Controversy Still Follows Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada

The black cloud that hovered over Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada in 2013 seems to have followed them to Port St. Lucie in 2014.

Davis and Tejada had miserable seasons for the Mets last year. The Mets were counting on them to anchor first base and shortstop, respectively, but they both took a huge step in the wrong direction, on and off the field.

Davis got off to a terrible start in 2013, just as he did in 2012. Unlike 2012, he was unable to turn his season around. He hit only nine home runs all year after finishing with 32 in ’12. He argued often with umpires, and blamed his struggles on not getting enough pitches to hit. It was obvious that even when he did get a cookie down the middle, that his timing was completely off.

In 2012, his early struggles may have been a result of the case of Valley Fever he contracted prior to the season, or the fact that his 2011 campaign ended in May, resulting in a rusty swing. Last year, there were no excuses readily available for Davis. His plate selection was brutal and his swing was as long and hitchy as ever.

Yesterday, Mike Puma of the NY Post reported Davis actually played with an oblique injury in 2013. Davis kept the injury concealed, ostensibly to save his spot in the lineup. Davis responded to the report with anger, according to Adam Rubin:

On Monday morning, Davis loudly chastised the Post reporter who wrote the story in front of teammates and other media. The first baseman then told reporters he had merely acknowledged having a nagging injury for a couple of months before the oblique eventually popped — just as plenty of other players during the course of an MLB season have nagging injuries they do not report because they do not want to be pulled from the lineup.

Asked if Davis was mad enough to take a swing at him, Puma quipped, “if he takes a swing at me, he might miss.” Ba-zing!

As for Tejada, an anonymous source from the Mets organization apparently told the NY Post they were frustrated with his conditioning.

“He looks pretty much the same,” the source said, referring to the results of an offseason conditioning program Tejada attended. Well, of course he looks the same. He wasn’t exactly Mickey Lolich last year. Tejada’s always been pretty slim. The point of the conditioning program was more about improving his quickness and stamina than turning him into Mr. Universe.

Tejada’s always been the subject of the side-eye from Mets management. Manager Terry Collins admonished the shortstop for being late to Spring Training in 2012 (even though technically he was right on time). Tejada went on to have a solid year, hitting .289/.333/.351 while playing at least major league average defense.

Last year, the team lost confidence in him quickly when his averaged dropped to the Mendoza line, and his fielding ability underwent a noticeable decline.

If the Post’s source is legitimate, Tejada may find himself out of his position before Opening Day. The Mets are still interested in free agent Stephen Drew (though they don’t wish to overpay him), they are thinking about trading for Mariners’ shortstop prospect Nick Franklin, and they’re even giving Wilmer Flores reps at shortstop this Spring, a position he hasn’t played in three years (Flores attended the same fitness camp this year, and the team is happy with his agility).

No matter their potential, and no matter their talent, it seems like Davis and Tejada will never find success wearing orange and blue.

Sandy Alderson tried to trade Davis all offseason, but potential suitors found his asking price (usually a top pitching prospect) to be too steep. It may be in Alderson’s best interest to find a way to move Davis now, even it means lowering his standards for a return.

Should the Mets choose to find a new starting shortstop, Tejada can still provide value as a utility infielder, but being human, he has to feel a little betrayed by his own organization.

Whether the solution is moving them, or simply sitting them down and reconciling their differences, the problems surrounding Davis and Tejada could become a clubhouse drama all season long, unless they are dealt with now.

Paul is a freelance writer, blogger, and broadcast technology professional residing in Denver. A New Jersey native, he is a long-suffering Mets fan, a recently-happy Giants fan, and bewildered Islanders fan. He's also a fair-weather Avalanche and Rockies supporter. In his spare time, he enjoys the three Gs: Golf, Guitars, and Games.
  1. Jujo February 25, 2014 at 8:21 pm
    I say get Ike and Tejada in as many Spring Training games early to see if they are better and if they are sell high. Ike is done in NY after this blowup with a reporter and Tejada sounds like he will never make it out of TCs doghouse.
  2. Vilos February 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm
    Why is it in the Mets best interest, to lower their price and move Davis now?
    Its not like Davis is blocking somebody.
  3. argonbunnies February 26, 2014 at 6:31 am
    I heard the recording of Ike’s “blowup” and there’s no issue here. He sounded irritated, said a few things that didn’t make sense, and maybe raised his voice a tiny bit. Whatever. The media is just jumping all over this to punish Ike for singling one of them out.

    Having said all that, it’s true that Ike should have known better than to expect no story after saying anything other than “no comment” to Puma.

    As for Tejada’s conditioning, he’s done everything the Mets have asked, the Mets just didn’t anticipate the results. They asked him to get stronger after 2012, so he hit the weights, bulked up, and lost his agility in the field. He wasn’t “out of shape” — I didn’t hear that line from anyone in spring training, it only came up in May after he’d been awful for a month. I don’t think Ruben’s been given a fair shot, but I also don’t think he’s that good a player, so whatever.

    Nick Franklin seems like Danny Espinosa with a worse glove. I’d take him over Tejada, but no way I’d give up a legit pitching prospect for him. A reliever like Black would be fine. If the M’s can get a decent haul, we’re probably better off just paying Drew.

    • Joe February 27, 2014 at 12:32 pm
      What are we paying Drew? That’s the question.

      Let’s say it takes two years, 22M, which is one figure tossed around by some. Is this worth more than the prospect? What prospect? Let’s say it is DeGrom. Is the 22M for two years worth more than that?

      I don’t know. Sounds a bit much. Can use the money, and we are talking about penny pinchers here who very well might see this as a zero sum game, for something else. Pay Drew, you lose someone else. And, prospects are big question marks.

      At least as the winter winds down, the drama is due to be over sooner than later.

      • argonbunnies February 27, 2014 at 4:46 pm
        Drew doesn’t appear to be getting a big-money long-term deal. His best bet is to do what other FAs have done: use this year to try again next year. This means that the two most important things for Drew in 2014 are playing time and cash. All the Mets need to do is offer him a regular job and outbid the next one-year contract.

        Let’s say that takes an overpay of ~$14 mil. Is that more than Drew is worth, according to WAR and projections? Yes. So why do it? To make a statement to the fans that the team is in fact trying to win games and be watchable, rather than just throwing Bay money at Granderson. Maybe Drew only adds 2 wins to the ledger, but in a crowded and mediocre NL, 2 wins may keep us in WC contention an extra 2 weeks. Adding Drew will be good for fan enthusiasm in April and in August. It’ll also let future FAs know that the Mets are trying to win, meaning that eventually we won’t always have to overpay to land a guy.

        It’s a pure win-win in my book.

        The only way a Franklin trade could be better than that is if Franklin turns out to be really good. If Mets scouts conclude that, then cool, let’s do it. Otherwise, we may need DeGrom if we have average luck with the guys ahead of him (meaning most won’t make it). HoJo, as one of the rare voices outside the Mets/”Prospect Experts” echo tunnels, said he was more impressed by DeGrom than Wheeler.

  4. DaveSchneck February 26, 2014 at 7:07 pm
    Ike’s and Ruben’s “problems” are nothing that can’t be fixed by improved play on the field. Concerning Ike, the Mets should not give him away, and only deal him if the return is satisfactory. Regarding Ruben, and regardless of what their playoff possibilities look like for 2014, alderson needs to import some competition and/or an upgrade. Whether this is Drew, Franklin, or another player, it needs to be done. Like Argon, I would not give up a top tier pitching prospect for Franklin. Signing Drew to a “reasonable” deal still makes most sense, and I think Alderson knows this, but Boras/Drew have yet to drop the price to “reasonable”. I see no way that Crew sits out until June to shed the comp pick baggage, as that will cost him way too much dough. Unlike E Santana, I see no way he will get a big multi-year deal by waiting. I suspect Boras knows this too.
  5. Izzy February 27, 2014 at 8:03 am
    To theguys whowant to sell Davis “high” what would you be saying if Alderson traded a top pitching prospect for a first basemen who is injured every year, who has underachieved for most of his career, who has regressed both offensively and defensively evey year, and who seems to have a really bad attitude?I think you would be up in arms. So why do you think he has this great value toanother GM?
    As for Tejada, there is n’t anything to say. The Mets had no replacement for Reyes and this guy was made into a regualr SS when he doesn’t have the range to play SS or the reaction time. As for his conditioning, others have said it well. The Mets play games with him then complain and throw him under the bus when he can’t be what he isn’t. When he’s gone, who is next?
    • DaveSchneck February 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm
      I agree with both you and Vilos. I wouldn’t give up a top pitching prospect for Ike, so the Mets choice is to keep him and see if he can bounce back or purge him for little return. If those are the choices, they just as soon keep him. Duda may turn out to be better, but it’s not like he is Bryce Harper.
  6. Vilos February 27, 2014 at 9:32 am
    When I say, “why lower the price”, i’m not saying sell Davis “high” for a top pitching prospect. I’m saying, dont lower the price now because of this story.
    As for his “value” and other GMs, all that is clear is that a deal has not been made. Why: maybe price too high or maybe not too many teams need a 1B, or maybe, those who might be interested, are waiting for the Mets to dump him.
  7. Vilos February 27, 2014 at 9:39 am
    I say, dont lower the price. Wait it out. if nobody pays the price, Let him compete with Duda. Neither seam to be blocking a prospect. Worst case, Davis loses, is sent down and his value lowers below its actual low. A risk worth taking
    • argonbunnies February 27, 2014 at 4:50 pm
      Agreed. In asking for guys like Tyler Thornburg, Sandy was shooting for the bare minimum with any combo of upside and certainty to make it worth it. If you can’t get that, why bother? Trading Ike for a pinch-runner or middle reliever would be stupid. If you hold on and eventually have to release him, no big loss.
      • Izzy February 27, 2014 at 7:14 pm
        They asked the O’s for the number 3 prospect in their system. That isn’t a bare bones request. That’s fantasy land. And Thornburg, while not as high was penciled in the Brew crew rotation, you are asking sky high for a guy who is at the low point in his career (hopefully). Glad I stirred the pot however!!!!
        • argonbunnies February 28, 2014 at 3:29 am
          Not our fault the O’s have a pathetic farm system. 🙂

          Actually, I didn’t remember that. I just remembered Thornburg and Kingham. Who’d Sandy ask the O’s for?

          Looking up Kingham now, he’s been pretty good in the low minors, but nothing dazzling. He was the Pirates’ #9 prospect last year. It’s certainly not the bare minimum possible — one can always trade for relievers — but it’s the bare minimum that I personally would bother with.

        • Izzy February 28, 2014 at 7:41 am
          Argo if your response to a pathetic trade offer by Alderson is that the other team has a bad farm then you are just acting like one of Sandy’s puppets. ulike Alderson who in three years has produced lousy boring teams, the O’s GM only there two years has produced two winning seaons and one playoff team. And the ranking of farms is BS because it ignores what a team has used in its farm to produce a good team. Its a snapshot of one second in time. Irrelevant unless of course your team winning doesn’t matter to you. I’d take Machado over any one Alderson has drafted. And if in the Mets system he’d be slated for his ful year in the minors again as Alderson and company can’t even figure out different rates of progress by kids.
          Here is your info showing you what an assinine demand the arrogant failure Alderson threw at the O’s,

        • DaveSchneck February 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm
          I agree with both you and Argo. Alderson should not give away Ike, that is not acting like one of his puppets. However, his has presided over nothing but losing teams, and despite the financial excuses, should be held accountable. Whatever happened prevouis years, he should be 100% on the hook in 2014, and if the team is not successful – meaning a winning record and strong run to either make the playoffs or just miss – he should be fired and replaced. I could care less what he got for Dickey or what the ranking of the system is. I haven’t spent a day in the baseball industry and can determine that a competent high school senior thaking business 101 can do what he did over the last three years. He needs to find a SS by March 31, make the right roster choices, and give Collins enough to win with. BS speeches are for losers.
        • argonbunnies March 1, 2014 at 3:16 am
          Dude! I figured it out! Izzy is a politician! Heck, Izzy, you’re probably my state senator or congressman! I knew the repetitive and unresponsive spewing of charged and simplistic ideology seemed familiar from somewhere!

          The insulting anyone who disagrees with you! The relentless staying on message! “Always criticize Alderson, no matter what the platform or topic” must be practice for your next campaign! You can just swap in “Obama” (or whoever else you can get your constituents to fear) and your speeches are practically written already!

          I am proud to be your warm-up “puppet”. I’ll try to save my attempts at objective case-by-case judgment (not to mention humor with smiley faces) for when you’ve ceded the floor.

  8. murph February 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm
    OK, we don’t have to worry about Davis anymore. He hit a homer today.
  9. argonbunnies March 1, 2014 at 3:41 am
    Observations from today’s game:

    Montero‘s control was excellent. Many pitches on the corner at the knees. He didn’t show any swing-and-miss stuff, and his secondary pitches lacked bite, but he’s only been in pro ball for 3 years so perhaps there’s still time for that to come. He should at least be a Brad Radke type.

    DeGrom threw a lot of fastballs by people despite living at 91-93. Either he’s got some late hop or hitters just aren’t geared up for 93 in February.

    Duda looks the same. Quick bat, good swing, but didn’t seem to be tracking the ball that well.

    Josh Satin also looks the same. Patient, good eye, hit some line drives.

    Ike reminded me of 2nd Half 2012 Ike — ready to punish mistakes.

    Chris Young‘s bat looked slow. Hit an offspeed pitch hard, then swung late on a 91mph fastball down the middle.

    Flores: at bat, he looked like he did last year before the injury — he made contact with some pitchers’ pitches, but for outs. In the field, he looked a little lighter on his feet when moving around, but he clanked his first chance.

    Cesar Puello is a strong guy. His stance and swing remind me of Mark McGwire, though he’s not as big as Mac and doesn’t have that distinctive follow-through. The rocket double he grounded down the third base line was probably the loudest hit all day.

    Nieuwenhuis looked overmatched at the plate, and didn’t do a great job fielding some balls off the wall.

    None of the relievers pitched well. Germen‘s change and Socolovich‘s curve were the only secondary pitches that seemed even adequate. Walters kept his sinker down but apparently couldn’t throw anything else, so hitters teed off on it.