loss in Pittsburgh tonight was bad enough, considering that they managed to fritter away a 4-0 lead with Santana on the mound against the Pirates. But in reality, it shouldn't be a great surprise, seeing as how games like this always seem to happen to the Mets against Pittsburgh, and yet nobody seems to react with the alarm they should. Maybe this year, it's not necessary. The Mets will, in general, run hot and cold and just skirt the edges between respectability and mediocrity. Given that several key pieces in the lineup are injured, it's a little too hard to be too up in arms. Ruben Tejada still seems to be a way off. Jason Bay and Josh Thole are close. And the vacated Mike Pelfrey spot in the rotation still appears to be a mystery, with Jeremy Hefner set to fill the role next.
The real troubling thing with the Mets this season hasn't been the play as a whole. They get guys stepping up every night and doing something. What's troubling is the play of specific individuals who were counted on to produce. Specifically, I mean Ike Davis.
Ike didn't start tonight in Pittsburgh, against a tough lefty in Erik Bedard. At the beginning of this season, a move like that would have seemed unfathomable. After a solid Rookie season, Davis started off the 2011 season gangbusters before an unfortunate collision in Colorado derailed him. But there was no reason to think he wouldn't rebound strongly. He played well in Spring Training this season, despite the Valley Fever diagnosis, and left no reason to believe he wouldn't live up to the expectations placed on him as the slugging First Baseman who hits cleanup.
But the whistle blew and Ike never got it going. At first, it just seemed like a slow start and we figured he'd get it together. He showed some flashes of power. He played well during the first road trip. But he couldn't keep it going consistently. Now, it's almost 2 months into the season and Ike is hitting .161. He leads the team in Home Runs, but with a measly 5, and that's not really saying much since the Mets don't really hit Home Runs. He's been dropped in the lineup. Now, he's being benched against left-handed pitchers. His swing has become miles long and loopy, and his timing seems completely off. Pitches he was hammering last season are now being rolled toward the second baseman or lazy flies. The hope was that, like most hitters, he'd right himself, but that hasn't happened.
It's now gotten to the point where if he doesn't snap out of this soon, Ike may find himself shipped off to the Minors when Jason Bay returns. And who would have thought Jason Bay would have ever been the better option than Ike Davis? But with Ike at 3 for his last 31 and flailing away at everything, he appears to be the odd man out. Jason Bay hasn't exactly endeared himself to anyone in his first 2+ seasons, but before he got hurt, he at least looked like he was coming around. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has played far too well to be sent down. Lucas Duda hasn't been gangbusters, but he's hit more than Ike, and could also be a likely candidate to play 1st if Ike is demoted.
The longer this continues, with Ike being the head of a gaping black hole at the bottom of the Mets lineup, the more they're going to suffer. Something's got to give at some point. It's unfortunate, because Ike has held his head high through all of this. He's remained a fan favorite despite his failures (and of course meets with The Ballclub's approval as a fellow Landsman). But the Mets can't afford to wait too much longer for him to come around.