The Mike Jacobs Mystery Continues

Mike Jacobs finally collected his second hit of 2010, and it happened to be a homerun. His 100th career homer, in fact, though the distinction went largely unnoticed.

Jacobs is now hitting above .100 — .133 to be exact — and the long ball hit on Sunday is likely to entrench him at first for at least another week. The Mets like the long ball this year.

Despite that singular display of power (and offensive competence), the presence of Mike Jacobs has been quite a mystery. Mind you, this is coming from one who is a huge supporter of Jacobs.

It was strange enough that Mike Jacobs was the man chosen to take over first base when Daniel Murphy went down with a knee injury. After all, Jacobs was the least impressive of all the candidates auditioned at the position during spring training. Further, the Mets had not one but two other first baseman — Chris Carter and Ike Davis — absolutely mashing the baseball during the spring. Both are now bashing the ball in Buffalo.

Strange became baffling when Jerry Manuel put Jacobs in the cleanup spot, despite the fact he was the worst-looking hitter of the spring (counting only those who made the 25-man roster) and despite the fact his career numbers batting fourth are significantly worse than when he’s hit in any other position.

Baffling became unbelievably unacceptable when, upon being asked about Jacobs’ slow start, Manuel then let the world know that Jacobs “needed to work out some mechanical issues” in his swing.

Huh?

Apparently, Manuel and the Mets staff didn’t notice these “mechanical issues” during the six weeks of spring training, which would have been a great time to correct them. Or maybe they did see these mechanical issues, and thought it would be a good idea for Mike to work them out at the Major League level. Who cares if the games count in the regular season?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark — or Flushing — if an underperforming player with known flaws is given a starting job over two players who show the opposite.

The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if the Mets did not want Ike Davis or Chris Carter at first base for fear that they would perform so well, it would create a conundrum when Murphy returned from the disabled list. What if, for example, Carter was brought North as the “temporary” first baseman, and he hit .350 with 7 homers in the month of April? What would the Mets then do with Murphy?

I have to admit that conspiracy theory is faint in my heart. More likely, the Mets believed that Jacobs would somehow “flip a switch” and shake his slump when Opening Day rolled around. I’m beginning to believe that the Mets are simply poor at evaluating talent and projecting future performance. For example, why would they think it was a good idea to carry Sean Green on the 25-man roster? What is it that they see, that 29 other teams didn’t, in regard to Raul Valdes? Where did they get the idea that Gary Matthews Jr. was a better idea than Angel Pagan? What in the world was going on with the Ruben Tejada decision — especially in terms of moving him to second base? Why do they believe using Jennry Mejia for garbage innings over the short term is more valuable to the organization than developing him over the long term as a starter? And most disturbing, what was the thinking behind the faith put into both John Maine and Oliver Perez as solidified members of the starting rotation? I do understand that the free agent market didn’t offer many “sure fire” alternatives, but it did offer better, affordable choices. Additionally, free agency is not the only route toward acquiring personnel.

So really, the Mike Jacobs Mystery goes far beyond Jacobs. It’s a series of complex mysteries, that would befuddle even a stalwart, savvy detective such as Lt. Columbo.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike April 12, 2010 at 9:39 am
    Maybe I’m jumping the gun here but Jeff Francoeur is my new favorite Met and is going to have a great year. The guy looks completely different from his time in Atlanta. He has 4 walks on the year already! He is the only guy hitting consistently and that arm is a weapon. If he keeps this approach at the plate he might finally have figured things out and while he’ll never be an OBP machine, he might have improved just enough to take good at bats and get better pitches to hit.

    Otherwise not much to be excited about. Jacobs is running out of time and maybe so are the Mets. a disastrous start to the year will kill their season and the Nationals was their best shot at getting a few easy wins.

  2. isuzudude April 12, 2010 at 9:50 am
    The scary thing is, I wouldn’t put it past the Mets to sabotage their season in order to keep Dan Murphy looking as the golden boy.

    Although, it is much more plausible that, indeed, the Mets are horrible talent evaluators, and are even worse at roster management. Ruben Tejada had an option wasted so he can ride the pine for 4 games. Nelson Figueroa gets waived to make room for Sean Green, who was hurt all along and also had options. Jacobs is picked over Chris Carter. Frank Catalanotto looks weaker at the plate than Marlon Anderson, and has even less versatility. And now, after seasons in which the Mets stubbornly carried only 1 LHP in the bullpen, now they have 3, including newbie Raul Valdes who was pitching in Mexico this time last year.

    Regardless if the Mets have talent, they will constantly be taking 2 steps back with every step forward due to Omar’s ridiculous transactions and Jerry’s awful management. Put these clowns in charge of the Yankees and watch the Bronx Bombers tailspin into mediocrity.

    I wonder – if the Mets go winless on their upcoming roadtrip, are changes a-coming?

  3. Dave April 12, 2010 at 10:06 am
    Well there’s no mystery as to why Manuel bats Jacobs cleanup despite all statistical evidence against the idea. He came out before the ’09 season and said he doesn’t believe in letting statistics rule his decisions. I remember the comment at the time sending chills down my spine and here we are a year later watching it. As for the bungling of the roster, Omar Minaya has made it very clear in his time here that he is extremely adept at adding star players to his roster, while at the same time seems clueless when it comes to rounding out his roster. The fact that players have options and can only be shuffled between the minors and the majors so many times is not a fact Minaya seems terribly cognizant of.
  4. Matt K April 12, 2010 at 3:27 pm
    reading all that…all I can do is laugh at the front office and at one baffling move after another. what else can i do besides laugh?
  5. gary s. April 12, 2010 at 6:20 pm
    well put matt.. laughter and the mets seem to make a perfect match these days ..
  6. blah April 12, 2010 at 8:01 pm
    Even Janish can figure out that Jacbos shouldn’t be playing. If that doesn’t argue for Jerry’s firing I don’t know what does.