The Other Shoe Finally Drops On Ike Davis

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Amid the disappointment and embarrassment Ike Davis presumably feels following yesterday’s demotion from the Mets to Triple A Las Vegas is probably an unadmitted sense of relief that the Mets finally pulled the trigger and made good on the threats that have been issued multiple times for a year. Now there is no longer the looming prospect of it happening—it happened—and Davis can go to Triple A, clear his head and get himself straight.

It’s the epitome of arrogance for outsiders in the media, on social media and for laypeople of every ilk to diagnose what’s “wrong” with Davis. He’s changing his swing, stance and everything else based on the last bit of advice he received, the last time he hit the ball hard and felt comfortable at the plate. It’s made him into a toxic mess and a lefty bat who was once a feared power hitter has been regularly pinch hit for in key situations by journeymen like Justin Turner. Going to Triple A is the best thing for him and the club.

This is clearly a short-term move and Davis will be back as soon as he has a sustained run of success. By success I don’t necessarily mean a load of hits and home runs, but success can mean looking as if he has a clue at the plate, commanding the strike zone, playing defense as if he’s not thinking about his last at bat, and hitting the ball hard. If the Mets had any intention of leaving Davis in the minors longer than a few weeks, they wouldn’t have immediately put the kibosh on the most obvious personnel move in shifting Lucas Duda to first base. As it is, they’re apparently going to recall Josh Satin and give him a chance.

Satin, 28, has been a productive hitter in the minor leagues since being drafted by the Mets’ prior front office regime in the sixth round of the 2008 draft. He has a career minor league slash line of .303/.398/.465 and 10-15 home run pop. But is he a big league prospect or a 4-A player who’s interchangeable with the last guy on the roster? There are two ways to look at Satin: 1) he’s a borderline big leaguer who can hit Triple A pitching and be an extra bat off the bench; or 2) he’s a player who is in the Scott Hatteberg/Moneyball tradition of someone who has a good eye, some power and needs little more than a chance to play to prove himself.

Put it this way: if it were the latter, some other club would’ve picked him up or the Mets would’ve given him a shot to get some at bats as a utility player. He’s a stopgap whereas moving Duda to first and playing Jordany Valdespin/Kirk Nieuwenhuis/Juan Lagares in left and center field would imply permanence to the Davis demotion.

Davis’s popularity in the Mets clubhouse will certainly inspire sadness that he was demoted, but even the most ardent Davis supporter and friend can’t defend a .161 batting average, a .500 OPS and 5 homers with 1 since April. He’s been equally bad against righties and lefties and there’s no justification for keeping him in the majors if this is what he’s giving them.

Being well-liked is fine, but it must be remembered that this isn’t a popularity contest. The Giants players hated Barry Bonds with a passion…until he stepped into the batters box where, even in the days before he evidently touched a PED, he boasted an OPS of 1.000 and above on an annual basis. Keeping Davis in the big leagues through this struggle was no longer serving any purpose other than making it appear as if the inmates were running the asylum and with a team that’s playing as poorly as the Mets, that can’t continue. The first step toward real accountability is the long-overdue decision to demote Davis. If you don’t hit, you don’t play. Davis didn’t hit and he won’t play in the big leagues for awhile. It’s that simple.

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Ike Davis’s Day Off

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It’s like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, only with beer.

There were numerous reasons to give Ike Davis a night off against the Phillies last night. That he’s batting .148 and Cliff Lee was pitching for the Phillies were the two most prominent and viable, but none were good enough to justify the decision. Davis needs to play every day and he needs to play against the toughest pitchers, righty or lefty. His slow starts have become customary now and he already struggles against lefty pitchers (.214/.277/.364 career slash line and 1 for 11 vs. Lee). If the Mets had a veteran righty bat to replace him or even someone nondescript and limited like Juan Uribe who happens to hammer Lee, then sitting him down for a night made sense. In Davis’s place, however, the Mets played Justin Turner who: A) is a journeyman utility player; B) is not a first baseman; and C) before last night was 0 for 10 against Lee with one walk and one hit by pitch. Was this a better option than playing Davis and hoping he’d catch a Lee fastball and hit it out of a park in which many fly balls wind up being homers?

Davis is a George Brett/David Cone type of happy-go-lucky who enjoys big league life, has a big chaw of tobacco in his cheek like an old-school big leaguer, likes his nightlife and maintains a constant mischievous, carefree look on his face. The worst thing to do with a player like this is to give him days off. Were they afraid that facing Lee would put him into a slump? He’s already in a slump. Hitting against good pitching is a positive. Perhaps facing a Cy Young Award winner against whom nothing was expected from him would’ve relaxed Davis into getting a couple of hits and put him back on the right track.

Barring a tweak or slight malady, there’s no reason for the 26-year-old, 6’4”, 230 pound Davis to need a day off one week into the season to give him a break or otherwise. If the Mets want him to have a pseudo-break, they can DH him when they’re playing in AL parks starting this weekend in Minnesota. The night off was a silly decision made even more absurd by the fact that they don’t have a legitimate backup first baseman to replace him and it probably won’t do any more good to break him out of his slump than just putting him in the lineup and rolling the dice against Lee. The odds are he wouldn’t have done much more against Lee than the overall Mets lineup did, but at least he’d have had a better shot than Turner. That, more than anything, was why he should’ve been playing and should be playing from now on for the rest of the season with a day off given if he really needs it, not to shield him from a great pitcher.

Essays, predictions, player analysis, under the radar fantasy picks, breakout candidates, contract status of all relevant personnel—GMs, managers, players—and anything else you could possibly want to know is in my new book Paul Lebowitz’s 2013 Baseball Guide now available onAmazon.comSmashwordsBN and Lulu. Check it out and read a sample.

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National League East—Buy, Sell or Stand Pat?

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Washington Nationals

They have the minor league system to do something significant, but looking at their roster and the players they’re due to have eventually returning from injury, they don’t need anything.

Their offense has been somewhat disappointing as they’re 10th in the NL in runs scored. They’re not particularly patient at the plate, but they spent a large chunk of the first half of the season without Michael Morse and Jayson Werth; they lost Wilson Ramos and were playing Rick Ankiel in centerfield.

When they have their regular, everyday lineup out there and put either Bryce Harper or Werth in center to replace Ankiel, they’ll be fine in the run-scoring department.

Their bullpen has been lights out and Drew Storen will be back. In regards to Storen, I wouldn’t put much stock in his rehab results—he got blasted yesterday; as long as his velocity and movement are there, let him get back in shape without worrying about how he pitches.

What do they need? Some bench help? Okay. That’s something that can be acquired after the trading deadline when more teams are willing to clear out some players. Marco Scutaro, Ty Wigginton, Mike Aviles, Justin Turner are names to consider, but the Nats will be perfectly fine if they simply stay where they are and move forward with who they have.

Atlanta Braves

They need to buy but I don’t know if they will.

The Braves could use a big time starting pitcher but as has been the situation in the past, are they going to add payroll to get it?

GM Frank Wren made a big show of looking for a shortstop after Andrelton Simmons got hurt and then was forced to act when Jack Wilson got hurt as well. He traded for Paul Janish.

That’s not a big, bold maneuver.

They’ve been linked to Zack Greinke but I’m not getting the sense that the Brewers are ready to sell. Recently the suggestion was made that they were looking at Jason Vargas. Vargas and the words “impact starter” were used in the same sentence. Vargas is not an impact starter, but if I were a Braves’ fan, Vargas or someone similarly meh is what I’d expect them to obtain.

New York Mets

The three game sweep at the hands of the Braves is being taken as a calamity, but the Mets have been resilient all season long. They’re not buyers and nor are they sellers. They’ll look to improve within reason and not give up a chunk of the farm system to do it. Can they add payroll? No one seems to know. I’d guess that they can add a modest amount in the $5-10 million region and that’s only if it’s a player that the front office believes can make a significant difference and/or they’ll have past this season.

I’d avidly pursue Luke Gregerson for the bullpen and inquire about Joe Thatcher, both of the Padres.

Here’s one thing I would seriously consider: crafting an offer for Justin Upton centered around Ike Davis and Jordany Valdespin. The big time pitching prospects in the minors—Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler—are off the table. The Mets could move Lucas Duda to his natural position of first base and get a 25-year-old, cost-controlled, potential MVP in Upton.

The Diamondbacks can consider moving Paul Goldschmidt for pitching.

Miami Marlins

They should probably just stay where they are and hope, but they have little choice but to be buyers.

Carlos Lee was acquired from the Astros to try and fill an offensive void and he hasn’t done much so far. Would they think about including Logan Morrison in a trade to shake things up? Justin Ruggiano is killing the ball in his first legitimate opportunity to play regularly in the Majors and his numbers mirror what he posted in the minors as a regular. But he’s 30. They have to determine its legitimacy.

The bottom line is this: they need pitching in the rotation and bullpen and are running out of time. Francisco Liriano is a target as is Grant Balfour, Jonathan Broxton, Huston Street and any of the other suspects.

Philadelphia Phillies

Here’s the situation: In spite of winning the last two games of their series against the Rockies, the Phillies are still 39-51 and 14 games out of 1st place in the division. They’re 7 ½ games back in the Wild Card race. Some of the teams still in the Wild Card race are going to fade. Realistically it’s going to take around 88 wins to take the last Wild Card spot. In order for the Phillies to reach that number they’re going to have to go 49-23 the rest of the way. Even with Roy Halladay returning tomorrow night, it is an almost impossible feat for them to pull off. If they were playing reasonably well, I’d say, “Okay, maybe they can do it.” But they’re not.

I have no idea what’s going to happen with Cole Hamels as the new talk is that they’re preparing a substantial offer to keep him. Maybe it’s true. But they need to get rid of Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino; see what they can get for Wigginton.

It’s not their year and if they sign Hamels that will probably assuage the angry fans—to a point—if Ruben Amaro Jr. concedes the season and gets what he can for the veterans who definitely won’t be back.

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Role Reversals and Trade Deadlines Make Strange Bedfellows

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The “Mets-Phillies rivalry” isn’t so much a rivalry. It’s more two fanbases that dislike one another due to their close proximity. The teams were never in contention at the same time until 2007 and by then the Mets had the reputation as condescending and arrogant because of their 2006 and early-2007 dominance and the Phillies’ reputation as underachievers and authors of the greatest collapse in baseball history in 1964. Jimmy Rollins stoked the fire with his bluster early in 2007 and looked foolish as the Mets were strolling to a second straight division title; but Rollins backed it up with a blazing final month and by winning the MVP in the Phillies’ remarkable comeback that seized the momentum and sent the Mets into a spiral that culminated in the front office regime change and roster turnover.

The Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and became the dominant team in the NL with another pennant in 2009 followed by two more division titles in 2010-2011.

The tide has turned again.

This time it’s the Phillies who are reviled throughout baseball because of their smugness, penchant for trading and signing every big name on the market and “we’re better than you” mouthiness, much of it emanating from their fans. The Mets are the young upstarts expected to lose 90+ games (and in the ludicrous world of Michael Kay, 110 games) but find themselves in the thick of the pennant race and looking to buy players rather than sell.

So where does that leave them?

With each mounting loss and rising deficit in the playoff race, the Phillies’ decision to sell grows more and more likely. But would they trade anyone to the Mets?

The Mets are in need of a right-handed hitting bat who can play first base. They’re continually placing Justin Turner at the position against lefty pitchers instead of Ike Davis. Turner is not an experienced first baseman and is not meant to be in the lineup regularly; he’s a useful bat off the bench and can play second, third and a little shortstop. It’s not as easy to play first base as the Mike Francesas of the world will lead you to believe. That notion is a disproved theory from the 1950s that a player can be “hidden” at first base. The Mets cannot let an inexperienced defender cost them runs; that’s where they are if they insist on using Turner there.

With Ryan Howard activated, Ty Wigginton no longer has a regular place in the Phillies’ lineup. Wigginton hits well against lefties and enjoys hitting in Citi Field (1.278 OPS with 3 homers in 34 plate appearances). The Mets can use him. As the velocity of the Phillies plummet rises in new and enterprising ways like last night’s debacle against the Braves in which Antonio Bastardo entered a 0-0 tie in the 8th inning, proceeded to load the bases, walk in a run and serve up a grand slam to Brian McCann, it’s clear that there’s not going to be a turnaround for the Phillies when Roy Halladay returns or at any other time. They’re closer in the standings to the dregs—the Padres, Rockies, Cubs and Astros—than they are to a playoff spot.

This is pretty much it.

Sometimes teams that revile one another will acknowledge that concessions need to be made to do business. The Red Sox were going to trade Mike Lowell to the Rangers who, with the Red Sox knowledge, planned to send Lowell to the Yankees. It never came to pass but that style of plausible deniability is necessary in a true rivalry as fierce as that of Yankees-Red Sox.

Such is not the case with the Mets and Phillies.

The Mets can use Wigginton and the Phillies are coming apart at the seams. That’s a starting point for negotiation without partisan rancor and fan perception standing in the way.

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Omar’s Players

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The talk of the Mets in recent weeks has centered around their twin aces Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey. Santana pitched a no-hitter two weeks ago tomorrow and Dickey just had a team record scoreless innings streak ended in the ninth inning of last night’s 1-hit masterpiece against the Rays.

The Mets, who most observers (including me) had losing over 90 games, have been examined with a new set of questions wondering whether they’re real contenders and if they’re going to be buyers at the trading deadline.

We don’t know yet. They’ve surprised so far and with their plate discipline and opportunistic play. With the aforementioned Santana and Dickey pitching like this, there’s no reason to think they’re going to completely collapse to the depths of their negative expectations.

One thing that’s glossed over amid the eye-opening resilience and positive vibe hovering around the team is that the majority of the good work they’ve done has been because of players that former GM Omar Minaya brought into the organization.

Minaya was called one of the worst GMs in baseball during the waning days of his tenure—an assertion that is based on indistinguishable parameters. It’s ridiculous. He had his strengths and weaknesses as a GM. In today’s game he would have to be in the right circumstances to get another chance as a GM because he’s great when making a big trade or signing a big star, drinking in the accolades at a flashbulb-popping press conference with his big smile and expensive, tailored suit. He’s fine when he’s charming people one-on-one who take his frequent English malaprops as a part of his charm. But when things went wrong he turned from the toast of the town to just plain toast.

As an assistant (now with the Padres) he’s a valuable voice to have around and has always been a sound judge of tools and talent. He has a great rapport with and understanding of young Latin players.

The players on the team now that have helped the Mets to their 34-29 record were almost exclusively acquired under Minaya’s watch.

Santana arrived via trade. Dickey was a veteran signing with a fluky pitch signed as an afterthought—but it was the Mets and Minaya who signed him. Jonathon Niese, Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee, Josh Thole and Justin Turner were all brought in by people working under Minaya.

It’s a fact.

In response to the credit I’m giving Minaya, you can expect it to be said that the scouts and developmental people were the ones who handled the young players; that Dickey was blind luck; that if Minaya was still the GM, none of the young players would be with the Mets now because they would’ve been traded for expensive veterans or not given a legitimate chance; that his faults don’t outweigh whatever positives can be mustered. It will brought up that he also signed Jason Bay and botched the firing of Willie Randolph; that he allowed Tony Bernazard to run roughshod over the club and over people; that he doesn’t have the linguistic skills to be a GM in today’s atmosphere of the rock star GM and political spinmaster who has to respond to questions with deftness and ambiguity.

It’s all true.

But I’m of the belief that if you get the blame you also get the credit. By that criteria, Minaya deserves to receive credit for this Mets team because it was put together, mostly, by him and his staff.

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The Mets Have To Get Better Players

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It’s unfair to compare the rebuilding Mets under a first year front office that’s diametrically opposed to the previous one and the Phillies who are in the midst of a run of excellence they haven’t enjoyed since the late 1970s-early 1980s, but it’s instructive to look at the two teams to understand why the Phillies are where they are and what the Mets need to do to get there.

Let’s take a look.

Draft, scout and develop.

The Phillies have benefited from a strong farm system in a multitude of ways. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson, Vance Worley and Carlos Ruiz all came up through the Phillies organization; Shane Victorino was found in the Rule 5 Draft; Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence were acquired in trades because the Phillies had prospects other clubs coveted; Raul Ibanez, Cliff Lee and Placido Polanco were signed as free agents; and even Wilson Valdez, a journeyman castoff from the Mets, has been a valuable utilityman standing in at various times for the injured Utley, Polanco and Rollins.

The Mets have some players from their system with promise. Jonathon Niese, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell all have potential. They also developed Jose Reyes and David Wright. but others have failed for one reason or another. Fernando Martinez can’t stay healthy; Josh Thole isn’t going to hit enough; Ike Davis is hurt. The Mets didn’t have the prospects to trade for veterans as the Phillies did and their rampant dysfunction in recent years made them an unappealing destination for players with choices. Players will want to go where a team appears to have its house in order or will pay them more money than anyone else. That’s essentially how the Mets got Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez and Johan Santana. While the Phillies have gotten production from their free agents, the Mets haven’t.

Role players should be role players.

When talking about Phillies utilityman Valdez, it’s instructive to look at the Valdez-type players the Mets have and see that they’re playing more frequently than would be optimal for a good team.

Justin Turner, Scott Hairston, Dillon Gee, Jason Isringhausen, Pedro Beato—all have use on a limited basis—but the Mets are utilizing them as regular, key players. When limited players are playing almost every day, they’re going to be exposed for what they are; and when 4-5 of them are playing every single day, it’s going to catch up; that’s what’s happening to the Mets.

They’re not a good enough team and they don’t have enough good players. The only reason they’ve stayed as close to .500 as they have is because the rest of baseball is so laden with parity that no one can tell which teams should be bad and which should be atrocious.

Play the game correctly.

It was laughable when, in the waning days of the 2010 season, Utley took Tejada out on a play at second base and the Mets reacted like a bunch of Southern women at a church social, indignant that such a thing would occur. There was talk of retaliation and the team taking a different approach to plays on the bases and at the plate.

Different approach? How about playing the game correctly without it being a response?

It was about time the Mets decided to stop being so nice to their opponents and let them have it when the opportunity arose. Following Utley’s take-out of Tejada, Carlos Beltran slid hard toward Utley and, in typical Mets fashion, missed him completely.

Had Utley been knocked into left field, he wouldn’t have said a word about it because he’s old-school, keeps his mouth shut and plays the game the right way.

You want to send a message? When Utley blocks second base with his knee as an opponent is stealing second, drive your spikes so hard into his leg so to break the skin. You don’t like him standing so close to the plate, dawdling and messing with the pitchers’ heads? Hit him in the back.

It’s called doing something about it other than yapping.

This is playing the game the way it should be played and is one of the reasons the Phillies are where they are and the Mets are where they are.

Be aggressive, smart and lucky.

This isn’t to imply that the Phillies do everything correctly because GM Ruben Amaro Jr, has made some horrible gaffes and silly free agent signings in his time as GM; it’s been glossed over by the way the team has played and that he rectified the bigger mistakes by trading for Oswalt a year ago and getting Lee back via free agency last winter; but those two deals stemmed from the fact that both Oswalt and Lee were willing to join the Phillies because the Phillies were contenders and in an atmosphere the players wanted to be a part of. Neither Oswalt nor Lee wanted to join the Mets because the team was in such disarray and the club’s reputation has taken a brutal beating due to the off-field mishaps and lawsuits surrounding team ownership.

But the Phillies weren’t exactly the bastion of cohesion until they started winning. In fact, they were a joke for 14 years from 1994 through most of 2007 before the Mets collapse and Phillies rise.

These things change quickly. The Mets have a new drafting style, a top-down chain of command that won’t be usurped as it was with Tony Bernazard running roughshod over the organization, a plan of attack and a GM able to express himself coherently—all of this gives them every chance to turn things around within the next three years.

All they have to do is adhere to the principles elucidated above.

They have to be a more than a little lucky.

They have to get better players and not use roster-filler on a daily basis in key roles.

It’s that simple. And that difficult.

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Bring The Truth, Bring The Pain

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The Jose Reyes Chronicles needs to be published on a daily basis.

Let’s take a look.

Nice hatchet job. And by “nice” I mean ridiculous.

Harvey Araton wrote this piece in today’s NY Times about Jose Reyes.

It’s a none-too-subtle rip job disguised as journalism.

Are these writers so dense that they haven’t gotten the message that when Alex Rodriguez says something like Reyes is the “greatest player in the world” that it smacks of a lesson he learned during his apprenticeship under Madonna? That he’s keeping his name in the public consciousness by any means necessary?

It’s not a shot at Derek Jeter; it’s something he said to garner a reaction.

He’s getting it and you’re enabling him.

Did Araton read the New Yorker piece? Is he banking on people innocently opening their Times sports section this morning and taking everything he says as gospel and contextually accurate? Or is he twisting the spirit of what was said to convenience his conclusions?

Here’s Araton’s quote from the column:

Six weeks ago, a healthy majority of respondents happened to agree with the owner Wilpon’s assessment, as quoted in a magazine article, that Reyes would not be worth “Carl Crawford money” ($142 million over seven years) because he is too often injured.

Here’s the quote from the New Yorker piece:

“He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,” Wilpon said, referring to the Red Sox’ signing of the former Tampa Bay player to a seven-year, $142-million contract. “He’s had everything wrong with him,” Wilpon said of Reyes. “He won’t get it.”

Far be it from me to explain the concept of reading comprehension an underlying meaning to a columnist from the New York Times, but that’s not quite an equitable analysis of what Wilpon said.

Is Rafael Soriano worth the $35 million he got?

Is Jayson Werth worth the $126 million he got?

And on the other side of things has Bartolo Colon been worth the $900,000 the Yankees are paying him for the masterful comeback season he’s put together?

It’s not a difficult concept to grasp unless you perhaps have…an agenda!

But why would anyone read that column and think Araton sat at his keyboard with an intention to savage the Mets and lavish love upon the Yankees?

These are the Mets.

All the talk of the Mets “run scoring” machine—achieved with the absence of home runs, assisted by all the walks, the Reyes baserunning/hit show, and unsung heroes—is silly. They had a few big games in the Texas bandbox and against some bad pitching in Detroit.

Because of parity and over-and-above the call of duty performances from the likes of Justin Turner and Dillon Gee, they’ve hung around .500 and looked better than anyone reasonably expected.

The key word is “looked”.

This is not a contender; it’s not a good team; and a vast number of the prominent names currently in the lineup won’t be with the club when the Mets turn the corner back into contention under Sandy Alderson.

These are facts.

Reyes may be there and he may not. And not be for the “Carl Crawford” money that so many have suggested he’s going to want.

The sudden strain.

For everyone who went on and on about Reyes’s historic durability—which is generally factual—there’s always been and will be this issue where his hamstrings are vulnerable. It’s a career-long worry and could preclude him from getting the money that—according to Araton—Wilpon “said” he’s not going to get.

Combine the hamstring problems with an important factor that’s missed by those who say Reyes is heading for that Crawford contract: the Yankees and Red Sox are not going after him and nor are the Phillies.

Where’s he going to get this money?

The Angels and the Nationals can do it. But will they? The Angels wanted Crawford and were blown out of the water by the Red Sox.

The Nationals ownership is loaded and ready to spend and Reyes is a target.

Where else?

Right now, he’s as likely to stay with the Mets as he is to go elsewhere because of the scarcity of teams that can and will pay him and that the old hamstring problem has crept up again.

Few will admit this, but it’s not a bad thing for the Mets that Reyes felt that tightness and needs an MRI; nor is it a bad thing that they’ve come down to earth against a blazing hot Yankees team.

It’s a means to an end that could result in them keeping Reyes for a reasonable sum and not what Wilpon “said” in the inaccurate world of Harvey Araton.

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The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

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Some players aren’t playing up to their career expectations. They could be doing better; they could be doing worse.

Is it real? It it Memorex? Is it a train wreck?

Let’s take a look.

Russell Martin, C—New York Yankees

After looking like has on the way to stardom early in his career, Martin was steadily declining with the Dodgers due to injuries and apparent apathy. He got off to a blazing start this year with the Yankees and has, again, steadily declined.

You can say he’s hurt with a back problem, but even if he was healthy, the American League was going to catch up to him. Look at his current numbers and they’re right in line with what he posted in 2009-2010.

Casey Kotchman, 1B—Tampa Bay Rays

Kotchman is batting .345.

Kotchman will not continue batting .345.

Put it this way, his average when he hits a line drive is over .890. In comparison when Evan Longoria and Albert Pujols hit line drives, their averages are over .660.

Kotchman is going to plummet to earth soon.

Joaquin Benoit, RHP—Detroit Tigers

The risk you run when paying a 33-year-old journeyman $16.5 million after his one big season is that he’ll regress. That’s what happened with Benoit early in the season for the Tigers. He was horrific for April and most of May.

He’s been very good since late May; his strikeout numbers and control are solid; and he’s only allowed one homer. Benoit should be good for the rest of the season.

Adam Dunn, DH—Chicago White Sox

Dunn is batting under .200 and hasn’t been hitting for much power.

He’s pressing and getting used to a new league and a new role as full-time DH. Dunn’s going to start hitting homers consistently and he always gets on base.

Joakim Soria, RHP—Kansas City Royals

Soria was misused by former Royals manager Trey Hillman so there’s the possibility that something’s wrong with him and he’s not saying anything; but if he’s healthy, he’ll be fine and closing effectively again before long.

Justin Morneau, 1B—Minnesota Twins

I would be very concerned about Morneau if I were the Twins. He’s been able to play after missing most of last season after a concussion and post-concussion syndrome, but he’s batting .220 with no power (4 homers, 0 at home).

Alexi Ogando, RHP—Texas Rangers

He throws strikes; doesn’t allow many homers; doesn’t allow many hits or walks; and pitches deeply into games.

It’s not a hard formula.

Chone Figgins, 3B—Seattle Mariners

Whatever happened to this guy on the way from Anaheim to Seattle, it appears permanent—at least as long as he’s playing for the Mariners. I didn’t like the signing, but unless you chopped off one of Figgins’s arms you couldn’t have expected him to be this bad.

Dan Uggla, 2B—Atlanta Braves

Uggla’s trying too hard and he may have overdone the weights this past winter. He’ll start hitting. Soon.

John Buck, C—Florida Marlins

Normally a smart organization, the Marlins made a huge mistake giving Buck $18 million.

Justin Turner, INF—New York Mets

Jason Bay, LF—New York Mets

Turner is a pump-and-dump player; he’s becoming a cult hero, but is not a long term solution as anything other than a utility player and as far as utility players go, I prefer Daniel Murphy.

Bay has been too good a hitter for too long to continue struggling so terribly unless he’s hurt. Like Uggla and Dunn, he’s pressing and will eventually hit.

Charlie Morton, RHP—Pittsburgh Pirates

People went overboard when the season started as Morton pitched brilliantly. You can take a replication of Roy Halladay‘s motion to a point, but then the individual’s abilities have to take over.

Morton’s biggest leap forward this year wasn’t in imitating Halladay, but by only allowing 2 homers so far. His control hasn’t been great, but it’s been in line with what it’s always been. He’s not an ace, but he can be an effective starter as long as he avoids the long ball.

Ryan Roberts, OF—Arizona Diamondbacks

Roberts might be a Casey Blake-type player who’s a late-bloomer and needed nothing more than the knowledge that his name is going to be in the lineup every day. He played well—similarly to the way he’s playing now—in 2009 and put up decent power numbers consistently in the minors.

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Mets Dump Brad Emaus

Books, Games, Management, Media, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, Players, Spring Training

After 42 plate appearances; a .162 batting average with no power; and a .262 on base percentage, the player that some were suggesting could  be the Mets version of hitting the lottery as the Marlins did with Dan Uggla in 2006, is gone.

Or maybe not gone.

It depends.

The Mets designated Brad Emaus for assignment today and recalled Justin Turner. What that means is that Emaus has to pass through waivers and, after ten days if he’s unclaimed, the Rule 5 selection will be offered back to the Blue Jays; if they refuse or decide to work out a trade with the Mets, he can stay with the club where they’ll be free to send him to Triple A Buffalo—technical details culled from MLBTradeRumors.

On the bright side for the Mets, the way Emaus hit, it’s hard to see anyone claiming him and having to keep him on the big league roster; the Blue Jays may not be interested in taking him back either, so he’ll stay a Met.

I was skeptical when all this talk about Emaus began after the Mets claimed him. His minor league numbers are eye-catching, but lightning strikes like what happened with the Marlins and Uggla are exceedingly rare. Emaus did have an on base percentage .100 points higher than his putrid batting average, so he has ability to work the count and get on base; and his defense at second was better than advertised.

But what were the Mets expecting here?

Assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi drafted Emaus when he was the Blue Jays GM, so he knows him. Presumably the Mets front office wasn’t as excited about him as the numbers-crunchers were. It takes more than numbers to evaluate a player and perhaps Emaus can still be a productive big leaguer; he isn’t one now.

I understand the impatience of the Mets in this case; it’s a signal that they’re not beholden to a Rule 5 pick if he’s not performing up to big league standards; on the other hand, would it have hurt to give him another 40-60 at bats? He seemed overmatched, but if they liked him so much to give him the starting job out of spring training, he warranted a longer look that this.

The Mets will say all the right things: “We liked and still like Brad”; “He’s got a lot of ability, but needs more minor league seasoning”; “This is not a reflection on the player, but we need someone to help us now.”

All are reasonable. But they don’t make much sense in the long term scheme. This team is going nowhere in 2011. Brad Emaus or Turner playing second base isn’t going to affect fan attendance one way or the other. If the Mets truly believe in Emaus, they should’ve at least given him 20 more at bats. Who was it going to hurt?

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