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 09

Mets Finally Demote Ike Davis

Falling under the category of it being about time, the Mets demoted Ike Davis this afternoon, along with outfielder Mike Baxter and left-hander Robert Carson to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Davis has struggled all season and there has been speculation of him being optioned for several weeks, but GM Sandy Alderson has been reluctant to make the move. He finally ran out of patience following the Mets being swept for the second straight weekend.

“At some point you just have to say to yourself this is not in his best interest,” Alderson said. “I was one of his biggest supporters. I just felt at some point we’ve got to get him out of here. Hopefully he’ll be back in a short period of time. But he needs to go there. He needs to be able to play every day. He needs to be able to work on his swing without worrying necessarily about the outcome. We think it’s in his best interest.”

Davis struggled early last year but rebounded in the second half to finish with 32 homers. After a similar slow start this season, Davis vowed things would be different, but they’ve been even worse. Davis has been adamant in insisting he believes he needs to resolve his issues on this level and wouldn’t benefit from the minor leagues.

On the issue of strikeouts, Davis maintains he’s a home run hitter and strikeouts are part of the package, and has shown no interest in shortening his stroke or going to the opposite field. Davis proved vulnerable to high fastballs and breaking pitches away last year and demonstrated no improvement this season.

Davis is hitting .161 with five homers and 16 RBI, a .242 on-base percentage and a .258 slugging percentage. Davis has 30 hits and 19 walks this year compared to 66 strikeouts. He is on pace to strike out 184 times and hit just 14 homers.

Alderson said the Mets will promote three players Monday, including a first baseman and would not move Daniel Murphy or Lucas Duda to first.


May 30

Ruben Tejada Issue Solves Itself

It appears the Ruben Tejada problem has taken care of itself.

On the day after hearing a wake-up ultimatum or risk being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas, Tejada strained his right quadriceps going after a ball he had no chance of catching in Wednesday night’s victory over the Yankees.

TEJADA: A head-scratching player.

TEJADA: A head-scratching player.

That left the Mets with the easy option of placing Tejada on the disabled list, where he could stay for two weeks. Once Tejada begins a rehab assignment, the Mets will have 20 days in which to activate him. That’s nearly five Tejada-free weeks.

Tejada ran a long way for the ball – one of the few bursts of hustle we’ve seen from him – but to risk injury in a blowout game was senseless. Even worse, was he nearly took out left fielder Mike Baxter in a sliding attempt at the ball.

It was the latest in a series of head-scratching plays from Tejada, who had a brain cramp in the sixth when he looked the runner back to third despite a big lead and didn’t get the runner at first.

It’s one thing to make a physical error, of which he’s had many, but shortstop is a thinking position and he gives the Mets nothing when his mind is elsewhere. In some ways, his wandering mind reminds me of Angel Pagan.

Tejada first tested Terry Collins’ patience when he didn’t report early to spring training in 2012. Collins reasoned with Tejada to replace Jose Reyes, the new shortstop would want to get a head start.

Collins was clearly annoyed that Tejada wasn’t in good shape, but had few options. Tejada made things easier for himself with a solid offensive season, but defense – supposedly his strong suit – was erratic.

Tejada opened the season with a handful of errors in the first two weeks and has been shaky since. At the plate, he couldn’t break the habit of hitting the ball in the air, which makes him an easy out.

Tejada has not been able to seize the leadoff spot, and when he does get on there are times he looks clueless on the bases, such as when he was picked off second Tuesday night.

The Mets won Tuesday giving Tejada another day, but even without the injury, his play Wednesday warranted a demotion.

The Mets are expected to promote Omar Quintanilla today. Quintanilla was a last-day cut in spring training when the Mets opted to keep Kirk Nieuwenhuis as an extra outfielder. To make room on the 40-man roster, they could move Frank Francisco to the 60-day disabled list.

The Mets won despite Tejada in large part because of Jeremy Hefner’s strong start. Hefner has pitched well, but in bad luck lately. He’s pitched well enough to stay in the rotation, but the Mets must make a move when Zack Wheeler is ready.

One demotion possibility is tonight’s starter, Dillon Gee (2-6, 6.34 ERA). If not him, then perhaps Collin McHugh would go. The underperforming Shaun Marcum isn’t leaving because he’s getting $4 million this year.

After the Pittsburgh series, I wrote how the following two weeks could define their season. It didn’t look good in St. Louis and when they were swept by Cincinnati.

However, they have sparked interest with this four-game winning streak, and with two series coming up against Miami, they could see relevance again.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee pitching for his job.

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

May 29

Mets Wrap: Jeremy Hefner Finally Gets Victory

David Wright said it would be nice if the Mets played a game when they are in control from start to finish. Such was the case Wednesday night when the Mets gave Jeremy Hefner a five-run first inning and cruised to a 9-4 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The victory gave the Mets a season-high four-game winning streak.

HEFNER: Finally gets victory.

HEFNER: Finally gets victory.

ON THE MOUND: In winning for the first time, Hefner gave up three runs on nine hits with no walks and five strikeouts in six innings. … Scott Rice appeared in his 31st game and is on pace to pitch in 97. … LaTroy Hawkins closed the game.

AT THE PLATE:  Ruben Tejada singled to jumpstart a five-run first inning. The inning also included a two-run, opposite field single from Ike Davis. Reportedly, both Tejada and Davis were on notice of being optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. Davis had another single in the sixth.. … For the second straight game, Davis hit eighth. … Marlon Byrd homered in the third. … Lucas Duda hit a two-run opposite field double to left in the fourth. … John Buck looked better with two hard hit line drives to right.

THEY SAID IT: “I feel a lot better with the new stance. I am getting comfortable with it,’’ – Davis on showing signs of breaking out of his funk.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-10. Mets’ records in games following a Matt Harvey start and when Hefner starts.

METS MATTERS: Tejada left the game with two outs in the ninth with a sore knee sustained when he slid in the outfield chasing a pop-up. Note: He almost took out Mike Baxter on the play.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee gets the start Thursday night against Vidal Nuno. Gee is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

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.