Travis d’Arnaud Lost in a Fog . . . Should the Mets Be Worried About His 3 Concussions?

wolverineinjuredEd Leyro is a Mets fan. Wait, that doesn’t quite get it done. It’s like saying Wolverine has a high pain tolerance. Or that Bobby Sands had “pretty good” plate discipline. Ed Leyro is a huge Mets fan. He studies this stuff, analyzes things, bleeds orange and blue, and writes well, too. And Ed tweeted this factoid on Thursday night:

What else can we say except for . . . oy. A few days ago, Brian Joura, High King of Mets360, posted an article, “Travis d’Arnaud may be running out of rope.” He wrote, in part:

By all offensive measures, Travis d’Arnaud is failing to get it done. Never mind that he was a highly touted prospect for his hitting ability, let’s just look at him through the eyes of league averages as presented by Baseball-Reference.

d’Arnaud League Average
BA: .193 lgBA: .248
OBP: .281 lgOBP: .313
SLG: .298 lgSLG: .392
OPS: .579 lgOPS: .704

Of all catchers in the NL who have at least 100 ABs (12 players), d’Arnaud ranks second to last to Yasmani Grandal of the Padres in both BA and OBP, and last in SLG. Let’s not forget his nine RBI so far this season, a number so low that it can’t even be written numerically according to this website’s standard practices. These stats come as no surprise to many of us who have watched him play over the last couple of months, and even going back into last season. But when you look at him compared to just about anyone else in the league, it’s tough to think he can continue this mediocre play, and get almost unadulterated playing time.

My initial reaction was zen-like calm, naturally. Then a shrug. There was no story. It was June and Travis only had 134 ABs this season at the time of the post. Too soon to overreact. I even commented at length:

I think it’s pointless to run numbers at this time. He hasn’t been hitting, that’s obvious.

The defense has been overall solid, with hiccups, but I’m happy with that aspect. He appears to be a ML catcher.

Catchers are notorious for starting off their careers as poor hitters. Think of Todd Hundley’s first few years. The three most important things for a rookie catcher are defense, defense, and defense. It has to be the priority.

Obviously, for sure, Travis has disappointed at the plate. The approach — that damn word — seems off-balance. Some ABs he hacks, others he takes fastballs down the middle. 

More to the point, I worry about the concussions (three in his young career). My POV, full disclosure, is that I believe Jason Bay’s experience in NY was a direct result of the concussions. You lose even a slight edge, it’s like losing everything. Look at Agee’s first year with the Mets, after getting beaned in Spring Training. Old school guys used to worry that it was fear, but really it might have been faulty wiring. To expect Travis to miss a lot of time last season, and now come off a concussion (what’s he played, 2 games since he’s back?), and hitting at the ML level, is unrealistic. 

After a rough start with the Mets, a series of injuries derailed Jason Bay's career. He kept running into walls.

After a rough start with the Mets, a series of injuries derailed Jason Bay’s career. He kept running into walls.

There’s a lot of truth in what I wrote. But, damn, these games count. So upon reflection, I’m wondering if Brian was right. That maybe we are getting very close to the point of shipping out Travis to AAA. Because, you know, this is getting ridiculous. Obviously, such a move would have huge implications on the pitching staff, enough to make a team think twice, think three times, before sending down a failed prospect to the farm. The last thing the Mets want to do is make a move that has a negative impact on the pitching staff. -

On Thursday night, Terry Collins pinch-hit for Travis in the 8th inning when the Mets were down by one run. He’s also moved him to the 8th spot, which is, I guess, the opposite of “trying to get him going.” In fact, it might be time to consider the reverse. One notion would be to bat him 2nd in the lineup. Bat him 6th. Give him a week where he’s got a chance of seeing some real pitches. I know, I know. I’ve knocked Terry’s predilection of taking unproductive players and “trying to get them going.” But the Mets have a lot invested in Travis d’Arnaud. If he succeeds, the organization is a lot healthier. All season long he’s either batted in front of Ruben Tejada or the pitcher. That hasn’t helped Travis. But, well, I get it. Travis just makes outs. At this point, personally, before I sent him down to AAA, I’d try moving him to a new spot in the order. Maybe it helps. Maybe it, you know, gets him going. -

It’s fair to wonder: Was Sandy snookered by Travis’ 2012 PCL numbers? It was quite a slash line: .333/.380/.595. Across his career in the minors, d’Arnaud’s numbers come down to earth: .285/.347/.476. Put that hitter in Citi Field and the SLG is going to take a dive. Maybe at best he’s a .250 hitter with .400 power. That’s still a good catcher. -

Sigh. I really don’t know what to think. Mostly, I’m just hoping. I see what appears to be a good kid who looks utterly lost right now. As if his head is in a fog. And I’m worrying about those concussions, the invisible injury that baseball still doesn’t seem to fully understand. I should add a closing thought, and yes, it’s after the fact. Travis d’Arnaud had previously suffered two concussions when Alfonzo Soriano bopped him on the head. It looked like it hurt, a lot. So Terry and the team’s head trainer, Ray Ramirez, went out, had a chat, and determined that Travis was perfectly fine to continue. He stayed in the game. Obviously, they got that wrong. If that were my kid, I’d be very unhappy with that failure to protect him.

"You'll be fine, kid. Rub some dirt on it."

“You’ll be fine, kid. Rub some dirt on it.”

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  1. There are fair amount of things that Collins in his failure to have a coherent game plan can be held accountable for in terms of many players functional development. I’d say d’Arnaud falls squarely into that bucket.

    That said, I completely concur about the concussion issue. It was exactly what I felt about Bay all along and It will bear watching with d’Arnaud, he does not look all there and that is troubling. The brain is a delicate thing. Not unlike any other injury, how it impacts each individual can be very unusual.

  2. With Bay, I always felt that the concussions were the main cause of his incredible decline. I think he came to NY, struggled at first, started to pull himself together, then got bopped on the head — twice. When I read that this was TDA’s 3rd concussion, my stomach flopped a bit. A very worrying thing. One alternative that I failed to include in the above post was rest. He might need to be shut down for 6 weeks or 6 months.

    Or, hey, maybe the head has nothing to do with it. I don’t know.

  3. Michael Geus says:

    There are a lot of possible reasons why he is doing this bad. If he is fixable, hopefully he is fixed. But sometimes the obvious answer is the hardest to face. Maybe the guy is overmatched at the major league level. That is not fixable.

    All prospects do not become good major league players. D’Arnaud is not done yet, but it’s getting late. That tweet from Ed is incredible, in over 50 years he is the worst hitter in team history with more than 250 ABs. Here are some prior Mets catchers who outhit Travis and also managed 250 ABs.

    Choo Choo Coleman
    Hawk Taylor
    Charlie O’Brien
    Kelly Stinnent
    John Stephenson

    For obvious reasons those players did not go very far past the 250 AB mark before fading back into deserved oblivion. Travis is already very old for a player with so little major league experience, his time is now or never.

    • I don’t agree that it’s “now or never.” Not at all. That he’s struggled has been predictable, understandable. Maybe he needs to be sent down, many he needs a couple of years to develop into an average-hitting catcher. Out of all the positions, catchers are the slowest to develop as hitters.

      • Michael Geus says:

        He is not just struggling, he is the worst hitter in team history. That is not understandable. He is a very old rookie. In a couple of years he will be close to thirty. As a catcher, sure, he might carve out a major league life no matter what, but I doubt even the Mets can invest another couple of years waiting for him to become an impact player.

  4. Reese Kaplan says:

    They farmed out Ike Davis who had a 32 HR season on his resume…why are they hesitant to pull the trigger on d’Arnaud? Of course, if they do, they will foolishly play career .200 hitter Recker instead of Juan Centeno who could be a catcher for the future if d’Arnaud never regains his mojo or could pump up his trade value. Since it would make sense to play Centeno, figure Recker would get 80% or more of the starts since he is a known mediocrity to Terry Collins and rookies are his Kryptonite.

    • James Preller says:

      I have not been impressed with Centeno. I was surprised that Teagarden wasn’t the one called up, but it’s so hard to get a read on catchers whom you almost never see.

  5. Ken H. says:

    The Wilpons are cheap.

    Alderson is obsessed with being the smartest guy in the room.

    The Wilpons & Alderson can wait for the fans to come back to the park before they spend more money on payroll, but guess what? The fans have spoken…we will wait. Chris Young constitutes more than 10% of our 2014 payroll. Sandy…you are officially on the clock. No more excuses! The team still stinks and you are now the main reason why. Enjoy the consequences of your procrastination.

  6. Well, I don’t think anyone can complain about Travis being sent down. When we were looking for a positive narrative for this season — the story of how things could go right — Travis d’Arnaud providing consistent offense was a piece of that puzzle. Oh well. Let’s hope he gets on track and we see him again relatively soon. I actually liked what I saw of Teagarden in Spring Training, but no one believes that he and Recker combined add up to one full catcher.

  7. Eraff says:

    This is a 2-4 week “re-set”…that’s the hope.

    d’Arnaud’s WELLNESS scares me more than his Ability….. and the 3 concussions need to be considered and evaluated before anything he does with a bat or glove. The player always says “I’m ready to go”— that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

  8. […] the professional equivalent of tee ball. But that is not the only good news for him. D’Arnaud recently broke Al Moran’s ignominious record of worst hitter in Mets history in their first 250 at bats. Al […]

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