Not all positions are created equal. Many positions have a higher value to a farm system because they are, frankly, harder to play. For a given position a player must be naturally gifted with 1 of 4 abilities: Arm, Hands, Range and/or Smarts.
Arm: Is pretty straightforward. Accuracy is good but for positions like Shortstop, Catcher, Third Base and Right Field you need to have a STRONG arm to make throws ahead of potentially fast runners. OR… you have to have Mike Piazza’s bat.
Hands: Soft hands refers to a few different things but I’m merging them for these purposes to talk about glove work. You need to be able to catch and make the transition smoothly. It means different things in the OF and IF and it’s important for EVERY position in differing ways.
Range: Lateral movement in the infield or flat out speed in the outfield. Taking good routes to the ball is more under smarts.
Smarts: This is really a key for catchers. Catchers need to call the game and direct the field. Sure, the managers and coaches help, but the catcher bears most of this burden. Smarts is a great thing for any player to have but you don’t necessarily need it if your physical gifts make up for mistakes.
SS: Range+, Hands, Arm
C: Hands+, Arm, Smarts+
CF: Range++, Hands
2B: Range, Hands
3B: Hands, Arm+
RF: Hands, Arm+
Wilmer Flores is gifted with soft hands and a good arm. He’s handled 3rd base pretty well… given it’s his first time there. The issue is that the Mets already have a guy they like in AA at 3rd. Well… Flores has played second base recently? Except the B-Mets have a certain player named Reese Havens trying to rediscover his stroke manning 2nd. There’s also legitimate concern about Flores cutting it at 3rd base. So… what’s next?
Wilmer at Short: AWFUL idea. Sending him back to a position it’s clear he cannot handle doesn’t help anyone. This includes Wilfredo Tovar who has earned the right to play in Binghamton.
Wilmer at Second: Splitting time with Reese Havens might really hurt what little confidence Havens still has. I fell in love with Reese’s swing when I saw him in 2011 so I don’t want to give up on him.
Wilmer at Third: He’s managed things at 3rd pretty honorably… considering he’s not played there before. We know the bigger issue is that if the Mets bring Wright back on a long-term deal he can’t play for them. The flip side of this is that Wilmer Flores could have huge trade value as a solid hitting and fielding 3B. I don’t think this front office likes thinking of prospects purely as trade chips.
Wilmer in Right Field: Not absurd! He’s got a good arm and would make the catches. At least he’d be better in the field than Duda. He’ll never be a “Plus” defender in the outfield.
Wilmer in Left Field: Like Right but using less of his skill set. Wilmer’s arm is an asset.
Wilmer at First: Sure… he could play first. Between Davis and potentially Duda (if Davis is a lost cause) the Mets don’t need him there.
Wilmer the Catcher: People who have followed me for a while are going to groan when they see this. Yes! I am still on this kick to have Flores try his hand as a catcher. Think about the fact that he has the arm and the hands to make it, ignore the fact he’s never played there and remember that the Mets have no catching prospects remotely ready… let alone one with an impact bat. Here’s the issue: If you switch Wilmer to a position like catcher you can tack on 2 years to his stay in the minors. Right now he’s a candidate for a 2013 mid-season call-up.
If I had to guess where Wilmer would be coming up I’d look at the corner outfield spots or second base. Right now, my 2013 outfield has Nieuwenhuis/Bay, Den Dekker and Duda with Baxter as the 5th OF. That’s a lot of lefty bats in the outfield and leaves only Wright, Tejada and Bay as the right-handed starters (Bay only starts against lefties). This means the Mets will need a right-handed bat and my bet is that the opportunity comes for Wilmer to cover in one of the corners. In terms of second the road would be through Murphy converting into a super-sub or being traded and Wilmer hitting his way past lefties, Jordany Valdespin and Reese Havens.
Meanwhile I’ll keep dreaming of Wilmer as the future Met back-stop.