Wilmer Flores Could Be Viable Shortstop Option

The New York Mets have long touted Wilmer Flores as one of their future stars. To some degree, having Flores and Ruben Tejada made it easier to let Jose Reyes walk.

FLORES: Could get shortstop time.

FLORES: Could get shortstop time.

With Tejada coming off a bad year and striking out in the free-agent shortstop market, the Mets are considering giving Flores another chance at shortstop.

And, it’s a good idea.

The Mets drafted Flores as a shortstop, but moved him to other positions because he lacked the quickness in making the first step.

Even so, manager Terry Collins suggested at the Winter Meetings Flores might get a look at shortstop in spring training. Collins reiterated that intent after Flores’ success at a Michigan fitness camp, where he dramatically improved his quickness and speed.

With his quickness and speed improved, it makes sense to experiment with Flores. Shortstops don’t need speed. Cal Ripken wasn’t fast, but relied on quickness and positioning.

It could be the same for Flores, who suffered with ankle injuries last year.

“We did a lot of ankle exercises,’’ Flores told reporters about his work at the fitness camp. “We worked on things that we needed to work on, like speed, agility and getting stronger. I’d be happy to go again.’’

Flores played shortstop for four years in the minors, and is willing to try again.

“It’s not going to be a new position,’’ Flores said. “I’m sure I can play.’’

That confidence and Collins’ willingness to experiment are no guarantees Flores can play shortstop on the major league level.

Because the Mets are giving Tejada every chance to redeem himself, he’ll get most of the time at shortstop during spring training. The remaining time Flores gets won’t be nearly enough to show he can play the position.

However, Flores has greater offensive potential than Tejada, thereby giving the Mets a dilemma. Because the Mets need offense, it’s possible Flores could make the Opening Day roster as a role player off the bench.

Assuming Flores makes the team, he probably won’t play enough, certainly at shortstop, to make a substantial impact.

What then, is the best option?

The Mets’ options are to carry Flores as a bench player or to send him back to Triple-A. If it is the latter, it must be under the provision he only plays shortstop, and not second, third or first.

Collins suggested as much today.

“I think with what we have on the infield – you know what? – if he’s not going to get a lot of a playing time, he’s got to go play at his age,” Collins said. “Because the ceiling on his bat is too high. He’s got to go get at-bats.”

Flores needs to learn to play shortstop, and that takes repetitions. Lots of them.

7 thoughts on “Wilmer Flores Could Be Viable Shortstop Option

  1. Pingback: New York Mets’ 3 Biggest Missed Opportunities of the Offseason | Betting Baseball Club

  2. Presumably he can play the whole infield so they can rotate him. It may be bad for a young player to always have to worry about where he is playing, but his bat is too good. We can’t hit and so we need him in Queens and not in the minors.

  3. There is much to be said for giving Flores a chance to play SS, but to give the Mets pitchers a chance to shine, the team must be strong up the middle. With Murphy just adequate, the Mets must get Murph-level stick (or better) at SS. They must also be stellar at the corners and, right now, the Captain is the only sure thing. With a Keith Hernandez at 1B, the middle of the infield could be Murphy and anyone at SS. But such is not the case. Putting Flores at SS in Vegas may be the way to go. If Tejada can’t get his stick going and Flores plays adequately for Wally, there could be a match for the summer, especially if the Mets don’t make a deal. Flores is a very interesting prospect who needs major league exposure to bring his trade value up. Somehow, he needs to play somewhere. His bat is ready now.

  4. I really don’t like to see young players get onto a major league roster before they are ready. For every one who has beaten the odds there is a pile of bodies that failed. Send Flores down to start the season so he can polish his skills at short. If Tejada fails again, you can call Flores back. If Tejada does well the Mets can watch the market and trade him at the most opportune time. If the Met season is going to hinge on the bat of Flores it means first base is still a problem, our free agent outfielder(s) have proven to be a bust, and our pitching has gone poof.

    • Bob: Force feeding a young player often is a mistake. Remember, Mantle was sent down at first. They all can’t be Al Kaline, Robin Yount or Bo Jackson.-JD