MMO Fan Shot: First Base Competition is a Good Thing

An article by posted on January 24, 2014

lucas duda ike davis

An MMO Fan Shot by John C.

Let the competition begin.

While “open competition” has become little more than a cliché for most major league clubs, the Mets being no exception (does anyone other than Chris Young honestly believe center field will be an open competition in 2014?), I believe the first-base battle slated for St. Lucie this spring will be a very real one. I am also naïve enough to think that, barring further visits from the injury and/or weird illness demons, Mets fans will be rewarded with first base production not seen since the Carlos Delgado days.

Here’s how I see it going:

Day 1 of Spring Training: Terry Collins office. In addition to Terry, in the room are Sandy Alderson, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.

Terry: Listen guys, I’m not going to sugar-coat this. First base is an honest-to-God open competition between you two this year. Whoever puts up the best numbers over the next six weeks wins the job, pure and simple.

You two will pretty much play first base on a daily basis. You’ll get equal amounts of time with the A squad and B squad, and you should end up with a similar number of at bats. We’ll have to get Josh and a few others some work there, too, but you guys will see the majority of the playing time.

You may not agree that this is the best way to do it, but tough sh–. You put yourselves in this position and now you have to live with the consequences. You both had ample opportunity over the last couple of years to win the job outright during the regular season, but neither of you took advantage. I’m disappointed about that and you should be too, but what’s done is done. All slates are wiped clean and the only numbers that count are the ones you put up in the next six weeks.

Guys, you both have the ability to be good major league first basemen. It’s time to stop talking about “ability,” though, and to actually go out and do the job. It’s time to put up or shut up, gentlemen. We can’t wait any longer for you to figure it out. The time is now.

Sandy: Yeah, what he said.

Before all you Negative Nellies start piling on Ike and Lucas and assuming we’re doomed, give them a chance. Maybe you’re right and it turns out neither of them will be cut out for the job, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

The bottom line is Ike has proven he can be a productive first baseman, both offensively and defensively, over the course of a season. Why he’s lost his way since the freakish injury sustained when colliding with David on an infield fly a few years ago is anyone’s guess. Let it go and get off his back this spring. Clean the slate and give him this one last chance to prove he can return to the “I Like Ike” t-shirt days. If he fails, so be it. Just hold off on the vitriol and “I-told-you-so” comments until April 1.

As for Lucas, I admit he hasn’t proven anything yet. He’s been susceptible to the breaking ball and is more often than not badly fooled by the pitch. But look at him! When he gets a hold of one, he crushes it – as well he should with that physique. It’s the mental part of the game that has escaped him so far. I don’t know if it’s nerves, lack of confidence or something else, but he’s got to conquer it. The physical ability is unquestionably there; this spring we find out if he can handle the big leagues emotionally and mentally. As with Ike, leave him alone this spring and let him try to work it out. If he can’t, he can’t and everybody moves on.

I just can’t shake this feeling that both men know this is their last chance. If that’s not motivation enough for one or both of them to succeed, I don’t know what is. If one or both can’t get it together this spring, then maybe they just aren’t major leaguers. I refuse to believe that’s the case, though. They both have too much talent.

I’m also banking on the “everything evens out long term” karma this year. We’ve had such bad play at first base the past few years that the odds are we’re due for some good play this year, right? Magical thinking maybe, but we are talking about the Miracle Mets…

So let the competition begin and may the best man win. Seize the day, gentlemen, and shows us what you can do. As the tagline says, Just Do It.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by John C.. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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