The Mets hoped Ike Davis or Lucas Duda would stay healthy, step up and become their primary first baseman during Spring Training.
It didn't happen. They were both hurt and barely played. The competition spilled in to the regular season, where it continued to lack momentum. So, after months of talking with teams about their 'trade value,' the Mets anointed Duda the winner and traded Davis to the Pirates.
“I’m hoping that now Lucas doesn’t have to worry about looking over his shoulder and wonder - if he’s 0-for-4 - whether Ike’s going to play,” Terry Collins said after the trade was announced. “He’s it, so maybe now he can relax and go play.”
Duda failed in a critical spot Saturday, flying out to the warning track with the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning. The next day, with the tying runs on in the ninth, he drew a walk.
“He’s got to go produce,” Collins said Saturday. “He’s our guy. We know what you can do, now let’s go do that."
Based on their production the last few seasons, Duda (against right-handed pitching) and Josh Satin (against left-handed pitching) should be able to hit roughly .250 with a .370 OBP, around 25 home runs and 35 or so doubles.
"This production would make for a well above-average offensive first baseman, tied with Prince Fielder for 11th best OPS among qualified first basemen in 2013," Maggie Wiggin explained last year (MetsBlog, Dec. 2013).
Terry Collins hit Curtis Granderson second Sunday. Duda hit sixth, behind Chris Young. I'd like to see Terry Collins just put Duda in the clean-up spot. It's the role and mindset they want him to have, so let him own it all in one move. Why baby him? He's had enough of that in his career. He's shy and soft-spoken. However, to be where he's at, he's obviously a competitor. He's risen to the challenge every step of his career, which has been riddled with people second-guessing his ability.
Plus, nothing is permanent. If he doesn't work out, he doesn't work out. It's worth noting that Davis was not going to work out either. He looked like someone who had been beaten down and desperately needed a new start. I'm convinced he'll hit 30 home runs again. I'm also convinced it would never have happened here. So, Duda gets his day. Great. He should also get it batting fourth, playing most every day, where he's allowed to stand tall and get the best chance to succeed. And, if he doesn't, Sandy Alderson will eventually move on and see if someone else will...
“If you don’t produce, you’re not going to play no matter what the situation is,” he said. “If I don’t get the job done, then they’ll bring in somebody else. That goes for everybody. That’s how I view it.”