So the Mets have finally come to this: Lucas Duda, playing first base. The guy isn’t a right fielder, he isn’t a left fielder. Not his fault: he doesn’t have the raw skills to cover remotely enough range.
Now, playing him at first base has to do with, one figures, showcasing him for a trade. After all, his bat is sufficient at first base or designated hitter, but the Mets have a first baseman in Ike Davis, and do not employ a designated hitter.
Here’s the thing: if we assume that Davis is the 2013 first baseman, and Duda is trade bait, I would absolutely play Duda and Davis in a strict platoon from now until the end of the season. But the Mets appear ready to play Duda against tough lefties, and Davis against righties.
If the idea is to trade Duda, that’s crazy.
If the idea is to showcase Duda, specifically to show off his bat, playing him against lefties (career OPS of .650) makes a lot less sense than playing him against righties (career OPS of .814). If the intention is simply to get Davis some time off, there’s nothing to be gained by doing it in a way that hurts Duda’s perceived trade value. And letting Davis hit against lefties, a skill he needs to improve (.531 OPS this year, .633 career against them) should even help ahead of playing every day in 2013.
The flip side of this could well be that the Mets view Duda is the starter at first base, and want to maximize Davis’s offensive numbers ahead of the offseason. This isn’t the craziest idea, if the Mets believe Davis will get them more in trade. Personally, I think Davis has the far higher upside than Duda, so I wouldn’t approach things that way, nor do I think Davis will earn the kind of return that makes up the difference between the two players. But that remains to be seen.
Anyhow, whoever the Mets plan on trading this offseason, Davis or Duda, shouldn’t be facing tough lefties they don’t hit over the last three weeks of the season.