Here’s the Mets’ lineup tonight in Arizona:
Speaking to the media today in San Diego, Mets captain and third baseman David Wright said he would return this season, but couldn’t say when.
Actually, nobody can predict Wright’s return date, but what to do until then? Remember, four months remain in this season.
GM Sandy Alderson has not ruled out seeking outside help, but knowing his track record it is probably safe to assume it won’t be an impact player. If they did make a trade, it would have to be for a versatile player – such as Ben Zobrist, who has come off the DL – because they wouldn’t want to move him off third when Wright is available.
My thinking is the Mets will first look within.
I am not for moving Wilmer Flores off shortstop, because I don’t think the Mets would spend big time on a shortstop replacement. However, in this case I would move Flores to third base and switch Ruben Tejada to shortstop – his natural position – because third base is a more pressing need. This switch would add offense to third base and defense to shortstop.
Because he’s hitting and has been moved a lot, I would leave Daniel Murphy alone at second base. As for Dilson Herrera, I would worry about him when he’s eligible to come off the DL. Herrera was effective last year in spots coming off the bench. However, to me it is more important to keep Murphy content than Herrera.
I can live with Flores’ flawed defense at shortstop because of the upside of his offense. Because the Mets stuck with him, this move wouldn’t be an indictment of his defense. Also, Tejada has played well, but he’s more effective at shortstop.
Wright said he’s dealt with lower back pain since he sustained a stress fracture in 2011. The condition was diagnosed as spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal cavity. Wright didn’t address this today, and it is speculation on my part, but it could be the result of all the crouching done at third base not to mention the scar tissue from the fracture.
He said the hamstring that initially placed him on the DL could have caused him to overcompensate and resulted in the back problem. Whatever the cause, Wright said he’s not ready.
“There’s physical tests that I have to be run through that I have to pass and do well with, and I’m not there right now,’’ Wright told reporters. “They run me through the physical tests and I just flat out can’t do it.’’
But, the Mets have to do something, and switching Flores and Tejada seems the most plausible solution.
Mets manager Terry Collins was rewarded with Saturday night’s decision to go with Ruben Tejada over Wilmer Flores at shortstop. It will be interesting to see how long Collins rides the hot hand after Tejada’s play in the 3-2 victory over Philadelphia.
Last weekend, Collins went with Tejada in consecutive games after a string of Flores’ errors. At the time I wondered if the Mets were greasing the skids for benching Flores full time. Tonight, with Jon Niese, who throws a lot of groundballs on the mound, Collins went with the better glove and the thought returned.
This time, Tejada did something to warrant staying in the lineup with two hits and starting a key double play that literally saved the game for the Mets. What Tejada did was give the Mets – for one game, at least – the type of shortstop play they expected of him when he assumed the job after Jose Reyes’ departure.
Tejada doubled lead to off the fifth and scored on an error, but in the eighth is when he earned his money. The Phillies loaded the bases with one out when Carlos Ruiz ripped a hard grounder Tejada backhanded to start an inning-ending and game-saving 6-4-3 double play.
“[Ruiz] hit the ball very hard,’’ Tejada said. “We had to, no matter what, had to make that play.’’
Considering Flores’ defensive problems, one had to think he wouldn’t have made that play and the Phillies could have at least tied the game.
The Mets’ hadn’t been happy with Tejada’s work ethic the past few years and some thought he might not have made the roster coming out of spring training, but that appears to have changed.
“It’s the hardest I’ve seen him work,’’ Collins said. “He’s kept himself ready to play. Here’s a guy who wants to get back in there.’’
Collins plans to start Tejada Sunday at second base and you wonder how much of a chance he will get.