It’s far from the situation any Met would have wanted, but Ike Davis’s replacement at first base has the good fortune of being saddled with comically low expectations. Almost quite literally anyone else is an upgrade from Ike at this point. The only question that remains is who Terry Collins will pencil in at position #3 tomorrow night against the Cardinals and beyond. Here are five potential routes he can take:
Mar 11, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; New York Mets second baseman Josh Satin (76) bats during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Mets beat the Tigers 11-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Argument For: He’s been tearing it up in Triple-A the last two seasons, and at age 28 has reached the prime of his baseball career. With the 2013 campaign reduced to nothing more than open tryouts for 2014, why not reward Satin for his success and let him see what he can do?
Argument Against: The only time he’s had in the majors is one at-bat in 2012 and some scant September call-up time the year before. If he was going to stick in the majors, he would have made it up long before Davis’s demotion, so what’s the point in wasting a roster spot on someone who isn’t part of the long-term solution?
Argument For: He has played first base semi-regularly in parts of his career, most recently in 2011. Moving Murph from second base will allow Jordany Valdespin or Wilmer Flores to pick up regular time in the infield.
Argument Against: While he does have the experience, no one would count Murph’s time at first base as major-league caliber. He’s picked up second base well over the past season and a half, and moving him out of position for an extended period of time could result in fielding relapse.
May 29, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Lucas Duda (21) doubles to deep left allowing two runners to score during the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mets won 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Argument For: With Davis’s descend from the major-league roster, Duda is the Mets’ last left-handed power threat, therefore his spot in the starting lineup is not threatened. A natural first baseman, Big Dude could free up left field to someone of actual major-league outfielding ability.
Argument Against: Never mind that moving Duda out of his learned position presents the same problem as moving Murphy out of second base. The bigger issue is that the Mets have no other options in the outfield aside from cycling through guys who are nothing more than great bench players.
Argument For: New York’s everyman has been patient for a season and a half since his breakout 2011, so why not reward him with another chance at regular playing time? Manning first base will be no problem since most of Justin’s 2013 starts have been there.
Argument Against: We already know what Turner is capable of, and while he’s a solid bat off the bench, he doesn’t have the power or speed the Mets need to find for the future. Plus, what if he throws out his pie arm? We certainly can’t let John Buck take over duties again.
Mar 11, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores (61) during the game against the New York Mets at Joker Marchant Stadium. The Mets beat the Tigers 11-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Argument For: The 21-year-old Venezuelan has ascended the minor-league latter at an impressive rate and is having a big year in Las Vegas. While he isn’t a first baseman by trade, in a de facto tryout atmosphere, better to give Flores some major league reps sooner rather than later.
Argument Against: Now in his sixth season in the Mets’ organization, Flores has played exactly nine games at first base. By all means he should be called up, but stick him at second base or shortstop where he might have a chance of sticking with the team deep into the decade. (Note: Flores hasn’t played regularly at shortstop since 2011, but it’s much more comparable to second than is first, and with Ruben Tejada’s recent struggles, it’s worth a shot giving Wilmer an audition there.)
Who gets the job?
The most likely course of action, at least over the next week or so, will be Josh Satin getting his turn to see what he can do. If I were in charge, however, I would move Lucas Duda back to first base, his natural position.
Folks may see his .228 batting average and say he’s not much better than Ike, but the major difference is that Duda, unlike Davis, has a high on-base percentage and is on pace to hit 29 home runs in 2013 (never mind he’ll drive in less than 60 runs – Dave Kingman much?). Power numbers like that would make up for his atrocious outfielding skills, let alone justify him as a full-time major-league first baseman.
Moving Daniel Murphy to first would be a viable option as well, so long as he doesn’t spend too much time away from second. That will open up the position for Wilmer Flores, who can split his time between the two inner infield positions for the rest of the season.
The New York Mets don’t have much depth in most of their everyday positions, but they are fortunate to have an influx of capable first baseman on roster. The next few months will tell us whether the position becomes locked down beyond this season or if it becomes the next outfield: subpar through and through.