Let’s talk about our first baseman, Ike Davis. Ike is an interesting guy to look at — he has now been up with the Mets since 2010, but it is still hard to know exactly what we have here. He had a solid, if unspectacular, rookie year. Then he was off to a great start in 2011 when he had that violent collision with David Wright. Don’t let any small children or animals watch this.
And so, of course, not only did Ike not play the next day, he didn’t play again in 2011. And it’s been a while but I still would like to weigh in on that. Wow! Next, in the off-season of 2011, Davis contracted the dreaded Valley Fever. The only other baseball player to ever admit to VF, Conor Jackson, went from hot prospect to garbage, but everyone on the Mets’ notable medical staff assured us Davis would be fine. That’s the same medical staff that could not diagnose or treat his twisted ankle for four months.
So the team confidently sent out the healed Ike in 2012 to be our everyday first baseman, and he proceeded to put up an OPS of .550 in April and .496 in May. Those aren’t bad numbers — they are “you’re playing a man short” numbers. But either from shaking VF, or rust, or just a very bad slump, Ike rebounded to put up a full year OPS of .771 with 32 home runs. So what do you think, Jimmy? Who is the real Ike?
I honestly don’t know, Mike. But I do think he possibly becomes the biggest question to answer in 2013. Does he stay or does he go? Ike is up for arbitration this year, and he’ll be eligible again next season. He’s going to start earning real money very soon. We have to get this right. Either determine he’s a building block, extend him for 4-5 years, or flip him, maybe as early at the July deadline.
I don’t see Ike as a chip. Clearly not now, you would be selling low. But no matter what with Davis there has been one constant. That is power. Ike has big power too. Citifield has never truly held him back, or seemed to be a problem. That plays well at first base, I want pop there. I do not want to see Davis moved. I want him to be part of our new “core.”
I’m not saying to move him now, but I’m not yet convinced that he is our first baseman of the future — or that he merits the big financial commitment that will require. You asked me, ‘Who is the real Ike?’ And I simply don’t know. Anyway, I have to get back to the Valley Fever thing again. In a recent article, Ike openly talked about Valley Fever, perhaps for the first time. It was crazy last year, everybody was falling over themselves — the Mets organization and bloggers alike — to say, “This historically bad performance has absolutely NOTHING to do with Valley Fever!” I was like, really? How do we know that? But I’m a simple guy, I see two dots thisclose together and I want to connect them.
Look, Ike was ugly for 200 ABs. He looked lost, confused, somnombulant. He threw away so many at-bats, it was painful to watch. And it was hard not to imagine some kind of character fault in Ike. But when you look at those end-of-season totals, it’s pretty remarkable. He was three runs short of the team RBI lead. It’s not crazy to think he could hit 40/100, right?
One area of concern worth watching is how he fares against LHP.
- In 2012 vs. LHP: .174/.225/.335 (167 ABs)
- In 2011 vs. LHP: .163/.260/.233 (only 43 ABs)
Yet look at this:
- In 2010 vs. LHP: .295/.362/.443 (122 ABs)
Obviously, he has to sit a little bit against LHP, but he can’t become a platoon guy. I want the Mets to issue a challenge to Ike — he must establish himself as a complete, everyday player. Hitting LHP should become his focus, his mission, this Spring Training. Last year, Ike looked particularly listless and defeated against southpaws. As if, dare I say it, he wasn’t really giving his best effort. This team needs another RH bat in the worst way, more acutely than ever if Hairston walks. Last year it was a poorly-constructed roster — no speed, too left-handed, etc. — and I really hope that gets addressed.
It’s just tough for any lefties to handle left-handed pitchers. We need to address that as an organization by adjusting our overall roster. Hopefully d’Arnaud is a start, and extending Wright helps too. But we are still too unbalanced for my liking. That is why I’m always intrigued by the idea of trading Murphy. Now that he played second base and didn’t kill himself he could be sold as a solid utility guy. Is he really going to be our second baseman when we look to turn the corner? I can’t see it. This might be a good time to trade him to a contender who could put him in the proper role, jack of all trades. Could be this is a move better made in July. That’s okay too.
Back to Ike, I’m bullish. For me that means 35 plus home runs and an acceptable OBP. I’m confident we can get that and maybe even more.
I’ll say it — I Like Ike!!