Apr 24

I Like Ike, But This Is Ridiculous

Geez, What the heck is up with Ike Davis? Spare me the “It’s only April diatribes”  I’m not in the mood for cliches and simplistic excuses this morning.

Ike Davis stranded the bases loaded three times in Monday’s doubleheader sweep by the Giants, although the first baseman cautiously noted that the final instance — a called third strike in the nightcap as a pinch hitter — was not entirely his fault. Davis and Terry Collins clearly said the final pitch was low. Davis flinged his bat after the at-bat. He left 11 runners on base in two games.

Low my ass… It was too close to take… You’re down a half dozen runs and have two strikes on you, protect the damn plate.

Instead of Collins making excuses for him, maybe he should set his head straight and tell Davis to stop lunging at everything.

Last week in this post, our own Drew (72MetsFan) referred to Ike Davis’ tirades at the plate.

Another thing that concerns me is Ike’s demeanor at the plate and how he reacts on close pitches that don’t go his way or his emotional displays after every strikeout. When a a Cy-Young type pitcher like Cliff Lee barely misses the outside part of the plate, he’s gonna get that call every time. There’s no use jawing about it to the ump and Davis’ reputation in that regard is growing quickly and will only serve against him. If not Hudgens, than Collins or somebody else needs to have him tone it down up there.

And there he was, taking a called third strike in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, popping off and slamming his bat and helmet to the ground as he turned from home plate in protest. Keep up that routine and see how many close pitches will go your way, Ike.

Collins was finally asked about Davis’ antagonistic protests aimed at the the men behind the plate and whether it plays against him in the long run as I mentioned last week:

“I don’t necessarily agree with that,” Collins said. “In our league, you have to be professional. … Years ago umpires could hold a grudge. Because there are so many TV cameras today, and with all the stuff being aired today, they really can’t. I don’t think they do that stuff anymore. They’re human beings. Once in a while they miss a call. We make mistakes. But I don’t think they really screw guys like they once did.”

Is he kidding me?

He thinks umpiring has improved instead of gotten worse? Really Terry?

That may be the most asinine baseball quote I’ve heard all year.

In the last week, Ike has gotten worse, not better. I loved hearing about how great he felt after batting practice yesterday, it really touched my heart, but I’m more concerned with results.

Is his head in the game? Of course it is, it’s one of the things I love about Ike – his focus and determination. In Spring Training Davis referred to himself as “pure chaos” at the plate when comparing himself to teammate Daniel Murphy. I thought it was cool at the time and a perfect nickname for him, but what was I thinking? He admitted he was a hacker which is okay when you’re hacking at a .295 clip and hitting home runs in bunches, but this… This slump is intolerable and he’s clogged up the middle of the order while batting cleanup. We’re getting tons of people on base… Haven’t you heard how awesome the Mets’ OBP is? How about getting some players in the middle of the order to drive in some runs… You know those things that leads to wins…

Time for Plan B… Time to get him a few days off, not one… You have Valdespin here, perfect timing, put him at second base for the Marlins series and let Daniel Murphy cover first base.

The goal here is two fold.

One, Ike would be served better to disengage, recharge and come back with a new approach and attitude. Let him huddle with Hudgens or anyone else who could help. Show him some tape from 2010 so he could see how pitchers have adjusted to to him and that he now needs to do the same. Hey, whatever it takes…

Two, the bottom line here is to win some baseball games. Batting Ike Davis cleanup while he’s a complete mess is a terrible idea. We’ve lost five of our last six games and we can’t afford a dead out deflating the middle of our lineup. Ike’s a flat tire right now and it needs some Fix-A-Flat.

Yesterday I told Andy Martino of the Daily News that Davis could be in the throws of a sophomore slump that is in late bloom. We all love to believe our young stars are immune to such things, but that’s what happens when the league adjusts to you and all you do is flail at the plate like nothing is different. Lucas Duda be forewarned as well.

Apr 23

Collins Says Francisco Is Still The Closer, But For How Long?

Well it looks like manager Terry Collins had his little pow-wow with quasi-closer Frank Francisco on Sunday and two of them passed around a peace pipe resulting in Collins affirming his trust and confidence in Francisco as his closer.

“Everybody wants to hear something positive,” Collins said. “I just went to him this morning and said, ‘You’ve got to hang in there.’ He’s disappointed. He’s mad at me because I took him out, which is a common thing. It happens. I certainly don’t blame him. If I was in his shoes, I’d be mad at me, too.”

So Frankie-Frank is back on the saddle after three straight shaky outings, but believe me his leash is short and at the first hint of trouble, you saw how quickly Collins ran out and gave him the ol’ heave-ho.

Francisco was the the prize of the offseason for the New York Mets and Alderson saw fit to fill his coffers with a two year, $12 million dollar deal to be the closer – a role which he has had trouble retaining throughout his career. Before donning his Mets uniform, Francisco had amassed 18 blown saves in his 70 save opportunities. That’s an unsightly 74.2% save percentage.

In Grapefruit League play this Spring, Francisco finished with a 5.54 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP in 11 appearances for the Amazins. So his recent struggles are just a continuation of what we saw last month.

2.1 IP – 6 H – 6 ER – 3 BB – 1 K

His last three outings point to trouble, and while some may say it’s only April, I’l direct you to his career 4.22 ERA in save situations which doesn’t even account for all the inherited runners he has allowed to cross the plate.

Hey look, he’s all ours now, so all we can do is hope that at 32, he can dig down inside and somehow become the closer he is being paid to be. The last thing this team needs right now is a $6 million dollar a year middle reliever.

Luckily, Jon Rauch has exceeded expectations thus far and could step in as closer if the need arises – as it did on Saturday.

Apr 23

Mets Doing Wise Thing With Johan Santana

Johan Santana didn’t last two innings in his last start, so did he really need to be pushed back from today’s start?

Absolutely.

Terry Collins said he’d take every opportunity to give Santana extra rest when he could and this was the ideal thing to do simply based on the probability of lousy weather. The forecast is rain throughout the day, so the odds are the Mets might not get in both games of their doubleheader today against the Giants. They might not even get in one game.

However, Collins didn’t want to take the chance of wasting Santana today by having him sit through a long delay and not being able to bring him back. The bonus in pushing back the rotation is it also keeps Mike Pelfrey from pitching against the Marlins, a team that owns him.

The Mets have learned a lot about Santana durning his rehab from shoulder surgery, but what they don’t know is how he’ll respond after starting and his ability to come back from a long delay. And, with the weather also cooler, there’s no sense in taking this risk.

With the Giants not coming in again this season, the doubleheader was the only option. However, if the games get bagged today they’ll have to play one anyway. This is another problem with the unbalanced schedule, which is a byproduct of interleague play.

What I don’t understand is why MLB scheduled the Giants in this early in the first place. The weather is always suspect this time of year, so why schedule a team that won’t come in again, or one that is three time zones away? With fewer and fewer off days in the schedule, there should be more foresight in the scheduling.

Keep April within the division, or no farther away then the Central Time Zone. That way, a team has to travel no more than two hours on an off day to make the game up. Just common sense.

 

Apr 21

Mets Starting Lineup Vs. Giants

The Mets will attempt to regain their footing this afternoon behind this lineup and Mike Pelfrey:

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, cf

Daniel Murphy, 2b

David Wright, 3b

Ike Davis, 1b

Jason Bay, lf

Lucas Duda, rf

Josh Thole, c

Ruben Tejada, ss

Mike Pelfrey, rhp

LINEUP COMMENTS: For the most part, Terry Collins’ lineup has been consistent. I like Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the leadoff spot and beginning to think he’s a keeper.

 

Apr 20

Niese Needs To Pick Up Mets

The Mets are now paying Jon Niese stopper money. Tonight he needs to earn it against San Francisco’s Barry Zito as the Mets seek to stabilize after losing three of their last four games.

After a surprisingly fast start, the Mets limp home with their rotation crushed, giving up 31 runs in the four games.

NIESE: Stopper

“We need Jon to give us a game,’’ manager Terry Collins said. So far, Niese has given the Mets two, winning both behind a nifty 2.13 ERA.

Niese will attempt to pick up the mess left by Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey in the last two games, and the bullpen’s meltdown Sunday at Philadelphia.

The Mets have always liked the physical aspects of Niese’s game; his location, velocity and movement on his pitches. However, the more they see him the more they appreciate his poise and composure. He ‘s not afraid to challenge hitters, including when behind in the count. That’s how one becomes a stopper.