There is an elephant in the room when it comes to the New York Mets' first base situation, and it's not the lumbering, 6'4 first baseman hitting 48 points below the Mendoza line.
Ike Davis is struggling. That's no secret. He's struggling at the plate, he's struggling at times in the field, and he's struggling to find any answers at all. Right now, Ike Davis is a mess, and I have no idea how to fix him.
Unfortunately, neither do the Mets.
For the season, (through May 28) Davis is now hitting .152 with a .237 on-base percentage and a .241 slugging percentage. He's got a 33.3% strikeout rate. Think about that. He's literally struck out in a third of his plate appearances, on the nose. It's borderline impressive how incompetent he's been offensively.
Of course, it's no laughing matter to the Mets, who entered spring training with the mindset that they were set at the corner infield spots for the foreseeable future. The 2013 season always has been a year to evaluate who are and aren't the players worth keeping around when the team is ready to contend.
When it comes to the future of the first base position, the elephant in the room has been there for years. You just have to look out towards left field. No, I'm not calling Lucas Duda the elephant in the room. (Though, if you search "Lucas Duda elephant," apparently this picture comes up.)
I've talked about this before, briefly here on TheSheaFaithful, and on Twitter as well. Lucas Duda is not an outfielder. He never has been. He's a natural first basemen, being asked to play out of position by his team, so the Mets can get both Duda and Davis in the lineup on a regular basis. It's not new. But it's not going to stay that way much longer.
Before Ike Davis started to struggle again, the elephant in the room was that Duda would eventually be traded, perhaps for an outfielder that fits Citi Field's dimensions (Brett Gardner, anyone?) better than an out-of-position first basemen in left field.
However, now with Davis struggling so much, to the point that his demotion to the minor leagues appears to be a matter not of "if" but "when," suddenly that proverbial elephant in the room has become a much more complex issue.
What if Duda, not Davis, is the better fit for the Mets long-term? What if Duda, playing back at his natural position, helps the Mets more than Ike Davis would over the next 3-5 years? What if Davis is a poor man's Adam LaRoche? What if even that is an optimistic projection?
Suddenly, the Mets have to decide whether opening up first base for Duda and keeping him there permanently is the best option going forward. It's probably a scenario they've considered, but until now was probably nothing more than a contingency plan.
Well, it might be time to start thinking about that contingency plan.
I'm going to split this post up into multiple parts, because the amount of data analysis I've been doing is too much to add to a post that's already 500+ words long by the end of this sentence. The bottom line is, I can't see a scenario where the Mets enter spring training with both Duda and Davis still on the roster.
One of the D boys is not going to be a Met next year. The other will be playing first base. Barring a surprise acquisition, (and let's face it, first base depth isn't all that difficult to find) I think that's the scenario most of us expect to see.
In part 2 of this post, I offer my thoughts on who should get traded, and why.