The Mike Jacobs Mystery Continues
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.
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.