Should there be more pine time for Ike Davis?
It's time to make a few changes on the New York Mets. Sure, it's just the second week in May, but with New York languishing in fourth place in the NL East, there is no time like the present to shake things up a little.
Why not? Expectations are pretty low for manager Terry Collins' club anyway. What do they have to lose?
Heading into last night's contest with the White Sox, New York ranked 13th in the National League in batting (.234) and 10th in OBP (.309). They're averaging 4.9 runs per game, which is pretty solid, but they can do even better.
Let's take a look at some changes the Mets should implement to make their offensive lineup and bench more productive.
Jordany Valdepsin seems to have a knack for making things happen
Let's face it—the Mets don't really have a legitimate leadoff hitter. Certainly no one that is going to remind you of Rickey Henderson, that's for sure.
Ruben Tejada has done a decent job in that role, but he's better suited for a spot lower in the order. Manager Terry Collins should give Jordany Valdespin more at-bats in the leadoff spot.
The dynamic Dominican dandy is batting .300 in the No. 1 slot with a .364 OBP. The ball seems to jump off his bat, and the 25-year-old Valdespin is on pace for 24 stolen bases this season. For a team lacking speed, that is an attribute that can't be overlooked.
Valdespin is not without some flaws—he's hitting just .182 against southpaws—but that is in just 11 AB. On the flip side, he's batting .260 against right-handed hurlers with two HR, two doubles and nine RBI in 50 at-bats.
The Mets should make the commitment to giving him more opportunities against all pitchers because of his talent level. He should continue to improve with experience.
Valdespin just seems to have a knack for making things happen.
"He’s exciting," Collins told Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger. "He plays with a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm—especially in crunch time."
Justin Turner has gotten off to a fine start this season
Justin Turner is Mr. Versatility on the Mets. He can play any infield position effectively, and this season is leading the team in hitting with a robust .341 average in 41 at-bats.
This is not a proposal to totally bench Ike Davis at first base. Despite his feeble .177 batting average, that would not be productive, because the Arizona State product did belt 32 home runs last season. Davis should get going eventually, but when exactly is he going to turn his miserable season around?
As presently constituted, he's killing New York with a whopping 33 strikeouts in just 96 AB. That's simply not acceptable.
The Mets should give Turner some more opportunities at first base for now, even against certain right-handers. He's batting .316 against righties this season, and although he does not have anywhere near Davis' power, he can keep rallies alive by making more consistent contact.
It's worth a try until Davis gets his act together. Remember, that did not happen until June last year.
"It’s just a matter of time with Ike for me, ’cause he’s done it," Collins told NorthJersey.com. "He’s got a track record of doing it. I know we keep getting him out there, he’s going to eventually find it."
Juan Lagares needs more seasoning
Manager Terry Collins has done a pretty good job of mixing and matching his lineup for the most part this season. Now it's time to shake up his bench.
Outfielder Juan Lagares looks overmatched at the plate right now. He has just two hits in 18 at-bats (.111) since being called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on April 22. He's not doing himself or the Mets any good withering on the bench, so he needs to be sent back to the 51s so he can play every day.
Catcher Anthony Recker has struggled as well as John Buck's backup. The Allentown, PA, native is hitting a meager .083 in 12 at-bats and also needs to play every day, so a trip back to the Nevada desert will benefit him in the long run.
In their place, general manager Sandy Alderson should promote infielder Josh Satin and catcher Juan Centeno from Las Vegas.
Satin has major league experience and had a solid spring training camp this year. Entering last night's Triple-A game, the 28-year-old Satin was hitting .312 with four HR and 18 RBI in 109 AB. He can be an effective right-handed stick off the pine.
Centeno is a left-handed batter and is hitting .292 along with a .370 OBP in Las Vegas. He handles duties behind the plate well and, despite not having much power, is a good contact hitter that can spray the ball around the field.
These moves aren't going to shake up the National League, but they should improve New York's bench and give Collins more flexibility when he needs to make a move.