When the New York Mets promoted Wilmer Flores the second week of May to play shortstop for them, they were sacrificing defense with the hope that Flores would give their lineup a spark offensively. Now six weeks after Flores was promoted, the Mets are still waiting for his bat to catch fire and start making an impact in their lineup.
In Flores’ defense, an illness knocked him out of the lineup for over a week, which took him out of rhythm after he was promoted to the majors in the midst of a hot streak. Something similar happened to Flores last season when he had a great first week in the big leagues before an ankle injury took him off the field and caused him to slump when he returned.
Since Flores has returned from his illness, he has failed to get in a rhythm offensively, slashing just .228/.256/.304 with only four multi-hit games and a lowly seven RBIs.
Another byproduct of Flores missing time with his illness was that it gave Ruben Tejada a chance to redeem himself, and while he’s been far from spectacular, Tejada has played better since the Mets brought Flores up to compete for the job. That has earned Tejada steady playing time, preventing Flores from getting in a rhythm offensively, as Mets’ manager Terry Collins has rarely given either player more than two or three starts in a row before making a change.
Of course, if either Flores or Tejada were to get going offensively, there’s no doubt that Collins would keep them in the lineup on a more consistently basis. Based on his minor league track record, Flores is more likely to become an impact player offensively, but that hasn’t happened. To his credit, Flores has done better than expected defensively, although his range is somewhat limited and he sometimes struggles to turn double plays.
The Mets can live with what Flores is doing defensively if he starts to hit the way he did in the minors. But until that happens (if it happens), it’s hard to justify not giving Tejada regular playing time as the two have similar offensive numbers — except Tejada has a higher on-base percentage, and is a better defensive player.
At this point in the season, the Mets need to put their best lineup on the field in order to win games, and right now that means Tejada at shortstop. Flores will continue to get opportunities, but the Mets are still waiting for him to come alive offensively, and they can’t wait forever.