Posted by Reese Kaplan at 12:00 PM
While everyone has been clamoring for some combination of Troy Tulowitzski, Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, Brad Miller, Chris Taylor, Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar to upgrade the Mets at shortstop, there is a prospect out there who has posted some pretty gaudy numbers that no one is talking about.
Throughout his ascent through the minors he’s shown a propensity for making good contact, amassing a career. 292 batting average with a .334 OBP and a .440 Slugging Percentage. In various seasons he’s hit as many as 18 HRs and 84 RBIs. Better still, he’s never struck out more than 77 times in a season.
Furthermore, he’s demonstrated that he’s dedicated to improving himself and shown a great work ethic. He was criticized for his footwork and attended special training to improve it. He was told he can’t run and this winter season in 42 ABs in addition to his unsurprising .310 batting average and the usual aggregate totals of HRs and RBIs he’s also already accumulated 3 SBs.
So what’s not to love? Great attitude, strong contact hitting from a run producer and defensive stats that would have put him in the top half of shortstops in the game last season. Personally, I think the Mets should make an all-out effort to get this guy into their lineup every day and let him show what he can do.
His name, by the way, is Rodney Dangerfield…or maybe it got a little lost in translation. He also goes by the moniker of Wilmer Flores.
In the scheme of Mets problems – a lefty for the bullpen, some power off the bench from both sides and an extra 1-2 starting pitchers, shortstop is not nearly as a high a priority, yet you can’t swing a lifeless feline without hitting upon some article excoriating Sandy Alderson for not “fixing” the “shortstop problem”.
Good strides were made during the winter meetings (believe it or not). John Mayberry smashes left handed pitchers (30 HRs in 490 ABs). Sean Gilmartin and Scott Rice may or may not be the answer to the bullpen dilemma. The newcomer has the leg up as he must be on the roster or offered back to the Twins. All Rice has is a minor league deal, though he was used and abused regularly by Terry Collins and we know how much the manager fears change and favors veterans over rookies.
Right now the more interesting things to watch include which current 40-man roster occupant gets voted off the island to make room for the two newcomers (there were only 39 spots occupied). It will also be interesting to see if there is any interest in any of the three international middle infield prospects – Jung-Ho Kang of Korea, Takahashi Toritani of Japan or Yoan Moncada of Cuba. Doing so likely isn’t as much a condemnation of Rodney, er, Wilmer, as much as it is a further reason to move Daniel Murphy sooner rather than later.
Going into the Winter Meetings I had no delusions that All-Star caliber players were Queens-bound. I applaud the small moves that were made. If anything is frustrating, it’s the thus far inability to shed payroll. However, the season is still 3.5 months away, so I am not hitting the panic button. After all, if Terry Collins has another contract to lead this team, is shortstop really their biggest problem?