Tag Archives: New York Mets

Offseason Outlook for the New York Mets

The New York Mets had a storybook 2015 season. They captured the division crown over the favored Washington Nationals, returned to the postseason for the first time since 2006, and claimed the NL pennant for the fifth time in their history, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs along the way. Their tremendously talented starting rotation paved the path to the World Series, along with key contributions from, among others, Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy.

The legend of the 2015 Mets became less grand, however, as the Kansas City Royals defeated the Mets in 5 games in the World Series. The Mets held a lead in every game of the series, but the resilient Royals capitalized upon defensive miscues and bullpen issues to eke out torturous victories. Murph, the NLCS MVP and provider of countless hilarious gifs (and frequently awful defense) over his years of service with the Mets, booted a key ground ball in Game 4 to allow the Royals to score the tying run. Cespedes, the prized midseason acquistion, developed a habit of kicking misplayed fly balls all around the outfield. Even Wright, the longtime star and captain of this beleaguered ballclub, made a few crucial errors on the way to defeat.

The Royals are no doubt an excellent ballclub. They came 90 feet away from tying up the San Francisco Madbums– sorry, San Francisco Giants, in last year’s World Series, and have quality players at nearly every position. But it seems that, more than anything, the Mets beat themselves in the World Series. In addition to the predictable defensive mistakes that have plagued the Mets all season long, the offense shut down when it was most needed. Excluding Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, and David Wright in Game 3, the bats just didn’t get the job done.

So now, the Mets head into the 2015 offseason with several goals. They are likely to lose Murphy and Cespedes, as well as backup infielders Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe and several other expendable pitchers (bye, Bartolo. I’ll miss you always). But for a team that should have a renewed focus on defense after a disastrous World Series, these losses provide an opportunity for GM Sandy Alderson to build a more fundamentally sound team. Alderson has done a great job at acquiring the building blocks for a contender. Now, he must prove he can provide the finishing touches to the roster.

With that said, here are several moves which could be the focal points for the Mets this offseason, and which would be beneficial in New York’s quest to return to the postseason and avenge the championship loss.

  1. Acquire a utility infielder

Going into the 2015 season, the question of who would play shortstop for the Mets loomed. Wilmer Flores had more power and prowess at the plate than the better-fielding Ruben Tejada, but neither seemed like the long-term solution. Amidst frequent switching back and forth between the middle infield positions, the two performed decently. Still, if the Mets are going to be serious contenders in 2016, they need to find a decent backup infielder who can provide solid defense around the diamond. This is especially important considering the uncertainty surrounding David Wright’s long term prospects at third base. Someone like free agent Asdrubal Cabrera, most recently of the Tampa Bay Rays, comes to mind. I also wouldn’t be shocked if the Mets went after Ben Zobrist, who was fairly good during the postseason for Kansas City. Also to be considered is how prospects Matt Reynolds and Dilson Herrera might factor in. If Alderson deems Reynolds and Herrera can be serviceable backups, he might focus his attention elsewhere.

  1. Find a centerfielder/ fourth outfielder

Curtis Granderson showed he was worth his contract this year, leading the way for the Mets in both the regular season and postseason, and it seems like Michael Conforto will be penciled in as the #3 hitter for the next 10 years in New York. While left and right are covered, though, centerfield remains a question mark. Juan Lagares appeared to be the long term solution in center after two seasons of dominant defensive play. The 26 year old was given a four year contract extension before the 2015 season, but a ligament tear in his right elbow sapped his once-lethal throwing arm of much of its strength and Lagares ended up ceding his starting role to Cespedes after the Cuban’s arrival. Though Cespedes will likely be gone, it’s unclear if Lagares can return to prior form or if he requires Tommy John surgery. Therefore, the Mets will be looking for a versatile outfielder who can man center, especially if Lagares is deemed to need surgery. Someone like Dexter Fowler or Austin Jackson would provide New York with something it’s not had since Jose Reyes– a true leadoff hitter. Colby Rasmus, another potential target, would add some lefty pop to the Mets lineup. It’s possible that the Mets could go after Jason Heyward, but he would come at a high cost and likely shift Granderson over to center, which would not be an ideal defensive alignment. In terms of trade targets, there have been rumblings that the Yankees are interested in dealing Brett Gardner– would the Mets be interested in bringing the speedster across town? Prospect Brandon Nimmo is also an intriguing option, but doubts linger about his defensive capabilities in center.

  1. Bullpen help

In 2015, Jeurys Familia had one of the finest seasons as a closer in the history of the franchise. Slotted in to replace PED lover Jenrry Mejia at the back end of the bullpen in the first few days of the season, Familia starred, saving 43 games in the regular season and five more in the postseason. Familia became the first pitcher to blow three saves in one World Series, but that figure is misleading; in two of those appearances, Familia didn’t give up a hit. Though in recent years there’s been a bit of a revolving door at closer for the Mets, it seems like Familia is the clear choice for the role next season and beyond. Outside of him, though, questions abound. The most reliable relievers in the postseason for the Mets were probably usual starters Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon and midseason acquisition Addison Reed. Niese will slot in as a fifth starter (at least until Zack Wheeler’s return), Colon is likely gone, and Reed is eligible for arbitration. That leaves the Mets with quite a few spots to fill. Assuming that Reed accepts arbitration, the returning members of the Mets bullpen from the World Series roster will be righties Reed and Hansel Robles, lefty Sean Gilmartin, and Familia. Logan Verrett will likely serve in long relief, and it’s possible Niese will return to the ‘pen after Wheeler returns. The makings of a solid bullpen are here, but for it to be elite, the Mets will have to invest in a quality setup man and perhaps a shutdown lefty. Internally, southpaw Josh Smoker could be an option. The 26 year old had an impressive 2015, advancing to AA ball with a heater in the mid-nineties. In addition, Josh Edgin and Jerry Blevins both will return from injury, and it seems likely the Mets can find two or three decent lefties out of the bunch to place in the bullpen. External options for a setup man are intriguing but expensive. Darren O’Day and Joakim Soria will likely fetch impressive contracts on the open market, and potential trade targets like Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel would cost the Mets some of their most prized prospects. It’s up to Sandy to determine whether a devastating one-two punch of Familia and another top reliever would be worth giving up yet another prospect from the shrinking farm system.

The Mets have work to do if they want to be playing baseball again in October and November in 2016. But the heart and soul of the team is only going to get better. The rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz will be together for an entire season (barring injury– please, knock on any wood you can find) and will have another year of development under their belt. Hopefully, New York can find the right pieces to complement their staff.

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2015 MLB Preview: Playoff Picture and World Series

It’s time once again for my predictions for which teams will make the playoffs, and which team will come away from 2015 immortalized with a World Series trophy. As always, I expect to look back at some of these picks in October and wonder what I was thinking, but here are my best guesses as to which teams we will see playing this fall.

Divisional and Wild Card Winners

AL East– Baltimore Orioles

AL Central– Chicago White Sox

AL West– Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

AL Wild Card #1– Boston Red Sox

AL Wild Card #2– Seattle Mariners

NL East- Washington Nationals

NL Central– St. Louis Cardinals

NL West– Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card #1– New York Mets

NL Wild Card #2– Chicago Cubs

Wild Card Matches

AL- Seattle Mariners defeat Boston Red Sox

NL- New York Mets defeat Chicago Cubs

Divisional Round

AL- Los Angeles Angels defeat Seattle Mariners in 5 games, Chicago White Sox defeat Baltimore Orioles in 4 games

NL- Washington Nationals defeat New York Mets in 4 games, Los Angeles Dodgers defeat St. Louis Cardinals in 5 games

Championship Round

AL- Los Angeles Angels defeat Chicago White Sox in 6 games

NL- Washington Nationals defeat Los Angeles Dodgers in 7 games

World Series

Washington Nationals defeat Los Angeles Angels in 5 games

Harper and the Nationals will finally taste postseason success in 2015.

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The Mets: Sputtering off the Tracks Like a Derailed 7 Line Car

Yesterday was a day of celebration at Citi Field. The weather was gorgeous. The ballpark was mostly full–an unusual and welcome sight. And 50 Cent closed the night with a 90 minute concert that rivaled Nas’ last year.

The Mets are 3-9 in June.

The Mets are 3-9 in June.

The only thing not worth celebrating: the hometown Mets. They put forth a putrid performance against the San Diego Padres, losing 5-0 and managing just two hits. Met starter Zack Wheeler saw his record fall to 2-7 while Jesse Hahn, starting just the second game of his career, embarrassed the Mets’ lineup in six innings of one-hit work. The loss, which came to a Padres team that entered the day 11 games under .500, left the Orange and Blue at 30-38 on the year.

While the Mets’ record is bad, their offense is worse. The two hit effort was a spectacular failure, but it also was hardly a shock given the Mets’ recent  track record. They currently hold the 29th best SLG% and the 28th best batting average in baseball. Their six through eight hole hitters are all dudes batting under .200. Even David Wright, the lone (healthy) star for the fledgling franchise, has been mediocre this year; to date he has a .327 OBP and .358 SLG%. The Mets’ best hitter this year has been none other than 40 year old Bobby Abreu, a late pickup who hasn’t played a full season since 2011. A few weeks ago, the Mets fired their hitting coach.

Let’s not mince words; the 2014 Mets are fairly pathetic. Caught somewhere in limbo, they are playing without their best player (injured pitcher Matt Harvey), with a joke of a starting lineup, and with a hodgepodge rotation that includes Bartolo Colon and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

The Mets’ pitching across the board actually isn’t horrible. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee are both solid starting pitchers in the midst of career years. (Although Gee is currently on the DL.) Nonetheless, this Mets team is depressingWith Harvey recovering from Tommy John surgery and Wright caught in a huge slump–and possibly the wrong side of his prime–the relatively good vibrations that were present during last summer’s 74 win campaign have faded.

The Mets recently sent 25 year oldTravid d'Arnaud, who was hitting .180 in 39 games, back to the minors.

25 year old Travid d’Arnaud, who was hitting .180 in 39 games, was recently sent back to the minors.

As was the case a year ago, the Mets’ struggles are packaged with a future that could hold some promise. Harvey, of course, is the center of that future. But, to borrow a quote from the endlessly quotable Yogi Berra, “the future ain’t what it used to be”. There’s no guarantee that  Harvey will return as the hard-throwing hero he was in ’13, and other supposed future stars like Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud have struggled in major ways this year. Meanwhile, the club’s financial issues remain an ever-present theme for the ball club.

Happy days still could be ahead for the team and their Flushing faithful. But on a day when the Mets got rolled by one of the league’s worst teams and, in the process, made a rookie pitcher look like Pedro in his prime, it’s hard to look at the franchise and see much to get excited about.

50 Cent once asked 21 Questions. It seems that New York Mets’ management might want to start asking some questions too.

 

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2014 MLB Preview: NL East

Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to the 4th divisional preview of College Sports Town’s 2014 MLB preview. Today, we will begin looking at the National League, starting with the NL East. The Nationals disappointed many analysts last year, as the trendy World Series pick didn’t even make the playoffs. This year, I expect both the Nats and the reigning division champ Braves to make the postseason.

Divisional Breakdown

1. Atlanta Braves

2. Washington Nationals

3. New York Mets

4. Miami Marlins

5. Philadelphia Phillies

Team Breakdowns

1. Atlanta Braves

The Braves had an impressive 2013, finishing with the second-best record in the NL. Many key contributors to that squad departed, however. Brian McCann, Tim Hudson, and Paul Maholm all will be playing for other teams this season, which will complicate the Braves bid to repeat as division champs. Still, I believe they have enough talent to do so. Chris Johnson and Freddie Freeman were both in the top five for NL batting average in 2013. Andrelton Simmons won the Platinum Glove award as the best defensive player in the NL. Before a terrible jaw injury, Jason Heyward looked revitalized in the leadoff spot. Even the Upton brothers, B.J and Justin, should improve upon decent (Justin) and dreadful (B.J) performances from last year. Pitching-wise, the Braves will sorely miss Kris Medlen, who will soon undergo his second Tommy John surgery. Still, the Braves rotation is young and talented. Julio Teheran should improve upon a good rookie campaign and Alex Wood has looked terrific in spring training. Veteran newcomers Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana should do a decent enough job replacing Hudson and Medlen. The bullpen is one of the best in baseball due to closer Craig Kimbrel. Since his rookie season, he has been the best closer in the league, and that will not change this year.

Verdict

Best Case- Freeman wins MVP, the Upton brothers’ level of play is once again elite, Kimbrel is a Cy Young candidate, and the Braves win the NL East again.

Worst Case- McCann, Hudson, Maholm, and Medlen are missed, and the Braves can’t quite recapture last year’s magic, just missing out on a wild-card berth.

Hopefully the Upton Bros. will find a way to top this moment in 2014.

Hopefully the Upton Bros. will find a way to top this moment in 2014.

2. Washington Nationals

2013 was a disappointing year for the Nats. A World Series favorite, the Nationals failed to make the playoffs in their last season under manager Davey Johnson. Replacement Matt Williams aims to lead the Nationals to something they’ve never had- playoff success. The talent is certainly there. Even though it seems people have been talking about him forever, Bryce Harper is only 21. Harper is still improving, as he displayed last year, despite being limited by injuries. A full season from Harper is essential for the Nationals playoff hopes. Ian Desmond won the NL Silver Slugger award at shortstop and Jayson Werth had a resurgent year at the plate Young players Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos had solid performances, and should improve this year. Denard Span is a solid leadoff hitter, and even Ryan Zimmerman, though he is in decline, is still an effective third baseman. The lineup should be one of the better ones in the NL, and the same goes for the rotation. The combination of Stephen Strasburg, All-Star Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and the newly-acquired Doug Fister should be deadly, and not one of those pitchers is over 28. The bullpen is formidable as well. Closer Rafael Soriano is among the better closers in the game, and Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen are fairly solid as well.

Verdict

Best Case- Harper wins MVP, Strasburg wins Cy Young, and the Nats take back the NL East.

Worst Case- For the second straight year, the Nationals talent doesn’t translate to wins, and they miss the postseason.

Harper is as strong as his hair is stupid.

Harper is as strong as his hair is stupid.

3. New York Mets

The Mets are on their way to being less of a joke. The 2013 version of the team finished in third place, and the 2014 edition should follow in their footsteps. This is not to imply the team has not improved; it is merely a consequence of being in the same division as two teams as skilled as the Nats and Braves. The talent the Mets added this offs-season is considerable. When healthy, Chris Young is a nice lead off bat, and Curtis Granderson can put up top offensive numbers. These two will join a lineup with promising prospect Travis d’Arnaud, the consistent Daniel Murphy, the confounding Ike Davis, and, of course, the stupendous David Wright. Injuries are a concern for most players listed above, as well as realizing potential for d’Arnaud and Davis. If everything breaks just right, though, the Mets could have an underrated lineup. The rotation is fairly strong, but should get better as the season progresses. Noah Syndergaard, the prospect who has drawn comparisons to Norse gods, is slated for a midseason debut, as is Rafael Montero. The rotation would really look better with the phenom Matt Harvey, who set the 2013 summer ablaze with his cannon of a right arm, but who underwent Tommy John surgery in October and is unlikely to return effectively this year. Still, flamethrower Zack Wheeler should improve in his second year in the bigs, and solid starters Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese will be joined by All-Star Bartolo Colon, as well as once-raved-about righty Jenrry Mejia, who looked strong last year before his injury. The bullpen has the potential to be very good or very bad. The unpredictable Jose Valverde joins (for now) healthy closer Bobby Parnell and former Pirate Vic Black in a pen where talent is present but results have been questionable. This year, the Mets will certainly try to make the postseason, but the season is really about proving which pieces will work for the real playoff push with a healthy Matt Harvey in 2015. Still, don’t be shocked if the Mets win 85+ games in 2014.

Verdict

Best case- Wright is MVP, Granderson hits 40 HR, d’Arnaud is ROY, the rotation is strong and grows stronger with the addition of Syndergaard, and the Mets snag a wild-card spot.

Worst case- d’Arnaud is a bust, Granderson and Wright get hurt again, Colon looks as washed up as a beached whale (in addition to looking like a beached whale), and the development of Syndergaard and Montero is slowed.

Sorry, Trout-- Wright leads the MLB in smiles!

Sorry, Trout– Wright leads the MLB in smiles!

4. Miami Marlins

The 2013 Marlins were supposed to be dreadful, and they were. Born out of that cesspool, however, was one of the most exciting pitchers the MLB has showcased in a while, Jose Fernandez. Fernandez had an unbelieveable rookie year, and while I don’t expect to see any postseason starts from him this season, he and slugger Giancarlo Stanton should inspire hope in the hearts of Marlins fans (however few of them exist). The lineup should be slightly improved to due to several acquisitions, but it still is one of the weaker lineups in baseball. World Series champ Jarrod Saltalamacchia adds some pop, prospect Christian Yelich should continue to improve, and former Pirate Garrett Jones is not a terrible option at first. In addition, the Marlins are hoping young defensive stalwarts Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechavarria can become a little more effective at the plate. The rotation is extremely young and fairly talented. Fernandez has little room to improve, but the development of staffmates Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi, and Henderson Alvarez is essential for Marlins fans to be optimistic about 2015. The bullpen is fairly strong, led by impressive closer Steve Cishek, lefty Mike Dunn, and hopefully Carlos Marmol, if he can gain some semblance of control.

Verdict

Best Case- Fernandez wins the NL Cy Young, Stanton wins the home run crown, Yelich, Ozuna, and the young starting pitchers develop, and the Marlins finish third in the division.

Worst Case- Fernandez takes a step back, Stanton trade rumors fly around, there is not much development with young talent, and the Marlins flounder.

Fernandez should have more fun in his sophomore season.

Fernandez continue to have fun in his sophomore season.

5. Philadelphia Phillies

The 2013 Phillies had a difficult year, finishing fourth in the NL East. A team with playoff aspirations, the Phillies were affected by injuries and suspensions. There should be less disappointment for the 2014 Phillies, simply because of the lack of positive expectations of the team.  hey have a decent amount of talent, but their key players are both old and have troubling injury histories. Jimmy Rollins has been in decline for a couple years and he is already feuding with new manager Ryne Sandberg. Ryan Howard hasn’t been elite since 2011, and Chase Utley, while the best of the remaining 2008 World Series nucleus, has dealt with injuries for the past several years. Carlos Ruiz, just signed to a new three year deal, is 35 and also faced injuries last season. A year of aging is not going to help injury troubles and decline. Not everything is negative, though; the outfield is fairly robust. Dominic Brown had a breakout All-Star season in 2013 and should build upon that this year, Ben Revere is a nice leadoff hitter, and new acquisition Marlon Byrd revived his career in New York and Pittsburgh last season. Still, the outfield alone can’t carry the team. For the Phillies to be good, their aging core needs to stay on the field and produce. The rotation is not bad, but faces similar injury and age concerns. Cliff Lee is still a terrific pitcher, and A.J Burnett played very well for the Pirates last year, but both are on the older side. Cole Hamels is one of the better lefties in the league, but he is out indefinitely with a bum shoulder. Kyle Kendrick and Fausto Carmona- I mean, Roberto Hernandez are decent, but this team needs a stronger rotation in order to achieve their playoff goals. To be fair, the bullpen is fairly good, with closer Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, and new acquisition Brad Lincoln, but Papelbon could get dealt at the deadline if the Phillies flop.

Verdict

Best Case- The 2008 holdovers Howard, Utley, Rollins, and Hamels make a playoff push, but fall short.

Worst Case- The 2008 holdovers decline further, the clubhouse situation with Rollins turns ugly, Hamels is out for an extended period of time, and the Phillies finish in the NL East cellar.

In order to not enrage Phillies fans (a dangerous prospect), Utley needs to contribute in 2014.

In order to not enrage Phillies fans (a dangerous prospect), Utley and the Phillies need to slow their decline.

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What Should The Mets do with Ike Davis?

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Is Ike the first baseman of the future for the Mets?

Ike Davis has had a short yet tumultuous career as a member of the New York Mets. For a period of time following his rookie year, it looked as though Davis would anchor first base for the Mets for a while. After his performance these past two years, however, the Mets will have a difficult decision to make this offseason on what to do with this promising-yet-befuddling player.

Ike is only 26 and is signed through 2017, so the Mets have given him many opportunities to prove himself. If Ike continues to improve upon his recent play, it would be difficult for the Mets to get rid of him. If he plays like he did in the first half of this season, however, the Mets might have to look into alternatives. Below is a list of players in the Mets organization that the Mets might consider to replace Ike.

Josh Satin (Age 28)

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When Ike returned from his Pacific Coast League exile, he pushed his best friend Josh Satin out of the lineup. Satin, who had taken over for Ike when he was sent down, has played very well. In 120 plate appearances, he has a slash line of .296/.425/.429, which is much better than Ike’s .205/.325/.317 performance in 317 PA. Since he has played well in replacement of Ike before, the Mets probably would put more confidence in him than any other alternative.

Lucas Duda (Age 27)

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The Dude had a decent start to the season in right field, where he was moved to accommodate Ike at first, fielding adequately and batting .235/.353/.438 in 269 plate appearances. Duda was placed on the DL on June 23, however, with an intercostal strain. With no space at the major league level, he was sent to the PCL after his rehab stint, where he is hitting .282/.446/.423 in 26 games (as of August 7th). Duda is probably in more trouble than Ike when it comes to having a job with the Mets. With the success the Mets have experienced playing a more athletic outfield of Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagares, and Marlon Byrd, it’s unlikely they’ll want to revert to Duda’s plodding play in left. Duda has lots of power and was doing better offensively than Ike, but the timing of his injury might lose him his job with the Mets.

Wilmer Flores (Age 22)

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Flores was  a touted prospect in the Mets organization for a while, but I think he has earned a spot with the team for the future in the six games he has played so far at the major league level. Playing a decent third base, Flores has hit .261/.320/.435 in 25 PA, and he has 1 HR and 9 RBI already. The problem is, there is already an incumbent at third (ya know, David Wright), and he’s pretty darn good. Manager Terry Collins said he’s “most likely he’s going to be on the corner” in the future, which, despite a start this week at second base to see his potential there, means he may be coming after Ike’s job. Although The Mullet might be one of the biggest long term threats to Ike’s job, Ike himself is an example of how rookie seasons can be misleading. Hopefully, Flores will be able to carve out a spot for himself somewhere in the infield- Ike just hopes it’s not at first.

Dominic Smith (Age 18)

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The Mets first pick in this year’s draft, Smith is a power hitting first baseman out of California who is has a .375 slugging percentage and 3 HR with the Gulf Coast Mets of the Rookie League. The Mets selection of Smith seemed to be a direct slight to Ike Davis, who was sent down the following Sunday. Of course, any challenge that Smith poses to Ike is years down the road, but he is probably going to be a bigger long term threat to Davis’ job than Flores.

Some of the alternative players might be better than Ike at certain points, but I feel as though he has a lot of potential still. 2014 will be Ike’s age-27 season, which is the magic number for sluggers to kick their careers into shape. As the Mets look to contend a season or two down the line, they could use Ike in the field (where his glove has never faltered), the clubhouse, where a very friendly Ike is beloved, and, hopefully, the plate. With any luck, the Ike of the second half will be the Ike of the future, and the Ike of the future will be a mainstay for the Mets.

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Ike Davis: Batter or Broken Ladder?

While he isn't hitting homers, Ike has been getting on at a tremendous rate lately.

While he isn’t hitting many homers, Ike Davis has been getting on base at a tremendous rate lately.

New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis burst onto the scene in 2010, smacking 19 homers, driving in 71 runs, and finishing 7th in the NL Rookie of the Year vote behind stalwarts like Buster Posey and Starlin Castro.

He quickly became a favorite of the Flushing faithful and was expected to have a breakout 2011 season. It certainly looked as though Ike was breaking out early that spring, as he had a .925 OPS in his first 36 games. Ike’s big break in 2011, however, came from a collision with David Wright, which led to a severely injured ankle and cut the young slugger’s season short.

After spending the rest of the season rehabbing, Ike was met with yet another obstacle: a diagnosis of Valley Fever, a fungal infection, in the spring of 2012. The ailment sapped his strength and he struggled through the first half of the season- he had a slash line of .158/.234/.273 after the first week of June- before recovering in time to finish with tallies of 32 dingers and 90 runs batted in.

His late season surge appeared to portend a big 2013 season, but Ike came out flat again this spring, batting .165 in April and .160 in May. His struggles continued into June, and Davis was sent down to the Pacific Coast League and the Las Vegas 51s.

In Vegas, Ike hit .293 with 7 HR in 75 AB, and was called back up to the Show on July 5th.

Since the return he has been a different player.

While he hasn’t been slugging (he has just one home run in 80 post-demotion at bats) Ike has been getting on base at a solid rate. He’s hit .300 with 25 walks since his return from the exile of the PCL, but has been even better recently.

Since the All Star Break, Davis has been in the zone like few other players, batting .357 and getting on base in more than half (53.8% of the time to be exact) of his plate appearances. Those stats are boosted by an outrageous stretch lately–with three walks and a single in five plate appearances today, Ike elevated his OBP in the month of August to a luxurious .690, the second highest in baseball (trumped only by Jonathan Herrera’s .692).

So who is Ike Davis?

It’s foolish to expect Ike to be the walk machine he has been of late all the time. On the other hand, it seems unlikely, at least based on his recent performance, that Davis will sink to the depths he occupied early this season. We believe that, when Ike starts slugging, true optimism can rise and cast off the shackles of our current state of cautious optimism.

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Observations From Another Spectacular Matt Harvey Performance

It was another happy Harvey Day at Citi Field.

It was another happy Harvey Day at Citi Field.

Matt Harvey delivered another beautiful performance this Sunday, throwing seven scoreless  innings and fanning 10 on the way to a 5-0 Mets victory. Harvey improved to 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 157 K’s on the year and added Cliff Lee to the list of All Star pitchers he has out-dueled this summer. The rugged young Mets ace made his 30th career start and broke several longtime Mets pitching records. Harvey now has a 2.38 career ERA, the franchise record through 30 games (which formerly belonged to Mets great Jerry Koosman who held a 2.39 ERA). On a day when another former great Mets pitcher, Doc Gooden, was honored with a bobblehead giveaway, Harvey continued building the legend of wunderkind Mets pitchers. It was a great day for baseball at Citi Field. Here are some observations from Harvey’s spectacular performance and another win for the suddenly hot Mets:

  • David Wright, who made his MLB debut 9 years ago today at Shea Stadium, had a strong day at the plate against the Philadelphia ace Cliff Lee, launching a solo shot in the bottom of the first and lacing a single to left field in the bottom of the fourth. These 9 years have been difficult for the Mets, but I’m pleased they have had Captain America consistently performing at high levels throughout the period. Wright is one home run away from Mike Piazza for second on the Mets all-time HR list.

  • While Harvey looked sharp throughout, and all of his pitches were working, Cliff Lee struggled through six rocky innings.  Lee has not been particularly good lately, and this was the third straight start in which he allowed four or more runs.

  • The Mets in general had a spectacular offensive series, putting up 8 runs on Friday in a losing effort (the highest scoring game in Citi Field history), 5 runs on Saturday, and 5 runs again today. According to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, “Saturday’s win marked the Mets’ 15th straight game with at least eight hits, two games shy of the club’s longest streak (17 in 1987).”

  • Amidst much trade speculation, the Phillies struggled this weekend against a team that, despite what we’d like to think here at College Sports Town, is not among the best of the league. We welcome the idea of hated Phillies like Lee, Chase Utley, and Jonathan Papelbon being traded far away from the NL East. After the Phillies’ next couple series against the Cardinals and Phillies, it should be easier for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. (or as he is known to lovely Phillies fans, Ruin Tomorrow Jr.) to decide whether to buy or sell.

  • It was another relatively strong attendance for the Mets at Citi Field, as the combined excitement of the Lee-Harvey matchup and the bobblehead giveaway likely enticed fans to head out to the ballpark.

  • Harvey took a no hitter into the fourth inning and batters continue to struggle mightily in their attempts to get hits against him. We here at College Sports Town are convinced that Matt will pitch a no-hitter in the next couple of seasons, but then again, this man never (officially) did. Let’s hope Matt is more fortunate than Pedro in this respect.

The Mets will aim to continue their winning ways against the first place Atlanta Braves. Dillon Gee will face off against Julio Teheran at Citi Field Monday night, and the Mets will have yet another giveaway (free headphones).

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