Last night, the game on ESPN was between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. If this were the football season and a poor matchup were on TV, NBC would ask ahead of time to have a different game on for prime time. Unless Matt Harvey was pitching.
Of course, that doesn’t work when it comes to baseball. So, the game is on and of course, since there isn’t much to talk about as a game, ESPN announcers will dig in and go after the team with the problems to make their story.
That’s how Ike Davis became the focus of the pre-game show. He’s not hitting 300 like Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates. His hands are out of place and he’s hitting the top of the batting cage. We may have to send him down to the minors.
I found it ironic that there was a discussion about Ike Davis’ hands at all. Last year, when the Giants faced the Mets, it was Kruk and Kuip, better known as Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, who pointed this out early on in the season. The statement was “did you ever see anyone hold his hands lower than Ike Davis does right now?” Krukow continued saying that he would pitch Davis up all the time so he would strike him out. That says a lot about the coaching staff and management of the Mets.
Of course during that season, I had watched Davis from time to time after that series and saw that nothing changed for about two months. Then for some reason, he got better after the all-star break. Yes, his hands were up again.
If you look back at the career of Ike Davis, you would start to see a pattern of the New York Mets. It’s one of hype. Davis was up in 2010. Great power. You probably remember the video’s of Davis going over a railing to catch a foul ball. It’s a great feat.
I still remember Davis having a great moment when he hit two homers off Jonathan Sanchez in 2010 to win a game against us. Sanchez was a great pitcher then and he did lead us to a World Series.
Yet, the names continue along with the hype. Josh Thole. Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Jordany Valdespin. I could probably go on and on. Yet, as we see that today, Thole is in the minors now with the Blue Jays. Rick Ankiel, an Astros castoff, is anchoring the outfield, which as ESPN noted, was a revolving door. Seems to me that decisions that were made at the beginning of the season have reversed.
I know that Met fans don’t like to hear it but I think they know deep down that the problems are much bigger than a slump that Ike Davis is going through. Yes, maybe I can call it a prolonged slump but maybe someone on the opposing team that played the Mets last night can relate to it. His name is Dan Uggla.
Folks, this wasn’t a team that was destined to finish first in the National league east. Management has not run this team like a big market team that you see with the California Angels, the Los Angeles Dodgers, or the New York Yankees. In fact, it’s pretty easy to say that this team has been managed as a small market team over the past two seasons since Sandy Alderson has taken over.
So when ESPN says next year, the Mets will have a lot of money freed up on the payroll, then things can change and they can go back to the free agent market. Yes, this team that has made nothing but bad choices for well over 10 years and paid off salaries to players like Bobby Bonilla and Jason Bay and countless other players. This is the direction that the team should go down again. Their biggest deal, if you want to call it that, was Johan Santana, who spent most of his career on the disabled list and could only give the Mets their first no-hitter in history unless you want to talk about 2006.
Is that really going to solve the problem? I don’t know who is available as a free agent but did that help the Miami Marlins, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Los Angeles Dodgers, or the California Angeles? How much better can you get when you have Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
As far as I can tell, I’m sure Fred Wilpon will always want to blame the New York Yankees for his troubles but you know what, when George Steinbrenner knew that Doctors were causing injuries to his players, he took matters into his own hands and fired the doctors. Management of the New York Mets let this go for many years and it’s still haunting them with Johan Santana.
You can talk about small market teams and even some large market teams and see that free agency has not been a reason for winning seasons. The San Diego Padres of 2010 and Bud Black. The Oakland A’s. The Cincinnati Reds. The Tampa Bay Rays. The Detroit Tigers. The Texas Rangers. And most of all, the San Francisco Giants. They all have one thing in common. Great managers that will work with their young players. It’s not a revolving door where the bullpen needs to be changed every single year or outfielders like Lucas Duda spending half their time in the minors.
Are the New York Mets going in the right direction? I would say yes. Matt Harvey can be the start of something to bring the team around but it’s going to take time. It’s not going to happen overnight. It may not happen for at least 3-5 years.
If anything, management is going to have to work to make that happen. And so far, I haven’t seen that from Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins. When you have a player like Kendry Morales available after you get Josh Hamilton, you move to get that centerfielder for your team even if it means giving up John Niese. Niese has never lived up to be that great a pitcher and that deal would have been worth it, especially since Kyle Lohse was still on the shelf before the season started. Yet Alderson didn’t make that move and the Mariners took Morales for Jason Vargas. The only decent deal that Alderson made was the RA Dickey one. Do I need to mention Jose Reyes or Angel Pagan.
As far as Terry Collins is concerned, he did not come in with players to work with but he has not proven to be a great manager like Baker, Melvin, Leyland, or Bochy. Bunting over Reyes instead of letting him take a base many times when he had him was just one of many examples of botched plays such as Thole bunting into a double play with Reyes on first. Mike Baxter being thrown out at second on a single against the Rockies.
I don’t care that Tim McCarver has pointed out that Collins has the ability to work with young players. I don’t mean to be harsh but what about Ike Davis? What about Josh Thole? Or the revolving door in the outfield? And now all the hype of Zack Wheeler. Nice strategy but last year, when Fox asked Righetti to comment on Wheeler, his answer was, I never saw him pitch. That says a lot.
There is the old saying that you win as a team and you lose as a team. The Giants are winning as a team even though there are problems with the pitching staff right now. We’ll have to find a way to get through that.
As far as the Mets are concerned, there are a lot of questions to be answered. The answers don’t all fall on Ike Davis. They fall on the management and ownership of this team as well. And if it’s going to be as bright as the Reds, the Tigers, the A’s, or the Giants, then the Mets management needs to look at themselves and start to accept the fact that they are the reason for many of the problems that this team has as well.