Remember Ike Davis? He was the really tall first baseman with the big-fly swing. You may remember him from the early spring, when there was still a shred of hope for Mets fans.
Tag: adam dunn
On the same day the Mets traded Jeff Francoeur, the Mets also announced the promotion of Lucas Duda, who jumped from AA to AAA and hit a combined .304 with a .398 OBP, .967 OPS, and 23 homers in 115 games. Big things were expected by big youngster from the Mets fanbase, who were yearning for homegrown talent at the tail end of yet another disappointing season.
At first, Duda struggled against MLB pitching – possibly due to nerves and/or becoming acquainted with big-league life – but was given the opportunity to settle in and he eventually adjusted, hitting .314 with a .345 OBP, .993 OPS, and 4 homers in his final 16 games / 55 plate appearances.
In the field, Duda looked a little awkward, but hustled like crazy, had no fear of walls, and got to the ball more times than not. His baserunning was similarly lumbering, but let’s face it – he won’t be in MLB for his footwork.
Overall, Duda gave the fans some hope that the Mets farm system was capable of producing big league talent. His tall, large-shouldered frame and clumsy athleticism reminded me a bit of Corey Hart or Hunter Pence, minus the foot speed. His bat – particularly in the last two weeks of the season – made me think momentarily of Adam Dunn. If Duda can fall anywhere within that range of ballplayers, the Mets and their fans will be happy indeed.
Some fans may be surprised to know that Lucas Duda will be 25 years old when spring training opens; many probably thought he was younger. At that age, the clock starts running quickly on players – it’s time to fulfill promise as a big leaguer. At 25, a player still has time to improve skills, but needs to already be showing at least one MLB skill. For Duda, that is his bat – how far he goes depends completely on his ability to hit the ball consistently and for long distances. His last 16 games of 2010 could be indicative of slugger ready to blossom; it could also be a tease (remember, Daniel Murphy looked like the next Pete Rose in his first 100 MLB at-bats). At this moment, the outfield appears to be too crowded to afford Duda the chance to prove himself, but anything can happen this winter. My guess is that if the Mets move Carlos Beltran and/or Angel Pagan to another club, Duda will be given every opportunity to win a job next spring.
I will be the first to admit I didn’t think Ike Davis would do as well as he did, as quickly as he did. My projection was for Davis to spend at least another half-year in the minors, and join the Mets at some point in July or later – after it was clear the team was out of contention.
As it turned out, Davis arrived earlier than expected, stepping in to the starting first baseman position on April 19th and never looking back.
Davis was good for a 23-year-old first-year player, finishing the season with a .264 AVG., .351 OBP, 19 HR, and 33 doubles in 600 plate appearances. His 72 walks were impressive for a rookie, and although he tended to be streaky, his hot and cold runs evened themselves out over the long-term, culminating in average production for an MLB first baseman – not bad for a 23-year-old. Additionally, he flashed fancy glovework in the field, proved capable of prodigious power, and made adjustments after pitchers made adjustments to him.
Assuming Davis builds on his 2010 debut, the Mets should have a player who is somewhere between Adam LaRoche and Eric Karros – which, I understand is not the Adrian Gonzalez type that the most optimistic of Mets fans would like, but isn’t too shabby. Considering the power (and strikeouts) generated by his long swing, it wouldn’t surprise me if Davis reached the level of Adam Dunn at some point in his career. The kid can hit the ball a long way; the only question is, how often will he make contact?
Unless something crazy happens this winter, we can expect Ike Davis to be the Mets starting first baseman in 2011 and beyond. It will be a treat to see how he evolves.
Nationals 6 Mets 5
In line with Aesop’s fable, the tortoise beat the hare. But that didn’t result in the tortoise’s team winning the race.
Veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was the better pitcher in an unlikely matchup against the rookie flamethrowing phenom Stephen Strasburg, hurling seven excellent and efficient innings to Strasburg’s inefficient five frames. But both starters allowed two runs, turning the contest into a battle of the bullpens.
At first, it appeared as though the Mets would win that battle, as they jumped ahead 5-2 thanks to a three-run eighth. All they needed were six outs to come out as the victor.
The Mets hit a bump along the way, as Bobby Parnell struggled through a 26-pitch bottom of the 8th and allowed one run. Still, the Mets had a two-run lead and well-rested closer Francisco Rodriguez — he of the sub-2 ERA — on the mound to sew up the victory.
As usual, K-Rod began things with some drama, walking leadoff batter Cristian Guzman on four pitches to start the inning. After getting a groundout on a Gold Glove play by David Wright, Rodriguez then allowed a rip of a single to .158-hitting Willie Harris — it was hit so hard that the speedy Guzman had to hold up at third. Ryan Zimmerman followed with another walk to load the bases, and suddenly the “Frankie says relax” joke wasn’t so funny. It was less funny after Adam Dunn doubled in two runs, and sad when Pudge Rodriguez singled in the winning run a few minutes later.
Stephen Strasburg looked like he drank four Red Bulls before the first inning — he seemed a little too excited and jittery. Perhaps he was pumped up and nervous about pitching on national television. One thing I found frustrating — as a pitching coach and catcher — was the strategy of going with the 92-MPH sinker when ahead of hitters, rather than “climbing the ladder” with the four-seam triple-digit heater in those situations. I’m not sure if that’s the decision of Pudge, Strasburg, or the Nats’ coaching staff, but when a kid throws that hard, he should be getting it up in the zone more often on two-strike counts to get swings and misses.
Something is physically wrong with Francisco Rodriguez, and I’m guessing it is an issue with his left ankle. He is completely off-balance at the release point, prematurely falling off toward first base. I never like to see momentum going sideways, but with some pitchers it’s OK if it’s happening AFTER the release (such as with Bob Gibson or Rich Gossage). But K-Rod is falling over as he’s releasing the ball, making command an impossibility. My eyes see his left ankle “rolling over” as he lands with his stride, and unable to support his body — it’s just kind of collapsing, either from pain, weakness, or both.
K-Rod had chronic issues with that ankle going back to 2006 / 2007, and changed his mechanics to alleviate the problem. It can’t help that he’s definitely gained weight over the past few years — and in turn put more strain on his joints.
Adam Dunn might’ve hit a walkoff grand slam, but the umpiring crew ruled that his ball hit the top of the fence, rather than the iron pole behind the padding. Tough call, even with instant replay.
Willie Harris resembled Willie Mays Hayes scampering in and hook-sliding into home with the tying run just footsteps behind Guzman.
Josh Thole went 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBI. He can’t throw out the garbage, but he can hit a little bit.
David Wright is carrying this team on his back. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored, and saw 30 pitches in 5 plate appearances. That’s an average of 6 pitches per plate appearance — which isn’t easy to do without walking at least once.
Next Mets Game
The Mets will try to go for a split on the Fourth of July, sending Hisanori Takahashi to the hill against Craig Stammen. First pitch is at 1:35 PM.
One of the rumors floating around is that the Mets and Dodgers are talking about swapping Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre. But how can that help the Mets, who need a slugger? There’s at least one scenario where it can make sense …
Rob Neyer touched a nerve many Mets fans didn’t appreciate when he suggested that Dan Murphy wasn’t good enough to play first base. Remarkably, Neyer was much more direct, blunt, and critical than me. For instance, I still stand by my thought that Murphy can be a Don Money / Chone Figgins / Mark DeRosa type of “supersub” on a championship-caliber team — someone who plays nearly every day but at different positions. But if he’s the everyday first baseman, the Mets will need more than one slugger in left field to offset the expected lack of production.
In our latest edition of Window Shopping, we look at the Washington Nationals. Since they’re on a pace to threaten the ’62 Mets record for losing — and win the Bryce Harper sweepstakes — they should be sellers. Problem is, you have to actually offer something of value in order to make a sale. And not unexpectedly, the Nats strongly resemble a dollar store.
My name is John and I regret nothing… Except for that last burrito.
When last we met, I was telling you that Ramon Castro was worth a buck and Ronny Paulino might be working in a car wash by mid-August. Only time will tell…
First Base Rankings
If you’re not getting Pujols, try to grab Gonzalez on the cheap. I think you’ll be overpaying for Howard, Berkman and Fielder, in most cases. Let me explain…
Albert Pujols (.320-35-120) – One of the few positions where there is no doubt about who is the best offensive player.
Ryan Howard (.250-40-120) – His BA leaves alot to be desired, but I think it may be higher. You can’t argue with his HR/RBI totals.
Adrian Gonzalez (.300-30-100) – The most underrated of this bunch. His HR/RBI totals have increased each of the past 3 seasons and he has hit around .279 or above in each of those years. If he brings his Petco numbers up (only .269 last season), he could challenge Howard for the #2 spot.
Lance Berkman (.310-25-95) – I’ve been waiting for Berkman to fall off for a couple of years – his HR totals have fallen three consecutive years but he’s still a solid pick. Houston’s lineup could hold down his RBI totals
Prince Fielder (.275-28-100) – People are still drafting Fielder with hopes that he will return to the 50 HR slugger he was in 2007. I think those numbers will prove to be a statistical outlier. You can count on Fielder for something in the .280-30-100 ballpark for years to come. In future drafts, he may be a steal at those numbers, but not this season.
Sleeper – James Loney (.310-18-100) – I absolutely love watching Loney hit. I’m not sure if he’ll ever be more than a 20HR guy, but he drives the ball well into the gaps and he is only 24. The Dodgers lineup could provide plenty of RBI opportunities, depending on Manny’s willingness to play and Torre’s willingness to put Loney into the #5 hole. If it all comes together for him, this could be his breakout season.
A much better crop of players than we saw in the NL East catcher rankings… However, two of my top five guys will start the season at different positions.
Ryan Howard (.250-40-120) – See above
Adam Dunn (.240-40-100) – I expect him to gain 1B eligibility in most leagues at some point. If you need another 1B to cover for him, take a shot on a guy like James Loney or even Nick Johnson.
Carlos Delgado (.260-30-100) – People were calling for Delgado to be cut in May 2008. By the end of the year, he was on fire. He’s still got some pop, but he’s old and he has lost batspeed. He could end up outperforming Ryan Howard or falling out of the top 5 in the NL East… I think his HR/RBI numbers will be fine, somewhere between ’07 and ’08. Get him if he falls on draft day.
Jorge Cantu (.275-25-90) – Another guy who should wind up playing 1B before too long. I’m not sold on him repeating last season’s numbers – and those numbers don’t make him a good choice at 1B, but if you get him late he could end up being a nice reserve player with dual position eligibility.
Sleeper: Nick Johnson (.280-10-65) – If Johnson stays healthy (unlikely), he could have a nice season, but he’s hardly worth considering in anything other than a deep NL-only league. He plays the game the right way and that should count for something, but it doesn’t. Oh well.