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.

Your comments are appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

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.

Your comments are appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

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 16

Alderson Needs To Take Action Now On Distractions

We are getting perilously close to the time in the baseball season where free-falling clubs tend to fire their manager. Should the Mets sack Terry Collins in the wake of his ripping the fans – who by the way, aren’t coming out to Citi Field these days – they can claim justifiability, but would be making a mistake.

Like many quick-fixes, it will not work. Despite Collins’ outburst, firing him is not the answer as it screams panic.

ALDERSON: Some action needed.

ALDERSON: Some action needed.

As the appearance is things spiraling out of control, the Mets desperately need to show signs of stability and reiterate the growth process. Sacking the manager does not achieve this goal.

General manager Sandy Alderson needs to take several steps to show the fan base there is a plan, and it has to entail more than asking for patience and talking about a supposedly increased payroll after this season.

The first thing Alderson must do is speak out in defense of his manager. Jordany Valdespin isn’t being hung out to dry, it is Collins. Alderson must say Collins is his man and his job is not in jeopardy.

Supporting Collins also entails ridding the Mets of the topic, which set him off in the first place, and that is Valdespin. If Alderson can’t trade Valdespin, whose value is low, then designated him for assignment. Don’t bother sending him down because you don’t want to pollute a farm team with his selfish, punkish attitude. Get rid of him, and if he comes back to bite the Mets in the butt, so be it.

You will notice an immediate cleansing in the clubhouse. The Mets spoke about changing the culture of the franchise, and that should include getting rid of that kind of attitude. One can’t help but notice neither Collins nor Alderson care for Valdespin, and for whatever talent he has, he’s not worth the trouble.

Next, send down Ike Davis and Lucas Duda until they show signs of understanding how to hit. I keep hearing there’s nothing down below that can help. Well, how will they know unless they try?

Clearly, Davis and Duda aren’t getting it done on the major league level and the pressure is only increasing. When they get home, they will hear boos and that won’t help. It will be like Jason Bay all over again, but in two positions.

The Mets aren’t going to make a trade or sign anybody now, so let’s see what is below. If you don’t want to screw with Wilmer Flores changing positions, I understand. But, let’s look at Josh Satin. Or Zach Lutz. Or any Little Leaguer in the Tri-State area. I’m just tired of watching strikeout after strikeout.

Davis shows no signs of patience or understanding of the strike zone and Duda has regressed from a promising start. Maybe these guys are the future, but they certainly aren’t the present. And, it is obvious they aren’t learning anything up here.

Finally, Alderson should flat out say Zack Wheeler is not coming up and it is because of his contract status. We all know about Super Two, so let’s stop the charade. Putting a date on Wheeler will eliminate the distracting groundswell, which has included Wally Backman’s muddying projection.

Collins’ status, Valdespin, Davis, Duda and Wheeler are all distractions that could be eliminated by forceful actions from Alderson.

Just do it.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 15

Terry Collins Spins Into Damage Control

Terry Collins is a smart guy who made some pretty out-of-bounds comments Monday night. Some might even call them stupid.

COLLINS: Spins into damage control.

COLLINS: Spins into damage control.

I leaned in that direction when I came down on Collins for ripping the fans in his response to a question on if the Mets were leaving Jordany Valdespin out to dry after his actions last weekend.

“I don’t answer to fans,’’ Collins said reporters in St. Louis. “They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.’’

Collins also went on to say he didn’t care about the perception of the Valdespin incident, ranging from the player celebrating his meaningless home run in a blowout loss, to the manager anticipating the payback plunking, to the player’s dugout tantrum.

There’s no mistaking what Collins meant, but it should be noted this could have been alleviated had he danced around the question and later vented his true feelings in an off-the-record session with the New York traveling media. Had he done so, Collins’ comments wouldn’t have left his Busch Stadium office.

Speaking on WFAN this afternoon, Collins was in full damage control, saying: “The New York fans are maybe the most knowledgeable fans that I’ve ever been around.

“When the question was asked, it pretty much was … Look, as much as I respect everybody’s opinions, it’s my opinion that counts and what’s best for this club. I can’t be influenced by outside people who aren’t here, and that’s pretty much all I meant. Certainly I misused the words. I shouldn’t have said ‘fans.’ I should have just said ‘people.’ ’’

However, what are fans, if not people?

Collins might have meant fans and media lumped together when he said “people,’’ but either way, why take on a foe when you don’t have to?

If you want to give Collins benefit of doubt, which I don’t have a problem with, you have to recognize his frustration and the pressure he’s under. His is not an easy job, made harder by the cards Sandy Alderson dealt him. We can go on item-by-item of all Collins doesn’t have to work with, and then add the headache that is Valdespin.

To understand fully what Collins is dealing with, you have to hear what Valdespin said last night. Valdespin was sent up to pinch-hit in another blowout loss. After taking a couple of pitches, he stepped out of the batter’s box and took a deep breath.

When asked after the game what he was thinking about, Valdespin said what he would do if he hit a homer.

Yeah, after hearing that, I’m willing to give Collins a pass on Monday’s comments. He deserves it for having to deal with Valdespin.