By now you have most likely heard the news that the Mets plan to demote Mike Baxter, Robert Carson and Ike Davis, with an official announcement coming Monday morning. If it took being embarrassed by the last-place Marlins for these very necessary steps to happen then that seems like a small price to pay to make the team better. Carson should never have been on the roster in the first place and Davis should have been sent down at the end of April.
It was a strange combination of stubbornness and wishful thinking that kept Carson and Davis on the roster this long. It’s hard to divvy up the responsibility between Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson but ultimately the blame has to fall on the GM for these counterproductive players being kept in the majors. It is fine for the manager to show loyalty to his players but at some point the general manager has to say that they are simply not performing to major league standards.
Carson leaves with an 8.50 ERA with 8 HR in 18 IP. That’s the third-worst ERA for any reliever in the majors with at least 15 IP. Davis leaves with a .500 OPS with 66 Ks in 186 ABs. Davis was in a neck-and-neck race with Jeff Keppinger for the worst OPS among full-time players, a fact made worse by the knowledge that Keppinger is a second baseman.
Getting rid of these players is not going to magically transform the Mets into playoff contenders. But hopefully it’s a sign that this is rock bottom and that sub-par results will no longer be tolerated just because you were counted on for a big year, like Davis, or were a pet project of the manager, like the lefty-throwing Carson.
Results matter to those of us who follow and live and die with the team on a daily basis. We had no illusions of a World Series title in 2013 but we did have expectations of competitive baseball. And an 8.50 ERA and a .500 OPS fell well short of those modest expectations.
The bottom line is that we were sick of the excuses and the rationale for these types of poor performance. Are Carson and Davis the fall guys – in some sense, yes. But in the grand scheme of things, they were problems that needed to be dealt with and action was needed long before now.
Carson needs to spend the rest of the year in Triple-A, trying to find success in a larger sample than 16 IP. That doesn’t seem like a huge hurdle to clear yet it’s something that Carson hasn’t done since he was in A-ball in 2009. As for Davis, hopefully he goes to the minors and hits the cover off the ball. If three weeks from now he has a 1.000 OPS then we would welcome him back with open arms.
With Davis, my desire was never to bury him or give up on him. Rather it was an attempt to try something else to get through to him. Playing in the major leagues was not making things any better. Maybe a trip to the minors is what he needs. Maybe it’s extended Spring Training. Perhaps it’s two weeks on a deserted island. Whatever Davis needs, the Mets should try to give it to him. It is unfortunate that whatever the secret to get him untracked this year is wasn’t happening at the major league level.
And for those who think that Davis was on the verge of breaking out, take another look at what he’s done recently. Starting with his two-hit game against the Braves (where one of the hits was a gift from the official scorer), Davis was 8-for-37, for a .216 AVG. And this came while being protected from facing too many southpaws.
Now the speculation turns to who replaces them. Hopefully the Mets move Lucas Duda to first base. Duda gets an “A” for his willingness to attempt to play the OF but he’s simply not an MLB-quality outfielder, no matter how much they tried to pretend otherwise the past few years. If the Mets move Duda to first base, then they get a free pass from me on who they call up. Either way, we find out Monday who gets the call to Flushing.
Throughout this piece, there’s been almost no mention of Baxter. But he was not getting the job done, either. Sure, he will always have a special place in Mets’ fans heart for his fearlessness in running into the wall to preserve the team’s first no-hitter. But this is the time for accountability and Baxter needs to be treated the same as anyone else on the team.
The bottom line is that while today was another horrific loss to the lowly Marlins, it was still a good day because management finally took some steps towards making the major league team better. And may this newfound accountability continue as we go forward, with no sacred cows in either the dugout or the front office.