Ike Davis is still a New York Met. Despite months of dangling the inconsistent slugger the past two months, Sandy Alderson has failed to find any takers for Davis. Reports have had teams like Milwaukee and Baltimore inquiring the Mets for a deal, but nothing ever materialized. Lucas Duda, in the meantime, has been getting in shape periodically at a fitness camp in Ann Arbor, Michigan most likely with the idea he was to take over as the everyday first baseman this season. However, as the calendar approaches February, his only realistic competition, Davis, is still looming on the roster. Recently, Alderson has said Duda will “expect to get some time in the outfield, but that will be decided in spring training.” That statement could garner some logic with the hopes of getting Davis and Duda both in the lineup…but don’t bet it on it.
It would be logical to emphasize the latter part of Alderson’s statement, especially the word “decided.” The Mets have over $20 million dollars allocated on two free agent outfielder acquisitions for next year in Curtis Granderson and Chris Young. While it can be easily assumed Granderson will be an everyday contributor, Alderson has publically said that C.Young will get significant playing time as well. Once you stir into the mix National League stolen base leader Eric Young, and the gold glove caliber Juan Lagares, it really makes little sense to add the Bunyanesque Duda to the corps that will patrol Citi Field’s mass expanses. Duda has proven to be a liability in the outfield, and sitting two of the projected outfielders would not be maximizing the roster’s full potential.
There are still about three weeks until players have to report to spring training. The scope of the 25 man roster is becoming clearer, but the possible co-existence of Davis and Duda is still very much unclear. The devotion of roster spots to both first basemen doesn’t seem to maximize the value of the roster in any way. If Duda is going to be a Met, his job is to play first base on a semi-daily basis, with Josh Satin spelling him on days a tough lefty starts against them. A three way platoon and spot starts for Duda in the outfield would look to be regressive options for a team looking to progress. If a competition does ensue for the first base job, it should end before Opening Day. Davis and Duda have already displayed inconsistency, and although much of it is due to their mechanics and approach, sensitive egos seem to be hovering under the surface. One of them will need to grab the job and run with it. If Davis wins the job, Duda needs to be traded or vice versa.
At a public relations perspective, it makes sense to say Duda will get some outfield work. Alderson cannot come right out and say only Duda OR Davis will be on the Opening Day roster, it wouldn’t be practical. Rest assured though, when March 31st rolls around, and Mets fans watch the pre-game announcements of the players at Citi Field, don’t bet on hearing both of their names.