David Wright, really the only hitter in the Mets lineup worth watching these days, was officially put on the disabled list yesterday with what was described as a Grade 2 hamstring strain. According to Mets manager Terry Collins, Wright is expected to miss three to five weeks. This is an unfortunate situation and one that is devastating for a Mets team that, as unlikely as it sounds, had a lot of fans believing they might make it interesting in September. Whether or not you were in that camp, Wright’s injury essentially quashes any hope of that happening.
As unfortunate as the injury is, and whether or not you believe it was avoidable, it does lead to some potentially interesting scenarios moving forward. Most notably, Mets fans may get to see young second baseman Wilmer Flores make his debut about a month earlier than…oh, the Mets decided to call up Mike Baxter instead? There certainly have to be some valid reasons for that decision, right?
Collins, as reported by Adam Rubin at ESPN, has suggested that he may move Daniel Murphy to third base in Wright’s absence. This makes sense since third base is Murphy’s most natural position and it would save all of us from having to watch Justin Turner start there every day. However, he also suggested moving Eric Young to second base. Young has played the position before, though not particularly well, so that in and of itself isn’t head-scratching. What’s curious is the subsequent shuffling these moves seemingly portend when considering whether or not they promote Flores.
Specifically, moving Young to second leaves the door open for Lucas Duda to resume his plodding in left field when he returns from the disabled list. The Mets could absolutely use the offense that Duda has the potential to provide upon his return, but all of this shuffling brings to light the inconsistency in the Mets positional philosophy.
Why are the Mets so reluctant to bring up Flores, who is seemingly well beyond ready on the offensive side of the ball? According to Rubin, Collins and the Mets are concerned with his “non-existent range and foot speed.” All of a sudden the Mets are cautious about putting a player in a position where they may be average or below-average defensively?
How soon we forget that the Mets have been starting players in unnatural positions for quite awhile. Duda clearly has absolutely no business in left field, yet they keep marching him out there. Coincidentally, Murphy at second base was another example of the team shoving a square peg into a round hole. These defensive sacrifices were made for the sake of getting as much offense into the lineup as possible. Now the team is worried about Flores playing a position at a below-average level?
Of course each of these situations are not apples to apples comparisons. You can hide a defensive black hole in left field more effectively than at second base, for example. It’s an inconsistent stance at best and hypocrisy at worst, though, and it’s maddening to Mets fans attempting to understand just what this club is trying to achieve.
The Mets claimed that inaction at the trade deadline was a result of lowball offers and the team’s desire to be “competitive” through the end of the season. One can surmise that this translates to the team’s goal of keeping fans interested and going to the ballpark. For what it’s worth, this blogger would rather pay to watch young Flores kick baseballs around second base for the rest of the season than Young (.190/.299/.293 since the All Star break). How about you?