Every scout who has seen Wilmer Flores play shortstop insists that he can’t handle the position at the big league level. That is why he hasn’t played shortstop (instead seeing time at third base, second base, and first base) since 2011. Still, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said earlier this week that Flores playing shortstop is something that just may happen during spring training:
I don’t think we’d rule it out. Why should we? I think we have to see how Spring Training plays out for him — is there going to be a spot for him in the lineup? Is there not? Is he going to be a bench player for us? Is he going to go to Las Vegas?
Alderson went on to note that Flores may have been at a disadvantage conditioning wise, and that the program the Mets put him through this winter may have helped with his agility, and suggests that the idea that Flores may be able to play shortstop in the majors isn’t dead:
I don’t want to place too much stock on four weeks of conditioning, but this is a guy who’s never really had the opportunity to develop himself physically the way players here in the United States do, who have a season and then an offseason. He’s never had an offseason. He’s always played. So this is a different type of offseason for him — one in which he’s been able to invest in his career. We’ll see how it pays off for him.
I wouldn’t say [Flores to shortstop] is dead. I think that one of the things we want to see is how well he has done with his training regimen in Michigan. Before this offseason, I’m not sure he ever had any sort of structured, regimented conditioning program. The work that they have done on speed and agility and quickness, etc., may have an impact on his ability to play certain positions — including second base and conceivably even shortstop. But right now, that’s all speculation.
Anyone who watched Flores play second base last year knows that his range is close to non-existent. At shortstop, he would be exposed further.
Still, Alderson is pushing the idea that an offseason of conditioning may have improved a slow-footed, range challenged player to the point where he’ll be able to play adequate shortstop defense.
I’m not sure if Alderson even believes his own words when it comes to Flores and shortstop.
This strikes me as one of the things that’s said as spring training gets closer. It wouldn’t be shocking if Flores got some reps at shortstop during exhibition games (they don’t count, so who cares), but if Flores ever played shortstop at the big league level it would be incredibly surprising.
The Mets currently have a shortstop problem.
The Mets need to find a solution at shortstop, but it’s highly unlikely that solution will be Wilmer Flores.