Mar 5, 2014; Melbourne, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman Wilmer Flores (4) throws to first against the Washington Nationals in spring training action at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
With Flores up, the expectation is that it’s to play the majority of the time. Calling him up to back up Ruben Tejada makes no sense. So, what now?
Flores isn’t a bad defender. He has a solid arm and soft hands. Rather, it’s concerns about his agility and range that led the Mets to move him off shortstop over three years ago.
Flores is in tremendous shape after a winter training in Michigan, but there’s nothing to suggest that he’ll be able to play shortstop at a passable level in the major leagues.
While he was playing shortstop this season for Triple-A Las Vegas, Flores made seven errors in less than 30 games. Even more worrisome than the errors on the balls he got to, is the fact that his lack of range at shortstop will likely lead to lots of ground ball hits that would ordinarily be outs.
With Flores having such a small amount of exposure at shortstop since 2011, his footwork around the bag while turning potential double plays is also something that is worrisome.
What isn’t up for debate is whether the Mets needed a change from Ruben Tejada at shortstop. Still, it remains highly unlikely that Wilmer Flores has enough defensive chops at short to be a long-term answer. His bat should play well there, but that’s only part of the equation.
If Wilmer Flores can defy almost every outside observer and handle shortstop at an adequate level, the Mets may have found their answer. However, the more likely scenario is that Flores at shortstop is simply the Mets putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.