Mets failing to upgrade shortstop would be gross negligence

By Danny Abriano

After the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer, forfeiting their first round draft pick in the process, Sandy Alderson intimated that the most important item on their agenda was addressing the shortstop situation.

A month later, Alderson has been telling the assembled media at the Winter Meetings it’s more likely that the team stands pat at shortstop instead of upgrading. He’s noted that there are a lack of options when it comes to the trade market for shortstops.

The above is an example of Alderson simply doing his job. It serves no purpose to act desperate in public, and it makes no sense to criticize a player who might not be your starter, but who will likely be on the team regardless. It also makes no sense for Alderson to promise a fanbase something on the off chance that he’s unable to deliver.

Still, most of the Mets’ beat writers seem to be buying the claim that there’s a strong chance the Mets won’t upgrade at shortstop, with one noting that the search for a shortstop has hit a “roadblock.”

I believe that those with decision making power in the Mets organization know full well that Wilmer Flores is not a player who can handle shortstop. I believe that Sandy Alderson is doing everything he can to find an upgrade at shortstop. I believe that when all is said and done, the Mets will find a legitimate two-way shortstop.

What if that doesn’t happen?

After six straight losing seasons, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, and any Mets player being put in front of a microphone is saying that 2015 will be a legitimate contending year.

Trying things out during non-contending years is fine. Not going all out to improve the team during non-contending years is fine. Hoarding your assets during non-contending years is fine.

However, for the Mets to enter 2015, the first season since 2008 where the club has legitimate postseason aspirations, with Wilmer Flores as their starting shortstop would be inexcusable.

Wilmer Flores was moved off shortstop years ago because every scout who watched him felt that he couldn’t handle the position. Nothing in 2014 changed that, and a tiny sample size of less than awful play at shortstop doesn’t erase the fact that Flores simply doesn’t have the range or agility to handle the position.

Teams with legitimate playoff hopes don’t enter new campaigns with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop and no legitimate fallback option should he fail.

More than it being inexcusable for Flores to be the guy, it would be gross negligence on the part of the front office. Additionally, it would be an insult to the fans who have been waiting for a winner for the better part of a decade.

While there are some shortstop options on the free agent market (Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew to name a couple), the Mets should be looking to address shortstop via trade.

Sandy Alderson cannot cry ‘woe is me’ because it isn’t easy to find a shortstop upgrade. He can’t say he tried and failed. He can’t say the perfect fit wasn’t out there.

There’s no such thing as a perfect fit.

However, there are plenty of options via trade, including Brad Miller and Chris Taylor of Seattle, Addison Russell of the Cubs, and Jurickson Profar of Texas.

It’s Sandy Alderson’s job to flip one or more of his assets in order to import a shortstop who can handle the position. Yes, it takes two sides to make a trade. But again, it’s Alderson’s job to wade through the waters and locate a match.

Until the Mets find an actual shortstop, it will be impossible to take them seriously as an actual contender.