11:31 am Jun. 11, 2012
Another week, another failure on the part of Mets first baseman Ike Davis to rediscover the form that seemed to make him a surefire star.
Facing mostly right-handed pitchers this weekend in Yankee Stadium, which favors left-handed power hitters, Davis managed just three hits in fifteen at-bats. His six walks provided some encouraging signs that he is at least seeing the ball better, but his six strikeouts, two doubles and no home runs were about par for his season.
As Davis' slow start has turned into a prolonged slump, and now, it appears, a lost season, the question has come up of whether he shouldn't just be sent down to Triple-A.
It would make sense on a certain level. Demoting Davis would create room for current right fielder Lucas Duda, who isn't equipped to handle the position defensively, at first. And that in turn would allow the Mets to play both Andres Torres and Kirk Nieuwenhuis regularly in the outfield.
After all, it's not just Davis' offense that has been suffering this year. Per Ultimate Zone Rating, Davis has been well below average in 2012, after posting strong marks in both 2010 and 2011. Duda's 323 innings at the position, though a limited sample, have produced a slightly below-average performance at first base that would actually be an upgrade this year from Davis.
The question is really less whether the Mets should find a way to ease Ike Davis out of the lineup for now, and more about what exactly they should do with him. There are more than just 2012 concerns here.
The team drafted Ike Davis in the first round back in 2008. He was a star performer in 2011. He's still only 25 years old. So there's a potential building block still present in Davis, or at least the Mets hope there is.
If the problem Davis faces now is purely a baseball one, sending him down to Triple-A is the move to make. But there's ample reason to suspect something else is going on.
Consider that Davis missed all but 36 games in 2011 with an injury that was misdiagnosed at first, and ultimately, Davis decided to rehab it rather than correct it surgically. Exactly how much both the injury and the time off have affected Davis is unknown.
A more pressing problem has been whatever caused Davis to be diagnosed with possible Valley Fever. Again, much of this has been cloaked in mystery, with the media only finding out about Davis' diagnosis when manager Terry Collins inadvertently let it slip in spring training. The team has continued to push back against this information, which is problematic in itself.
If he truly has Valley Fever, Davis needs to be put on the Disabbled List to rest and recover. If he does not, but is less than 100 percent, he needs to be put on the Disabled List while the true source of his medical woes will be determined. After all, if his problem is unknown, it is also unknown whether the stress of playing every day could further complicate his problem. And it isn't as if he is contributing by playing in the meantime.
If there's even a slight chance that Davis is suffering medically, sending him to Triple-A is a terrible idea. A physically debilitated Davis might not succeed there either, further undermining his confidence and complicating his physical condition. Triple-A is not a doctor.
Davis won't take himself out of the lineup, and it shouldn't be his call. But if the Mets do decide to remove him, dealing a blow to his confidence, they should also see to it that they're not doing any further harm.