May 22

This Time Ike Davis’ Glove Betrays Mets

Ike Davis’ troubles at the plate and in the field continued as he botched two plays at first, one in which opened the door to the Reds’ three-run ninth inning in Wednesday’s 7-4 loss. With the Mets being swept, they fell to a season-high ten games below .500. Matt Harvey did not have a great start, but came away with another no-decision.

DAVIS: Frustration personified. (AP)

DAVIS: Frustration personified. (AP)

ON THE MOUND: Harvey gave up four runs on nine hits in 6.1 innings. …. Bobby Parnell gave up three runs on three hits in the ninth inning.

AT THE PLATE: Davis walked twice, and in a comment that says it all about the kind of season he is having, Terry Collins said it might be a good sign. … Daniel Murphy had three hits and Rick Ankiel doubled twice and tripled. All other Mets combined for three hits.

IN THE FIELD: Davis hesitated on a ground ball up the line in the seventh and a run scored. He let another get by him in the ninth to let another run score and opened the door for two more. Unbelievably, Collins said Davis isn’t carrying his slump to the field.

THEY SAID IT: “It just typifies everything that’s happened.’’  Collins on Davis’ fielding adventures in the ninth inning.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17-27 record to fall season-high ten games below .500.

ON DECK: Mets off Thursday, then begin a three-run series against Atlanta Friday at Citi Field.

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

May 20

Mets Must Develop Consistency In Batting Order

Constructing a major league batting order is a tricky enough task for a manager in the best of times, let alone with the limited and non-productive options in front of Terry Collins.

It was good to see Daniel Murphy back at leadoff Monday against Cincinnati, but somewhat surprised at first to see Rick Ankiel at second. Then again, Murphy won’t be doing a lot of stealing, so there’s not much of a need for him to work the count.

Then again, working the count might not be such a bad idea if it helps Ankiel get a better pitch and cuts down on his strikeouts. You also have to wonder if having a hot David Wright behind him will have pitchers challenge him by throwing more fastballs inside the zone, which theoretically is the theory of hitters protecting each other in the batting order.

Murphy is on a 14-for-28 tear over his last seven games and Ankiel has two homers since the Mets picked him up last week, so there’s life at the top of the order. Wright has also been swinging a hot bat.

Moving Lucas Duda to cleanup and dropping Ike Davis to sixth seems the best option, although I would drop Davis lower – to Triple-A Las Vegas. But, if he stays, let him stick at seventh. Sixth can be a RBI spot in the order, so why keep Davis there when he’s not producing? Until Davis shows he can produce, and he erroneously has said he needs to hit on this level and not in the minor leagues.

What Davis doesn’t get is this isn’t about the majors vs. the minors, but for him addressing his mechanics and approach. Staying in the majors won’t shake him of his bad habits and approach. That will take diligent work in the minors.

Assuming a full season for Ankiel, from him at second, and including Wright, Duda, Marlon Byrd, Davis and John Buck, the Mets have six straight hitters on pace for over 100 strikeouts. Five Mets who normally start are hitting lower than .240. Overall, the Mets have scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their last 13 games and 15 of their last 22.

In spring training Collins said he wanted consistency in the batting order, but realistically hasn’t had many options. One thing he could do is keep Ruben Tejada eighth, which is prudent considering his .219 average.

Collins has waffled before, but if there’s no replacement for Davis – and general manager Sandy Alderson said that is not imminent – here’s hoping he sticks with this indefinitely.There might be minor tweaking depending on specific match-ups and working others into the lineup, but overall hopefully nothing dramatic.

Look at it this way, there’s nothing working with all the juggling. The Mets have used seven different hitters batting leadoff, fifth and eighth; eight number six hitters; and 11 at seventh.

There’s nothing stable there, and that must change.

As usual, your comments are always welcome 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 18

Mets Weighing Ike Davis Demotion

If, and when, the Mets demote Ike Davis, it shouldn’t be interpreted as the franchise giving up on him. It should be looked at as tough love, that they are doing what is in the best interests of themselves and their frustrated slugger.

The Mets must make this decision, whether he’s the future or not. If he is the future, then the Mets must make him right. If he’s not the future, then the Mets should stop spinning their wheels.

DAVIS: Could be optioned soon.

DAVIS: Could be optioned soon.

I don’t believe the Mets will bail on him long term because, 1) he’s shown flashes of success, 2) they have more urgent needs in other areas so they can afford more patience, and 3) he has a manageable contract.

Davis will need to work on mechanics and approach when he’s sent down, and the Mets will have to judge him on those and not stats, as you can make them say anything you want.

Davis just looks uncomfortable at the plate and this wide stance is such that he’s awkward looking. It makes him prone to lunging and getting off balance.

His approach is just plain bad. He should look at striking out as a disease. His pitch recognition is poor, which is how you explain his reaching for low-and-away breaking balls. Until Davis proves he can adjust and hit this pitch, there’s no reason why any pitcher will throw him a fastball.

Finally, he has to understand it is better to put the ball in play than to walk back to the dugout. There’s nothing sexy about striking out, and good things happen when you go up the middle.

Reportedly, the Mets are close to pulling the trigger on this, but are weighing their call-up choices. If and when the Mets make this move, it likely won’t be for Josh Statin because he is not on the 40-man roster and bringing him up would require some juggling.

The likely choices would be Andrew Brown and Zach Lutz. Because Brown was sent down when the Mets signed Rick Ankiel, he’s not eligible to be brought up until next week.

Undoubtedly, Davis will put an incredible amount of pressure on himself trying to snap out of this funk and attempt to stay, but that would only make things worse.

When you look at the Mets’ roster, Davis is one of the few players you can look at and realistically project he will still be here in five years. However, if he doesn’t get things fixed soon, you can also realistically project he won’t be here next year.

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.