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

May 20

Daniel Murphy Should Remain Leading Off

It doesn’t matter that Daniel Murphy hit the game-winning homer Sunday afternoon, or that he’s the Mets’ hottest hitter, he should be in the leadoff spot again Monday night at Citi Field.

Because of Murphy’s high on-base percentage, batting him leadoff is something I have advocated, and I’m glad Terry Collins was thinking outside the box enough to make the move.

MURPHY: Current leadoff choice. (MLB)

MURPHY: Current leadoff choice. (MLB)

He gets on base, because he can hit,’’ Collins told ESPN.com. “And, when he’s swinging good, he can get some walks. We’ve got to get some people on ahead of David [Wright]. That’s for sure.’’

Notice how Collins didn’t mention getting on base ahead of Ike Davis, but I guess he couldn’t say that with a straight face.

Murphy is the seventh Met to hit leadoff this young season, and of the previous six, is there one you can note with conviction will be here next year?

Ruben Tejada (12 times), Jordany Valdespin (10), Mike Baxter (eight), Collin Cowgill (seven), Justin Turner (two) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (one) have all appeared without much success at the top or the order. Mets leadoff hitters have hit a major league low .185 with a 29th ranked .255 on-base percentage.

Collins was non-committal on how long he’ll use Murphy leading off, but considering he’s a .300 hitter with a .337 on-base percentage, he doesn’t have better options.

With their leadoff hitters and Davis, the Mets have two slots in the batting order hitting less than .200, and overall they have four positions in their regular lineup hitting below .240.

Collins thought about Murphy hitting first during spring training, but then he had to come up with a center fielder and decide what to do with Tejada. Meanwhile, Murphy, because of his willingness to take a pitch, also seemed suited to hitting second.

“I thought about it in spring training, to be honest, whether or not to lead Murph off,’’ Collins said. “We’ll just see how it goes. It might be something we’ve certainly got to consider as we get deeper into the season, because he can hit.

“He gets on base. If he does that, certainly we’ve got to keep our options open with Murph being the leadoff hitter.’’

Murphy hitting first seems the way to go for now, but slotting him there doesn’t alleviate all of Collins’ concerns. Rick Ankiel can be an answer defensively in center field, but the outfield remains subpar.

The Mets now need a No. 2 hitter, but because Tejada insists on hitting fly balls, he’s not an ideal fit there.

Let’s face it, currently Murphy and Wright are the only hitters in the lineup who are reliable.

May 17

May 17 Mets Wrap: Matt Harvey Does It All

Matt Harvey settled down after a rocky two-run first inning to produce one of his most impressive starts of the season in a 3-2 victory at Wrigley Field. The victory was the Mets’ second straight after losing six in a row.

HARVEY: Does it all vs. Cubs. (AP)

HARVEY: Does it all vs. Cubs. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Flirting with perfection is one thing, but pulling it together when it isn’t going well is more indicative of what he’ll normally face. Harvey gave up three hits in the first inning and only two after, at one point retiring 14 straight.. … In 7.1 innings, Harvey gave up two runs on five hits and no walks with six strikeouts. … Bobby Parnell worked the ninth for his fifth save.

AT THE PLATE: David Wright homered in the first, Daniel Murphy homered to tie the game in the fourth, and Harvey drove in the game-winner with a seventh-inning single. … Wright had three hits. He also stole his ninth base. … Ike Davis snapped a 0-for-25 slide with a single in the sixth.

IN THE FIELD: Davis missed coming up with Ruben Tejada’s one-bouncer that allowed two runs to score in the first. Amazingly, the official scorer gave Alfonso Soriano an infield hit and a throwing error to Ruben Tejada. … Marlon Byrd threw out Darwin Barney at the plate to preserve the lead in the eighth inning.

METS MATTERS: Zack Wheeler returned to Triple-A Las Vegas and resumed throwing today. He received a cortisone injection in the AC joint of his right shoulder Wednesday. … Terry Collins suggested a platoon with Justin Turner at first base and/or dropping him to fifth in the order if his problems continue.

THEY SAID IT:  “The run support has been lacking, but most of our starters can complain about run support the last couple of weeks. … Pitching, run support and defense; we got all three of those.’’ – Wright on Harvey’s performance.

BY THE NUMBERS: 18: First-pitch strikes thrown out of 27 hitters faced by Harvey.

ON DECK: Jeremy Hefner attempts to win for the first time in eight starts Saturday afternoon.

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Apr 09

Slumping Ike Davis Benched

If the Mets are to beat Cliff Lee tonight – the second Phillies’ ace in as many nights – they’ll have to do it without Ike Davis.

Davis is struggling out of the gate, hitting .148 with one homer and showing no signs of breaking out. He’s on the way of repeating last spring, which morphed into a miserable first half.

DAVIS: Haven't seen much of this lately.

DAVIS: Haven’t seen much of this lately.

“I don’t know if I can say I am better for going through that,’’ Davis said during spring training. “But, you do learn that eventually you’ll come out of it. That’s what happened to me.’’

Davis had strong second half to finish with 32 homers; that’s what gives him confidence now.

Tonight is as good a night as any to give Davis a break as he is 1-for-11 with four strikeouts in his career against Lee.

It was suggested in this column earlier today that if Terry Collins needed to adjust his lineup he might consider dropping Daniel Murphy to third and David Wright to fourth.

Instead, Collins chose to keep Murphy and Wright in their respective, two-three, slots and play Justin Turner at first base and insert hot-hitting catcher John Buck in the clean-up spot.

It is premature to say Davis is evolving into a left-handed hitting Dave Kingman, but there are signs he is not far off, such as 10 strikeouts to only four hits this year in only 27 at-bats this year. For his career, Davis has 320 strikeouts to 154 walks and 299 hits.

“I like to him home runs,’’ Davis said when asked if he considered changing his approach. “I’m going to strike out.’’

The Mets are seeking their fourth straight victory tonight behind Dillon Gee, who is coming off a masterful performance last week in a 2-1 loss to San Diego in which gave up a run on three hits in 6.1 innings.

Gee’s changeup was especially good that day, and must be so again tonight as he is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in four games against the Phillies.

Here’s tonight’s lineup:

Collin Cowgill, CF: Struggling at .176 with two homers and five RBI, with most of it on his Opening Day slam. Hitless in two at-bats Monday.

Daniel Murphy, 2B: Has eight hits, five for extra bases. Was 5-for-16 with two doubles off Lee last year. Is riding an eight-game hitting streak in Philadelphia, going 12-for-36.

David Wright, 3B: Including two hits and an RBI Monday, has hit .413 in his last 19 games in Philadelphia.

John Buck, C: His 12 RBI is a club record through the first seven games of a season. Lifetime is a .292 hitter with three homers against Lee. Said Buck: “The key is I just feel good and I’m not trying to do too much.’’

Marlon Byrd, RF: Hitting .278, but .375 with runners in scoring position.

Lucas Duda, LF: With Davis sitting, Collins wisely chose not to move Duda, instead giving him more time to learn the outfield.

Justin Turner, 1B: Starting for Davis. Turner had three hits in his first start of the season, April 4, vs. San Diego.

Ruben Tejada, SS: In both fielding (four errors) and hitting (.211) slumps.

Dillon Gee, RHP: Has gone at least five innings in 47 of 50 career starts.

I will have another post following tonight’s game.

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Apr 04

Mets’ Manager Terry Colliins Planning Line-up Changes

Despite a preference for a consistent line-up, manager Terry Collins knows the importance of keeping every player sharp, which can be hard to do when the weather is cold.

To that regard, Collins pays attention to the match-ups. So, with right-handers scheduled this weekend Collins opted to start Justin Turner at second base today against left-hander Eric Stults.

TURNER: Not sitting today.

TURNER: Not sitting today.

Collins said this was not to be interpreted as a setback for Daniel Murphy, who missed most of spring training with a strained right intercostal muscle. Murphy has shown no signs of being reinjured or in discomfort, although he’s struggling at the plate, going 2-for-9.

Collins also plans to give left-handed hitters Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin each a start. It is presumed Nieuwenhuis will start in center and Baxter in right, but Valdespin is undecided.

Here’s this afternoon’s batting order against the Padres’ Stults:

Collin Cowgill, CF: Won the center field job by hitting .303 in spring training. Hit a grand slam in the opener, becoming the first Met to slam in his debut.

Justin Turner, 2B: Sustained ankle sprain at the end of spring training, but it was a last-day decision to keep him off the disabled list.

David Wright, 3B: Wright is 2-for-7 on the homestand with two stolen bases. He’s 3-for-6 lifetime against Stults.

Ike Davis, 1B: After striking out four times in the opener he hit a two-run homer last night. Davis hit .327 in spring training so he wasn’t concerned about Monday’s strikeouts.

Marlon Byrd, RF: Has three hits in the first two games, including two with runners in scoring position. Hit 16 homers playing winter ball in Mexico, so there’s some pop in his bat.

Lucas Duda, LF: His on-base percentage was a preseason concern, but he’s reached base five times in the two games, including a mammoth two-run homer last night. After a slow start this spring he finished at .270.

John Buck, C: Making his third straight start, which is surprising considering it is a day game following a night game. But, four hits in two games, including a two-run homer last night kept him in the line-up. The chemistry has been immediate with the starters.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Had a brutal spring hitting .096 in 21 games, but drove in the Mets’ first run of the season with a double. Had five hits in spring training, but two already. Committed an error last night.

Dillon Gee, RHP: Making his first start since undergoing shoulder surgery last July to repair a blocked artery. Went 1-2 with a 5.87 ERA in spring training.

The following is San Diego’s line-up:

Everth Cabrera, SS

Will Venable, RF

Mark Kotsay, LF

Yonder Alonso, 1B

Jedd Gyorko, 3B

Alexi Amarista, 2B

Cameron Maybin, CF

John Baker, C

Eric Stults, LHP