- Last Updated: 1:01 PM, June 10, 2012
- Posted: 3:04 AM, June 10, 2012
One of the best byproducts of the Sandy Alderson/Terry Collins administration has been a heightened accountability around the Mets.
For too long — even during losing years — a sense of entitlement permeated the clubhouse; players who shouldn’t have nevertheless acted as if they were on scholarship. And too infrequently was anything done to confront and extinguish such behavior. That Club Met syndrome infested the franchise.
The expectations and standards are higher now. Thus, Ike Davis’ extended slump will not be tolerated much longer — even if every organizational decision maker believes what is best long term for the franchise is this: Davis playing first base for the Mets, not the Buffalo Bisons.
The Mets are in the midst of six games at Yankee Stadium and Tropicana Field. Two places in which a designated hitter affords an extra bat in the lineup, two places that favor lefty might. Davis needs to awaken in this stretch or else how can the Mets go forward with him when they return for nine games at Citi where there is not such kindness to lefties and the lack of a DH means harder choices whom to play?
Look, if the Mets were 28-32 and, as expected, entrenched in last place, then I could see playing for the future, letting Davis continue to try to work out of this season-long slump in the majors. But we are beyond Memorial Day, the Mets are surprise contenders and Davis is among the worst hitters in the sport (.162 average, just five homers). Therefore, there must be accountability to the whole roster and to the fan base to field the best team possible to try to win.
“What is best for this club is Ike swinging the bat well, here,” hitting coach Dave Hudgens said.
He did better last night in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory. Davis singled and drove an out to deep center. He also walked twice, once after falling behind 0-2 to Phil Hughes and the other off Rafael Soriano. Hudgens had said before the game that anxiety had been robbing Davis of patience central to the first baseman’s game, so perhaps this is a positive bellwether.
“Usually when I walk more, the average comes up,” Davis said.
But the Mets need more than a few walks, an uptick in average. They need impact. To that end, Davis was out before regular batting practice yesterday and with his long, lean, lefty power — somewhat akin to Shawn Green — he launched one ball after another beyond the short porch. Collins said no stadium regardless of size can contain Davis when he is right. Actually, Collins went further in the home of the major league home run leaders, stating: “Ike Davis has as much power as anyone in the ballpark tonight. We have to get him going.”
But how? Collins said, “we are videotaped out.”
In other words, what is wrong is no mystery. Davis has a swing with lots of movement. He has become susceptible, in particular, to off-speed stuff. He has not experienced failure near this level before and, in Hudgens’ estimation, has “lost confidence,” which has only exacerbated the problems.
Collins feels learning how to work through failure in the majors will benefit Davis and, thus, the team in the long run. But, for now, the Mets must emphasize the short term. It is a delicate balancing act for a team still in, at the least, a partial rebuild phase. They have to honor the contention. They have to play the best lineup. Thus, Davis either launches a positive run or Plan B must be implemented.
The Mets could move Lucas Duda to first with Collins manipulating a group of outfielders that now includes Jason Bay again.
“I hope he works through this here,” Hudgens said. “He is one of our core guys. We need him to do well. ... If he gets out of this, he helps us win. I don’t have a crystal ball, so I don’t know if he is going to get out of it. But I know this, if we are going to compete on a large scale, we have to have Ike Davis in the middle of the lineup.”
Yes, this is the devilish problem — to be their best, the Mets need a productive Davis, but an unproductive Davis is currently keeping the team from being its best.
The Alderson/Collins regime has demanded accountability, so Davis must do more — and soon. By this time next week, the Mets will be home and, if the results don’t get better, Davis very well might not be with them.Follow @NYPostsports