Should Ike Davis Be Demoted?
Although Ike Davis stroked a double in Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto, he has struggled mightily all season, and can’t seem to break out of his slump. As a result, there is buzz that Ike could be sent down to the minors to work out his issues. Is that the best plan?
“There is nothing etched in stone,” Collins said with respect to minors consideration for Davis. “We will never, never say something is not going to happen. What we’re trying to do is make sure is we wring the rag dry. And that’s why, coming into this road trip, we said, ‘Look, here’s some pretty good opportunities.’ This is a pretty good hitting park. Pittsburgh is a pretty good hitting park. We’ve got right-handers, right-handers, right-handers coming up. Let’s just see if we can get him going.”
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Davis said Sunday morning. “I’m going to play here until something happens. … I really can’t answer questions about that until something happens. I’m not sent down yet, so I don’t know what to tell you.
“I feel fine. I’ve hit some balls hard, just never found a hole.
As Rubin points out earlier in that article, two other slugging first basemen have been demoted recently: Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins and Toronto’s Adam Lind. So, if Davis is sent down as well, it’s not unprecedented, and shouldn’t be shocking.
Looking at the bigger picture, sending Ike to the minors might be a good thing for the Mets over the short-term, considering the way Mike Baxter and Scott Hairston have been swinging the bat lately. With Ike in the minors, the Mets can move Lucas Duda to 1B and give both Baxter and Hairston at-bats while they’re hot. Such a move would also improve the Mets’ outfield defense.
For the long term, sending Ike down might be exactly what he needs to get out of his funk and back on track to being the Mets first baseman of the present and future. There are a few elements at play here. First and foremost, Ike missed nearly an entire season of baseball, and it’s difficult for a hitter to get back in the groove after so much time away. It’s particularly difficult for a hitter who has a long stride, big swing, and lots of moving parts — as Ike does. Timing is everything for Ike, and his is way off — and has been since the beginning of spring training.
The longer Ike struggles, the deeper he digs into a hole, and the harder it is to emerge from it. After a while, a slumping hitter starts taking his thoughts to the field, and may not be as focused on defense. Further, he starts questioning his ability, and without confidence it’s impossible to hit big-league pitching. Finally, there is knowing that you’re hurting your team, and you start to press. We saw this on Sunday afternoon with Ike’s aggressiveness on the bases. It was great that he was hustling and able to stretch a single into a double, and then took third on a wild pitch. But when he went rushing home on the second wild pitch, that was Ike making a decision based on wanting to make a contribution to the team, rather than on smart baseball.
Right now, Ike’s issue is physical: he needs to find his timing. However, it’s being compounded and extended by the mental and emotional strain that comes with continued struggle over length of time. It probably best to be in somewhere in Upstate New York (or Florida), away from the daily stress of the media and the feeling of burdening his teammates, working out his issues. Away from it all, he can focus on getting his swing right, and nothing else.
Here’s my feeling: if Ike doesn’t break out with a few good at-bats and solid line drives in Pittsburgh, then he’ll be demoted. And that will be the right decision. After playing the Pirates, the Mets return to Flushing, where Ike is hitting .065. It makes no sense to put him into the Citi Field environment while he’s slumping badly. Get him down somewhere else — even if it’s Port St. Lucie — to get himself straight. My bet is he’ll return to MLB mashing within a few weeks.
What do you think? Should the Mets demote Ike Davis to the minors to work things out? Why or why not? And if they do, how should the lineup be reconfigured as a result?