NEW YORK -- The Mets began the season without their shortstop, their center fielder and their first baseman.
Then they told everyone how important it was that they get off to a good start. More than that, they gave everyone the impression that their manager's job security depended on getting off to a good start.
New York Mets
Recap: Mets 6, Cubs 1
No, it doesn't make any sense. But as one Mets-connected person told me when I tried to make sense of it, "Hey, it's the Mets. You can't use logic."
So when the Mets tell you that they're calling up 23-year-old Ike Davis two weeks into the season, the first thought is that they're panicking after a 4-8 start. And when the Mets tell you that they don't need Davis to be a savior, your first thought is no, that's exactly what the Mets are asking Davis to be.
And if you think that makes no sense, you need to remember: It's the Mets. You can't use logic.
Sunday night, the Mets made sure everyone knew that Davis was about to be promoted. And yet they didn't tell Davis himself until after batting practice Monday in Buffalo, making sure that 1) he had to rush to New York for his first game, Monday night at Citi Field against the Cubs, and 2) there was no way his parents could make the trip from the West Coast to see him play.
Not that big a deal, perhaps, but still, it makes no sense. Except: It's the Mets. You can't use logic.
|Ike Davis is forced to travel with extreme short notice before getting a single in his debut at-bat with the New York Mets. (AP)|
This is a team where Reyes (still playing himself into shape after missing most of spring training) can announce that he's "not ready" to hit third, even though he's ready to lead off.
As it turned out, Reyes wasn't ready to bat anywhere in the Mets lineup for Davis' Monday night debut, pronouncing himself "a little tired." Manuel, meanwhile, promised that Tuesday will be "the beginning of [Reyes] beginning to take off."
It's all a little nuts, starting with the idea that this undermanned Mets team should be playing a whole lot better than it has been. As one realistic Mets person admitted Monday, the team the Mets have put on the field for the first two weeks of the 2010 season is "similar to 2009 -- but they're playing with more fire."
There was a little fire Monday, at least enough to push the Mets past the truly disappointing Cubs, 6-1 (with Davis contributing two of the nine hits and one seventh-inning RBI).
The fire may not be enough to keep Manuel from getting fired, especially if the Citi Field crowds remain as small as it was on Monday. The talk shows and some of the newspaper columns are already calling for the Mets to replace Manuel with Bobby Valentine, and no team in baseball worries more about talk shows and columnists than the Mets do.
Ownership put Manuel (and general manager Omar Minaya) on notice after last season, supposedly giving Manuel a reprieve because they understood how much last year's team was hurt by injuries. And yet, when injuries forced Manuel to use an opening day lineup so weak that Alex Cora was leading off and Mike Jacobs was batting cleanup, the Mets spread the word that a fast start was mandatory.
No wonder that, with Mets first basemen combining for a .143 batting average, with one home run and three RBI in 12 games, Manuel admits that he lobbied to get Davis called up.
"When you hear a guy down there is hitting tape-measure shots, you kind of put a hint in," Manuel said, adding that the hint was, "I need a little help."
Davis should provide the Mets with a little help, even if it's not as much as a fan base frustrated by the success of the Yankees and Phillies is hoping for. Scouts who have seen him play don't put him anywhere near the Jason Heyward category -- Baseball America calls him the third-best first-base prospect in the NL East (behind Florida's Logan Morrison and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman) -- but he is expected to be a good big league player.
Even if he doesn't hit right away, he'll at the very least be a defensive improvement over the Jacobs/Fernando Tatis platoon. And with the barely mobile Luis Castillo playing second base, the Mets could use a first baseman who can catch the ball.
The Mets aren't really sure Davis is ready for this, which is one reason they had him begin the season in Buffalo rather than New York. The other reason is that when the season began, they thought that Daniel Murphy's stay on the disabled list might be rather short.
Now, two weeks later, they know that the Jacobs/Tatis platoon wasn't working. They know that Murphy has just begun what Minaya called "limited baseball activity," and is still weeks away from returning.
So even if the decision to have Davis begin the season in the minors made sense, it's reasonable to say that the decision to promote him now makes sense, too.
"I didn't think we'd see him this soon," one Mets player said Monday. "But I'm glad he's here."
So, of course, is Manuel.
"I don't see him necessarily as the savior of the deal," Manuel said. "I think we have to be careful about having too high expectations right away. It's difficult for us to ask him to come in and we get on his back and ride him."
No, that wouldn't make sense, any more than it made sense for the Mets to demand that their manager ride this group of players to a quick start this season.
It doesn't make sense, but it's the Mets.
Don't use logic.