By Rich Coutinho
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I have covered the Mets since 1984, and I should really know better, but this Ike Davis firestorm that surfaced yesterday is off the charts even for the fishbowl that is New York City. I will simply say this: I have personally not seen any evidence that Davis does not listen to coaches, or that he stays out too late and that it has affected his play on the field. Everything else is just conversation and more precisely, hearsay conversation.
Please understand I am not saying in any shape or form that trading Davis is an impossibility. If Sandy Alderson could address two needs with trading him, I am sure he would consider it. And quite frankly he should, if for instance he could get a bat plus bullpen help or a catcher in return.
The tricky part is that this is a player still under the team’s control, and that makes him valuable. But I am more concerned about the “other stuff” that surfaced yesterday. And as always, I will tell you what I know.
I have been through three Spring Training with Davis, and I see a player who shows up on time, puts his work in, interacts with both teammates and coaches and cares about his progress as a player. That being said, I know the Mets have employed this mantra of patience at the plate, driving up pitch counts and working the at-bat. I do not necessarily disagree with that strategy, but like all theories it is not the right approach for EVERY hitter.
Much like a schoolteacher, the batting coach must find the best way to utilize a player’s skills for the best results. In the case of Davis, I would think taking pitch after pitch would diminish his greatest strength — power. And once pitchers get wise to the approach of taking pitches, they will put you in tough 1-2 or 0-2 counts, increasing the chances of a strikeout and decreasing the chances of an extra-base hit.
There has also been far too much tinkering done with the batting stance of Davis, an in my opinion, that is just one more thing he has to worry about in the batter’s box.
With some players, that is something they need to worry about, especially those who are singles hitters. But in the case of a power hitter, just let him reside in the batter’s box and let him hack. History has shown us that when you let Davis do that, he can put up some good power numbers.
The thing that leaves me scratching my head about yesterday is a simple question: If the Mets really are thinking of trading Davis, why would they let a story like this leak out? Depending on the source (and we do not know who that is) maybe they have a “hidden agenda,” because a story like this could only decrease his trade value — not increase it.
That is what makes these “rumors” about after-hours so hard to believe. I have gotten to know Davis pretty well in the last three years, and I can tell you that I am pretty impressed with him as a player and as a person. He is still a relatively young player, but 25 home run-guys don’t grow on trees in the post-steroid era, and this Mets team doesn’t have a lot of power either on their current roster or in the organization.
But what really makes me mad is why this source revealed these issues to the press. What good can come of it for the organization? Even if you want to trade him for whatever reason (and I personally would not), how does an information leak like this help in those efforts? If you could figure that one out, you are a lot smarter than me.
Who do you think is behind this leak, and what is their motivation (if there is one)? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…