I’m Willing to Wait for Wilmer

Flores at shortstop A few days ago Terry Collins defended playing Ruben Tejada as his primary shortstop over Wilmer Flores with the following words:

“We’ve got to start winning. We don’t have time to develop players right at the moment, and you would like to develop players right at the moment, and you would like to for sure, but you can’t just say, ‘Hey, look, I’m going to sacrifice three or four days as we get some of these guys who haven’t been in the lineup, try to get them going offensively.'”

Now, overall, the Internet is all abuzz about Wilmer not playing every day. Not me. I agree 100% with Collins’s rationale. It is freaking June and it is freaking 2014. It is not 2011, or August. As unlikely as it is that this team is going to take off and make the playoffs, it is unlikely, not impossible. I can’t fault a manager, or a GM, for trying to win games in June.

The baseball season is 162 games and the biggest mistake fans make is forgetting how long that is. As of Sunday morning, Wilmer Flores had 81 plate appearances. In 1995, in his rookie season, Edgardo Alfonzo had 356 plate appearances. By the time the season ends, I expect Flores to exceed that total. In my opinion, Alfonzo, 21 at the time, was not ruined by the experience. Every young player is not good enough that you clear a spot for him, if a player has the goods he will kick the door in and show his stuff. The other guys become forgotten.

jordany-valdespin-marlins

Now, as to the trickier point, whether Flores or Tejada provides the best chance to win right now. Can I have another choice? Like most of the free world I am on record as underwhelmed by Tejada. But I’m sorry, I can’t get my head around Flores as an everyday shortstop either.

On my visit to Citi Field on Memorial Day, I had seats in Row 33 of the Field Level, down the left field line. It gave me a great perspective of shortstop, and Flores happened to start that day. Having never seen him play the position in person, I watched him closely on every single defensive play and came away convinced his defensive comp at the position is Justin Turner.  There is nothing surprising about that, he was moved off of shortstop in the minors for what must have been good reasons. And moved back this spring for a bad one — desperation. Sorry, I don’t think he’s the answer.

Where that leaves me on it all is that Terry or Sandy, or Jeff, whoever makes the lineup card out, should do what Collins said the other day. Play whoever they think can help the team win right now. If they think that is Tejada, hey, it might be.

If things totally spiral out of control, there will be plenty of time in August and September to get Flores at bats and see if he can hit enough to make up for his poor glove. I don’t think so, at least at short.

I’ve always used the line about Tejada that a team could make the playoffs with him, but it sure wouldn’t be because of him. I’m ready to say the same about Flores at short (second might be a very different story.) The answer is to get a real shortstop in here someday.

It’s been a while now.

Jose Reyes

 

 

 

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19 comments

  1. Reese Kaplan says:

    If by your own acknowledgement the team is going nowhere, what is to be gained by playing Ruben Tejada? We’ve seen what he can and cannot do. He’s a replacement level player. How will Flores develop against major league pitching (and survive major league fielding) if he doesn’t play? Send him to AAA if you are going to sit him on the bench doing nothing. The better answer is to play the man.

  2. Michael Geus says:

    He does play, just not every day. He started a game this weekend. The New York Mets are a better team with Wilmer Flores on the bench than Omar Quintanilla. That is why he is up.

    I do not expect this team to win but I can’t fault them for trying.

    • Well, I hate what they’ve done and I’ll tell you why.

      For starters, yes, “we are trying to win games” is a great justification for any lineup. Trying to win games? I’m all in. Unfortunately, it’s bullshit. See: Young, Chris. See the Wilpons, see Sandy Alderson. They are not trying to win games, and it’s a sham to pretend otherwise. Secondly, TC set up a false dichotomy: “win now” vs. “development,” and it just isn’t so clean and simple. You try to do both. Besides that, the notion that Tejada is some key to victory is, again, either stupid or a lie. However, I tend to agree about Flores at SS; at best, he’s a temporary fill-in. You don’t build a team around pitching and start a poor defender at SS. But I would like, very much, to see Wilmer Flores hit. And I think he needs a real opportunity to succeed, which is not likely when he plays sporadically. Look, Daniel Murphy is a trade chip right now. And the Mets are a low-budget team with limited financial resources and holes to fill. Yet at this point, we really don’t have an inkling as to whether Flores could hit at 2B. We lack that information, and because of that, it limits the Mets ability to move forward in bold directions. We can bemoan the fact that the Mets can’t afford to pay Daniel Murphy, but I really believe it’s a fact. That may be a debate for another day, but regardless of your perspective, we can all agree that it would be helpful if the Mets had a clearer idea of what we had in Wilmer Flores. Trying to win games? Sorry, but I’m calling bullshit.

  3. since68 says:

    When Flores was moved off of SS, everyone said it was because Reyes was blocking him and Havens was a bust. Only recently has the story changed.

  4. Tommy Emolo says:

    Could someone explain to me what is so horrible about Flores at SS? All I keep hearing is that he is a liability out in the field, yet I have yet to see him do much of anything with his glove that leads me to believe he is bad defensively? Has he made every play that has come his way, probably not, but have we forgotten how bad Tejada was to start the year at SS with the errors? He has made a few along the way this season! Flores isn’t going to be on a highlight reel, or make play of the day on MLB NETWORK, but he seems to make the play on the ball hit to him, and he knows where to go when the ball is hit! I get sick of hearing the Flores can’t play SS stuff, because I know what my eyes are showing me, and they show me a guy who has been average, to be fair! If you let him play every day, maybe you see him hit like we all know he has done, but TC just doesn’t give him a chance………EVER! Tejada has been awful with the bat, let’s be honest! He has had a moment or 2 at the plate, but the guy is barely hitting .200, and he is not going to ever be more than that! He also runs like he has a piano on his back! It so bothers me when I see TC going to him time & time again! Collins seems to have some man love for him or something! So odd! You can say the same for Chris Young too! Just baffling to me?!

    • I don’t believe that Flores moves well. Shortstop is the game’s most athletic position — speed, agility — and to my eyes Wilmer does not have what it takes. I believe that defense matters and with Duda/Murphy/Flores the Mets might have a historically bad infield defense in that combination of positions. From what little I’ve seen, I do think that Flores can play 2B, though of course he’s not getting any time there now. The bat is strange, he goes the other way so often, and so rarely turns on the ball. I can’t get a read on him and we know that AAA numbers are unreliable in Vegas. That said, there’s really no chance for a young player to thrive in a very limited, part-time role. It’s as if TC has already decided he can’t play, as he decided about Lagares back when Rick Ankiel was our CF (because of his supposed power and plus defense).

      • Tommy Emolo says:

        Again – I will never argue that defense is super critical and important! (the year the Mets had the best infield in baseball is a perfect example) Also, I was of the opinion that if Lagares didn’t hit this year, he still should have been starting in CF for his defense alone! All that being said, as long as Flores makes the plays that are hit at him & moves to the spot he is supposed to be in when a ball gets hit to a certain place on the field, etc, and he hits, WHO CARES IF HE IS REY ORDONEZ OUT THERE! Has he made errors this year? Maybe 1 or 2, right? I just don’t buy that nonsense of his range! We read too much from the so called experts!

        • Honestly, I just haven’t seen enough of him at SS to say with personal certitude that Flores can’t play average defense — but I strongly suspect that’s the case. The only question is how far below average are we talking about. I do think because none of these games ever really matter with Mets, that small (but important) details get glossed over. On the day when the Mets return to true competitive baseball, the standards will become much more rigorous, the flaws that much more glaring. We’ll care that our SS can’t make a backhand play in the hole. I don’t see Flores at SS on a good team. BTW, I hated Rey Ordonez and loved Mike Piazza, so it’s always about finding that balance between offense and defense. Where is the line, you know? At SS, I lean toward defense. But back to Flores, I just don’t think we have the answer to those questions on either side of the ball.

          • Tommy Emolo says:

            BINGO! That is what I have been saying every damn day (like a broken record) when I see the lineup & Terry Collins once again has Flores on the bench! Let him play & at least see what he has so you know if you need to move him to another position, keep him at SS, trade him, etc! Instead, he gets lost on the bench, then on days he finally plays after a week, and goes 0-4, people start killing him & saying he can’t hit anyway, so TC is right in sitting him! How is it fair to judge him or anyone when they get in 1 out of every 5-6 games, then go right back to the bench again? Not fair!

          • Yes, BUT. You could say that about a lot of lousy players. The history of baseball is filled with guys who never got a chance to play everyday — because they never knocked down the door.

            Baseball isn’t fair. Management has to make decisions, based on having guys in the organization for years. I’d like to see Flores play more often, getting a better shot, but it’s not about being “fair.” I just wish I had more faith in the decision-makers. When it comes to Terry Collins, I have none.

  5. Eraff says:

    Tejada has 200 ab’s that are pretty consistent with his prior 1200 abs–a .642 OPS, forever and Amen!

    He’s played decently, and he looks like the guy you’d be happy to have on your team—as a backup middle infielder.

    Chris Young has started 6 of the past 10 games…and he looks like What He Has BECOME…an Ex- Big Leaguer. He looks confused at the plate—he probably needs 1000 ab’s to “work it out”….and I’m confused about ANY reason for giving him any more ab’s.

    The Manager and The GM are both responsible for Managing The Roster. Terry needs freedom and Ideas to do more that bat the Piutcher 8th and Tejada 9th—– Sandy needs to trade the value they have for the players they NEED.

    Neither of those things is happening Fast Enough or Smart enough.

    • Michael Geus says:

      As far as Chris Young, and I would say we are agreeing here, he plays because somebody has to. With Lagares (and until recently EY) injured the options were miniscule. I mean it’s safe to say Bobby Abreu needs a day off every once in a while.

      Hopefully with Lagares back this will change. I think the promise has expired.

      But this is a team that brought Frank Francisco back last September and pitched him, hoping to get some team to take him for two weeks and save themselves $200 thousand. So, fasten your seatbelts, Young might just play.

      And people say this team isn’t exciting!

  6. Eraff says:

    Intended to write “Tejada 6th”— I guess my brain did a natural “over ride”—refusing to type Tejada Hitting 6th!!!

  7. Eraff says:

    btw—I may start tracking the Outs that Duda Gives away in the field and on the Base Paths. I believe he can hit a litlle…not enough to offset the rest of his game. He’s an horrendous Baseball Player in most every other way

  8. Michael Geus says:

    If Murphy is not traded at the deadline and the team is out of it by July 31st I would move Murphy to first and play Flores at second. That is two full months to see if Flores can hit and play second. We don’t know if he can play second, and won’t find out by playing him at short. Murphy has proven he cannot play second, it’s hard to watch.

    If Murphy is traded at the deadline it seems fairly obvious Flores would get his shot at second, but this is the Mets, so who knows?

    • Due to parity and the expanded playoffs format, it’s a rare team that is “out of it” in late July (though — hey now! — we’ve got a shot). Baseball has a timeline problem if, that is, you like trades and activity. Judging from Sandy, maybe a lot of these guys would rather sit it out.

    • wkkortas says:

      Murphy traded? By the anti-Frank Lane?

  9. Eraff says:

    I like a league WITHOUT “Rent-a-Bats”– I think you need a special situation to be in the “rental biz” under the present format—the Mets certainly should NOT be in that mindset ( not on the Receiving end).

    Then again—do they even know how to trade for a useable Major League “Part””?

  10. Raff says:

    I’m for NOT waiting. The Mets should be trying to get Flores an opportunity for 250-300 AB’s, They should get started now and make any adjustments based upon how he performs. They should commit to 100-125 AB immediately. No need to wait and see as far as trading Murph goes. Move Murph to 1B and plant Flores at 2B for the next 20-30 games. They need to find out what they have with him, or at least try to figure it out. Duda? He’s got a way overinflated grade of Below Average in fielding and base running. Labeling him as such is a gross injustice to guys who are actually Below Average. His gaffs cost runs, outs, or both at a frighteningly frequent pace. At best- he’ a Poor Mans DH in the AL.

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