one time, you might have been able to say, “where would they be without Wright?’’

Well, they have him and only three teams in the major leagues hold a worse record than the 22-32 Mets. There are a lot of numbers that define how poorly they are playing, but what I find most discouraging is the Marlins have won just 16 games this year, with six coming against the Mets.

You’re tempted to think it can’t get much worse than this, but you realize as a Met fan, it can.

ON DECK: Looking at Washington series.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos