During the course of spring training, the New York Mets will have several intriguing storylines to follow, but one minor storyline to keep an eye on is manager Terry Collins pledging to give prospect Wilmer Flores playing time at shortstop to see if he can handle the position. Spring training is all about trying new things and experimenting, but this is one experiment that is going to fail miserably.
The idea to play Flores at shortstop was born out of Flores’ presence at a strength, conditioning and nutrition camp over the winter where he reportedly improved his quickness and agility. The idea also came about because the Mets still don’t have any plan for Flores’ future, and heading into spring training there is no defined role for him which will likely lead to Flores starting the 2014 season in triple-A even though he has little left to prove in the minors — at least as a hitter.
Of course, Flores began his career in the minors as a shortstop, but it’s been more than two years since he played the position regularly. With a 6-f00t-3 frame that continues to fill out, Flores lacks the foot speed and range to be anything close to an average defensive shortstop. He played primarily at second base last season, but even there there are questions about his range and his ability to be average defensively at that position as well.
But with Ruben Tejada likely to reclaim the starting shortstop position after a terrible 2013 season, the Mets have nothing to lose by trying out Flores at shortstop as they try in vain to find a position he can play and a way to get his bat into the lineup. However, the solution to that problem is not going to be putting Flores at shortstop. He was a below average defensive player when the Mets moved him off of shortstop two years ago, and even if he’s gained some quickness, he’s a long way away from being a viable shortstop.
The odds of Flores being adequate enough defensively at shortstop to justify playing him there are quite low. That won’t stop the Mets from trying him out there in spring training, but it’s an experiment that’s bound to fail. Flores being a viable major league shortstop is something that has to be seen to be believed.