THEN & NOW: Wilmer Flores and Sean Marcum (What We Said Then, What We Think Now)

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Ron Howard

Jimmy:

thenAndNowFrontWelcome to the third installment of our award-winning “THEN & NOW” series, where we look at what we said then . . . and what we think now. Are you ready, Mike?

Here’s what you wrote about Wilmer Flores on November 26:

I am not about to abandon the idea that he can play a passable second base. He is much more valuable as a second baseman, period. If he proves beyond a shadow of a doubt he cannot play second, only then would I look at him as a corner. That also allows him more time to mature as a hitter, his Double A numbers were solid, not jaw dropping.

In a system bereft of hitting prospects Flores looks great. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king. I see a good prospect here, not a great one, and another year in the minors for Flores will benefit everyone.

So where does that leave us now? Has anything changed in your assessment?

Mike:

Not too much. When I talked to Edgardo Alfonzo in September he believes second base is the best spot for Wilmer. I found that interesting. As for seeing him there myself, it was a brief audition and he had an injured ankle, so I didn’t get to see much.

Now one thing I would not be doing right now is clearing second base for the guy. We have a second baseman, and he is one of the best players on our team. Barring a trade, Wilmer can play some second against tough lefthanded pitchers, and in general, serve as depth.

Good teams need good bench players, and I’m ready for the Mets to become a good team.

Jimmy:

You targeted Shaun Marcum very early in the process. As far as I recall, I first read about him from you. Congratulations, Mike! You wrote:

“But there is a guy who intrigues me more and should not break Fred’s precious piggy bank –

Shaun Marcum.

Marcum has made a career of pitching well or being hurt. He is coming off elbow issues from 2011. Because of that he may not get more than a one-year contract, but I do think he could end up with a two-year deal. If I’m Alderson, I’m very interested, and two years should not be an issue.”

Mike:

MarcumWhat can I say, it was Christmas Eve, and I had just got done caroling. The funny thing about this is at the time nobody had us linked with Marcum. Eventually we signed him, for what I still believe was good logical reasons. If Marcum was not a health risk he would have commanded a much higher financial commitment. Sandy was operating with limited funds and took a shot with Sean. Baseball is a results business and this move went badly, I get that, but it was always a calculated gamble. It did not work out.

Considering the other names that were being bandied around at that time were Mike Pelfrey and Carl Pavano there was not much lost here. And Marcum spared us a few Laffey starts too.

That alone might have been worth the money.

Jimmy:

I am going to agree with you here. It comes back to the trade discussions we’ve been having offline. When the reasoning is solid, that’s all I can ask. That, and a solid backup plan for when the shit hits the fan.

Back on June 16th, we had this exchange about Marcum.

I wrote:

So, sigh, Shaun Marcum: When his name first came up, I wondered why Milwaukee didn’t want to retain him. So I read and posted a convincing article by Jaymes Langrehr, “Why the Brewers Are Shunning Shaun Marcum,” that made me skeptical about his future health. Once the deal was done, I nonetheless held out hope that he’d be decent into July. Um, wrong. Is this the Jason Bay lesson, the essential first question: Why doesn’t the team he’s played for want to sign him? What do they know that we don’t? It’s the inverse of the Oliver Perez question — he was our guy — we knew him better than anybody — and we still signed him! So what’s the take-away here?

Mike replied:

With all due respect to a cult who worships Bob Uecker (not saying Bob’s not worthy) their post was more of a “the Sun rises in the East thing,” than anything else. It’s not a secret that Marcum had health issues. He made over $7 million last year coming off a healthy productive campaign. If he was a certified 100 percent his dollars would have been very high this offseason and he wouldn’t be with us. Alderson used $4 million of Fred’s money to gamble that Marcum would bounce back this year. The Twins gave the same money to Mike Pelfrey, also a health risk. I liked the logic and was happy to see Sandy try something, we did very little this offseason. And every start Marcum has made so far would have been made by Collin McHugh or Aaron Laffey. I am not wistful that I didn’t get to see any more of that.

I haven’t learned anything from this. Sometimes these signings work out (Capuano) sometimes they don’t.

 

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16 comments

  1. tom says:

    I hope the bargain basement mentality ends this season…not that there won’t be trolling for some cheap fills, but the focus should be spend, win, raise revenues through higher attendance of happy, happy, happy fans to pay for higher salaries.

    They got real lucky with Dickey and Byrd, but there have been huge duds too…like Marcum. 2014 should be a REAL competition year, whether this team makes playoffs or not. So avoid the big gambles and add some real clout.

    And I so often read people’s articles / comments about this or that guy not wanting to come to NY because it is a bad hitters’ park. I wrote the front office to move the fences in, but when they did they half-stepped it. After all, why not make it more homer-friendly when fans love to see offense, when Wright losing 50 HRs over the course of his career will very possibly keep him out of the Hall of Fame, that leads to Jason Bay and Jeff Francoer psych outs. That fence fiasco alone shows a front office stupidity that leaves me not trusting them again going into this offseason.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      At the end of the day, guys come for the money. There is nowhere else to move the fence unless it was to be played like a little league park, and then you’d see the opposite excuse, no pitchers want to come here.

      The park is the park and it is time to deal with that aspect of things. The Cardinals had the most prolific offense in the NL, not an HR offense

  2. Thanks, Tom. I have often wondered about Wright’s HOF credentials getting killed by Citi Field. It’s a strange park. Sandy Alderson is the only GM in Mets history (there have been 12) to lose more games at home than on the road. Part of that is on him, certainly. Part of it is that crazy park.

    I am officially pessimistic about this offseason. I do not see the one impact player, unless they can somehow trade for Ryan Braun or something similarly out of the box. Of the free agents, there’s not one who would energize the fans. I am not running out and buying a Peralta jersey, though I think he’d be a solid addition.

    So I think the team can get better, but I don’t see them adding a key piece. There’s no game-changer available. And at the risk of inciting a riot, 6/$100 for Choo seems borderline crazy for a team with a $90 million budget. He’s a very good player. He’s 31. And he’s not great.

    Strange to hear talk about Corey Hart. He destroyed his knee and now plays 1B. But when we passed on Abreu, Jeff said . . .

  3. James Preller says:

    Sorry for any confusion, we had technical difficulties for an hour or two.

  4. RAFF says:

    So, Wilmer Flores. So, WHAT? I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but really- So,,, What? Does he have any value to the Mets, in terms of waiting and hoping that a kid they drafted at 16, who is now 23, will develop the power and other skills which will make him useful as a major league player? Do the Mets continue to hope/evaluate that he is showing that progression? Do they think he can either; be traded for something of value, or plugged into 2b following a potential Daniel Murphy trade which would make them better? Is he a “stop-gap” in LF? Is their 40 man roster so bereft of upside talent that they would continue to hold on to an apparently Clear-Miss? On the other side- This guy has an OPS of 850+ in his past year at AA/AAA- nothing to sneeze at . I wonder- How do the METS scout him? How do OTHER TEMS scout him? Does he have VALUE? The days of 30 HR corner IF and Of’s are gone. Do the Met’s think that this guy is a legit .270 15 HR 35 Double guy? If so- he’s my 2nd baseman or LF… That’s my “So, What?”

    • Michael Geus says:

      What happens with Flores could be contingent on the trade market, as he is a player we could conceivably move. If someone else (Murphy, clearly) were traded Flores is impacted as well.

      • RAFF says:

        Michael- If I understand your response, properly – You believe he is a viable Major League Player. For instance- if the Mets trade Murphy, you’re comfortable plugging Flores into 2nd base?

        • Michael Geus says:

          No, I hope he is good enough at second, but I didn’t see enough of him yet to know.

          I’m optimistic based on nothing more than Alfonzo raving about how hard he works at everything. Murphy worked his way from brutal to average, and combined with his bat he is now a real asset at second.

          Flores best value is to be able to do the same.

          But to be clear, I am against trading Murphy unless we get a player in return who helps our major league team as much as Daniel. We have precious few good major league position players, I am not in favor of trading one away to clear room for Flores or anyone else.

          In the meantime if Flores is not dealt himself he can back up Murphy, Wright, and perhaps Duda/Davis. Some quality depth would be a nice change of pace.

  5. It’s unfortunate that Flores played on a badly injured ankle when he was called up, because my sense is we didn’t see the true player. It’s hard to hit on busted pegs. The foundation is everything. He remains the best hitting prospect in the system and certainly deserves to be on the 40 man, IMO. The opinion seems to be that he lacks the speed to play an outfield corner, which means (to me) he’ll only be Murphy-esque at 2B. I think he’s a 3B in the wrong organization. If Murphy goes and Young is the new 2B, Flores might be a good all-around utility bat. Sometimes you’ve got to give these guys a shot, but I’m not at all in a position to make that evaluation. Because of the injury, or not, he sure didn’t do anything to say we should hand him a full-time job. More time at AAA seems just sad, frankly.

  6. Patrick Boegel says:

    I’m starting to get the sense that the Mets hope to get 0.02 on the dollar for Ike Davis and will try to piece meal 1B with Duda and Flores, granting the better the spot if they significantly outperform the other.

    At the same time I don’t see how the Mets can do that without trading either Wheeler or Syndergaard to get a bat in here, as they are apparently allergic to Ellsbury and Choo.

  7. RAFF says:

    Patrick – I am also fearful that they will take the approach you mention. I’m very skeptical of any approach which hands over potential top-end pitching talent, especially as the Mets actually seem to have a grip on their internal scouting of their pitching talent. They told us Harvey and Wheeler were Top Of Rotation guys, and they seem to be correct. If Syndergard and Wheeler are similarly gifted, you can anticipate a RAPID return to playoff baseball, even if you just surround them with plainly Professional Major League position players. The offensive upside of a Cargo versus a Choo is a lot less than most people think- and from a team standpoint- I’ll take of Choo & Wheeler over Cargo any day.

    • Would you trade Dillon Gee or Jonathan Niese? I sure would.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Only way I trade any of the young pitchers, even if it is Montero (sorry until I see that he is somehow doing something with smoke and mirrors he seems too very much be out pitching his supposed more elite peers) is to get a guy who is on the very right side of the age spectrum.

      But I try to look at this way. Last season we dealt RA Dickey and it netted two very good prospective talents and a third that also has some promise. The positions they play to me have to be irrelevant. You stock pile and develop talent to achieve a singular goal, ultimately make the major league roster better.

      So lets say the Mets can flip Syndergaard for a young player the caliber of a Myers (not that he is available, just that caliber of a major league ready bat). Did we then miss something we never really had?

      It is all about resourcing and asset allocation. As a GM you can’t get too married to what could be, if the right situation squares up.

      I am not enamored with the Giants model by the way. I full well realize that they won yes two World Series, but A, that model relies on a very lot going right, and in their process, several things went wrong, like the early deterioration of Tim Lincecum.

      The Mets have got to get hitters in here. Nothing would please me more than to see Ike Davis rebound, Cesar Puello’s 2013 success not have come from a Bunsen Burner and Wilmer Flores to somehow fit somewhere and deliver all while Wheeler and Syndergaard light it up and stay healthy.

      • The other thing about the Giants model — or the bad offense model — is that it’s not as much fun to watch. I know, I know, cue the fan who loves 2-1 pitchings. Sure, when it’s Gibson vs. Seaver. But when it’s two crappy offenses fizzling and flailing, it’s dull. Give me those bats that make you sit up in your seat.

        There’s a lot of talk about minor moves, and none of them are necessarily wrong. The key, however, is the move that brings in a real-deal everyday player.

        Word is that Ike is generating interest in the market from the Brewers and elsewhere. He’s a guy a lot of teams would like to have. Expand that deal.

        I still want Ryan Braun.

  8. RAFF says:

    I should probably qualify what I mean. I do not favor trading high end pitching prospects- most especially for high end, high-priced hitting talent> especially in the position the Mets are in, where so many spots in the cupboard are bare. SO, I would actually more favor trading high-end prospects for a hitter, over whom you have some degree of financial control for a period of time. SO, if I had a shot at Stanton last year, and I had to give up wheeler and another prospect- that would be different in my mind than giving the same players up for Tulowitzski- In that example- I would still have additional $$ to bring in another player(s) at the same total $ outlay. SO, if one guy was going to cost me 50 Mil over 5 yrs, as he became arb eligible, whereas the other guy was going to cost $100- I could conceivably put the other $50 million to use. A couple top end Pitchers put you in the HUNT immediately – San Fran, Tampa Bay examples. A couple top-end Bats don’t (Colorado). SO, the Mets might be able to perfectly thread the needle, because there’s a potential to have several excellent top end pitchers and to selectively pick up some VERY GOOD, if not TOP END bats. As for Gee and Neise- yes, I would entertain offers. Both are at their high-water mark, value wise. As for Ike- I’m not amazed that there is interest. There aren’t many potential 30 HR guys out there. Lots of teams, especially in the American league, are willing to grin and bear 150-200 Strikeouts for a guy who throws haymakers and can field his position.

    • Aside: I think you have a lot more control with TT’s existing contract than Stanton’s unsigned one, which could easily go into the stratosphere.

      I believe they’ve got to energize the fanbase and put a fun, entertaining, watchable team on the field.

      Don’t think it’s either/or when it comes to bats and arms. Need both.

      Last year the Mets had Matt Harvey pitching like a Hall of Famer and he won 9 games. Jonathan Niese won 8. Exactly half of Dillon Gee’s starts were “quality starts.” He went 12-11. I like Wheeler, but he’s raw and unproven.

      It’s still a looooong way to 90 wins.

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