DudaThe Mets announced on Friday, April 04, 2014 that Lucas Duda will be the team’s starting first baseman, adding greater confusion to the first base question that has been following the team all winter and through spring training. The announcement is another strange turn in the debacle that the front office has made of the first base situation and hints just a little bit of conspiracy.

Just take a minute to think about the timeline. Rumors began to abound early in the offseason that the Mets preferred Duda to the former first baseman of the future, Ike Davis. The Mets made no secret that they were shopping Davis throughout the offseason and leaks got out that there appeared to have been a trade offer from the Rays involving Matt Joyce for Davis. In addition to the Rays, reports swirled that the Mets were additionally in talks with the Rockies, Pirates, Orioles and Brewers about Davis. Sandy Alderson attempted on multiple occasions to say that Duda was also on the trading block and that multiple teams had asked about both first baseman, yet no perspective trades or suitors were ever presented for Duda. The Mets repeatedly stated that they wanted to have clarification on the situation during the winter, then in spring training, then in some protracted try out during the regular season. Prior to the first game of the season, Terry Collins came out and said that Duda would have played left field in place of Chris Young if not for the ham string pull he’d suffered during the preseason, leading to speculation that Duda would get at bat’s in the outfield so that the Mets could adequately evaluate which (Davis or Duda) was going to be a part of the team moving forward. Now, a scant three games later, Duda has been named the starter.

What makes this decision so suspicious is that Duda  did nothing to earn the job. Duda does not have a hit in the regular season and did not hit will in the preseason. Duda was hurt much of the preseason, so it makes little sense to just hand a healing player a job that he did nothing to receive. What made sense, if The Mets were going to keep both players on the roster, was to give them some level of even playing time and see what happened. Now, presumably, Davis will linger on the bench or be sent to the minor leagues, giving no clarification to the situation outside of the fact that the Mets just seemed to choose Duda.

Another oddity lies in the trade talks. If the Mets really weren’t going to have a competition for the first base job, then why wasn’t Davis traded? Just think about the reported Joyce deal for a second. Acquiring Joyce, and his arbitration eligible salary, would have been a cheaper version of Young and would have allowed the Mets to platoon in left field, so that they could start Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson every day and still get at bat’s for Eric Young Jr. Plus, it would have handled the first base situation and given the job, by default to Duda, which all the signs say after the decision made today, was the Mets plan anyway. Now Davis has even less trade value, which will fall further with a minor league demotion or a long term benching. So, why hold onto him? There isn’t a good answer.

On top of that, for a team so concerned with how they are viewed by the outside world, this situation has been a disaster. The whole thing, from start to finish, makes little sense and makes it appear as if the team doesn’t know what it’s doing.

When you add this into a winless season so far through the first three games, it makes the decision appear that much more conspiratorial. Are we to believe that this was an honest decision made by evaluation or that it was a preordained decision that the Mets are now springing in the hopes that zero and three is put on the back burner as the team finally makes the long awaited first base decision? It’s extremely hard to believe that a choice can be made after two abbreviated spring trainings and three regular season games in which neither player has stood out in anyway.

The only conclusion possible is that Duda was the Mets man from the start of the offseason. Basically, the Mets screwed up. If Duda was the man at the heart of the conspiracy, then Davis should have been dealt long ago. Instead, they’ve damaged both players trade value and the credibility of the organization’s decision making ability.

Who knows? The way this story has played out, Duda could be dropped from the job next Friday, or Josh Satin could all of a sudden be named the starter. Maybe Allan Dysktra will get promoted, dropping Duda and Davis to the waiver wire.

In all honestly, this situation needs to be over and not just with one guy being named the starter over the other. One needs to be on the team and one doesn’t, period. If it’s Duda, then the Mets should jettison Davis and admit afterwards that they mishandled the situation. I’m not going to hold my breath for that press conference.

12 comments on “The Lucas Duda conspiracy

  • Barry

    The Mets were holding out for a blue-chip prospect for Davis because you don’t trade a player who hit 32 MLB HRs for a couple of average players and then have Davis become a monster on another team. I never wanted to trade Davis, but when I saw SA holding out for a top-notch prospect, I understood his thinking.

    No team wanted to risk a blue-chip player for Davis before spring training. Now, with TC saying Davis looks balanced and totally different at the plate, it’s possible other teams’ scouts see the same thing. Maybe a team has relented recently. Maybe NOW they are willing to part with a good prospect.

    So maybe before SA pulls the trigger on a deal for Davis, he wants to make sure Duda is not a dud–after all he’ll be our First Baseman!

    This makes sense to me. What do you think?

  • since68

    My preference is for bot Davis And Duda to go and be done with it.
    Someting is oing on that we don’t know about.

    The bright side…”NO LEAKS”

  • Chris F

    Based on the past 4 years, I wuld have entitled the article: “The Front Office Ineptitude”

    The level of thought required to hatch a conspiracy long outweighs the thinking capacity displayed by this FO.

  • Scott Ferguson

    Barry, I see your point. The Mets just shouldn’t make this decision yet, unless they have a deal on the table for Ike we don’t know about.
    3 games just isn’t enough time to evaluate anybody, whether it’s other teams scouts or the Mets themselves.
    The decision just happened to fast for my liking. I hope they trade one of these two and get something good.I just don’t see how that happens if one is on the bench.
    We’ll see.

  • Mike Koehler

    Three games is way too small a sample size, but at least Ike has the 32 home run season and great defense in his short history. I always felt like Duda was hyped to be an improved Adam Dunn (power and patience at the plate with lumbering defense), but it just hasn’t transpired.

    Unless they have something good brewing for Davis (serious prospect or part of a package for a SS), then it’s time to get rid of Duda one way or another. Having him start is probably the worst solution.

  • Name

    Basically they’re letting Duda decide his fate for probably the first time as a Met. If Duda performs well, then Met fans won’t care about Davis. If Duda fails, then Sandy/TC can comfortably put Davis back as the starting 1b and run with him till the end of the year and not have to worry about calls for putting Duda back into the mix, even if Davis continues to stink.

    • Name

      I forgot to add something.
      We need to tread very carefully when TC names someone as a “starter” though. He did that with Cowgill last year and he started him the 1st 3 games before platooning. The JV “starter experiment” lasted a week, which about how long I give TC letting Duda “start” until he tries something else.

    • Chris F

      Davis is a total loss. I can’t believe he didn’t get DFAd. On one hand there’s this mystical upside that never shows up in the right time (like hitting a bunch of HRs when the team is 20 back and out of contention), and on the other, the guy that needs to re-learn how to hit in AAA when he’s 26 yo. Say anything you want, but those ain’t the hallmarks of a quality everyday MLB 1B.

  • Eric

    Have we ever before seen a team management so blatantly waste a roster spot by having a 2nd left handed first baseman who has never been a bench player, sitting on the bench? Can they not see how utterly stupid this is? Can they further not see that it would be better to have Flores stay up and back up every infield position and develop at this level rather than Quintanilla? Lose Q’s lefty bat and replace it with Wilmer. Lose Davis and replace him with a lefty 5th OF like Den Dekker or Kirk. It really isn’t that hard is it?

  • Metsense

    Davis or Duda should have been traded sometime during the past three years. During that time frame there has been enough oppurtunities to get something of value. It only required a decision to be made, something this front office seems incapable of.

    • pete

      So the FO is paying 6 million dollars+ for three players to play first base. So much for judiciously using your limited budget. If you don’t play Davis then how are you going to get anything of value in return for him? If you use him as a spare part you diminish what ever value he has left (if any). Talk about one gigantic cluster**ck. If we as fans have so little respect for the current management of the Mets, I wonder what other GM’s think of SA and his incompetent cohorts. If the Mets had planned for Duda to be their starting first base man why wasn’t Davis DFAd and save the team 3 million dollars? Time, energy and financial resources that could have been put to better use addressing the bull pen and shortstop.

  • redsoxmaniac

    I think that they were trying to showcase Davis last year, and he had some decent numbers heading into the off-season, but not the ones that can nab you a decent prospect.

    Duda won’t nab you much on the market, even if he produces. They both are awful against lefties (and they have to put up with Minor, G Gonzalez, Hamels, Lee, Alex Wood for at least 10 games a season or sit on the bench), but Ike has shown great power against them even with the hitting weakness. Mets front office sees that Ike is better. And his glove is superior to Duda’s oaffing in the field.

    I think they took the whole great season of Ike too seriously, and thought other GMs would think about the 30+ HRs too. The fact they botched on Joyce is mind-boggling, because it makes the situation seem like they could get more for Davis. At this point, their goal is to have an intermediate until Flores or Smith rises up into that position.

    They need to just deal him before it becomes a negative issue in the clubhouse. You have a guy that you assume is great since you want something good in return, but he isn’t playing. You now have an issue of playing Davis to showcase him, even though you should be starting the season competing for your division. And you have other GMs who are hesitant because these other teams manned their 25 after ST to compete, not to hold 24 in case Ike Davis could end up in their locker room.

    What type of morale would a team that would need Ike Davis have after he comes in and takes a spot of someone who tried hard as hell to make the team? Hard to win a championship when management says “hey, just want to let you know some of those Spring Training spots were just benchwarming positions we kept so we can trade for better people. Good luck tonight!”

    That type of psychology would hurt a rebuilding team even more. Mets will get something out of this, but the game is essentially should we screw up our 25 man team to let people realize we are still rebuilding, or hope some other team gets Davis so they can wreck their locker room too?

    The latter isn’t going to happen. You have 2 extra spots for the playoffs. The Royals have a chance, the Mariners have a chance, The Brewers have a chance. Hell, if the Dodger’s pitching staff isn’t healthy by July, the freakin’ PADRES have a chance!

    So… GMs are gonna play this out. If they can get maybe… a Josh Willingham, or Matt Garza, they’ll bite. But an enigmatic first baseman who has Al Bundy dreams of what he once was? They’ll take a chance on him in June. Essentially agreeing with the article with the most condensed comment ever, but I have the same “WTF” reaction for this situation. Very odd for a team trying at least trying to pretend Washington won’t run away with the NL East this year.

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