For the second straight season, New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis is going through a profound slump at the start of the season. Last year, the Mets considered sending Davis to the minor leagues to try to break out of his slump, but ultimately decided to let him work through his issues in the majors.
If Davis doesn’t turn things around soon, the Mets will once again have to consider demoting him; however, for purely logistical reasons, the Mets can’t afford to send Davis to the minors.
It’s possible for Mets manager Terry Collins to leave Davis out of the lineup against lefties, as Justin Turner is capable of playing first base once or twice a week, with outfielder Andrew Brown being an option as well. But, neither player is a true first baseman capable of replacing Davis for an extended period of time, nor do the Mets have a first baseman in the minors that could fill in.
Davis being in the minors also eliminates the possibility of using him as a late-inning defensive replacement or a late-inning pinch hitter that has home run power, two ways that Davis can be valuable to the Mets, even if he’s taken out of the starting lineup a few times per week.
Another option, and perhaps the best option, would be to move Lucas Duda to first base in Davis’ absence, as first base is Duda’s best position. However, if Duda were to move to first base, it would create a big hole in the Mets’ outfield, where Duda has been a constant presence in left field this season.
The Mets have struggled to find consistent production from two outfield spots, and moving Duda to first base would force them to find three outfielders on a nightly basis to put in the lineup with little certainty of production from any of them.
Essentially, taking Davis out of the lineup for an extended period of time would be swapping his production for the Mets fourth best outfield option on any given night, while also sacrificing a lot on the defensive end.
It’s not as if the Mets have any first base prospects that could be a permanent, or even temporary, substitute for Davis. So while it seems obvious that Davis needs to do something to get back on track and a demotion to the minors may be necessary, the Mets are simply not in position to do that.
Even as he continues to struggle, the Mets need to keep Davis in New York while he works out his issues at the plate.