Reese Kaplan - If At First You Don't Succeed...


As the Mets have uncharacteristically played out the shopping of Ike Davis in the media, it occurred to me that there is a far more complex dynamic at play here than merely finding a taker for Davis and his projected $4 million salary. 

By most accounts the approach the team will likely be taking is installing a platoon of Lucas Duda (and his projected $2 million salary) along with right handed hitting complement Josh Satin.  Let’s take a look at those splits:

Versus right handed pitchers, Duda produced 12 HRs, 22 RBIs, walked 39 times and struck out 65 times in 274 ABs while hitting .240.  His OBP was a respectable .365 and his slugging was .462 with an OPS of .831.  These numbers are not awful, but even if you doubled them to simulate a full season’s production that’s 24 HRs and only 44 RBIs.  How is that even possible?  The OBP is somewhat pointless when the big man produced a grand total of zero stolen bases. 

Josh Satin had just 94 ABs vs. lefties last year, but hit for a .317 average while producing just 1 HR and 7 RBIs.  If you extrapolated that over a full season of hitting exclusively against lefties he would generate 6 HRs and 42 RBIs.  He has just a single stolen base for the season, so speed is not part of his game either. 

To be generous (rounding up), the sum total of these parts is probably around 20 HRs and 50 RBIs.  While the HR total is respectable, the RBI total would be one of the worst in all of organized baseball. 

By contrast, Andrew Brown produced more power and RBIs than Josh Satin did but at a much lower .234 batting average.  He’s not much help, either.

Wilmer Flores’ major league debut got off to a roaring start with 9 RBIs in his first 27 ABs.  Obviously he couldn’t possibly sustain that pace (180 RBIs for the season), but he showed his ability to produce runs at the major league level before his ankle injuries struck.  Let’s look at his AAA numbers this past season – in 463 ABs he struck out just 63 times, hit .321, clubbed 15 HRs and led the league with 86 RBIs.  He hit against both lefties and righties, too – no platoon needed. 

As Sesame Street’s Big Bird routinely preached while teaching young people to think, “One of these things is not like the others.  Which one is different?”

Flores played 79 games at 2B and 11 at 1B.  Probably his best position is 3B, but that one is currently occupied.  That leaves either of the right side positions available.  Daniel Murphy also plays both of those positions and produces good offense.  Mix and match.  Find out who does the least defensive damage at one of the positions and use the other one to fill the vacancy that remains.  Best of all, he costs major league minimum. 

If I was Sandy Alderson I’d be pushing as hard as possible to trade Lucas Duda along with Ike Davis and I’d be having second thoughts about Josh Satin and Andrew Brown, too.  Restock the lower minors if necessary, but don’t make them a part of the future.  None of these players are going to contribute much towards winning ballgames.  None play good defense.  None do much with the bat.  None have any speed.  They are eminently replaceable (and in the case of Davis and Duda – at considerably less money that can be used to fund a new shortstop or an extra bullpen arm). 

It seems to me the Mets lived with Keith Hernandez and his 9-18 home runs per season during his Mets career.  John Olerud produced 19-22 during his Mets career.  You can thrive without a 32 home run hitter at 1st base.  It can be done.  Ask the Rays about James Loney or the Royals about Billy Butler (yes, I know he plays a lot of DH).  However, that’s my Christmas wish for the Mets – a full time job for a young hitter like Wilmer Flores. 

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.  


Mack Ade said...

A very good point, Reese.

Playing Murphy/Flores on the right side of the infield and trading both Davis/Duda could add a couple of prospect-type future players at the Dom Smith level.

You could hold on to Satin to back up both of them.

BTW... I'm told that the main reason Ike isn't gone already is because Sandy is demanding a return based on what Davis has done in the past (32 HRs 2-years ago; stats in 2nd half of 2013).

What always surprises me here is if Sandy thought so much about him why doesn't he just keep and play him (unless he feels Davis has the Mets in his head).

Good read.

Reese Kaplan said...

Thanks, Mack.

When is the last time the Mets handed a job to a rookie with the full intention of giving him every opportunity to sink or swim? This year Travis d'Arnaud is in that enviable position, but in the past Mets' rookies (on the offensive side of the ledger) seemed only to get a shot when injuries or incompetence forced the club's hand. Ike Davis didn't start out as the 1st baseman -- Mike Jacobs did. Daniel Murphy was an afterthought. Juan Lagares came up when other options didn't succeed. Who was the last one -- David Wright?

Anonymous said...

See the only thing I worry about is that both Murphy and Flores are limited in terms of range.

Both play farther back on the infield dirt in order to compensate this. However when there's a guy on first and Flores has to cover him, I don't think he has the foot speed to get back into proper postion.

That's why Murphy and Davis are a perfect combo. Davis covers a ton of ground at 1B and can make up for Murphy's range issues.

You just can't start two defensively challenge players on the same side of the infield.

Reese Kaplan said...

You could always shift Wright to 1B. After all, the Yankees made A-Rod move in deference to Jeter. :)

greg b said...

If the mets can get a dom smith type prospect for Davis and Duda id be shocked.

Mack Ade said...

Chris brings up a good point defensively.

Speed is essential on the field.

I was a great 3Bman (sucked at hitting :)... and because of my speed (leadoff hitter... stealer), I always played near the inner grass line and hugged the foul line.

I had no problems hitting the hole and snagging grounders nor reacting to speed hit directly at my position.

Bad fielders just can't do this. They play back and let the balls come to them.

Mack Ade said...

Greg -

I didn't mean "at the Dom Smith talent level"

I meant at the "Dom Smith affiliate level"

bill metsiac said...

A few corrections here---

A-Rod was NOT "forced" by the Yankees to move to 3B. He was offered a contract as a FA, which included the stip that it was for a 3Bman. SS was taken, by A-Rod's (at the time) good friend. He willingly signed the deal instead of going elsewhere to remain a SS.

If we're talking about "forced" moves, I can point to 2---both involving Jose Reyes. When the Mets signed Matsui, JR had to move to 2B, where he would've remaiined had Matsui lived up to his billing.

A few years later, when JR signed with the Marlins, Hanley Ramirez was forced to move to 3B.

Neither of these scenarios applied to A-Rod.

As for the Mets giving "Sink or Swim" chances to young players, I guess we have short memories. Have we all forgotten the immortal Collin Cowgill, who was handed the CF job based on a hot ST? He held the job thru April, finally losing it as of May 1, after a 1-16 skid put his BA at .157.

A year earlier, after an Opening Day injury to Carlos Torres, the CF job was handed to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Unlike Cowgill, Kirk produced well enough to keep the job until mid-June, when a hole the size of a basketbnall opened in his bat. Until then, he was being hailed as the "next big thing" in NY, a future star who would be our CFer for years to come.

I do not want Flores rushed ahead of his time, particularly if it means being the RH part of a 1B platoon, a position he's had precious little experience playing.

He's still only 22, and a stint as the everyday 1Bman at Wally Workd won't hurt him, while Satin and Davis/Duda show what they can do at Citi. If they fail to produce by the end of May, and Flores is producing at Vegas, bring him up and give him the full-time job.

He's got too much potential to be playing here 25% of the time and not getting the hance to learn the position.

Reese Kaplan said...

I thought it was clear I was joking about moving Wright.

Second, after Captain Hook proclaimed Cowgill the starter, he got the hook after 3 games. How many did Rick Ankiel, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, etc. get until they were yanked? It seems if you have a track record of proven mediocrity, that earns you patience, but if you have the need for patience as a younger player then you are put into a position to succeed immediately or have your butt glued to the bench.

Mack's Mets © 2012