Davis, 27, is a left-handed hitter with a lifetime line of .241/.334/.433 over parts of five seasons with the Mets. He also has 68 home runs and 224 RBIs in that time, although it should be noted that 32 of those home runs and 90 of those RBIs all came in a terrific 2012 season. He took a big step backward last season with a .205/.326/.334 line and only nine home runs in 317 at-bats.
No doubt, the Pirates would like to see Davis revisit that 2012 form, but be sure that the Mets did, too.
Here’s a video collection of Davis highlights from that season:
Thornton, 25, is a right-handed reliever who didn’t rate among the Pirates’ top 30 prospects, per Baseball America. He also was going to be needed to be protected in the Rule 5 draft this winter.
As with any deal involving a player to be named, there’s no way to discern who wins or loses. Being that it took the Pirates this long to get Davis — they were known to be discussing him pretty much all winter — one would think the Mets were holding out. Thornton’s no prize, so it’s possible the Mets caved. But again, a player to be named can be almost anything. Sandy Alderson has done a good job of stockpiling prospects in New York, and I find it close to unfathomable he’d give up a player of Davis pedigree for a next-to-nothing reliever without something significant accompanying that.
This obviously spells doom for Travis Ishikawa, I’d think. Gaby Sanchez sat for most of the opening week, but you’ll recall that the plan all through spring was for Sanchez to be the main guy in the platoon, even if that had been with Andrew Lambo. That’s not entirely surprising, as it relates to Ishikawa. If Neal Huntington and crew had thought that much of Ishikawa in the first place, you’d never have heard of the allegedly cemented Sanchez/Lambo platoon.
Where the Pirates do well here is by paying only $3.5 million in salary this season, as well as having two additional years of control through arbitration. Not much risk is assumed.
The big question, of course, is this: Will Davis hit again?
The Mets obviously didn’t think so, or they would have kept him over Lucas Duda. In January, ESPN’s Adam Rubin compiled this string of quotes from scouts asking which player the Mets should keep. Duda was the marginal winner.
The pluses on Davis is that he’s got that power — never underestimate that as an enticing factor, especially if he could get it done at the cavern that is Citi Field — that he’s got a good eye in terms of drawing walks, that he’s solid defensively and that he’s young enough to overcome a season like the one he just had. The minuses are that he’s injury-prone, that he strikes out a ridiculous 24 percent of the time and that he isn’t wild about taking coaches’ advice or changing his approach at the plate.
That last one won’t fly under Clint Hurdle, I’ll tell you that. He’ll want Jeff Branson to be all over Davis, and he’ll follow through on it directly given how heavily involved the manager still is at guiding hitters.
It’ll be interesting to watch this play out, not just from Davis’ own development but also from how — and if — Sanchez can go back to his strongest suit of hitting lefties hard. Davis, by contrast, is lousy against lefties but has an .824 career OPS against righties. I know platoon is a dirty word to a lot of folks with the Pirates, but there’s no crime in a good one.
UPDATE 8:07 p.m.: Huntington says, ‘Hopefully, this is a move that solves our first-base needs for years to come.’ The GM also openly states that Davis will share the position with Sanchez, so Ishikawa is, indeed, out.
>> The Friday column from PNC Park offers a whole lot of cautionary, deep-breath-type material regarding the local baseball club. If you’re the type to panic in April, by all means avoid.
Here’s what Tony Watson had to say, decidedly un-panicky:
The game story, by beat man Rob Biertempfel, focuses on Edinson Volquez’s seven efficient innings and Josh Harrison’s huge home run.
And here’s a a bit from the hitting hero:
Blogginess from the scene: Easy to see Jordy Mercer’s pressing. It’s hard not to pull for the kid, and he and I had a lengthy chat before this game. I’ve no doubt his head’s in the right place, but you also sense that he wants very badly to impress in his first real opportunity to be the shortstop. That rally-starting single last night might be the ticket. … Very reminiscent of Andrew Lambo in the spring. But Lambo is rebounding quite nicely with Indy. … Asked Clint Hurdle if Volquez had improved his fastball command, his deception or both, and he gave an interesting answer: ‘The command came, and then we put in some things for the deception.’ How could that be, I wondered, since the second would surely affect the solidified delivery? ‘Look, Johnny Cueto put in a Tiant twist out of nowhere, and it worked. No one asked why.’ That’s a reference, of course, to Red Sox legend Luis Tiant, who would famously twist all the way around to second base as part of his delivery. … Would love to see advanced fielding stats illustrating the bases cut off by Starling Marte in left. Wouldn’t be easy, though. Some runners don’t even think about the extra base, I’ll bet. … Jose Tabata scored lots of points with the Pirates for that crazy catch in Cincinnati. Went absolutely full bore. When I asked Jose if his head hit the wall first, he answered, ‘Whole body.’ Know what that tells me? He might not have had any idea how close he was. … Oh, and then Jose goes out as a pinch-hitter last night and doubles. … In a clubhouse hallway well after the game, I mentioned the famous Bob Robertson bunt/homer tale from 1971 to Hurdle. Thought I might have to explain. Nope. Man knows his Pirates history.
Play of the game, by Chris Adamski, of course, was Brandon Sutter’s goal, described in the video below by the Canadian legend Bob Cole, who’s been on air since 1969 and will retire after these playoffs:
Blogginess from the scene: Not wild about Todd Richards’ demeanor so far. I get that he’s a rookie coach as far as playoffs go, but there’s no point in saying this about his Blue Jackets after the game: ‘We aren’t here just to go to school. We’re here to win.’ Uh, who’d have thought any less of the legit No. 7 seed in the conference? … I’d love to see the NHL adopt an NFL-style review for plays that happen in games that aren’t called penalties and aren’t suspension-worthy but could still merit fines. Case in point was Brandon Dubinsky’s ridiculous slew-foot of Sidney Crosby. … Man, what a wonderful hockey player Matt Niskanen is becoming, huh? Just think of all those dollar signs being attached to every performance like this one. … Niskanen and Paul Martin need to be on the power play. Do what you have to from there. … I don’t see or understand the Brian Gibbons thing. … Crosby’s keeping a healthy approach about when and how he’s used by Bylsma in matchups: ‘Whenever Dan tells me to get out there, it doesn’t matter. You get ready to compete. What makes you successful against Dubinsky is the same thing that makes you successful against Johansen.’ … MIA for Pittsburgh: Chris Kunitz, no points, minus-2, lots of unambitious plays. MIA for Columbus: Ryan Johansen, a 33-goal scorer with no points and three shots. … Am I the only one who thought Sergei Bobrovsky actually played worse than his line? Visible lack of confidence at times. … Expect R.J. Umberger to be back for the Jackets in Game 2. … Columbus wound up with a 48-27 edge in hits. The Jackets also had two giveaways to the Penguins’ 10. … That gold-out was a failure. The number of people who showed up wearing gold, from what I saw outside, couldn’t have been as high as 5 percent. And the feel with the freebie T-shirts … eh. Just forget it. We are who we are. Give us towels.