By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper
Perhaps one of the most telling things about this 2011 Mets team is that though first baseman Ike Davis has not played a game since his collision in the field with David Wright on May 10, Davis is still second on the team in home runs, with 7, behind Carlos Beltran’s team-leading 14.
If rumors are to be true, Beltran’s days in a Mets uniform are numbered, peppered with a few “IFs” and “WHENs.” As an example, Jose Reyes returned to the lineup on Tuesday (tonight). David Wright is progressing well in rehab, and should theoretically return this weekend. Though the Mets have not been offensive juggernauts (especially against S.U.C.K. M.E. – Shaky Unknown Chuckers Kill Mets Everytime – candidate Clay “Don’t call me Sherman” Hensley in the Marlins game…in his first start!) the last few days, they’ve also been listless without Beltran and Reyes in the lineup. Perhaps it may lean towards losing Reyes as well, but what would happen when Beltran goes? Well, David Wright comes back in the lineup. But then goes the protection of Jason Bay in the lineup.
We can talk in circles all day about the pros and cons of trading Beltran (well, at least I can talk in circles about it), but the reality is, something needs to change. The Mets realistically won’t compete this year. That’s fine. If that means trading Beltran to recoup some of the value in his contract, so be it.
But what if Ike Davis doesn’t return this season?
Without Beltran in the lineup going forward, we can say there is no bona fide slugger in the lineup, no real power threat left. Jason Bay used to drive in runs, David Wright could hit home runs. We have no idea how they will play along one another with a healthy Reyes and no healthy Beltran.
We’re in serious trouble though, without an Ike Davis return. This may sound fatalistic, but I feel it’s realistic. The team has operated below 100% for far too long, since prior to the injury-ridden 2009 (we could argue 2007, when Plan A, Plan B and Plan C to improve the team – Barry Zito, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Moises Alou didn’t work out).
Sure, we can fool ourselves into thinking Daniel Murphy is an everyday player and a future second baseman. Ruben Tejada is making us forget that we have him for his defense. Fact: Justin Turner is a bench guy. Look, it’s okay to have these realizations. We’ll see some respite when David Wright returns and especially when Jose Reyes comes into the lineup. Perhaps with them healthy, Bay will see better pitches and start to perform, and we’ll see one last hoo-rah with Beltran, Reyes and Wright as the “core.”
But if Ike Davis doesn’t return, there goes the power, there goes any potential of driving in multiple runs in a game. Wright and Bay are supposed to do that, but without protection, it’s so easy to pitch to them.
To be honest, I don’t see Ike Davis returning this year. Not so much to do with his rehab, but I just don’t see the point if he has to return in August. Just shut him down for the rest of the season. Yet, the Mets can’t really afford to have him out, just because he is truly the only power threat in the lineup without Beltran once he goes.
I still believe the Mets are to be a .500 team, but there are so many black holes in the lineup, the loss of Ike Davis for the season would not be a good one either way, whether or not Beltran stays.