Posts Tagged ‘Wilmer Flores’

By Steven Inman

Kennys Vargas

Kennys Vargas could be had on the cheap for the Mets

The New York Mets have been looking for a long-term option at first base since the Carlos Delgado era ended nearly a decade ago. Since then, the Mets have employed the likes of Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, James Loney plus a few others with only Duda having strung together much success. Even while Duda had a few strong power seasons with the Amazins, Sandy Alderson and his staff considered him a stopgap option the last few years. Over the past 6 seasons, Mets 1B have hit .242/.329/.438, which is in the bottom third of baseball over that time frame. The Mets have struggled offensively the last few years and health has a lot to do with that but strong lineups often have a big slugger at first base. The Mets haven’t had a consistent All-Star caliber hitter at first since Delgado. This year should be more of the same, so let’s examine who the Mets can look towards at this key position.

Internal Candidates

Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzalez has not had a good spring after having a dismal 2017 season, where he hit just 3 home runs in 71 games. With that said it seems pretty clear that he is the Mets choice to start the season as the 1st baseman. He still carries a quality glove and has a tremendous track record of All-Star production before 2017. He’s only costing the Mets the league minimum so it wasn’t a huge risk to bring the 5-time All-Star to camp. The main risk with Gonzalez comes from his influence in the clubhouse. I say that because he intentionally missed the World Series with the Dodgers to go on vacation with his family in Europe. The Dodgers couldn’t have been thrilled with that who then convinced him to waive his no trade clause a few months ago to go to Atlanta where he would be cut. If Adrian hits this season he will remain the Mets first baseman.

Dominic Smith – The Mets 2013 first round pick seemingly has squandered his opportunity to be an everyday player in New York for the foreseeable future. Dom pretty much needs to get healthy and for Gonzalez to struggle to get another opportunity. He had just a .658 OPS in 183 PA’s last season with the big club. Smith also really struggled defensively and has missed most of Spring Training with a quad injury. The perception was Dominic Smith had a shot at the Opening Day roster with a strong camp. He was benched early on in camp for being late one day, scouts have questioned his conditioning and he hasn’t been comfortable enough to run with the quad, let alone get back in a game. Dominic Smith’s Met career is in jeopardy just when it was getting started.

Peter Alonso – For the last few years, there has been a pretty even split in the Mets front office on who is the first baseman of the future, Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso. Alonso, 23, has hit in every minor league stop he has been in and is probably the most likely candidate on this list now to be the Mets long-term first baseman. Alonso’s signature trait, his power, could be a game changer in New York. The University of Florida product hit 18 homers in just 93 games in the minors last season. Alonso is a big kid who has a big strike zone so K’s could be an issue as he moves up. He might not be in the Mets plans for a majority of this season (he only has played in 11 games above High-A) but this is a bat to keep an eye on. Dominic Smith needs to get on a field and produce quickly as Alonso is right on his heels now.

External Candidates

Adam Lind – Lind, 34, has played with four different clubs (TOR, MIL, SEA, WSH) over the last four seasons. You would think with his production in that span (.280/.345/.466 in 1,621 PA’s) he would stop bouncing around but the 12-year vet was forced to sign a minor league deal with the Yankees in a very slow free agency. After it looked like he wouldn’t make the team with the addition of Neil Walker, Lind was granted his release. Lind has always mashed right-handed pitching to the tune of .288/.348/.504. He wouldn’t cost much more than the league minimum and pairing him with the lefty mashing Wilmer Flores (.862 OPS against LHP in 2017), could give the Mets one of the best platoon situations in all of baseball.

Kennys Vargas – The former Twin who has drawn David Ortiz comparisons by many was designated for assignment last week by Minnesota. They have a few more days to find a trade for him before he can become a free agent. The 27-year old has shown flashes of massive power but was never able to stick as a full time 1B or DH in Minnesota. The addition of Logan Morrison, who slugged 38 homers in Tampa last season, made Vargas expendable in Minnesota. Vargas hit 21 homers over the last two seasons, in just 441 PA’s. His strikeouts are probably a huge concern for interested teams but Vargas could be worth a flier. He also has just two full seasons of MLB service, so should he be able to stick on a roster, he will be cheap and under control for a long time.

It seems as if the Mets are committed to giving Adrian Gonzalez the first crack to solve this position. My choice would be a Lind/Flores tag team at first. They would be smart to check in on Lind as soon as possible and Lind would likely be interested in coming to Queens with the amount of playing time likely available.

Who do you think should be the Mets first baseman in 2018 and beyond?

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By Steven Inman

Reyes

Photo from Bleacher Report

The Mets slow start to the season has a lot to do with their inconsistent offense, and their inconsistent offense has a lot to do with Jose Reyes’ complete lack of production. Reyes is just 6 for 62 at the plate this season and has made some rough errors at third base. His performance has been so bad that the Mets are wondering how much the 15-year veteran has left in the tank.

The Mets have plenty of options if they elect to replace Jose Reyes. Wilmer Flores will return to the Mets from the disabled list next week. Top prospect Amed Rosario played third base Friday night. T.J. Rivera has also hit in every organizational stop he has been in, including the big leagues. With that said, the Mets should give Reyes more time.

Reyes was a huge boost when he returned to the Mets last summer and the offense really picked up once he started hitting. What people seem to forget is that Reyes has always been a slow starter and it does not mean that he’s over the hill. Throughout his career April has always been Jose Reyes’ worst month. Reyes’ April AVG, OBP, SLG and OPS are statically his worst month compared to any other month in his career.

The Mets are better off with Flores remaining in his bench role where he just mashes lefties and it is highly unlikely the Mets would consider calling up Rosario before the Super Two date passes. (Likely in the middle of June)

Jose Reyes has done a ton for this organization and while their shouldn’t be any sentiment for him as his career winds down, the Mets need a productive Jose Reyes if they want to return to the playoffs and the only chance of that happening is to simply keep sending him out there. Jose Reyes is really the only player with plus speed on the roster so having him get going is crucial.

Reyes has always been streaky as a player so if the Mets are going to endure his low point, they should at least wait it out for him to get hot, he could help get this struggling offense going.

Do you think Jose Reyes should continue to play every day for the Mets?

By Steven Inmangiants-mets

After a rollercoaster year, the Mets 2016 season comes down to one game. As Met fans, it’s easy to complain that after 162 games  it’s unfair to be put in this position, to face off with the best postseason pitcher of this generation in a 1-game series but after all the injuries the Mets had, this 87 win team should consider themselves lucky to be here. If this was still 5 years ago with just the 1 Wild Card, the Mets would be in this spot anyway with the Giants, who finished with the same record as New York. They would have just played a 1-game tiebreaker at Citi Field anyway. While this Met team has made an incredible run, the statistics are not on their side. Madison Bumgarner is coming off the best regular season of his career in terms of ERA (2.74), innings pitched (226.2) and strikeouts (251). The Mets also badly struggle against lefties and that has gotten worse since Wilmer Flores slid head first into a catcher and was lost for the season. Flores had 11 homers against left-handers this season, the most by any Met.

With that said the Giants are not unbeatable. Other than a huge confidence boost to the San Francisco club, even-year magic is not a thing. If the Mets do the following things, they will be in Chicago on Friday.

 

  1. Get that Bumgarner pitch count up

This one seems fairly obvious but the Mets chances to advance would spike dramatically if Bumgarner doesn’t go long tonight. Bumgarner averaged just 15.8 pitches per inning in the regular season which would give him at least 7 innings tonight. That isn’t going to get it done for the Mets. Not only is Bumgarner efficient but he works deep in games. No National League pitcher averaged more pitches per game than the Giants ace (105 per game). Bumgarner throws a ton of strikes and the Mets are going to have to work good at-bats. The at-bats that end in 7 or 8 pitch outs will be considered small victories tonight for New York.

Keep in mind that the Giants will have two starters waiting in the pen should Mad Bum not give San Francisco the length they need or if this game goes extras like the American League Wild Card game did. While Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are no slouches, I would rather take my chances with them over a guy with a 0.25 ERA in 36 World Series innings and a 5-0 record with a 1.80 ERA against the Mets.

 

  1. Stick with the home run ball

While it’s not going to be easy to square up Bumgarner, he has been susceptible to the long ball this season. Bumgarner gave up 26 homers this year, a career high. When the Mets don’t homer they flat out don’t win a lot of ball games. It’s crucial that the Mets flex their muscles tonight whether against Bumgarner or the Giants bullpen. Both Jay Bruce and Rene Rivera have a home run against Bumgarner in limited at-bats. The Mets are going to need Yoenis Cespedes, who left the regular season in his biggest slump since becoming a Met, to wake up. Bumgarner doesn’t walk many so it’s unlikely he’ll pitch around Cespedes tonight.

 

  1. Noah Syndergaard, Rene Rivera slows down the Giants running game

It seems pretty obvious to the baseball world now that Noah Syndergaard can’t hold baserunners. The number of stolen bases he allowed led baseball by a wide margin. It looked like for most of the regular season if a player on first or second felt like padding his stolen base stats he could at any point in the game without contest. While Rene Rivera becoming the starting catcher has helped calm things down, Syndergaard and Rivera are still going to have to deal with that tonight. The Mets catch a huge break as Eduardo Nunez (hamstring), one of the Giants biggest stolen base threats, is not on the Wild Card roster. Syndergaard doesn’t have much of a pickoff move, allowing runners to get huge leads so he must change his times to the plate by holding the ball different amounts of times before going home. Or he can simply get everyone out tonight and not let the running game influence this critical matchup.

 

  1. Terry doesn’t pull a Buck Showalter

Jeurys Familia has had an incredible season, a year where he eclipsed the Mets save record by a wide margin but there was a better closer in the American League this year by the name Zach Britton. Britton was perfect in save chances on the year and watched his team’s season end from the bullpen. Now not using Familia or even Addison Reed has never been a Terry Collins issue but it is imperative that should the Mets have a lead in the 7th he skip the middle men and get the ball to Reed and Familia once Syndergaard’s day is done. The Mets may need the two dominant relievers to get 9 outs tonight.

If the Mets get Bumgarner’s pitch count up, hit a homer or two, limit the Giants running game and Terry Collins doesn’t do anything head scratching, the Mets will be set to face the 103-win Cubs Friday night. The Giants have a ton of experience in games like this but the experience that Noah and the team received in Game 5 of NLDS on the road last year should help prepare them for the pressure that come with surviving an elimination game tonight.

By Steven Inman

ld

Photo from NY Post

 

On Monday, Lucas Duda was placed on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his back. Duda wasn’t hitting much recently but the Mets offense could use all the help it could get. Only the Braves and the Padres have scored less runs than the Mets (73 runs) in May.

Duda is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. David Wright had the same injury a few seasons ago and winded up missing a little over 2 months. The Mets are going to have to find some offense at first base. While the trade market hasn’t fully developed yet the Mets do have a few alternatives to Duda. Here are some of their options.

David Wright: With David Wright’s recent throwing issues this could make some sense. It seems inevitable at some point now that David Wright will eventually wind up at first base before his contract is up but the captain has struggled with preparation before games due to his well documented back problems. Adding a new wrinkle like learning a new position after 13 years in the majors might be too much for the veteran to handle right now. Plus then the Mets would have to find someone capable of playing third base every day.

Wright could be an option long-term for the Mets at first base, just not now.

Michael Conforto: At this point, this seems to be Terry Collins preferred option. It would present an opportunity to free Juan Lagares to roam center field every day again and allow Yoenis Cespedes to move back to left field while keeping Conforto’s bat in the lineup. Other than Cespedes, Conforto has been the Mets most consistent bat all season, so making him learn a brand new position doesn’t make a ton of sense either. Conforto, 23, has played a very solid left field for the Mets to start the season. The Mets should leave Conforto alone and let him continue to get better in left field.

Wilmer Flores: Wilmer is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Friday and he should get the first look at playing first everyday with Duda out. Flores has badly struggled this season adjusting to a bench role. If Flores hits the way he did last season, expect him to be the everyday first basemen until Duda is ready to return. The Mets likely won’t consider outside options unless Flores fails to hit as the first basemen.

Eric Campbell: While Campbell has proven to be a very versatile player for the Mets, he hasn’t hit at all since his rookie season, with a career slash line of .227/.316/.320. Campbell has played first in all five games since Duda went down. The Mets can and should do better here.

Ty Kelly: Mike Puma of the NY Post called Kelly “Campbell with more speed” on twitter. If that’s truly the case, not sure why the Mets would want another Eric Campbell on the roster. While the switch hitter raked in Las Vegas, Kelly will probably not be in the first base competition unless he can impress coming off the bench for now.

James Loney: The veteran first basemen is currently in Triple-A in the Padres system. He is a solid defensive first basemen who has 10 years of big league experience under his belt with the Dodgers, Red Sox and Rays. The lefty bat has been playing some right field as a way to become more versatile for a big league team. Loney has never been a big power hitter but he has always hit for a high average. Loney has an opt-out that would allow him to leave El Paso if a club was willing to put him on their big league roster. Loney is a perfect fit for the Mets, as he hits for a high average, especially against right-handers. He has hit .340/.372/.425 in 41 games in the Pacific Coast League this season. Plus Loney’s contact skills could work well off the bench as a pinch hitter once Duda returns. The Mets would only need to pay the prorated version of the league minimum since the Rays are still on the hook for Loney’s $9.66 million 2016 salary.

Juan Uribe: While Uribe didn’t hit well for the Mets when he came to New York last season, the Mets seemed to take off when he and Kelly Johnson were traded to Queens from Atlanta. Uribe hasn’t hit much with the Indians (.237/.305/.342) but he is a versatile player who could play some first along with filling in for David Wright at third. Uribe is only making $4M this season so he could be an option for the Mets but the Indians are unlikely to sell off a clubhouse leader while they are in the race.

Dom Smith: Many think that Dominic Smith is the heir apparent to Lucas Duda at first base. The lefty bat was the Mets first round pick back in 2013. Coincidentally some scouts believe Smith is a very similar player to Loney. Smith, 20, has hit solidly in 44 Double-A games but likely isn’t ready for the big leagues. Smith isn’t an option to fill the Mets first base hole right now.

Who should get the first crack at the Mets first base gig?

By Steven Inman

With less than 2 weeks before Opening Day, the Mets Opening Day roster is pretty much set. The only questions left are with a few injuries along with spots on the bench and the bullpen still to be determined. Here’s how we expect it to all shake out.

The Starting Rotationdownload

  1. Matt Harvey
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Jacob deGrom
  4. Bartolo Colon
  5. Steven Matz

Matt Harvey has already been named the Mets opening night starter in Kansas City. After a strong 2015 season along with a brilliant performance in WS Game 5 against KC, Harvey has certainly earned the honor of starting opening night.  Jacob deGrom’s wife is expected to give birth around April 5th so Noah Syndergaard will start the second game. If deGrom is back from his expected paternity leave he will likely start Game 3 with 3rd year Met Bartolo Colon and rookie Steven Matz behind him in the rotation.

The Starting Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson RFdownload (1)
  2. Neil Walker 2B
  3. Yoenis Cespedes CF
  4. Lucas Duda 1B
  5. David Wright 3B
  6. Michael Conforto LF
  7. Travis d’Arnaud C
  8. Asdrubal Cabrera SS

Asdrubal Cabrera (hamstring) is questionable for Opening Day. It is unknown if he will get the at-bats needed this spring to be able to be ready for the season. The Mets seem to believe that he will be ready so we will put him in the starting lineup for now. After releasing Ruben Tejada the Mets don’t have much shortstop depth with major league experience.

If Cabrera is not ready Wilmer Flores will likely step in to the starting lineup at shortstop. The Mets will need Wilmer to play third base a few days a week for the aging David Wright. This could be a very big year for the Mets two youngest starting position players, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto.

The Bullpen

  1. Jeurys Familiadownload (2)
  2. Addison Reed
  3. Antonio Bastardo
  4. Jerry Blevins
  5. Hansel Robles
  6. Sean Gilmartin
  7. Jim Henderson

Terry Collins said a few weeks ago that the first five on this lists already had spots cemented in the Opening Day bullpen. Hansel Robles will be suspended for the KC series but the Mets will not be able to replace him on the roster while he is out. Gilmartin was very solid last year as a long man for the Mets after coming over from the Twins as a Rule 5 pick. Jim Henderson, the former Brewers closer, has regained velocity and looks very sharp this spring. While the Mets can send Henderson to the minors, he has looked very solid and if the Mets believe he can go back to being the reliever he was when he pitched the 9th for Milwaukee, then he certainly would be a fine addition to the Mets bullpen. Other candidates are Erik Goeddel who has been injured most of the spring and Logan Verrett who is likely competing with Gilmartin for the Mets long man role.

The Bench

  1. Wilmer Floresdownload (3)
  2. Juan Lagares
  3. Alejandro De Aza
  4. Kevin Plawecki
  5. Eric Campbell

Thanks to additions to the Mets starting lineup, players that were expected to get major at-bats like De Aza and Flores now become solid and versatile bench players. Flores will help Wright at third and will back up at short and second. Neil Walker didn’t hit lefties much last season so Flores could get at-bats at second vs. lefties. Expect Flores to play a lot this season even though he isn’t an “everyday player” anymore.

While Juan Lagares is a very good center fielder expect him to play some left field as a defensive replacement for Conforto. Terry Collins is wary of moving Cespedes all around the outfield so Lagares may not play much center field while Yoenis is in the game.

The Mets were interested in finding a backup catcher so Kevin Plawecki wouldn’t be sitting on the bench so often but they haven’t found a player they like yet so Kevin stays on this list. The Mets believe an extra 200 plate appearances for Plawecki in the minors would really help his development offensively. Thanks to the trade of Ruben Tejada, Eric Campbell makes the club as the 25th man. Campbell has struggled in the majors the past few seasons but has had a strong spring and can play the infield and outfield corners. A majority of Terry Collins’ bench can play multiple positions.

With two weeks to go still before the season, injuries can alter this list. On paper this is a very strong roster that should have Citi Field buzzing all summer. Do you agree with this 25-man roster projection?

By Steven Inman

Photo by the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

Photo by the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

As the entire baseball world knows by now, the Mets had a deal in place to reacquire All-Star centerfielder Carlos Gomez for rehabbing RHP Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores. The situation was a mess as the Mets left Wilmer Flores on the field Wednesday during the entire game with rumors swirling that he had been dealt. The Mets had concerns about a hip condition that Gomez had and pulled out of the deal. Brewers GM Doug Melvin was obviously not pleased with the deal falling apart and said he wouldn’t be discussing any more deals with the Mets during the trade deadline so Gerardo Parra will not be coming to the Mets either. The Brewers swiftly moved Gomez and RHP Mike Fiers to the Astros for a hoard of prospects. The whole ordeal was very interesting as we learned a few things about the current state of the New York Mets.

1. The Mets have the payroll flexibility to add another contract.

Sandy Alderson was right last week when he said to reporters that he had the go ahead to add another contract to the Mets $100M payroll. That statement seemed highly unlikely to come to fruition even a few months ago. Gomez is making $8M this season and $9M next season in the final year of his contract. While that is reasonable for a player of his caliber it seemed highly unlikely the Mets would be able to take on that kind of money when the season started. The Mets have also discussed a trade for Jay Bruce who will earn $12.5M in 2016 and has a $13M club option for 2017 and while they may need to be creative to fit that contract on their financial books, perhaps this club isn’t as broke as they have been in previous seasons.

2. The Mets are more than willing to trade Zack Wheeler. 

Zack Wheeler’s name had surfaced in trade dialogue with clubs such as the Rockies and Cubs over the winter in the Mets never ending search to acquire a hitter. Conventional wisdom said with his value down after spring Tommy John surgery, the Mets would hold on to Wheeler at least until his value was back up. That no longer appears to be the case as the Mets have discussed moving Zack with nearly every club that has a middle of the order hitter available. At this point it would be a surprise if Wheeler made his return from Tommy John with the Mets. The Mets have been very impressed with the work of pitching prospect Michael Fulmer and believe Wheeler is now expendable.

For the moment, Zack Wheeler is still a New York Met (Photo by NY Post)

For the moment, Zack Wheeler is still a New York Met (Photo by NY Post)

3. There is a serious miscommunication problem between Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins. 

When Brewers GM Doug Melvin sensed their was a chance that the Carlos Gomez trade could get done he notified his manager Craig Counsell immediately to let Gomez know. Most organizations believe it is important to keep the manager in the loop by not Alderson. If anything it was more important for Alderson to relay that information to Collins than it was for Melvin as the Mets were in the middle of a game and Flores should have been removed from the game immediately to prevent an injury. Collins was visibly frustrated in his post game interview and really had no idea that a trade was possible until a player during the game told him Flores had been crying.

4. The Mets believe their window to win is right now.

The Mets have made more trades to add players this week than they had made in Alderson’s 5-year history as Mets General Manager. They have been in talks on seemingly every hitter and seem very determined to get one. At this point it would be a surprise if the Mets didn’t add some kind of bat by 4:00pm Friday. The Mets aren’t worried about putting players like Michael Cuddyer or Juan Lagares on the bench despite their contracts. In previous seasons the Mets may not have acquired a corner outfielder if they already had one struggling on the team with a large contract, They seem to understand that Cuddyer isn’t working out and instead of getting him healthy and then making sure he plays everyday, the club is more focused on upgrades.

Having said that what is next for the Mets?

By Steven Inman

Matt Reynolds had an impressive Spring Training with the Mets

Matt Reynolds had an impressive Spring Training with the Mets

After an impressive spring training, Matt Reynolds established himself as a prospect to watch this season. He raked in the upper minors in 2014 and has very little still to prove down there. That being said the Mets continue to let the Wilmer Flores experiment play out.

Flores hasn’t established a reason for the Mets to continue letting him play everyday.

He hasn’t hit at all, he hasn’t shown he can hit for power even in the minor leagues, nor has he shown a great ability to get on base. His baserunning hasn’t been good and that is before we even get to his defense which has been horrendous through the first couple series. Flores has looked shaky in every game after Opening Day.

Maybe he can be a right-handed bat off the bench but he hasn’t shown he can be an everyday shortstop. In a season the Mets hope to be a playoff team, they cannot afford to experiment here. If the team insists on finding out if Flores can play short they should have put him there in the minor leagues over the past few years. Flores is out of options so they cannot send him down without the risk of losing him now.

Matt Reynolds has played well in Triple-A and has shown to be at least adequate at both second base and shortstop. He may not have a ton of power but he should be able to hit for a high average and most importantly he can play the position he is asked to play. When the Mets do eventually call up Reynolds he will be the first Sandy Alderson draft pick as Mets GM to make it to New York.

If the Mets want to contend this season they must plug up as many weaknesses as they can. Games in April count just as much as they do in September.

Do you agree that the Mets have been too patient with Flores at shortstop?