Joel Sherman of the NY Post reports that the Mets are beginning to warm up to the idea of playing Wilmer Flores at shortstop. While the premise of Flores at shortstop was unanimously disregarded when Spring Training began, the idea is becoming more appealing to some Mets brass.
Sherman says that now there is a split among Mets executives about whether Flores can handle the position.
Additionally, he adds that the Mets wanted to sign a limited-range shortstop in Jhonny Peralta when the offseason began, and now some Mets higher-ups wonder whether Flores could be some version of that, in which his offensive production makes his limited defense more palatable.
In the his two games, Flores showed a significant improvement in his range, making diving stops to both his left and right on balls that might have gotten through for base hits a year ago.
It looks like his appeal at shortstop is beginning to catch on.
Here is an interesting angle from Matt Meyers of ESPN New York, on who presents his case for Wilmer Flores starting at shortstop for the New York Mets.
Meyers considers a variety of factors in determining that Flores is the way the Mets should go including his defense which is not as problematic as some would have you believed, especially in the context of having to replace Ruben Tejada.
For starters, the Mets’ starters are almost all fly-ball pitchers.
League average GB rate in 2013: 44.5%
Bartolo Colon: 41.5%
Jonathon Niese: 51.5%
Dillon Gee: 42.6%
Zack Wheeler: 43.2%
Daisuke Matsuzaka: 28.3%
Other than Niese, every other member of the projected rotation had a ground ball rate of below league average last year, making Flores’ lack of range less problematic. (Note: I’m assuming Dice-K gets the No. 5 spot. Jenrry Mejia relies on ground balls and would alter this analysis to some degree.)
As some sabermetrically-inclined Mets fans might remember, Davey Johnson used to sometimes play Kevin Mitchell at shortstop (Kevin Mitchell!) in 1986 when fly-ball specialist Sid Fernandez was on the hill. Same concept here.
Myers points out that to the Mets’ credit, they did a great job of recognizing the makeup of their pitching staff with their offseason moves by bringing in Chris Young and Curtis Granderson, both of whom are outstanding defensive outfielders in the corners. So why not apply that same principle in the infield, in other words let’s not pretend Flores is supplanting Ozzie Smith at shortstop.
But if we can develop Flores offensively and park him at shortstop until we come up with a longer term solution, what is so wrong with that?
Just because we start the season with Flores at shortstop, it doesn’t necessarily mean he will stick there all season long. Perhaps an alternate solution presents itself in a month or two, or maybe we make a trade at the deadline. The point is this isn’t etched in stone.
Given the offensive ceiling Flores is capable of, it would be prudent of the organization to see exactly what he can or cannot do at the plate, so we can better determine how we will move forward in 2015 when we’re supposed to be contending.
The only way we find out if Flores is a keeper is to play him – here in the majors and not in the minors where both he and the team have nothing to gain.
Photo by Anthony J. Causi