Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Flores Forgotten

The Troy Tulowitzki trade rumors that were flying around late last week seem to have died down, probably because the rumors were more media creation than serious discussion, and quite honestly, I think that's a good thing. In fact, there seem to be more rumors flying around that Tulo might be headed to another of the local ballclubs, but that makes even less sense than Tulo coming to the Mets, because that other club has its own pariah to deal with, but I digress. Tulo as a Met isn't going to happen, at least not anytime soon, and I'm OK with that.

I seem to be in a small minority of fans that are buying in to the idea that Wilmer Flores can be the every day Shortstop for the Mets. I know it's not a particularly popular decision that the Mets are going with here, but you can consider me behind starting Wilmer Flores at SS in 2015. It's less a matter of me buying into what Sandy Alderson and the Fabulous Wilponendas are spoon-feeding us and more a matter of the kid can play.

I made the comparison a few years ago between Ruben Tejada and Edgardo Alfonzo, thinking Tejada could develop into Alfonzo with less power. I couldn't have been more wrong about that because in the two seasons hence, Tejada has been an abject train wreck and basically played his way out of town, struggling to hit his weight, getting hurt, or both. All the while, a player much more in the Alfonzo mold in Flores was working his way up the Mets system. Flores debuted at 21, much like Alfonzo, although Alfonzo arrived in the Majors with the kind of polish that few players of that age have. Even so, it took Alfonzo a couple of years playing part-time before he established himself as an every day player, and even then, he was constantly shifting positions. Flores lacks Alfonzo's defensive prowess—and that's being somewhat kind because he was kind of scary in the field at times—but he's also a player without a regular position, he's played 2nd, Shortstop and 3rd Base since arriving in the Majors.

One thing Flores has demonstrated is that he can hit. He didn't display it in full force in 2013 or in some early season cups of coffee in 2014, but as the season wound down and he found himself playing on a regular basis, he did hit with some regularity. 5 of his 6 Home Runs and 22 of his 29 RBI came after August 1st. I know 6 Home Runs and 29 RBI in 250 or so ABs isn't eye-popping, but considering that he bounced around for 4 months, the idea here is that if he knows he's playing SS on a daily basis, and that's all he's got to worry about doing, the offense will become more consistent and could offset whatever defensive liability he brings (and given that Daniel Murphy appears to be sticking around, it means that the Mets aren't exactly toolsy when it comes to middle infield defense). He could conceivably improve. He's going to be 23 on Opening Day of 2015, and hasn't, to the best of my knowledge, ever had a "regular" position that he's played. Worth mentioning that when Edgardo Alfonzo was finally given a regular position and regular playing time, he responded with a breakout season in 1997.

It's time to get over the fact that the Mets can't fix every single hole in their lineup at once, and remember that many moons ago, this team found success with players like Rafael Santana and Rey OrdoƱez playing SS. Flores may not boast a glove to rival either of those players. Hell, he might not boast a glove to rival Elio Chacon, but he can hit, and in an offense that's really been lacking, he's a better option than anyone's giving him credit for. So, maybe this is some blind, foolish hope, and maybe I might sound like an idiot 6 months from now, but I'm all in on Wilmer Flores. I want to see what this kid can do. This is one of those people that we've been waiting for, so now let's let him play.

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