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 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.