Joe D. replies…
You never know with Terry Collins, but this time I believe him. I do think Flores will get a very long look at shortstop as he says. My bet is that the front office wants to see what he can do there as much as Terry does. Especially when you consider how much they’d love to leave Ruben Tejada on the bench.
Now whether or not Flores can play the position, that’s another issue. Scouts weren’t impressed with his range at short during his age 16-19 seasons, but they loved his arm. Flores is a big boy and it could very well be that a lack of coordination as he grew into his body contributed to the problem.
When they moved him to third base and then to second base after four years at shortstop, Flores had some trouble with his footwork and positioning which many players go through after a position switch. The bottom line is that nobody is in a real position to cast aspersions and make judgments. He’s going to play at short this spring and we’ll soon all find out if he can be average or even a bit below average. With his bat, that difference in defense will be negligible.
My hunch is that if he shows himself not to be a total disaster, he could stick at short and the Mets will have Tim Teufel working closely with him defensively. And then, nobody will say squat about Stephen Drew anymore. The one thing we do know about Flores is that this kid could flat out hit and has been a solid run producer in the minors. Last season, Flores led the entire Mets system including the big league club in RBIs.
One thing that bodes well for Flores is his Winter Ball performance and the reports from his time at the training and fitness facility in Michigan.
Yesterday, Lucas Duda raved about him, and while most of his teammates left the facility and came to camp, Flores stayed behind an extra week and just completed his final day there on Friday.
This is not the same Wilmer Flores that we saw last season according to all the buzz from the Venezuelan Winter League where he batted .375/.434/.545.
The word is that Flores is now faster and quicker and has improved his reflexes and agility. Collins and a lot of people in the organization, including Paul DePodesta and Sandy Alderson, are very excited about watching Flores this Spring.
“I don’t want to place too much stock on four weeks of conditioning, but this is a guy who’s never really had the opportunity to develop himself physically the way players here in the United States do, who have a season and then an offseason,” Alderson said last month in a conference call.
“He’s never had an offseason. He’s always played. So this is a different type of offseason for him — one in which he’s been able to invest in his career. We’ll see how it pays off for him.”
I’m excited to see what he can do and all of you should be too.
(Photo: Joshua Lott, New York Times)