Jul 21

Here’s Hoping Flores Gets Traded

It was two years ago next week when Wilmer Flores carved out a niche in Mets lore when he openly wept on the field after hearing a report he had been traded. Flores endeared himself to Mets fans everywhere that night because he showed the fans he was a player who genuinely wanted to play here.

How could you not cheer for a guy like that? How can you not cheer for a guy who showed such human emotions?

FLORES: The night he became a Mets' icon.  (AP)

FLORES: The night he became a Mets’ icon. (AP)

The trade to Milwaukee fell through and he remained in Queens, but his situation only briefly changed for the better regarding playing time. Off the field, there was still a shameful lack of respect from GM Sandy Alderson, who made him a butt of jokes on his stand up tour, and manager Terry Collins, who never trusted him enough to give him a position full-time.

However, in those moments when he did play – when Lucas Duda and David Wright were injured – Flores showed streaky power. He did so again yesterday with a pinch-hit homer in the win over St. Louis.

I always liked Flores, even before the tears, and openly advocated the Mets work him into a regular playing rotation. Now, I want the Mets to trade him. To Boston. To Houston. To Milwaukee, again. To any team where he’ll get a chance to play.

The Mets will soon move out Asdrubal Cabrera to make room for, and keep him away from, Amed Rosario. And, maybe they’ll trade Duda to make room for Dominic Smith. Neil Walker will soon be coming off the disabled list, and a midseason slump cost Flores his at-bats in favor of T.J. Rivera.

And, Flores? He’ll get moved to the bench where we won’t see him for ten more days. Collins never gave Flores a chance to work his way out of his slump; he wouldn’t work Flores into a rotation when all the infielders were coming off some kind of injury; he’ll bury him again.

Ken Davidoff, the talented baseball columnist for The New York Post, quoted a baseball scout on Flores and Rivera: “I like them more as fringe everyday players. Maybe guys you plug in for two weeks, or maybe even two months. But I wouldn’t be comfortable with them in a six-month situation for the full season.’’

That’s understandable because Flores has never been given more than a month to play. He tore things up earlier this season, then, like all players eventually do, tailed off. Hey, even Aaron Judge has cooled.

That’s the essence of a full baseball season. There will be stretches where everything falls in and others where even scorched balls are caught. His defense has never been good, but couldn’t that because he’s never been given a fulltime position? That’s the same way it was with Daniel Murphy.

Nobody knows what Flores can do for a full season because he’s never gotten the chance. Collins and Alderson put him in position where he’s always looking over his shoulder.

Flores can play adequately anywhere in the infield and has shown he can hit right-handed pitching. He can tear up lefties.

Flores was a valuable piece in the playoff runs of 2015 and 2016, and surely, can help a contender. Boston is in desperate need of a third baseman and the Yankees can still use a first baseman.

Flores can help either, but the hope here is he is traded by the deadline to a team that appreciates his value and will let him play.

Give him 550 at-bats before you tell me he can’t play.

 

Jul 05

Even DeGrom Can’t Save Mets

Do you want the truth from me about the Mets, or should I tell you what I think of them through blue-and-orange glasses? I’m guessing you want the truth because that’s all I’ve given you on this site.

I hope I am wrong and the Mets do something heroic, but even if Jacob deGrom beats the Nationals tonight, I think this over.

DE GROM: Can't help Mets now. (AP)

DE GROM: Can’t help Mets now. (AP)

Just when they take a step forward, like trim a 12.5-game deficit down to 8.5, they stub their toe. They not only failed to sweep the Phillies but got clobbered in the final game. Curtis Granderson hit a game-tying homer with two strikes and two down in the ninth, which is the stuff great pennant runs are made of.

But, they lost that game and were routed yesterday to fall back to 11.5 games behind.

They can’t beat the Nationals, Dodgers or Diamondbacks, and I don’t like their chances against St. Louis and Colorado.

There is too much going on with the Mets that doesn’t encourage a miraculous comeback. Their pitchers walk too many hitters and the bullpen is among the game’s worst. Their offense is all-or-nothing with the home runs. Hitting in the clutch? Uh, no.

And, let’s not forget the numerous injuries: Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey; David Wright and Neil Walker; Jeurys Familia and Michael Conforto.

Quite simply, the Mets need to pick up at least six games by the end of the month to have any chance of making it a race giving them two options: 1) maintain the illusion and keep the status quo, or 2) back up the truck and have a fire sale.

Whatever they do, I’ll keep watching and imagine you will, also, because that’s what we do.

Jun 29

Mets Getting What They Want From Tebow

I just got a call from a radio station wanting to talk about Tim Tebow. The question was: Was this just a promotion or does he have a real chance of playing in the major leagues?

Today is June 29 and a California radio station wants to talk about Tebow. To me, that’s what the Mets wanted and why they are paying Tebow minor league dollars, which isn’t much.

I don’t know if Tebow has the ability to play in the majors, but I do know, from what everybody says, that he’s sincere in what he’s doing.

For the Mets it is a feel good story. It’s better than asking what is wrong with the Mets? When will Noah Syndergaard be back? What about Matt Harvey? Will David Wright ever play again? Will Terry Collins be fired?

Every time you want to write off Tebow, he does something. Divine intervention? Who knows?

But, we’re talking about the Mets and it is positive for once. That’s what they wanted.

Jun 01

No Longer Reyes’ Time

It seems safe to say the story of Jose Reyes‘ return to the Mets has run its course. It would have been fun to see him play side-to-side with David Wright, but the latter’s injuries precluded that goodwill notion. But, that’s only a secondary story.

REYES: Nothing to shout about any more. (AP)

REYES: Nothing to shout about any more. (AP)

The real story would have been whether Reyes could remotely become a shell of his former self, which he hasn’t been.

If Reyes can’t play shortstop, which he does only when Asdrubal Cabrera gets a day off like today, then what’s the use? He’s adequate at third base at best (Wilmer Flores is better). If Reyes can’t lead off, get on base and make things happen with his legs, then he’s not being used properly.

Perhaps that will happen when Yoenis Cespedes returns from the disabled list, because it might mean dropping Michael Conforto to third, which is a greater run-producing slot. But, as of now, Conforto is a far better leadoff presence than Reyes.

Currently, Reyes is out of position defensively and in the batting order, and isn’t hitting at all. Reyes remains determined to hit the ball in the air, where he should concentrate on hitting the ball on the ground or with line drives.

Frankly, he’s wasting his God-given physical abilities because he’s not smart enough to change. His plate discipline has never been good and it hasn’t improved with age.

The Mets acquired Reyes because they thought he would spark their offense. He hasn’t done so, and if this team doesn’t turn it around soon, they would be better off trying to trade him – he has a reasonable contract – and bringing up Amed Rosario for the second half of the season.

It is time to move on.

Apr 20

How Long Will Mets Play Reyes Charade?

Mets manager Terry Collins said Jose Reyes deserves the chance to turn things around, but that’s too simplistic an approach. In reality, Collins doesn’t have any choice for now but let Reyes try to flail his way out of this wretched slump to start the season.

Reyes refutes the notion he’s trying to do too much, which is often one of the first assumptions to explain a slump.

REYES: Not the same player. (AP)

REYES: Not the same player. (AP)

“When you try to do too much, it’s tough. You have to slow down a little bit and try to let it go. I don’t feel like I am trying to do too much. I am just trying to play my game,” Reyes said.

“My game.”

What exactly does that mean? Is it the style Reyes should be playing, which is to utilize his speed by being patient at the plate and hit the ball on the ground? Or is it the style he insists on playing, which is to hit the ball in the air and not worry about drawing walks or cutting his strikeouts?

For all his speed, Reyes has never been the prototypical leadoff hitter. He has always struck out too much, doesn’t walk and insists on hitting the ball in the air. Through 15 games he has 15 strikeouts and six walks with zero stolen bases. He’s hitting .094 with a .186 on-base percentage and has been dropped to seventh in the order.

The bottom line is for all his supposed physical skills, if Reyes isn’t leading off then he might as well not be in the lineup.

Wilmer Flores can play third base as well as Reyes, if not better. But, he’s off to a slow start, also, at .171. However, Flores’ main problem is he doesn’t play enough because Collins is married to the right-lefty dynamic and won’t give him the regular opportunity to hit right-handed pitching. Again, Flores will never hit right-handed pitching unless he’s given the opportunity.

Reyes’ problems are more complex and I offer several contributory explanations.

First, his mechanics are way off. He’s lunging at pitches he should take and is trying to hit everything in the air. He’s always had that style, but at 33 it is catching up to him. However, ten years ago he could get away with it because the Mets gave him free reign to do what he wanted at the plate. They did so because he gave them enough so they would settle.

Reyes will never be the work-the-count, slap-hitter, get on base and steal his way to third type of player. Reyes always wanted to play like Rickey Henderson, but he was never as good.

Now, it’s too late to transform, and I don’t think he has the discipline to try.

Secondly, I believe this slow start is weighing on him and he is trying to do too much. Reyes will get his money – the Colorado Rockies are paying it – but he could be thinking if it doesn’t work with the Mets this could be his last chance and what else does he know besides baseball?

Could Reyes’ slow start be partially explained by him being away from camp for the World Baseball Classic? This was an important year for Reyes and he could have used the work a full spring training provides.

Finally, and this hasn’t been mentioned in the mainstream media as a cause, but his double life – a mistress with a child and ensuing court case – has to be an emotional burden. Couple that with his domestic abuse suspension and he has a lot of toxic baggage.

Most teams would run away from Reyes, but the Mets aren’t because it isn’t costing them any significant money and they are desperate because they are afraid to go with Flores as David Wright’s replacement.

The only question is how long are they willing to play this charade?