Shortstop has been a black hole for the Mets in 2014 and they have decided to punt defense and go with their best internal option by promoting long-time prospect Wilmer Flores from Triple-A. Flores is riding a hot streak where in his last eight games he has a 1.500 OPS thanks to seven extra-base hits in his last 29 ABs.
For the season, Flores has a .307/.360/.500 line, which would be wonderful if it was produced in Buffalo but since it was put up in Las Vegas it’s another story completely. When you look at all the batters, including pitchers, for Las Vegas, an .860 OPS is just barely above average. As a team, Las Vegas has an .850 OPS so far in 2014.
There are 11 hitters besides Flores to amass at least 50 PA for Las Vegas and six of them have a higher OPS. Andrew Brown, Allan Dykstra and Taylor Teagarden all have a four-digit OPS and few are clamoring for their promotions to the big club.
Unfortunately, since the Mets moved to the desert, they’ve found that for their hitters what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Last year 11 players had at least 75 PA for both New York and Las Vegas and here were their marks in both places, with players listed in order of descending PA in Triple-A:
Not one player posted a higher OPS in the majors than he did in the minors, which is not a huge shock. What is alarming is how six of the 11 saw a loss of over 300 points of OPS with their move to the majors and three others had drops of 194 or more. Only Satin and Duda had what we would consider “normal” drops associated with being promoted to the big leagues.
Research done last year suggested that a quick-and-dirty estimation is to expect a 25% drop in OPS going from Las Vegas to New York. With Flores having an .860 OPS in Triple-A, that would be a .645 OPS in the majors. So, adjust your expectations for Flores accordingly.
Still, it seems a good bet that Flores will exceed what Quintanilla (.499 OPS) and Tejada (.509) have produced offensively for the Mets this season. The plan seems to be to start Flores and if it’s a close game late, bring in Tejada as a late-inning replacement for defense.
Seems like a good plan except for one thing: Tejada is not particularly good on defense. Anecdotally, we’ve seen him botch several DP chances here in the beginning of 2014 and objectively, he carries a (-15.7) UZR/150 here in the early going. His defense is likely not that bad; still, he has a lifetime (-0.9) UZR/150 at SS.
Quintanilla has a slightly better defensive mark – lifetime (0.4 UZR)/150 – and has the benefit of batting lefty, typically an edge in late-inning matchups. So, why was he given a DFA while Tejada gets to remain in the majors?
It’s easy to say age, as Tejada is eight years younger. But perhaps the Mets want to free up a roster spot. Neither Rafael Montero nor Noah Syndergaard are currently on the 40-man roster. While the Mets do have an easy spot to free up – by moving Bobby Parnell to the 60-day DL – this would give the club even more flexibility.