Mets Hot Corner

That One Play by Wilmer Flores

Most people assumed that when the offseason officially began, the Mets would have walked away with a shortstop of some variety.  Maybe it would have been Jhonny Peralta (who quickly signed with St. Louis), Stephen Drew (who might not sign a contract until June…), or even the less likely option of Asdrubal Cabrera from Cleveland.  No matter what the Mets had to give up financially or asset-wise there would be a short stop on the roster not named Tejada or Quintanilla.  If for no other reason, people felt a signing was necessary to symbolize a new beginning for the franchise.  Well none of these possibilities came to fruition, as we all know.  After a year of the Mets sending out negative messages about Ruben Tejada and his work ethic, the front office expected the fan base to accepting back as the starter – without any kind of competitor.  So since the front office was not doing anything, the fans and media decided to get creative for them.

Enter Wilmer Flores, the young prospect and former shortstop.  After being called up last year he showed some signs of his great hitting ability despite both of his ankles being injured.  But Flores’ problem has not been his bat; it is where can he play?  People thought he might play first base or even dethrone Daniel Murphy at second base.  But with his nagging injuries that were clearly hindering his athleticism, you could not truly gauge his ability in the field.  Well his ankles healed after the season and he attended the seemingly famous Michigan agility camp.  Then Wilmer reported to camp looking as slim and athletic as ever.  But there was still the question of his ability to play shortstop when he hasn’t played there in a few seasons.  Personally, I was hopeful but not optimistic that Flores could return to his original position.

Wilmer Flores NY MetsDuring the Spring Training experiment of Flores at shortstop it seemed like he was serviceable enough to have him play but I did not see any sign that he had the true ability to play there.  Then there was one play that changed my mind and got me extremely excited to see Wilmer Flores as the Mets starting shortstop.  I can’t tell you, the date, the situation, or even the opponent but I can still see him make the play in my mind.  There was a sharp ground ball hit in the hole, Flores made a sliding stop immediately rose to his feet and launched a laser beam over to first base for the out.  The moment after witnessing this play, I said that’s it Flores should start. Period, end of story.  Flores’ offensive promise is too large to ignore especially when your incumbent shortstop is one of the worst offensive players in the league and seems to be extremely raddled this spring.

In the end, I understand that the brain trust doesn’t think Flores is ready to play shortstop in the major leagues yet.  But the time is coming and coming quickly. Hopefully Flores will be on the train to Queens in May but it will probably not happen until later in the 2014 season.  It sounds funny that seeing that singular play was what made my mind up on Flores, but it showed that he has the ability to be there.  If you can get his production out of the shortstop position, that is almost reason enough alone to play him there; if he can be good in the field that is an extreme plus.  Wilmer Flores should be standing on the first base foul line tomorrow afternoon hearing his name announced but we know that won’t be happening.  Hopefully if the Mets know what they’re doing, Flores will be replacing Tejada as soon as he get enough innings out in the field in Las Vegas.  Then we will have an offensive shortstop we’ve been looking for since Jose Reyes bolted to Miami.  Maybe Sandy knew this all along and this is why he refrained from going after the free agent shortstops.  Let’s go with that and hold the belief that we have a smart and savvy general manager.  Wilmer Flores will be the starting shortstop; it is only a matter of time.  That one play told me that.

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