10:51 am Sep. 19, 2012
It was a familiar sight: a Mets player, surrounded by reporters, defending himself from criticism that came from the team employing him.
This time, the player was Ike Davis, the 25-year-old first baseman who has been one of the few feel-good stories of the Mets' disastrous second half. Davis had struggled mightily in the season's first two months, dealing with the twin handicaps of returning after missing most of 2011, and a case of Valley Fever. But since early June, Davis had hit like an elite first baseman, and hopes for his 2013 and beyond are bright.
ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reported on Tuesday morning that the Mets were looking to trade Davis this offseason to make room for miscast outfielder Lucas Duda at first base. And not content with merely making the baseball argument, the Mets apparently found it necessary to either tell Rubin, or the "baseball source" Rubin cited, that Davis stays out too late and doesn't respond well to coaching, either.
At best, this was information that the Mets ought to have kept to themselves, lest they drive down Davis' trade value. At worst, this was a smear put out by the Mets to pave the way publicly for the trading of one of their few remaining popular players.
The move probably should be patented by the Mets. They did it to Jose Reyes back in 2009, after misdiagnosing his injury, leading Reyes to have to conduct an emotional press conference at his locker defending his own toughness and desire. Naturally, an ill-advised comeback bid that September, inexplicably geared toward playing the final weekend of a lost season, resulted in further injury and surgery.
With Carlos Beltran in 2010, the ire was public, including a conference call weighing legal options against Beltran for following the advice of multiple doctors and having his knee surgically repaired.
And lest you think this is some kind of pre-Sandy Alderson routine, witness the efforts to convince David Wright to play through a pinky injury this April, complete with anonymous leak to the Daily News tying Wright's future contract options to his ability to prove he isn't "injury-prone".
Most famously, of course, was Fred Wilpon himself, finding perceived weaknesses in the games of Wright, Beltran and Reyes, who were the three players most responsible for making the Mets a good team from 2006-2008.
The point isn't that Ike Davis shouldn't be traded under any circumstances, though the difficulty in finding a trading partner who can improve the Mets through a deal for prospects, or better yet, a young, cost-controlled outfielder, may not be so easy.
Instead, the Mets have managed to denigrate one of their own players, making their task even harder, providing a reminder to Wright and R.A. Dickey, both free agents after 2013, of what awaits them if they decide to stay in New York.
As for Davis, who let's remember, missed most of 2011 in large part because the Mets misdiagnosed his injury repeatedly, and who has publicly credited the coaches for helping him to turn around his 2012 season, he may well be out the door this winter. It would be nice to think this will only happen because the Mets can improve a roster in need through trading him; sadly, there are other, cost-related reasons for such a move that are the likelier impetus.
But perhaps the routine simply means that Ike Davis has arrived. After all, the Mets tend only to smear their very best.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
Rain washed out the Yankees on Tuesday night; they will play a doubleheader Wednesday against the Blue Jays, with Andy Pettitte making his return in the day portion of the day-night twinbill. Brett Gardner may return as well.
Mark Teixeira, however, is still a week away.
The Orioles are tied with the Yankees, thanks to an 18-inning win Tuesday night.
After an inspired performance Saturday in a 3-1 win over the Columbus Crew, the Red Bulls can vault back into first place in the Eastern Conference by defeating Sporting Kansas City Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena.
According to Kaka's brother, Kaka loves New York.
The Giants are still upset at Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano for contesting the game's final play on Sunday.
Jeremy Lin still doesn't have a bed.