Jul 05

Ike Davis Promotion Imminent; Mets Have Decisions To Make

Reports are the New York Mets are about to recall first baseman Ike Davis from the minor leagues in time for Friday’s game in Milwaukee.

Davis was demoted June 10, and although his Triple-A Las Vegas numbers are good, the timing is interesting. When Zack Wheeler as in Vegas, the Mets harped on disregarding statistics because the atmosphere was conducive to hitting.

DAVIS: Hope he's gotten things ironed out.

DAVIS: Hope he’s gotten things ironed out.

Using that logic, Davis’ .293 average with seven homers, 13 RBI and .424 on-base percentage must also be looked at skeptically. Davis’ mechanics and approach were a mess when he was with the Mets, evidenced by his .161 average with 66 strikeouts in 186 at-bats.

Although Davis’ minor league average is good, he does have 18 strikeouts in 75 at-bats, which is still a high strikeout ratio. Using those numbers, the Mets must wonder if his approach is what it should be.

Las Vegas manager Wally Backman said Davis’ hitch isn’t as pronounced as it once was and he’s taking more balls to left field. They will know for sure when they see him firsthand.

If Davis goes back to his old habits, then he didn’t accomplish anything. If he doesn’t and produces, it gives the Mets’ two options, 1) they could decide they want to extend his contract, and if not, 2) they could opt to trade him.

Should the Mets decide they don’t want to bring him back and make a deal, they have a little less than four weeks before the July 31 trade deadline.

The backdrop to all this is Davis, at 26, has shown signs of being a power hitter with 32 homers last year. The Mets are a rebuilding team wary of finances, and might think his $3.1 million salary that would go up in arbitration, is too high.

However, whatever Davis makes in arbitration – if he becomes the player the Mets envisioned – IS NOT TOO HIGH.

I’ve been writing his salary is a factor because that’s the way it has been for the Mets. However, CEO Jeff Wilpon said the Mets have resources to add a player, and that should also apply to Davis, because for all practical purposes he hasn’t been here all year.

And, wouldn’t they want to add a 30-homer bat?

The Mets have not made any overtures of wanting to extend him, but they rarely do during a season. David Wright and Jose Reyes were exceptions in 2006.

Caught in the middle of all this is Josh Satin, who is riding a ten-game hitting streak and is batting .353. He can’t play the outfield, so it is curious if Davis’ demotion was also an attempt to showcase Satin for a trade.

While this is a transition season, there’s no law saying they have to make all their key moves in the off-season. They could be on the verge of doing something significant now.

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

May 25

Mets On The Trade Market

As the Mets’ season spirals out of control, it is getting close to the time when the organization will be taking – if not making – calls to test the trade waters at the deadline. The past two years the Mets had key players – Jose Reyes and David Wright – facing free agency that made them prime talent to be dealt.

Not so this year.

GEE: Could today's starter attract interest?

GEE: Could today’s starter attract interest?

Reyes is on Toronto’s disabled list, and Wright is under a long-term contract wondering when the losing will ever end and privately might be asking himself if made a mistake. The Mets will again be sellers leaving Wright to shake his head thinking another summer is slipping away with no hope for October.

In previous seasons, Jon Niese was a trade topic, but despite his off-season he’s not going anywhere. Left-handed pitchers under long-term contracts are always in demand, so the Mets will hang onto him as long as possible.

From the rotation, Shaun Marcum has had a degree of success, so the Mets might offer him, especially if Zack Wheeler has been promoted. Dillon Gee has shown he can get to the sixth inning. That’s also appealing to a contender.

If he were healthy, Frank Francisco would be available since he lost the closer job to Bobby Parnell, but his elbow could keep him on the disabled list for the remainder of the season if it doesn’t end his career.

A month ago, it would have been logical to assume John Buck could be traded, but his connection with Matt Harvey coupled with Travis d’Arnaud’s broken foot will likely keep him playing in front of sparse crowds at Citi Field, perhaps even next year, too.

Two years ago the Red Sox were interested in Ike Davis, but his trade value is low, if not non-existent. Four more strikeouts Friday night is head-scratching. The only exception would be if a team’s first baseman were injured – nobody’s could be slumping more than Davis – and believed he might benefit from a change of scenery.

Contenders are always searching for power, which normally would preclude Daniel Murphy, but also need role players and capable pinch-hitters. For that matter, Mike Baxter and Marlon Byrd could be had. Also, Jordany Valdespin for any team wishing to add a headache.

Teams talking to the Mets always inquire about their young pitching, but Matt Harvey and Wheeler are untouchables. At one time teams coveted Jenrry Mejia, but misuse contributed to an elbow injury and his value is the hope he heals and able to find the strike zone.

The Mets look helpless, but have viable players who could help a contender. It’s not as if they are helping the Mets.

May 22

Matt Harvey Reveals What Little Else Mets Have

The headlines were basically the same no matter where you look: Today Is Matt Harvey Day.

Harvey, undeniably the most exciting thing to happen to the Mets this season, starts Wednesday against Cincinnati. In games following his start, the Mets are 0-9.

HARVEY: Goes against Reds.

HARVEY: Goes against Reds.

Harvey has started nine games and won five with four no-decisions. Even in those games he was brilliant. Yes, when Harvey starts the Mets have a very good chance of winning. On those days, the Mets are major league quality.

That’s a good thing, but it comes with a flip side, and that’s outside of him, David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Bobby Parnell, there’s little substance on this team. Harvey’s success merely illustrates how little the Mets have on the major league level, and their refusal to demote Ike Davis shows how little faith they have in their minor league players.

Harvey is a major leaguer both in talent and demeanor, surrounded by players who mostly are not.

John Buck has his moments, as does Marlon Byrd, but seriously, you’re talking about two players who might not be here next year. Hey, they might be dealt at the July 31 deadline.

Besides Harvey, who can start on anybody’s staff, Wright and maybe Murphy – depending on the team – can be starters elsewhere.

The Mets began the season with a core they hoped to build around and contend with for a decade. Harvey and Jon Niese in the rotation; Davis, Wright and Ruben Tejada in the infield; Lucas Duda in the outfield, and Travis d’Arnaud behind the plate.

However, Tuesday night showed Niese to be unreliable. He is 3-5 with a 4.80 in ten starts. By definition, he has six quality starts, however, by sight he’s not been quality at all. Certainly, not one you would build a team around. He recovered Tuesday to give the Mets a chance to rally if they had any kind of offense. However, as has often been the case with Niese, one bad inning did him in, and it was the first when with no one on base and two outs, he walked three and fell behind 3-0.

Davis had an opportunity to get the Mets back in the game, but struck out. What can you say about Davis that hasn’t already been said, other than he’ll be on the next flight to Las Vegas?

Sandy Alderson, speaking during the SNY broadcast, said he sees last year’s second half when he watches Davis. Eventually, he concluded: “It may be he is better off going to Las Vegas for some period of time. But at this point we’re going to live with Ike for a little longer.’’

“Going to live with.’’ That’s some endorsement, isn’t it?

Duda’s on-base percentage has improved, but has little run-production – only 14 RBI – despite eight homers. One could conclude Buck drove in many of those potential RBI hitting ahead of him, but in reality Duda is not a good situational hitter.

Tejada has fallen off both at the plate and in the field, and you realize he’ll never be close to being what a healthy Jose Reyes was at one time.

Murphy is reliable, but not a star. He’s greatly improved at second base, but the Mets will always be looking for somebody faster and more athletic at that position. Murphy is a piece they could dangle in front of a contender in a couple of months.

That’s about the time d’Arnaud could be under consideration to being promoted. For now, his broken foot will be in a cast for another two weeks and he’ll begin rehab.

Parnell has been one of the few pleasant surprises, showing he can be a closer. Even if Frank Francisco’s elbow improves to where he’ll come off the disabled list, he won’t get the closer job back. We might not see him at all this season, which means never again in a Mets uniform.

The Mets host the All-Star game in less than two months. By that time, they could be 20 games under .500 and their fall complete before the dog days of summer.

But, enough of that for now. Today is Matt Harvey Day and there’s a reason to watch.

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

May 09

Mets Shouldn’t Even Think Of Extending Ike Davis

During the offseason and in spring training I wrote in the interest of financial certainty, that the Mets should consider signing Ike Davis to a long-term contract as to bypass his arbitration years.

After 32 homers last season because of a strong second half, I thought Davis might be a keeper and they should do for him what they did for Jon Niese and David Wright. Lock up your investments early to keep them out of arbitration and the free-agent market is sound business. Lots of teams sign their can’t-miss youth at prices they can control in the future. In 2006, the Mets did it with Jose Reyes and Wright.

DAVIS: Another stroll to the dugout. (AP)

DAVIS: Another stroll to the dugout. (AP)

Only problem is Davis isn’t a can’t miss, but a swing-and-a-miss.

When he first arrived, Davis showed great power potential, but also was able to be selective and go to the opposite field. He showed an ability to act like a hitter. He did it the other night when he drew a walk in the tenth inning and scored the winning run in the Matt Harvey game.

“In that situation the pitcher knows the batter will be trying to hit it out of the park,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “He’ll be trying to get the batter to chase after a bad pitch, but Ike resisted.’’

It was a good piece of hitting, but one we’ve not often seen from Davis, who tries to go for the homer, even on pitches low and away.

Davis’ slow start should definitely cause the Mets to resist the temptation of signing him to a multi-year extension. Davis is hitting a paltry .170 with a .270 on-base percentage. He already has 35 strikeouts with just 17 hits and 13 walks. He has four homers and eight RBI.

None of those numbers warrant giving Davis an extension, or even thinking of it.

We know Davis has the potential to hit 32 homers because he’s already done it. However, whatever run production Davis is capable of providing isn’t worth his 186 projected strikeouts. Davis said earlier this spring that “I’m a home run hitter and strikeouts are going to happen,’’ which illustrates a refusal to work on the finer points of hitting.

That sizes up Davis in one short, compact stroke, something we don’t see from him at the plate.

Mechanically he’s a mess, with a dramatic hitch and propensity for lunging at pitches. His mental approach is much worse. You just have to watch a few at-bats to know he has no plan or patience at the plate. Davis is supposed to be a young lion, a future face of the franchise, but they are already starting to pinch-hit for him.

For this, any talk of a long-term deal is not only premature, but absurd.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

 

May 06

Amazin’ Moments: Eric Valent Hits For The Cycle

Contributed by Gerry Silverman of MetsMerizedOnline.com

Hitting for the cycle has always been one of the more singular batting feats in baseball. It is a relatively rare occurrence but not one that guarantees anything in particular for the team of the player who achieves one beyond a mention on the sports page. Granted, it involves getting four hits (a good thing) with three being for extra bases (a very good thing), but from a pure baseball perspective one could propose that if a batter had four singles in a game, he might well provide a greater benefit to his team than a cycle would, provided those singles occur with runners in scoring position.

In other words, a cycle is a feat we regard with admiration primarily because it is COOL. It is so COOL that it even has a more refined version, the so-called “natural” cycle (single, double, triple, home run in order). This unique quality allows a cycle to actually transcend the game itself, remaining COOL even if your team loses the game in which it occurs, kind of like a consolation prize.

At this point in baseball history, only two teams remain cycle-less: the San Diego Padres (who also hold the distinction of being the only franchise not to have recorded a no-hitter) and the Miami Marlins whose relative youth as a franchise functions as something of an excuse. By way of contrast, the Red Sox have pulled off the feat an impressive twenty times.

eric valentSeven Mets had achieved the cycle prior to the day in July, 2004 when Eric Valent got one of his infrequent starts, spelling regular left fielder Cliff Floyd in a game against the Montreal Expos. Valent was a 27 year-old outfielder/first baseman who had been a late first round draft pick by the Phillies in 1998. After a couple of uneventful cups of coffee with the Phils, he was dealt to the Reds for catcher and future Met Kelly Stinnett in August of 2003. That winter, he was left off the Reds’ 40 man roster and was selected by the Mets in the Rule 5 Draft.

The Mets timing was fortuitous, as Valent was about to turn 27, the apparent “magic” age for certain players when whatever baseball skills they possess coalesce long enough to produce some evidence to support their place on a major league team. The 2004 season would mark Eric’s high water mark as a player as he produced a respectable .267/.337/.481 slash line in 270 AB’s spread out over 130 games. He would hit all of his big league homers that season, including one that day in Montreal.

Facing Expos starter Rocky Biddle, Valent collected a single in the second inning and a double in the third. He then homered off reliever Sunny Kim, launching a shot that clanked off one of the speakers suspended from the roof of Olympic Stadium. That left him a triple short of achieving a cycle, generally regarded as the toughie of the bunch.

When he came to the plate in the top of the seventh, the Mets had opened a substantial lead in what would end up a 10-1 win for Al Leiter. Consequently, a discussion on going for a three-bagger had preceded his next plate appearance.  Mets coach Don Baylor had told Valent to expect third base coach Matt Galante to be “waving” him on anything hit down the line or in the gap.

When his subsequent at-bat produced a liner into the right field corner, “I just kept going when I hit it” Valent would say after the game

“When I hit the ball in the corner like that, I knew I was going to third. I just wanted to hit the ball hard. It was cool. There aren’t a lot of guys that can say they hit for the cycle, no matter how long they play. It’s a lot of luck.”

By virtue of that statement to MLB.com, we can trace an awareness of the cycle’s aforementioned “coolness factor” to the players themselves.

Of the ten Mets who have hit for the cycle (the most recent being Scott Hairston on April 27th of last year), Valent could be said to tie with infielder Mike Phillips of the 1975 team for “least likely.” After a few more desultory appearances with the Mets the following season, he was out of baseball, but in the record books. That moment of his career at least, was pretty cool.

Mets Who Have Hit For The Cycle

April 27, 2012, Scott Hairston at Colorado

June 21, 2006, Jose Reyes vs. Cincinnati

July 29, 2004, Eric Valent at Montreal

Sept. 11, 1997, John Olerud vs. Montreal

July 3, 1996, Alex Ochoa at Philadelphia

Aug. 1, 1989, Kevin McReynolds at St. Louis

July 4, 1985, Keith Hernandez at Atlanta (19 innings)

June 25, 1976, Mike Phillips at Chicago

July 6, 1970, Tommie Agee vs. St. Louis

Aug. 7, 1963, Jim Hickman vs. St. Louis

Mets Country