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On Ike Davis

April 19, 2010

The Mets announced that they have called up first baseman Ike Davis from Triple-A Buffalo and Mr. Davis will probably start tonight at Citi Field. This seemed inevitable after the Mets designated Mike Jacobs for assignment following the 20-inning game on Sunday.

The last Mets infield prospects to be this hyped up were Jose Reyes (2003) and David Wright (2004). Wright and Reyes turned out fine, and if the Mets decide to stick with Davis through thick and thin and let him get acclimated his first few weeks instead of giving up on him if he doesn’t produce immediately, a la Fernando Martinez and Lastings Milledge, he can really give the Mets a jolt that they desperately need, or at least give them steady enough production to help the Mets score runs and win games.

Keep in mind, however, that when Reyes and Wright came up, it was midseason and the Mets were already far out of contention. Right now, it is two weeks into the season and I don’t expect the Mets to be nearly as patient if Davis doesn’t produce, as they are trying to “win now.” Personally, I’d take a few 0-fers from Davis if it means he’s maturing. Both Reyes and Wright were hitting under .200 at some point during the first few weeks of their respective careers before they found their niche.

Once Daniel Murphy gets back, the Mets will have a tough decision to make, as Murph went into this season looking for his own period of growth and maturity before his injury and the Mets had originally planned for Mike Jacobs to be the temporary, or in a best-best-best-case scenario the powerfully productive permanent, fix. Now that Davis is here, if the Mets play him everyday like they should, he needs to stay there, and hopefully will produce enough to keep the job. If Davis’ production slips ever so slightly when Murph returns, there is a chance Murphy will pull a Xavier Nady and Davis will be Victor Diazed out of a starting job. If that is the case, he needs to be sent down immediately to get everyday playing time with Buffalo. No ifs, ands or buts.

The main reason I am concerned about the Murphy situation is this: when Reyes wasn’t producing after he first came up, someone – I don’t remember who, but I think it was Cliff Floyd – put his hand on Reyes’ shoulder and said, “get comfortable, you’re gonna be here for a while.” That sense of security is essential for a rookie to succeed, and I don’t think Davis will be any exception. Only time will tell whether the Mets are ready to do that.
I am personally excited that what could end up being the Davis era is dawning. If he doesn’t start tonight, I think it’d be a little ridiculous on the Mets’ part. As for Murphy, if Davis does indeed stick at first, I hope the Mets trade him somewhere where he can develop and be a starter on his own. A decent target may be Toronto, where first base incumbent Lyle Overbay is currently batting .080 with no homers and three RBI. If they don’t, I hope he at least can learn second base adequately enough to fill in for Castillo and Davis to get playing time Dave Magadan-style; after all, Magadan is who comes to mind when I think of the type of player Murphy is and can be.

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