Juan Lagares was never going to make it as a major league baseball player.
I always was impressed with his arm, but I never found anything else special about his game. He was simply pitiful as a low-level minor league shortstop and his bat turned on and off on all the levels throughout the organization.
In addition, his overall play in centerfield didn't seem like anything special. In fact, no one else wrote anything special about him either.
No, I had this guy pegged correctly... Lagares would be a AAAA player at best in his career.
Another guy I had figured out early was Wilmer Flores.
I watched him trip over himself trying to play every infield position in the game and I wrote as early as 2010 that you shouldn't waste your time on this guy either. Scouts kept saying that his bat was going to turn into something that would allow us all to accept his defensive shortcomings, but I simply couldn't see it. I became so adamant about this guy that I wrote a column earlier this year that said I was never going to write about this guy again.
Did I mention I picked Ike Davis over Lucas Duda also?
Look, we've got some problems right now trying to figure out what kind of team we are rooting for this season. We seemed to have been spoiled early on to a win-loss record that wasn't going to hold up, and we're now going through a period that has had some of the most brutal loses we have ever seen from this team, but none of this has anything to do with the players that play every day on this team.
The roller coaster ups and downs have all been about the pitching which probably is good for us since this team does have more pitching talent than hitting. Good talent always corrects itself in the end and I expect our rotation to do the same. If not, there's still Rafael Montero and Steven Matz to throw out there.
My theory of 'give up three or less runs in the first seven innings by your starter' hasn't changed... yesterday was a perfect example of this... but what I wasn't ready for this season is THE FACT that the home run leader of both this team and all shortstops in the league... is Wilmer Flores.
Flores is now on target to hit 28 home runs this season. Even I can find a place for someone like this on my team. Is this going to make him into a better shortstop? Frankly, it doesn't matter right now, especially since the bad news has come out on David Wright.
I would attempt to turn this whole defensive thing into a positive right now. No one has been under the microscope more than Flores; however, I would sit him down and applaud him for the wonderful job he has done 'carrying' this team power wise (yeah, I know, I'm pouring it on a little...). I would also try and explain to him that I need his help to try and lead this team into the playoffs while the Captain is away.
I would then try and sell him on moving over to a position he always seem to have less problems with... third base (turn this into his decision)... while, at the same time, I would assure him that we would continue to hit him either 4th or 5th in the lineup, even after Travis d'Arnaud returned (move Cuddyer down).
This would give me the opportunity to work Ruben Tejada back into the lineup and give the team a better middle infield, while, at the same time, not move Daniel Murphy around while his bat is heating up (I also would consistently hit Murphy in the #2 slot, after Granderson, and before Duda).
What I wind up with here is only one position change (Flores to third), better middle infield defense, and the best 'hitting' lineup I have available to me.
Folks... this is the best it's going to get this season. No other team is going to solve any problems here and trade to the Mets one of their 30 home run hitters. Last year we all were pleasantly surprised when we watched one of our own (Duda) develop into one. Are we doing the same right now with Flores?
I told you I had this guy pegged from the get-go.