January 24, 2014

What To Do With Wilmer Flores

In watching MLB Network rank the top fifty prospects in baseball last night, Wilmer Flores' name popped into my head. Aside from hearing he went to fat camp with Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada, you haven't heard much about him this winter.  This struck me as odd, since he is still considered one of the organization's top offensive prospects in recent years.

As 2014 approaches, it appears the Mets line-up is set, assuming the team doesn't land Stephen Drew. Whether the Mets get Drew or not, it appears that Flores will be the odd man out.  So, what do you do with him? Flores has shown he can handle the bat in the minors.  In the short time he was healthy in 2013, Flores excelled offensively, however he didn't get a fair shake due to an ankle injury that limited his reps and production. His stats project him as a solid offensive middle infielder, but his glove does not.  He has minimal range and doesn't exactly have the smoothest hands.  Unfortunately, he probably isn't and ideal DH candidate with regards to potential trade partners from the American League.

Third base and second base are taken.  First base is a big hole and makes sense for him, but Flores has minimal experience that position. Also working againt him, players Mets also have two guys ahead of him in Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, who could still prove to be good fits long term.  Duda and Ike Davis are both lefties.  This would leave the right-handed Flores grouped with Josh Satin, who is also in the mix.  There has been a ton of talk of a platoon involving Satin and Davis/Duda.  This is not an ideal situation and one I hope the Mets can avoid, as I've noted here. <--- Shameless self promotion

Brad Pitt said it best in Moneyball: "Adapt or die."  I believe platoons at first base are detrimental to the stability of the team, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.  So if the Mets opt to go with a platoon at first base I'll support it, but it's likely to be Satin as the right handed piece, instead of Flores. I would argue that Satin is best suited for the super utility role that Justin Turner filled. 

I feel like the Mets constantly overrate hitting prospects.  Whether it was Jay Payton, Alex Escobar, Lastings Milledge or Fernando Martinez, it seems like the Mets love hyping these guys.  Its a level of hype that scouts seem to buy into.  Perhaps it's a Mets problem.  It seems more often than not that our premiere offensive prospects come up short.  That's why I believe Flores can hit, but I am leery about how good he is all around and think he too could have been over hyped by the organization. (By the way, Flores was ranked by MLB Network at the #10 prospect at 2B.  He didn't crack the top 100.)

I think if Flores was good enough, then he'd be in the starting line up now in January. But he's not. If Flores were good enough, its likely Daniel Murphy and his nearly six million dollar salary would have been sent packing.  That's the type of frugal move that the Mets and Sandy Alderson have made their name on in recent years.

Ultimately, Flores is someone who would be valuable off the bench, but would the Mets be willing to keep a twenty-two year old on the pine, even if he may have hit his ceiling?  I doubt it. Problem is we don't know his ceiling. So although it seems logical to have him break camp and be a platoon guy who can spot start at 2B, he should start the year in AAA.  He should be playing everyday at whatever position suits him best. The Mets should make every attempt to find a permanent home for him, whether that means first base, second base or on some other franchise that doesn't call Queens home.

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