Feb 27

The Mets’ Ambivalence Towards Ruben Tejada Opens Door For Flores

Of all the young New York Mets, the one I am most interested in seeing is Wilmer Flores, especially at shortstop. While Ruben Tejada is the starter by default, Flores has a legitimate shot with a strong spring to grab a job.

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

FLORES: Has opportunity to earn job (Getty)

As the Mets monitor Stephen Drew’s interest and Seattle for Nick Franklin’s availability, it is clear they aren’t sold on Tejada. That makes it no better time than now for Flores to surface.

As team officials continue to portray Tejada as the most likely starter on Opening Day, they acknowledge those two other possibilities and are showing a declining enthusiasm for the incumbent.

A hot spring from Flores could make things interesting if the Mets don’t make an acquisition, especially if he shows something defensively.

The rap on Flores is he doesn’t have the first-step quickness in moving laterally. He also doesn’t have a lot of speed, but shortstops don’t have to be fast. Flores attended the same Michigan fitness camp as Tejada and reports are he improved his straight-ahead speed and lateral quickness.

However, for the offensively-challenged Mets, Flores’ upside is greater than Tejada’s. Flores drove in 13 runs in 27 games last season, which projected over a 162-game schedule is 78 RBI. In contrast, Tejada’s 162-game average is a mere 40.

In addition, as a spray hitter, Tejada’s career on-base percentage is only .323 and his 162-game average is 87 strikeouts.

Flores played shortstop in the minors until 2011, but because of the range issue, the Mets started playing him at third, second and first. All this begs the question: With all the ways prospects are measured, couldn’t they have figured out his range limitations?

Flores’ value to the Mets would be to show something at shortstop, because he is a man without a position and despite his supposed offensive abilities, never hit more than 18 homers (2012) in the minors.

His best season was at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013 when he hit .321 with a .357 on-base percentage, 15 homers and 86 RBI.

As the Mets consider Drew and Franklin – neither is imminent – this is the perfect time for Flores to make a statement.

Although Flores has experienced every position in the infield, shortstop is the one with the most potential for a breakthrough. Barring injuries, he won’t supplant David Wright at third or Daniel Murphy at second this year.

Who knows what could happen at first base? I floated the idea last year they might cut loose both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda and go with Flores at first base.

That’s not imminent, either.

 

Feb 18

Mets Wise To Pass On Nelson Cruz

The New York Mets insist they have no interest in “slugging’’ outfielder Nelson Cruz. Let’s hope they don’t waiver from that position.

Quotes belong around the word slugging because who really knows if he’s a genuine slugger or a chemistry project?

CRUZ: Just say no.

CRUZ: Just say no.

Cruz served a 50-game suspension for his connection in the Biogenesis case so the legitimacy of his numbers must be questioned. After four non-descript seasons totaling 22 homers, Cruz busted out to hit 33 in 2009.

Then 22, 29, 24 and 27. He never had more than 90 RBI in that five-year span. What can you make of those numbers, especially in a line-up as loaded as the Rangers?

Basically, that’s erratic power, but is it real or chemicals? And, when did he start? How long had he been using?

Whatever documents those answers were found in have not, and will not, be released by Major League Baseball. So, if you’re an owner and hear Cruz’s initial demands were as high as five years at $15 million each, you must take pause.

The Mets have been stung by burdensome, long-term, non-productive contracts over the past five years and the last thing they need is to add another to a 33-year-old.

If Cruz had no doubt about his legitimacy, he should ask for a one-year, incentive-laden deal to prove himself, but he didn’t. Why?

That question, plus Cruz’s age, questionable numbers, and contractual demands all combine to make him a risk the Mets should not take.

ON DECK:  What about Wilmer Flores at shortstop?

Jan 23

Mets Agree To Terms With Duda

The New York Mets have traditionally avoided the messy process of arbitration by agreeing to terms with Lucas Duda for $1.6375 million. That figure surpasses Duda’s career earnings over the previous three season combined.

Duda hit .223 with 15 homers and 33 RBI last season and filed for $1.9 million. The Mets countered for just over $1.3 million. Of all his numbers last season, most impressive was a .352 on-base percentage, up from .329 the previous season.

Where Duda fits in with the 2014 Mets is uncertain.

It was initially thought Duda would compete with Ike Davis for the first base job, but this was immediately after last season. At the time, Mets manager Terry Collins didn’t see it was possible Duda and Davis would be on the team together as they were essentially the same type of player.

Then, it was believed Duda would start as the Mets were trying to trade Davis. But, when they couldn’t unload Davis, GM Sandy Alderson said it was possible Duda and Davis could be on the Opening Day roster, and the idea of Duda in the outfield was revisited.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 23

Would Have Been Interesting To See A Grady Sizemore Comeback With Mets

The Red Sox did something yesterday I wish the New York Mets had done, and something I suggested before. I realize I’m in the minority on this, but I wish they signed Grady Sizemore.

SIZEMORE: Would have been fun gamble.

SIZEMORE: Would have been fun gamble.

You read that correctly. For the bargain-basement price of $750,000 – with incentive clauses on games played and plate appearances that could reach $5 million – the Red Sox took a gamble on a former All-Star.

From 2005-2008, Sizemore averaged 27 homers and 81 RBI with the Indians and was on the cusp for becoming one of the game’s best players before his career hit an injury-plagued tailspin. Then, from 2009 on, he’s had six operations, including his left (throwing elbow), two hernias, two knee operations – one on each side – and his lower back.

He missed all of last season rehabbing his right knee and back.

That’s a lot of cutting and the odds are long on him returning to star status. If he doesn’t, the Red Sox would only be out $750,000, which in today’s baseball economy is chump change – even by Mets’ standards.

It would have been a low-risk, high-reward gamble for the Mets. Conversely, they’ll give Chris Young $7.25 million, which I still can’t get over.

The probability of Sizemore reaching the 27-81 plateaus is long, but the Mets would take – and be happy with – a lot less for fewer than a million. Plus, his reputation of a hard worker and gamer would be good examples for a young team, and you don’t think Juan Lagares can’t learn a thing or two about playing centerfield from Sizemore?

I always liked Sizemore and hate to see a promising career go down as his has done. But, I also like comeback stories and Sizemore would have been a good one. Again, I know I am in the minority on this, but I’m allowed to cheer for good stories and it would have been fun to see it happen at Citi Field.

ON DECK: Mets sign Duda. All arbitration players locked up.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jan 20

Factors Suggest Ike Davis Will Start At First Over Lucas Duda

Recent developments with Lucas Duda indicate the New York Mets are probably more likely to go with Ike Davis at first base.

Duda, who hit 15 homers with 33 RBI last season, had been earmarked for the job, especially coupled with the Mets’ desire to trade Davis. General manager Sandy Alderson spoke openly this winter about trading Davis.

However, with the Mets unable to trade Davis, and with them offering arbitration, it became obvious the underachieving first baseman wasn’t going anywhere.

I believe Davis will prevail for the following reasons:

* It has become increasingly difficult to trade him, especially since projected trading partner Milwaukee signed both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay.

* Duda filed for $1.9 million and the Mets countered with $1.35 million. Meanwhile, Davis and the Mets settled for $3.5 million. Based on the salary, it is more likely the Mets start Davis. However, Duda’s salary, whatever an arbitrator decides, would be high for a minor league player.

* If the Mets decided to keep both on the Opening Day roster, as Alderson suggested is possible, and with Duda expected to get outfield time during spring training, logically Davis would go to first.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos