Tag: ike davis

The Situation at First Base

In Port St. Lucie, there is a “situation” — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Sorrentino find his way into the mix.

Because “The Situation” — meaning the Mets’ conundrum at first base, and not some guido from the Jersey Shore — grows more perplexing every day.

Originally, first base was Daniel Murphy’s job to lose; if it weren’t, the Mets most certainly would have aggressively pursued free agents such as Adam LaRoche, Nick Johnson, Hank Blalock, Troy Glaus, Garrett Atkins, Chad Tracy, and Aubrey Huff (to name a few). Strangely enough, though, GM Omar Minaya brought in Mike Jacobs on a minor league deal, and on February 15th announced that the starting job was an “open competition”.

As is par for the course with the miscommunicating Mets, manager Jerry Manuel followed that up four days later with the assertion that Murphy was “pretty much the guy” at 1B — and that he wasn’t really in competition with Jacobs, nor was he going to platoon with Fernando Tatis.

The Situation at first base has been similarly clear (as mud) ever since, with the Mets changing their tune as quickly, often, and unpredictably as the weather.

For example, in response to Ike Davis’ explosive beginning to the spring, Manuel reaffirmed that Murphy was the first baseman, and that “unforeseen things would have to happen” to unseat him.

Nine days later, however, a different tune was sung by Manuel, as he termed 1B “a competitive situation” between Murphy and Jacobs.

That’s all well and good, except, if Murphy is to lose the first base job, I’m not sure why he’d lose it to Mike Jacobs, since neither player is having a particularly impressive spring — both are hitting FAR below the Mendoza Line (which means they’re under .200, kiddies).

In contrast, Ike Davis and Chris Carter are absolutely blistering the baseball — both hitting well over .400 with long-distance power, and both getting on base more than 50% of the time. The next-best candidate, in fact, is 8th-string catcher Chris Coste, who is 4-for-11 (.364) with 2 doubles.

To put things in more frightening perspective, consider that Frank Catalanotto has an equal number of RBI and walks as Murphy, and he’s hitting .100.

But spring training numbers don’t mean anything, right? Or wait, they must mean something, if Daniel Murphy has gone from owning the starting 1B job to on his way to losing it.

The confusion, of course, is if indeed spring training performance means something, then why is Murphy losing to Jacobs and not Davis, Carter, or Coste?

As if this situation at first isn’t already bordering on insanity, there are reports that the Mets are scouting Mike Lowell — though, they’re also reportedly “not interested”. What’s more perplexing to you? The fact that the Mets are sending scouts to see someone they don’t want, or that they are scouting yet another first baseman to add to an already bewildering mix?

The more I toss this “logic” around in my head, the more I realize that “The Situation” on the Jersey Shore makes as much sense as the first base situation in Port St. Lucie.


ST Game 7 vs. Nationals

Mets 6 Nationals 5

Let’s not read too much into the win nor the Mets’ 5-2 record; it’s spring training.

But, I would like to share my thoughts on some of what we saw on channel 11 on Sunday.

Oliver Perez
His stat line was awful — 7 hits, a walk, a HR, and 5 ER in 3 IP. But, evaluating his pitching mechanics, there were good signs. What I saw was Ollie doing a decent job of staying in a straight, efficient line to the plate from the stretch (which he was throwing from for most of his outing). From the stretch, he was displaying a good, straight-up leg lift, fairly straight stride, and a balanced follow-through that left him in position to field the ball on comebacker. From the windup, however, he is still struggling, and I feel it stems from where he starts his feet. He is standing on the third-base side of the rubber, which allows him to easily start his right foot back and toward third base on a 45-degree angle. This in turn causes his body to go slightly sideways and “off line”, which then causes a slight over-rotation / close of the front hip, and then results in an over-rotation / premature opening of the front hip. That rotation then causes his follow-through to be off-balance and toward third base — you’ll see him facing third base after the release. That over-rotation is inefficient and is the reason for inconsistency in his release point. There have been periods in the past when both Rick Peterson and Dan Warthen had him beginning his windup by stepping straight back — which resulted in him staying more on that efficient, straight-lined path toward home plate — and I’m not sure why Warthen has allowed Perez to deviate from that habit.

Daniel Murphy’s New Stance
Murphy’s batting stance is now more upright. I’m not sure I understand the reasoning behind the change, but Howard Johnson knows a thousand times more about hitting than me. I guess what confuses me is the fact that once the pitcher starts his motion, Murphy hunches right back into the same crouch he started from last year. So maybe it’s a timing thing? The one potential negative is with this new stance, Murphy’s eyes start at one level, then move to a lower level as the ball is coming in — which seemingly would make the ball more difficult to see and track.

Hisanori Takahashi
I like Takahashi’s fluid, stress-free motion and balanced mechanics. It looks as though he can throw low strikes in his sleep. He reminds me a bit of Jamie Moyer, in that he pitches “backward” (setting up the fastball with off-speed pitches), stays around the plate, and can occasionally sneak a fastball by a hitter. He topped out at a surprising 89 MPH on the fastball, which was mixed with a 81 MPH changeup and a 78 MPH breaking ball. Already I’m convinced he’ll be more effective than Ken Takahashi. Whether he’ll be able to keep MLB hitters off-balance the second time around the league will remain to be seen, but I like his chances.

Ike Davis
There has been a lot of buzz around Davis, and he’s been scorching the ball in spring training. But if I hear one more person compare him to John Olerud, I’m going to scream. He doesn’t remind me at all of Olerud, other than the fact he stands in the left batter’s box. At some point, Davis is going to be in the big leagues — no question. This year? Hard to say. There are two glaring issues about his swing that concern me — first, the fact he “steps in the bucket” and commits his front hip before starting his swing; and second, the loopy length of his swing. It’s a long, long swing — one that will and does generate power. That’s why I’m not getting the Olerud comparisons — Olerud in contrast had a short, compact stroke. In fact, Davis looks to me like a hitter who can turn into an Adam Dunn-type, rather than an Olerud — someone with prodigious power, good strike zone judgment, but perhaps not a .300 average … though I wouldn’t expect Dunn-like numbers right away — Adam LaRoche may be a more realistic comp. If he comes close to evolving into either Olerud or Dunn (or at minimum LaRoche), we will certainly be happy.

The Nationals
This team scares me a bit. They have a ton of exciting, talented, young ballplayers on their roster. I don’t see the Nats making the playoffs in 2010, but with a little luck they could surprise people. They will be a team to reckon with in 2011 and beyond.


Jose Reyes is Not Pregnant

Good news, Mets fans: Jose Reyes is NOT pregnant.

Steve Popper was the first to report that news on Twitter early yesterday, and further blood work evaluated last night confirms it.

Whew! That would have been a major issue for the Mets, who already are without Carlos Beltran for the first few months of the season.

Though, I imagine Jose would have been able to stay on the field for the first trimester … but almost certainly would have been out of uniform by June. Even if he felt great, you’d have to think that his belly would have gotten in the way of reaching down for ground balls — not to mention the weight gain putting a strain on his already suspect legs.

In other good news for Mets fans, Hisanori Takahashi has cleared up his visa problem and can now take the mound in exhibition games. No word on whether he’ll be wearing Ken Takahashi’s old jersey.

Additionally, the Mets signed Kiko Calero — full post coming soon.

But there’s still more to cheer about — Ike Davis hit a grand slam and David Wright hit a homerun in his first at-bat as the Mets pounded the Cardinals 17-11.

Finally, things are looking up for the New York Mets!


Yankees Block Carter – So What?

Yesterday I thought we’d reached a low point when the DFA of a career minor leaguer caused excitement in the Mets blogosphere. Today, I’m seeing we fans sink even lower in this steep abyss of failure and mediocrity we’re calling the 2009 season — because now, we’re mad at the Yankees for preventing the Mets from auditioning another career minor leaguer.

Don’t get me wrong — I was excited as the next guy at the possibility of seeing some new (and healthy) blood come into Flushing, and wow us with his homerun hitting skills. But now, various sources are reporting that Chris Carter will be staying in Boston, because the Yankees claimed him on waivers as a handcuffing strategy (it forced the Red Sox to pull Carter back and keep him on their 40-man roster). Disappointing, yes, the news will hardly ruin my September.

First of all, the Yankees could care less about who the Mets want to audition in meaningless September games, and that consideration likely never entered their minds. The Yankees, after all, are focused on “meaningful games in September” (as Fred Wilpon so aptly describes them). And I can’t blame them — why should the Yankees do the Mets any favors, particularly in the heat of a pennant race? Did the Mets do the Yankees a favor by giving Billy Wagner to the Red Sox? And in return for peanuts, no less? Along with the potentiality of the Bosox getting two extra picks in next year’s June draft? Hmm … LHP who throws mid-90s and has closing experience … draft picks … in return for two non-prospects … yeah, we should be ticked at Brian Cashman for screwing up the Mets’ September, since Omar Minaya was so kind in helping out the Yankees!

Second, the blame is misplaced if it’s on the big bad Yankees. You want to blame someone for screwing up Chris Carter’s audition? How about blaming the Red Sox, who should have pushed Carter through waivers a month ago. It’s standard routine to send all your players through waivers after the trading deadline — no doubt the Bosox passed through people like Mike Lowell, Rocco Baldelli, Takashi Saito, etc. — so why not Carter?

Third, consider the silver lining. The fact that Carter won’t be in New York means there will be opportunities for others. For example, maybe without Carter around, the Mets will consider claiming Matt Murton to try out in left field. Perhaps not having Carter’s means Josh Thole will get some reps at first base. Or it could mean someone like Lucas Duda or Ike Davis gets a surprise promotion. At the very least, it should mean more at-bats for Angel Pagan and Cory Sullivan, and more first base experience for Dan Murphy. Seeing those three players for another 25-30 games will be helpful in determining where (or whether) they fit into the plans for 2010.

But hey, if you want to project your anger toward the Bronx, that’s your prerogative — and if it helps you cope with this sorry excuse for an organization, then go ahead and let it all out. Personally, I’d rather be “mad” at the Yankees for something more worthwhile.