May 25

Ike Davis Needs The Minor Leagues Now

The Mets said they need more time to get an understanding of what’s going on with Ike Davis in order to make a decision on what to do with him

From Sandy Alderson on down these are professional baseball people with decades of experience. How can they not know Davis isn’t giving them anything; that he’s in a horrendous slump with shattered confidence?

DAVIS: One of four walks back to the dugout.

DAVIS: One of four walks back to the dugout.

Manager Terry Collins doesn’t know how much longer the Mets can live with Davis’ non-production, especially since they are getting little elsewhere.

“I know it’s wearing on him,’’ Collins told reporters Friday night. “I talk to these guys every day. I know it’s wearing on him.’’

It’s not as Davis isn’t working hard. Perhaps too hard.

“He took batting practice when they stopped the game.’’ Collins said. “He got in the cage. So I know it’s wearing on him. These players get to the big leagues because they’re very talented guys. They haven’t had to deal with much failure in their whole lives. When you deal with what he’s going through right now, it’s pretty hard to take it, because you’ve never been there before.’’

Davis said he needs to figure it out on this level and won’t get anything out of playing in the minor leagues. This is his primary problem. Like an alcoholic won’t get better until he admits to a problem, Davis won’t improve until he admits he needs reconstructive hitting surgery.

Major League pitchers, even mediocre ones, smell a hitter’s weaknesses and Davis has plenty. He’s vulnerable to fastballs high and breaking pitches low and away, meaning unless Davis gets a grooved fastball down the middle he’s not going to do anything. He didn’t get anything Friday night, striking out all four times. It was his third four-strikeout game this season, and has fallen to .143 in a 1-for-42 slide.

Slumps such Davis’ can make or break a player. Mickey Mantle slumped early in his career and considered quitting before his father lectured him. Mantle figured it out in the minor leagues and developed into one of the game’s greatest players.

Davis is on pace to strike out 195 times, but give the Mets only 15 homers, and worse, just 33 RBI. He already has 53 strikeouts compared to a combined 37 hits and walks. In just 1,318 career at-bats in 382 games, he has a staggering 363 strikeouts.

By contrast, Joe DiMaggio is known for his 56-game hitting streak, but nearly almost impressive in his 13-year career are just 369 strikeouts with 361 home runs.

Yes, the game has changed since DiMaggio’s time. There’s no longer a stigma to striking out, but it is as if Davis doesn’t care. Here is where he and other players today are simply wrong in their approach and aren’t being trained properly in developing a sound hitting plan. Despite today’s huge individual contracts, this remains a team sport. Strikeouts are a wasted at bat, where so many potential things can happen – including more hits, homers and RBI – when a ball is put into play.

I don’t care if it is Zach Lutz, or Josh Satin, who is not on the 40-man roster, or Wilmer Flores, who is no getting a start at first base at Triple-A Las Vegas, but somebody has to play first base for the Mets until Davis gets his head, and swing, straight.

This is long overdue, as the right time was over a month ago.

 

May 22

Time For Collins To Stop Making Excuses For Ike Davis

Ike sad

Ike Davis has lost his way. Not just at the plate, but in the field too. Terry Collins said after the game today, that the first baseman’s slump at the plate has not affected his play on the field. I beg to differ.

Maybe Terry feels a desperate need to defend his players, but to say that his last few miscues on the field are unrelated to what Davis is going through at the plate doesn’t ring true.

We’ve all seen Ike Davis at his best and have all marveled as fans over his gold glove caliber defense. But that was then and this is now. His instincts at first base are deteriorating and I believe it’s because he has something else eating at his mind. Davis is so unfocused and frequently looks like he’s in a daze.

During the 2010 through 2012 seasons, Ike Davis makes that play today down the first base line rather than just staring at it. The same can be said about his faux pas two days earlier when he stood in front of the runner on the basepath like a zombie and got called for obstruction.

Why can’t Terry Collins see what is so apparent to the few thousand fans who still go to the game? There’s a good reason why Davis is absorbing all the boos at the plate and now in the field. This isn’t the same player we grew to love almost from the first moment he made his debut three years ago. Remember how excited we were? Who didn’t think Ike Davis was a core player right from the start?

We want that Ike Davis back again. The only way that happens is by doing the right thing and sending him to Triple-A where he can sort out his problems and rediscover his stroke, his glove, and more importantly his confidence that is evidently shattered.

I’m not mad at Davis, I’m really not. But I am angry at Terry Collins who constantly makes excuses for bad baseball. There seems to be no more accountability on this team, only a boatload of excuses after each game. I guess that’s what I’m most concerned about. I want a manager who gets pissed off when he sees a breakdown in baseball fundamentals and not cover for his players.

Maybe Ike Davis’ biggest problem is Terry Collins who seems to have become his enabler… I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist, but it sure looks that way…

Davis is a very likable guy and I still believe he has a world of talent. But it’s time for the Mets to save him… It’s time for the Mets to try and get Davis back on track and that’s not going to happen in the major leagues. Just do the right for crying out loud…

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 21

Mets Lose Series Opener To Reds 4-3

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For a while, it looked like Terry Collin’s weird lineup choice going into the evening would actually work when Marlon Byrd ripped a three-run home run in the bottom of third. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, the Mets would fail to score again the rest of the night and could not stage a comeback after Jay Bruce hit a go-ahead home run off Shaun Marcum in the sixth. To be fair to Marcum, he handled the Reds lineup pretty decently considering all things. His tough inning was in the first, where he allowed three runs off RBI hits from Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. He did strike out seven over six innings, and did retire ten straight at one point in the ball game.

Ike sad

The issues of the night were compounded, however, by some bad work on the field from Ike Davis – who was really struggling in every aspect of the game tonight. Davis was called for an interference error in the first that moved Votto up a base into scoring position. In addition to that, he grounded out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first when he had a chance to redeem himself. Davis entered the game in a 1-for-30 slump and finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He was actually double switched out in the sixth inning.

The Mets never really showed much life after the three-run home run, allowing opposing starter Johnny Cueto to retire the last eight batters he faced. Latroy Hawkins did some dancing out of trouble in the seventh and shared some words with HP Umpire Tom Hallion, who incorrectly awarded a HBP to Brandon Phillips. Terry Collins left the dugout to argue three times over the game, and was ejected alongside Hawkins.

The Mets continue their series at 7:10 tomorrow when Jon Niese takes the mound for the Amazins’ against Mike Leake.

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