June 6, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis (29) doubles in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Mets 5 - 3. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

If Ike Davis Gets Demoted, Who's on First?

Since Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson announced a couple weeks ago that they had no plans on sending Ike Davis down to the minors, reporters have continued asking the question daily as the Mets first baseman continues to struggle (.164/.237/.282). The New York skipper continues to deny the possibility of Davis being sent down to the minors, but with Jason Bay coming back from the disabled list yesterday, the question was asked as to whether they have considered moving Lucas Duda to first base to alleviate the outfield crunch.

Collins’ response to that question was,”Not yet.” However, it looks like it could be soon. Once the Mets leave D.C., they will be traveling to play the Yankees and then the Rays, so having the designated hitter in the lineup lets Terry get all of his guys in. Once they go back to playing in National League parks, one the players in this crunch (Davis, Bay, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Andres Torres) is going to have to be sit on the bench.

Gary Cohen mentioned during last night’s SNY broadcast that Duda has been taking ground balls at first base for about a week now, so

the writing may be on the wall for Ike. A few days ago, Davis was once again asked about possibly being sent to the minors, and he said that he didn’t think figuring things out at Triple-A would help him because he still has to come back up to the Majors and start from scratch. While I agree with his logic and that’s what a manager would want to hear from his player, he sounds awful selfish. Has he been helping the team? With his season-long slump, Collins has been able to justify putting Davis into the lineup because of his defense at first base, but even that has been less than stellar over the last week or so.

In elaborating on his answer to the media, Davis said that it will do him no good to head to Buffalo and hit .400. Again, I like his confidence, but I’d really like to see him actually hit .400 in Triple-A first. Second, there is no reason why getting hot in the minors can’t help you in the long run. It would not only show him that he can get hot for a long period of time and erase what’s happened over the first third of the season, and that hot streak and confidence can absolutely carry over into the Majors once he gets the call to come back up. It sounds like he’s in denial at this point.

There has been some talk about acquiring Derek Lee, a veteran first baseman who can field and has some pop from the right-handed side. Despite not playing anywhere over the last few months, MLBTR has reported that he has continued working out and is in excellent shape for whenever he gets a call. Rumors are that Lee is looking for a similar deal to Johnny Damon‘s with the Indians ($1.25 mil plus $1.4 mil in incentives). While that’s more than reasonable for Sandy Alderson and the Mets to consider, they need to move Duda to the infield first before they pursue Lee.

If they just go out and sign Lee to a one-year deal, there will still be that same problem in the outfield. Ike has until the end of the Tampa Bay series to show the Mets that he can be their everyday first baseman. If there is no progress, he needs to be sent down and Duda needs to take over first base for the time being, whether Davis likes it or not. That will allow Nieuwenhuis to play right, keep Torres in center, and put Bay in left, giving Scott Hairston more of a chance to get consistent playing time. If Bay can’t produce the way he’s expected to, then it’ time for Alderson to explore external options.

We’ve seen it since he took over two winters ago; if there is a problem, he’s not going to go out and sign someone right away, he’s going to try and solve the issue with the personnel they have already first. So, this all really hinges on Bay; he needs to come back and give the offense a boost from the right-hand side. If he can’t, then he should find himself on the bench while Alderson gives a call to Lee’s agent.

Who do you feel about the possibility of Lucas Duda playing first base?

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Tags: Andres Torres Derek Lee Free Agent Ike Davis Ike Davis Slump Jason Bay Kirk Nieuwenhuis Lucas Duda Matt Musico New York Mets Rising Apple Sandy Alderson Scott Hairston Terry Collins

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