By Joe Giglio
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Ike Davis’ season is spiraling out of control, leaving Met fans and baseball analysts to dissect his game on an at-bat by at-bat basis. His fall from the 32 HR, 90 RBI slugger that emerged in the second half of 2012 to the listless, confused shell of himself has spurred endless discussion about a possible demotion to Las Vegas, what he has to do to stay in the big leagues and what is best for his future.
Unfortunately for Davis, he has more to worry about than opposing pitchers, his plate discipline and the unforgiving walls at Citi Field. His own organization, led by general manager Sandy Alderson, has allowed his every movement to become a referendum on a potential demotion to Triple-A.
Of course, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to the Davis conundrum. The only wrong approach is allowing day-by-day results, in a game meant to be taken in long-term context, to guide franchise changing decisions.
At this point, most would agree that a few weeks away from New York would be a positive step for Davis. The friendly parks of the Pacific Coast League could lead to a boost in confidence before returning late in June or near the All-Star break to assume his position as the first baseman of the future in Queens.
The other side of the equation is the potential harm it could do to Davis’ already damaged psyche.
For a player who had to convince management he shouldn’t be demoted around this time last year, his removal from the major league roster could signal a lack of trust in his skills and leave Ike in limbo about when he’ll return. Furthermore, if Ike continues his funk at Triple-A, when would he be allowed to return?
Despite the dreadful start to this season, Davis is a major leaguer. At this juncture, he’s not performing like it, but that doesn’t mean the franchise can’t unearth that talent again at some point soon.
What needs to be done — before breaking down his swing, clearing his head, or talking to hitting instructors — is simple: Make a decision, Alderson.
If upper management believes Las Vegas is necessary, send him now. Waiting to evaluate another few at-bats, likely strikeouts at this point, won’t fix the problem or give a glimpse into a real solution. Instead, it’s going to further make this decrepit Mets season about a single player’s struggles. As bad as Ike has been, that’s not fair.
If Terry Collins and David Wright, Ike’s supporters last year, truly believe he’s their best option in the lineup right now, he should stay and be given a full complement of at-bats this summer to right himself.
Delaying a decision just mounts the pressure further on Davis’ slumping shoulders. It’s short-sighted approach by a tenured, successful executive who was brought in to oversee a rebuilding process that was sure to feature many decisions of this ilk.
An announcement by Alderson that Ike won’t be heading down to the minor leagues at all this season would allow the sharks to circle around different issues, allowing Davis the opportunity to relax with the knowledge this process is a six month endeavor, not a 20 at-bat try out.
Sending him down tomorrow would end the circus, putting the struggles out of sight and out of mind for the foreseeable future.
Regardless of what side of the Ike Davis debate you lie on, there’s one thing we all can agree on: It’s time for the ringmaster of the circus to put an end to the speculation and reports. Make a decision now. The future of a potentially productive player on a winning team hangs in the balance.
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