Reaction to the Ike Davis Trade | Astromets Mind

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Reaction to the Ike Davis Trade

            Over this past weekend, the New York Mets announced the trade of long-time Met Ike Davis to the Pirates for AAA relief pitcher Zack Thornton and a player to be named later. The news comes after months of speculation that the Mets would trade Ike Davis. Considering how low his value has fallen the past few years, with long slumps to start the previous two seasons and a season-ending injury the year before that, it is no surprise that he wouldn’t net that much in a trade, but was this too little for Ike?
            The real answer to that question is that it is too early to tell, it is unclear how good the PTBNL will be, though given it is a PTBNL, it is likely someone the Pirates drafted last June, as those are the only players I can think of who would be unavailable for immediate trade – you can’t be traded within a year of being drafted. Still, even with the PTBNL, it does not seem like much of a haul for a 1B once considered the future at the position and the next Keith Hernandez.
Thornton has posted some impressive looking numbers throughout the minors, spending his whole professional career pitching out of the pen and with a low arm slot. He has had better success against righties in the past, though has been no slouch against lefties really.

Table 1 – Thornton platoon splits the past 3 seasons.
2013 v. R
2013 v. L
2012 v. R
2012 v. L
2011 v. R
2011 v. L

             He started his pro career with Oakland in 2010, split 2011 between A and AA, then spent 2012 at A+ before working himself up to AAA in the Pirates system during 2013 (after repeating A+ and AA for the first 2/3 of the season). In total, he had 32 IP at AAA before the trade, so he’s still a bit green. As the chart shows, he has held RHB’s to a much lower OBP (nearly 100 points less) in 2 out of the last 3 seasons. Over the same time, he has seen the relative number of lefties faced decrease – though this could be a result of random sampling, it’s more likely by plan.
If this translates to the major leagues, he could be a very useful and needed piece for the Mets. His control would be a welcome sight for Mets fans given ulcers by all the walks out of the pen the past few seasons, and he clearly has strikeout stuff. If he can replicate this out of the pen, he will be more valuable for the Mets than Ike Davis was on the bench, does that make this trade a win? It certainly makes it a possible upgrade for the 2014 roster, assuming Ike Davis was to stay a bench player (and there is still the PTBNL).
That’s where I was getting a rub initially – I felt like there was no guarantee that Lucas Duda would hold down the 1B job, so why force the trade now when the Mets might want to try Davis at 1B everyday in another month (or sooner)? I took solace in the fact that not only does Duda have the slightly better career stats to date (116 to 112 wRC+ at the time of trade), he has been a consistently better than average hitter since the long 1-fer to start his career (like 1-37), and probably has about the same ceiling as Ike.
Personally, I thought the Mets needed to trade one just to resolve the situation – I got tired of the constant speculation, I can only imagine how it felt to be Duda or Davis in the NY market. It was not the best value for Ike, but it still represents a potential 2014 upgrade and might have a nice long-term piece to add to a deep system.
Overall, Mets fans probably aren’t happy or excited, but I think this trade should be labeled ‘good process’ (assuming an acceptable PTBNL) and that’s the best one can hope for. Some fans may argue that this trade was botched with the way GM Sandy Alderson handled everything starting last season, but I don’t think that considers the whole picture realistically. Realistically, Ike has been a below average 1B the past two seasons, bad enough to get demoted in 2013 before an injury, and he barely hit enough for a 1B in his rookie season (despite 3.1 fWAR looking nice). Mets fans would be pissed if we acquired another team’s Ike Davis (based on results), what do you expect Sandy to get for him?
Good luck in Pittsburgh and anywhere else you end up Ike! I will have to retire my Davis shirsey for now, but hopefully not for good.
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