Before last night’s thrilling comeback victory against Mariano Rivera, Mets fans were focusing on the negatives. Matt Harvey had pitched another gem, but the Mets’ offense and defense had combined to put Harvey on the hook for his first loss of the season. For an example of what my mindset was late during last night’s game, here’s a tweet I sent from the Rising Apple twitter feed:
In all seriousness, Ike and Tejada should be sent to Vegas after the game, and Ankiel and Byrd should be cut. Time for a shakeup.
— Rising Apple (@RisingAppleBlog) May 29, 2013
The above tweet was sent before the ninth inning and the bedlam and joy that ensued after the Mets beat Mariano Rivera. Still, the heroics of Daniel Murphy, David Wright, and Lucas Duda did not erase the fact that the four players mentioned in that tweet are dragging the team down at the moment.
The Mets are now 20-29, winners of three in a row. I have no illusions of a miracle run to the playoffs, but it would certainly be nice if the team kept this going and became regularly competitive for the remainder of the season. The best chance the Mets have at competing, is to remove dead weight from the roster. It’s nice to win three games in a row, including one off the greatest closer of all time. However, this mini winning streak shouldn’t be a reason for players who aren’t performing to be excused.
Shakeups during three game winning streaks ordinarily don’t happen. In this instance, though, Sandy Alderson should be willing to make an exception. Let’s go case by case. I’ll list the player, what the move should be, and the reasoning behind it:
After briefly snapping out of a 1 for 38 skid with 3 hits in 5 at bats, Davis (hitting .152 with a .237 OBP) has been held without a hit over the last 2 games (including 5 consecutive strikeouts before grounding out in his final at bat last night). If Davis hadn’t delivered the winning RBI’s against the Braves a few nights ago, he likely would’ve been demoted. What many fans hoped would be a breakout has instead turned out to be a false alarm.
Davis is a great guy, and he has the potential (as we’ve seen) to be an impact bat with prodigious power. At the moment, he’s an automatic out. Last night, Terry Collins dropped Davis to 8th in the lineup. For a hitter who’s chasing pitches out of the strike zone, 8th is the absolute worst spot for Davis to be. He should be sent down to AAA to clear his head and straighten himself out.
To fill Davis’ spot on the roster, Josh Satin should be called up. The Mets have options, though. If they expect Davis to be in AAA for a prolonged period of time, they can shift Lucas Duda to first base. They could also shift Daniel Murphy to first base and call up Wilmer Flores to play second.
Because of Davis’ immense struggles, the failures of Tejada (hitting .209 with a .269 OBP) have been largely overlooked until recently. He’s been hitting the ball in the air a ton, and was for some reason moved into the leadoff spot a few nights ago by Terry Collins. More troubling than Tejada’s offense is the way in which he’s performed in the field.
Last night, there were were three inexcusable mistakes made by Tejada. The first, was his failure to charge a ball off the bat of Ichiro Suzuki before firing wide to first base for an error. The second, was falling asleep while on base at second and getting picked off in the sixth inning. The third, and most glaring, was Tejada failing to make an effort at keeping a ground ball single on the infield. On the play (that allowed the runner to move to third base), Daniel Murphy peeled off to allow Tejada to slide and keep the ball from going into the outfield. Instead, Tejada simply stopped and stared as the ball rolled harmlessly onto the outfield grass. After the play, I noted that Tejada should’ve been ripped off the field by his collar and benched. His play last night was lazy, brainless, and pathetic, and he should pay for it.
Like Davis, there’s a chance that Tejada can still be a contributor to the Mets in 2014 and beyond. For now, though, he should be dispatched to the minors to get his act together.
Pretty much every Mets fan objected when the Mets signed Rick Ankiel a few weeks ago. Of course, Ankiel then put together a few good games to temporarily quiet the masses. Since then, he’s turned back into himself. Ankiel is 1 for his last 14 with 7 strikeouts. When he was signed by the Mets, fans were upset for two reasons. The first, was the fact that Ankiel was a sub-par player. The second, and more important reason fans were upset, was because Ankiel has no future with the Mets. In a transition year, the at bats that are going to Ankiel should be going to players who have a chance to be with the club long term.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis has gone on a home run barrage recently for AAA Las Vegas (he has 7 overall). Nieuwenhuis may turn out to be a AAAA player. Still, there’s a chance that something will click for him if he returns to the major league level. The Mets should be finding out whether or not Nieuwenhuis is worthy of consideration as a long term answer in the outfield, not giving at bats to the likes of Rick Ankiel.
Over the last two weeks, Byrd’s average has dropped from .271 to .238. His OBP is .280, and he can’t catch up to a decent fastball. While his offensive game has been suffering, Byrd has been struggling in the outfield as well. Last night, he nonchalantly went after Brett Gardner‘s leadoff single in the sixth inning, and muffed the play. He was charged with an error that allowed Gardner to advance to second and ultimately score the Yankees’ only run of the game.
Byrd shouldn’t be released because of last night’s miscue. He should be released for two reasons: He’s an offensive black hole at the moment, and his future with the Mets beyond 2013 is non-existent. Like Niewuenhuis, Collin Cowgill may come back to the big leagues and fail. If that happens, so be it. But he should be given a full opportunity to prove himself (something he wasn’t given earlier in the season).
…the Mets have won three games in a row, and have a chance to keep things going in the right direction. It’s never easy to demote players who have made huge contributions to the big league club in the past (Davis and Tejada), and it’s never easy to give proud veterans their release (Ankiel and Byrd).
However, doing so would make the Mets better off in the near term, give Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada a chance to become rejuvenated, and allow the Mets to properly evaluate players who might have a chance to contribute to their next legitimate contender.