Feb 19

Chris Young Already Having An Influence On Mets – But Is It Good?

The New York Mets haven’t even seen a pitch this spring, but it’s not too early to notice how outfielder Chris Young has muddled things.

And, it goes beyond the $7.25 million they’ll pay this year for the player who hit .200 last season with 12 homers and 93 strikeouts. Young’s 162-game averages are .235 with 24 homers and 148 strikeouts, so the Mets aren’t exactly renting a light’s out slugger.

YOUNG: What kind of Impact?

YOUNG: What kind of Impact?

The Mets must play Young because of his contract, but doing so creates several obstacles and dilemmas for manager Terry Collins.

With Young and Curtis Granderson taking up two-thirds of the outfield, that leaves a decision between Eric Young and Juan Lagares for the remaining spot.

If Collins chooses Lagares to play center, it leaves him without a viable leadoff hitter. Lagares has the speed, but strikes out too much to be a top-of-the-order hitter.

Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada have been mentioned, but neither is a great choice. Murphy should hit lower in the order because he’s a gap hitter able to drive in runs. Tejada is coming off a bad year and doesn’t have a good on-base percentage.

Chris Young can’t lead off because he strikes out too much. Granderson can’t do it either because he also strikes out and must hit fourth to protect David Wright.

But, if Collins chooses Eric Young to hit leadoff and presumably play center, it regulates Lagares to the bench. Lagares is their best outfield prospect, but it would be better to send him to the minor leagues to get at-bats rather than have him sit on the bench.

So, in essence the Mets are paying $7.25 million for a player that would likely delay the development of Lagares for a season.

The Mets are also contemplating keeping both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on the Opening Day roster, with the intent of giving the latter time in left field. But, how often will he play if Chris Young is here?

The Mets say they are building for the future, but Chris Young doesn’t contribute to that aim because he’s gone after this season. Either he doesn’t produce and they won’t bring him back, or he’ll hit and go elsewhere because the Mets won’t want to pay what he’s asking.

So, if the Mets’ timetable isn’t to win this year, why pay all that money for a rental?

ON DECK: Judging Sandy Alderson

Feb 07

Bronson Arroyo Still On The Market

We always knew the New York Mets would never be players for Jacoby Ellsbury or Robinson Cano, or Ervin Santana or Matt Garza, or any other marquee free agents for that matter. Bronson Arroyo drew their interest early in the free-agent process, but it didn’t happen. Now, eight days before pitchers and catchers report, Arroyo is still out there. So are Ubaldo Jimenez and A.J. Burnett.

ARROYO: There's still time,

ARROYO: There’s still time.

Slugger and PED user Nelson Cruz and shortstop Stephen Drew remain on the market. Although the Mets need power, I wouldn’t have wanted Cruz because of his connection with Biogenesis.

Bottom line: How to we know if his production was real or chemistry enhanced? When the Biogenesis case broke is irrelevant; he still was involved. With a reported asking price of $30 million over two years, let’s pass.

The Post’s Ken Davidoff wrote Cruz might be headed to the suddenly free-spending Seattle Mariners, which is a good call. The Mariners need to build around Cano because he can’t do it himself. If he doesn’t he’ll just mope and take even longer to run to first base. Given their need for power, Seattle might bring back first baseman Kendrys Morales, which would be a more expensive version of Ike Davis.

As for Drew, if the Mets had Harvey and were realistic contenders this season, they might have wanted to make a run at him. Both the Mets and Yankees could use Drew, especially the latter because nobody knows what to expect from Derek Jeter. Agent Scott Boras, who isn’t helping his client any, now wants an opt-out clause after one year. I’m betting a return to Boston.

As for Santana, one Santana should be enough for the Mets. Johan Santana is still out there, but even though the Mets carried him the past two years (as they were contractually bound) he has no intention of giving an employee discount. You would have thought $137 million would have bought that goodwill. Apparently not.

I don’t know what Jimenez is asking, but he has a $14.1 million qualifying offer from Cleveland that would cost the Mets a draft pick. Considering he also had back-to-back lousy seasons – 22-26 the past two years – he carries with him some baggage. However, he’s 30 years old, which work in the Mets’ favor. What about a one-year deal with an option loaded with incentives? Even a two-year deal wouldn’t choke the Mets. If offered, Jimenez should jump on it because time is running out, and after two years, he’d still be young enough for a payday.

But, let’s go back to Arroyo, who wouldn’t cost the Mets a compensatory draft pick.

Yes, he’ll be 37 this season, but he’s a proven innings eater, having worked at least 200 innings every year but one since 2004. He pitched 199 in 2011. Arroyo also has been a double-digit winner in all but two seasons since 2004 (he won nine games each in 2007 and 2011). Arroyo reportedly wanted three years, but couldn’t two plus an option work?

The Mets hope Daisuke Matsuzaka or John Lannan fill the fifth starter role at the start of the season. They are questions, while Arroyo is proven. Even when the young pitchers are ready, there are no guarantees.

Just as Seattle loaded up on defense to win the Super Bowl, loading up on pitching is always the right move because you’ll always need it. The Mets should’ve gone after Arroyo and/or Jimenez. There’s still time.

Feb 05

Mets’ Latest Plan For Ike Davis

Recent news coming out of Port St. Lucie concerning New York Mets giving first baseman Ike Davis at least 90 at-bats is interesting.

The first being the Mets will have a short leash this spring with Davis. They’ll give him every opportunity to start strong to win and keep the job.

DAVIS: Still in Mets' plans.

DAVIS: Still in Mets’ plans.

Theoretically, this should eliminate the slow starts that defined his last two seasons and sent him to the minors last year. This shouldn’t be interpreted as Davis being handed the job as in the two previous years.

He’d better make good use of those 90 at-bats.

“In the past you look to get him 60-70 at-bats,’’ Collins told The New York Post. “Well, he’s going to get at least 90. Yeah, he might get a little tired, but he’s too big a piece. We have to know what we have there.’’

Davis, at 26, has an upside evidenced by 32 homers hit in 2012. They know what they could have. They also know what they have had, meaning a low on-base percentage and batting average, lots of strikeouts and little run production.

Lucas Duda moved ahead of Davis last season when he improved his on-base percentage, but his run production was miniscule. The knock on him is he became too selective and passed on money pitches.

The Mets will also be aware of giving Duda his at-bats during spring training unless Davis doesn’t pan out or can’t deal him.

GM Sandy Alderson has tied to deal Davis since the end of the season, much to the anger of his father, former Yankees pitcher, Ron Davis, who ripped the Mets for being too open about their intentions.

In doing so, their asking price was scoffed at as being too high.

That’s something they can’t go back on, so Davis still won’t bring much. Plus, if he has a hot spring, he won’t be going anywhere, making Duda the more likely one to be traded.

If both Davis and Duda have miserable springs, the Mets have options in moving Daniel Murphy from second base or possibly Wilmer Flores.

Jan 31

Looking At Mets’ Leadoff Hitter And Batting Order

As of now, New York Mets manager Terry Collins prefers outfielder Eric Young as his leadoff hitter, but telling ESPN nothing is etched in stone.

It never is this time of year.

ERIC YOUNG: First leadoff choice.

ERIC YOUNG: First leadoff choice.

If Young hits leadoff, and Chris Young – he of the $7.25 million contract – plays center and Granderson in right, the odd man out is Juan Lagares, arguably the Mets’ best defensive outfielder.

While Lagares prominently displayed his defensive abilities in center last season, he still has a lot to learn as a major league hitter, in particular learning the strike zone, being patient and going to the opposite field. Lagares’ 96 strikeouts with 20 at-bats and .281 on-base percentage in 421 plate appearances screams he’s not leadoff material.

Those numbers don’t fly anywhere in the order and he’s better off getting at-bats to learn those things on the minor league level rather than sitting on the bench in the majors. The Mets haven’t made that decision, but that would be the smart move.

Eric Young’s speed is a definite plus – he stole 38 bases last season – but his career .325 on-base percentage needs improvement. His 67-35 strikeouts-to-walks ratio last year is not acceptable for a leadoff hitter.

The Mets were 14th out of 15 teams in the National League in on-base percentage from the leadoff spot, so clearly improvement is needed. Young assumed the leadoff role in midseason after the Mets tried nine other options. NINE.

The non-productive nine were: Jordany Valdespin (16 games), Ruben Tejada (15), Collin Cowgill (nine), Mike Baxter (eight), Daniel Murphy and Omar Quintanilla (seven), Lagares (six), Justin Turner (three) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (one).

Valdespin, Cowgill, Baxter and Turner are out of the organization; Nieuwenhuis has fallen out of favor because of his propensity for striking out.

Tejada, Murphy and Quintanilla will make the Opening Day roster.

Collins indicated at the winter meetings if Tejada played to his potential he has the necessary skills to hit leadoff, but he’s still a project.

Assuming Eric Young hits leadoff, here’s the projected batting order for the Mets:

Eric Young: Is the Mets’ fastest player and their best base stealer.

Daniel Murphy: Has the patience and bat control to protect Young.

David Wright: The best hitter on a team, the best combination of power and average hits third. Wright has been his best hitting in front of an established power threat, whether it was Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado or Marlon Byrd.

Curtis Granderson: Theoretically, Granderson’s power potential should give Wright better pitches.

Chris Young: Will bat fifth to separate lefty hitters Granderson and Ike Davis.

Ike Davis: I am assuming Davis will make the team. Having him hit sixth should minimize the pressure on him.

Travis d’Arnaud: Showed little offensive presence last season. He’s no threat so pitchers might work around Davis, which, if nothing else, might help the struggling first baseman learn patience.

Ruben Tejada: At one time this guy hit .289. If he can reach that level again he could hit leadoff if Eric Young doesn’t pan out. Also, if he hits that clears the pitcher’s spot in the order and sets up the next inning.

But, that’s for now.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 24

Mets Blew It With Ike Davis On Many Levels; So Did His Father

Ike Davis’ father, former Yankees reliever Ron Davis, has ripped into the New York Mets. The elder Davis said the Mets screwed up handling his son, which, while correct on some levels, can’t make things any easier for Ike if he stays with the team.

Ron Davis is correct, but partially.

RON DAVIS: Wrong in attacking Mets

RON DAVIS: Wrong in attacking Mets

Yes, he’s correct in that this began not with the Mets’ intent to trade Ike Davis, but for how public they made it.

“I think that’s why the Mets have really screwed up in that situation – because they’ve publicly done it so much,’’ Ron Davis said. “It’s saying to my son, `Hey, we don’t want you anymore.’ ’’

Well, yes and no.

The issue isn’t what it said about Ike Davis, but in what it tells other teams, `We don’t want Ike Davis, but please take him off our hands.’

The first rule in making a trade is to not devalue the talent you’re trying to unload. If you don’t think the player is worth anything, then why would other teams?

Another rule is to understand the value of the talent you’re trying to deal and don’t go in with the idea of fleecing the other team. The teams the Mets were talking to, notably Milwaukee, said GM Sandy Alderson’s asking price – the Brewers’ fifth starter – was too high.

So, the Mets did not want Davis and then asked for too much. But, that isn’t the whole story with how the Mets mishandled Davis.

With Ike Davis coming back from the ankle injury and the virus, the Mets might have rushed him back in 2012. Despite a horrid first half, the Mets didn’t send him back to the minors to work on his mechanics. Instead, they kept him around, a gamble that paid off when he had a strong second half to finish with 32 homers.

IKE DAVIS: Needs to learn to hit.

IKE DAVIS: Needs to learn to hit.

He was even more lost last year, but despite all signs saying Davis needed to go to the minors, the Mets ignored them in the hope of another strong second half. Long after it became apparent Davis was lost at the plate was when they sent him down. Then, they clearly brought him back too soon, which only compounded their mistake.

Alderson also screwed up by not having a defined objective for Davis after the season. Alderson had enough of a sampling of Davis to know what he should do.

That he didn’t want him was clear in the effort to trade him, but that intent should have been understated and with a lower asking price. By this time, teams were waiting out the Mets in hope they would release him. However, Alderson was playing chicken holding out for more.

Then, Alderson blew it more by offering Davis arbitration. Why would they do that for a player they clearly didn’t want?

While the Mets blew it on several levels with Ike Davis, I would be remiss in not calling out Ron Davis on a few things.

OK, you’re unhappy with how the Mets handled your son. Anybody can see that, but ripping the Mets does nobody any good, especially your son. The last thing a major league player needs is to have a Little League father upsetting things in the papers and clubhouse. What could the other players be thinking You want to rip the Mets? Fine. Do it after he’s out of the organization.

Secondly, don’t blame Citi Field for your son’s troubles. His problem is not with the ballpark, but his approach to hitting. Quite simply, he doesn’t know how to hit.

His comment last spring that, “I’m a home run hitter. I like to hit home runs. Strikeouts come with that,’’ tells you all you need to know about Ike Davis as a hitter.

Ron, you were a big league pitcher. Are you telling me you can’t look at your son’s hitting approach and say how you would attack him? C’mon. If you really wanted to help him, you’d study the video and tell him he needs to be more patient, he needs to stop trying to pull everything, he needs to use Citi Field to his advantage and hit balls in the gaps.

That’s how you would help your son. Not by being a Little League father. Ike Davis doesn’t need your coddling; he needs tough love.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos