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Monday, March 11, 2013

Roth: Meet the Satire Called the Mets

And we are very
Proud of ourselves
Pafko up against the wall (############)

But where most owners have recently distinguished themselves through their huffily John Galtian militancy and vicious avarice, the Wilpons are playing a different and goofier game, spinning cascading failure, proud delusion, and unrelenting and imperturbable clownishness into what’s less a standard Shitty Owner Ruins Team story and more like a strange, sprawling satirical novel.

There isn’t an author who could write it, but you’d come closest if you asked Don DeLillo to write one of his recent Awful Rich Men Fail Greatly novels and then had Sam Lipsyte go back over it, rewriting all the characters so that they are callow, childish, and comically hapless. The Wilpons got caught up in Bernie Madoff’s labyrinthine Ponzi scheme—that’s the DeLillo part—and then proceeded to leverage and releverage the team in order to stay tenuously afloat, denying all the while that they were doing so, and making the situation catastrophically and hilariously worse in so doing; the Wilpons have an estimated $900 million of debt due in 2014–15, and are commonly understood to have virtually no money. That’s the Lipsyte part. It’s hard to know who would write the bit about the Mets putting a storefront/recruiting center for the disgraced pyramid-scheming corpo-cult Amway in their stadium. It is, honestly, a bit much. A good author would cut it, citing implausibility.

Cheering for a shitty team is easy—anyone can do it, and it’s one of the few tasks that becomes easier the drunker you get. Cheering for a team that ruthlessly and relentlessly satirizes itself in broad and livid strokes is somewhat more challenging. It’s still preferable to the alternative, given that the alternative is cheering for the Yankees. But some kinds of uniqueness are more appealing than others, and satire gets progressively more difficult to laugh at the better it gets.

Repoz Posted: March 11, 2013 at 03:48 PM | 62 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. The District Attorney Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:22 PM (#4386497)
"Bo-zee-bo-zee-bop, biddy bop," Roth added.
   2. Lassus Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:29 PM (#4386501)
This is a mind-numbingly boring article.
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4386503)
This is a mind-numbingly boring article


I stopped at the first sentence of the quoted part.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4386509)
Why does Dennis Miller write under this pen name?
   5. JE (Jason) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4386516)
I kind of liked this sentence:
The strangeness emanates almost entirely from the Wilpon family, a flubby Long Island real estate dynasty in full Hapsburgian decline.
   6. billyshears Posted: March 11, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4386532)
I think reality is trolling Mets fans.
   7. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 11, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4386546)
There's no avarice like "vicious avarice".

I can find this popping popcorn style of prose useful at times, and for a farce like the Wilpons it suits.
   8. flournoy Posted: March 11, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4386548)
If a Mets fan reads an article that numbs the mind, can he tell the difference?
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 11, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4386558)
Another slick intro by Repoz.
   10. John Northey Posted: March 11, 2013 at 06:52 PM (#4386581)
I still dream of having the Mets get a better record this year than the injury filled Yankees - now that would be funny. Both well under 500 of course.
   11. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 11, 2013 at 06:58 PM (#4386584)
Is there anyone that's even a tad optimistic about the nucleus of this team? We so rarely talk about anything but the Wilpons and the team's finances when we talk Mets.

I think this team has the potential to be pretty good soon. I like Niese and Harvey quite a bit and as my username says I am pretty fond of Gee as well. And they still have guys like Familia and Wheeler in the minors.
   12. Dan Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:03 PM (#4386588)
The core of the roster is decent. But areas like the outfield and bullpen are so weak that it makes the overall team seem uncompetitive.
   13. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:08 PM (#4386590)
I have some optimism. The bullpen is bound to be better just from reversion to the mean, while 2 WAR outfielders (i.e., a massive upgrade) ought to be easy enough to find when the time is right. Davis should be better. The rest of them are pretty much what-you-see-is-what-you-get.

I'm uneasy that so many of their assets are young pitchers, but it's better than where we were 2 years ago. I'd feel a lot better if Nimmo, Flores, and maybe Vaughn take big steps forward this year.
   14. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:15 PM (#4386595)
The one silver lining about the financial problems the Mets have had recently is that they don't have any bad contracts left after this season. Unless the payroll is going to drop down to 50 million, the Mets are going to have some money to spend next year (sorry for the money talk.)

BTW, I really don't like that the Mets are looking at Familia and Mejia as relievers. At least to start this season, I want them starting in the minors.
   15. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:17 PM (#4386597)
I'd be surprised if Mejia amounts to anything at this point. Familia probably seems like a reliever to them because he's hispanic. Also, he wasn't so good last year as a starter.
   16. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:24 PM (#4386601)
Is there anyone that's even a tad optimistic about the nucleus of this team?


Not optimistic, but not pessimistic. They really could go in any direction at all.

Only Wright seems to have the potential to put up a season that really moves a team towards a championship. I have no idea what Davis will do, but I'm optimistic. D'Arnaud is the only catcher on the roster with the potential to play above replacement level, and he hasn't had an ML at bat. I really like his prospects, though. He's definitely got All-Star potential.

The pitching staff has promise, but I see Niese and Gee only as solid, back of the rotation guys on a contender; not as the anchors, and I don't think it's close. Marcum was a good pickup, but not a big deal. That leaves the team's future largely in the hands of rookies and minor leaguers.

If the team will have a 90m payroll for the next decade, Wright should have been traded. You don't want to give a guy that much money who'll be into his decline phase once the current crop of minor leaguers starts to blossom. But, as mistakes go, worse ones get made all the time.

I like guys like Tejada and Murphy. Everyone does. Homegrown guys who can give you a couple of wins for close to the minimum are fun to root for. Neither has breakout potential, though. And what the frak is going on with the OF and the pen? I thought the OF corners and the bullpen were where a GM with no money could shine.

Most teams have the potential to be pretty good soon. So do the Mets. Wright could continue strong. Davis could rebound and put up an All-Star season. D'Arnaud could be well above average in 2014. Tejada and Murphy could be solid regulars. Niese and Gee could keep it up. Marcum could be solid. Wheeler might excel.

We can't just say money doesn't exist, though. It hangs heavy over this kind of club. One problem recurs with examples like the case where Murphy continues to be a 2-3 win player. These Mets will let him go in free agency. Same with Tejada. This isn't a Mets team that will routinely re-sign their average regulars once they get to free agency. Unless ownership changes, the windows are very small. These Mets need to take advantage of Davis, Murphy, and Tejada before they get expensive. If between them they're good enough to help the Mets contend, they could easily end up making 25m a season in FA, and if they're not good enough, it means there are just way too many holes in the roster.
   17. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:27 PM (#4386602)
With respect to Familia, he has shown the ability to dominate a level after getting his butt kicked at that level in the past and he's still only 23 years old. I'm not saying that it would be a travesty to make him a reliever but I want to make sure he can't cut it as a starter. I'd at least start this season in the minors as a starter.

With respect to Mejia, his star has definitely dimmed but he's still only one day older than Familia, and 8 months younger than Harvey. Maybe he never regains the stuff that made him a good prospect and he ends up a bust but I want him in the minors starting.
   18. Lassus Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:51 PM (#4386613)
Thank you, Russlan.
   19. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:07 PM (#4386639)

I like the idea of "Galtian militancy". Galt was a pretty passive dude.
   20. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 11, 2013 at 09:13 PM (#4386643)
I had to do something to pay you back for suggesting I change my username, Lassus.
   21. ...and Toronto selects: Troy Tulowitzki Posted: March 11, 2013 at 10:52 PM (#4386680)
"@HardballTalk:
Johan Santana is “angry” and “bitter” toward the Mets http://dlvr.it/347cgV #mlb #hbt"


Has Alderson had a few moments of running his mouth to the media that haven't benefited him since becoming a GM again?
   22. billyshears Posted: March 11, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4386684)
Is there anyone that's even a tad optimistic about the nucleus of this team? We so rarely talk about anything but the Wilpons and the team's finances when we talk Mets.


I am actually quite optimistic about the future of the Mets. I think Harvey, Wheeler and Niese have a pretty good chance of forming the 1 - 3 spots in the rotation on a championship level club, and they're all under team control for 6 more seasons. Gee is at the least a solid back-end starter who is also cost controlled for some time. Wright is whoever he is, but at the very least probably a borderline all-star. It's hard to figure out Ike Davis, but I think there's a fair chance he can put up a couple all-star seasons in his age 26 - 30 seasons. Murphy and Tejada should be league average or so. D'Arnaud should be somewhere between league average and all-star within 3 years. The outfield is of course a vortex of suck, but this is where Syndegaard, Montero, Tapia, Mateo, etc. come into play. Syndergaard is already a top 30 prospect on a couple lists, but if he or one of the other pitching prospects can take a step forward, maybe they can be the certerpiece on a trade for a major OF bat next offseason. With some cash to spend, the Mets can sign another OF bat. Then there's just one more OF spot to fill and the hope is one of Duda, Flores, Den Dekker or Lagares prove themselves worthy.

I get that there is a lot of uncertainty is the above, and most teams can construct a scenario that looks something like the above. And being a Mets fan in the 21st century does entail understanding that everything always falls apart. But the Mets do have a fair number of talented players who are under team control for a long time, especially in the rotation. They've been terrible for some time, but for the first time in awhile, I see some light at the end of the tunnel.
   23. billyshears Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:07 PM (#4386692)
BTW, I really don't like that the Mets are looking at Familia and Mejia as relievers. At least to start this season, I want them starting in the minors.


Eh - on an organizational basis, neither of them are better than the 6th most promising starting pitcher for 2014, and I think they're probably lower on the totem poll after accounting for some of the pitchers further down in the minor leagues. There has always been speculation that they were better suited to relieve anyway. At this point, I'd rather break them in as relievers and see if they earn the chance for more with their performance. Of course if they can start they would be much more valuable, but I kind of think the chance of either of them becoming effective starters is small enough that it makes sense to start extracting value however we can.
   24. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:02 AM (#4386729)
The one silver lining about the financial problems the Mets have had recently is that they don't have any bad contracts left after this season.


The converse is true, of course. The Mets don't have any good contracts, either (well, Niese, maybe). They have Wright, whose deal could be anything from good to very bad, overall, then a few guys who are starting to get expensive, then a whole lot of guys they can skin, thanks to the players' union. I'm sorry they didn't move on Davis and buy out some of his arbitration years, but that's what happens with a team in turmoil. They could have had Murphy cheap a while back. Not any more, I don't think. Tejada might have been willing to sign a deal. Might still be. There isn't anyone in the system likely to replace him. It was easy to identify Murphy as a guy you'd want to keep around. Davis too.

Nobody wants to hear it but the Mets may start shedding salaries soon. Assuming guys play reasonably well (otherwise, what's the point?) Ike Davis makes 3m in 2013, meaning he'll make around 6m in 2014, his 2nd arb year, if he develops like the Mets need him to this season. Niese makes 5m in 2014. Murphy's making 3m this season and will pull down 5-6m in 2014. Parnell's an arb 2. If he's any good this season he'll be in line for 4m in 2014.

Gee, Tejada, and Turner all go to arbitration for the first time in 2014. The Mets need them to be playing reasonably well to have a shot anything, and they'll each be getting around 40% of a comparable FA salary. If that's 3-4m apiece, we're looking at 30-32m for 7 guys.

Another 8.5m go to Bay and Santana in 2014. Wright gets a cool 20m. We're up to 60m with 17 slots on the 25-man roster to fill. That means guys making around the minimum will really need to step up, because for every Shawn Marcum they have to go and get to fill a rotation slot, they'll have to move someone like Murphy or Tejada in order to pay him, and hand the position vacated to someone making around the minimum, whoever that turns out to be.

$30 million left for 17 guys means that even if you're paying every single one of those guys the minimum, with a 90m payroll you can add one real star FA, or two FA's not quite as good as a guy like Victorino, who got 13m per.

It gets worse in 2015, of course, when 7 guys who they'll need to perform are arb 3 or arb 2. In the absence of anything resembling an outfield, the Mets are going to need just about all their young pitchers to turn into rotation regulars. Harvey and Wheeler are going to have to be very good, near the top of their projections.

They can go the route some teams have taken into the postseason--4 or 5 good, durable pitchers, the kind that don't necessarily throw shutouts, but keep you in games and don't regularly kill the pen; and a solid lineup. It's nice to have stars, of course, but teams have contended without them.

The 2014-15 Mets will probably have enough young arms to fill the pen cheaply with the guys who can't cut it as starters, but Alderson's going to have rediscover the form he showed in his first season when he did such a good job of getting off the rosters guys who didn't contribute. He was good at getting a half win here, a half win there. He's going to have to do that again, particularly with the OF.

Alderson's also not likely to be around past 2015. The club has an option on him for that season, but he's old, and if he doesn't want to stay I doubt the Mets will force him. Only Jeff Wilpon knows what the order of succession is likely to be.
   25. vivaelpujols Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:51 AM (#4386746)
This is a mind-numbingly boring article.


But it's good writing see. The author uses words like cascading and imperturbable.
   26. formerly dp Posted: March 12, 2013 at 07:28 AM (#4386753)
Pretty much sign onto everything in #22-- and it's a nice reminder of what a good haul they got in return for Dickey. We no longer have Mike Nickeas! I'm pretty enthusiastic about Flores, given his age, pedigree, and performance at AA last year-- if that represented a progression, rather than a plateau, they could have a special player on their hands. Otherwise, though, I don't see a lot to get excited about in terms of position players. Watching the Jays the other day, and Gose would have looked good on the 2013 Mets-- Syndeggard's the better prospect long-term, but the immediate gratification part of me wanted a decent OF to watch this year.

Why did they not sign Francisco? Not that he's good, but he's better than...whatever they're going to be running out there this year...
   27. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:21 AM (#4386829)
"Bo-zee-bo-zee-bop, biddy bop," Roth added.

It's the story of the Mets' outfield! "IIIIIIIIIII ain't got no bahhhhhhhh-deeee..."
   28. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:45 AM (#4386841)
if you asked Don DeLillo to write one of his recent Awful Rich Men Fail Greatly novels and then had Sam Lipsyte go back over it, rewriting all the characters so that they are callow, childish, and comically hapless.
So in other words write Tom Wolfe's Bonfire Of The Vanities, you mean.

BTW, this article is really only one editing pass away from actually being good. The skeleton is there, it's just far too flowery and verbose. A tough editor could strip away the bullshit in twenty minutes and leave you with a very nice, drippingly bitter miniature.
   29. Lassus Posted: March 12, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4386885)
I'm obviously a Mets fan, but even if you took away all the I'M SO SMART OH GOD I'M SMART verbiage and references, the article is still nothing remotely new or interesting. It's the same snoring snarky chucklefest that by now has been done to absolute death. Hell, I've been making fun of the Mets since Rafael Santana. It's aggressively not new, especially lately.
   30. Swedish Chef Posted: March 12, 2013 at 12:45 PM (#4386895)
Kids, this is what happens when you get addicted to Roget's. You think it's harmless in small doses to spice things up here and there. Then one day, you turn into this. Just say no!
   31. There are no words... (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4386907)
Roth went a reeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaallllllly long way to say "LOLMets!"
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4386913)
Is there anyone that's even a tad optimistic about the nucleus of this team?

As an outsider, the young talent appears to be coming along nicely, especially Harvey and Wheeler (I tried hard to get Harvey in my DMB league :-).
   33. The District Attorney Posted: March 12, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4386985)
I wouldn't use terms like "goofy", "clownishness" and "circus." If anything, if I were to re-write this, it'd be based on the proposition that the Wilpons are a particularly dull type of bad owner. They're not bombastic fools (early George Steinbrenner, Daniel Snyder). They're not laughable fools (Maloof brothers). They're not reptilian con men (Jeffrey Loria). They're not crazy con men (Frank McCourt). They're boring con men who have almost lulled a notoriously rabid media to sleep because no one particularly dislikes them and they're boring.

(Of course, as has often been noted, Bud Selig's support has a lot to do with it. If Selig treated Wilpon like he treated the McCourts, then -- even without the extra McCourt flavoring like the divorce, crazy psychic Russian, etc. -- the NY media would have made this a circus whether the Wilpons acted like clowns or not. But I think the media takes the cue from Selig that there is nothing to really worry about here.)

Re: Met on-field future: Future hazy, ask again. As described well here, so much depends on young pitchers, a catching prospect, and the general blossoming of the farm system such that assets that can be converted into outfielders appear.
   34. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 12, 2013 at 04:44 PM (#4387105)
I wouldn't use terms like "goofy", "clownishness" and "circus." If anything, if I were to re-write this, it'd be based on the proposition that the Wilpons are a particularly dull type of bad owner. They're not bombastic fools (early George Steinbrenner, Daniel Snyder). They're not laughable fools (Maloof brothers). They're not reptilian con men (Jeffrey Loria). They're not crazy con men (Frank McCourt). They're boring con men who have almost lulled a notoriously rabid media to sleep because no one particularly dislikes them and they're boring.


I would have said they're three for four (bombastic, laughable, reptilian), certainly the last two; and how is someone who owes $900 confidently claiming "I am debt free!" not bombastic?

Flores' 2012 season was dandy, in the category of 'what he needed to do' while showing power. He's still a contact hitter who in five years hasn't improved his ability to take a walk, though, which pisses me off. And the Mets are still trotting him out to 2B once every two weeks in order to see if they can set back his career with a significant injury. Love to know what's going on in their little heads, what with playing Flores so often at 3B. The good news is that at six foot three and still under two hundred pounds he's got a chance to put on 20 pounds of muscle without hampering his swing. At least the SS experiment ended. This just isn't what a competent organization does with its best hitting prospect.

Hitting well at Binghamton as a 20 year old is great news, of course, but where the hell is he going to play? I imagine he's penciled in to arrive in New York in 2015, but where? The Mets are giving the bulk of the starts at 1B to 25 year olds who are just getting to AA, which of course is insane.

I'd give serious consideration to just giving Flores a year at 1B. If they think he just might be able to handle 2B, surely becoming an average 1Bman is well within reach. If Ike Davis turns into the stud we still hope he will, you have a hell of a trade chit, because Flores has a position and you're not limited in trade partners to AL clubs who don't have a bunch of older players they rotate through the DH slot. If Davis falters, you have a cheap alternative, which the Mets will desperately need. I just hope these Mets aren't thinking something like, 'what the hell, this'll be the year we try Flores at 2B because we just remembered we have Wright at third, and if Flores can't handle 2B, how hard can 1B be?'

But, I really, really think that's what they're thinking.
   35. depletion Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:04 PM (#4387116)
If Selig treated Wilpon like he treated the McCourts, then --

Fred made a good move when the Mets decided to never go above "slot" in paying draft picks. I think Bud put him on the BFF list for this (and probably at least one other) act.
I have been a fan since '66 and have never been so down on the team's chances. If D'Arnaud, Wheeler and Flores can do something interesting in the bigs by the end of the year I will probably change my outlook. I don't have much interest in going to their games here in DC. Probably would rather see Dickey and Reyes play up in Baltimore.
   36. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4387130)
I'd give serious consideration to just giving Flores a year at 1B.

Why first base and not the OF?
   37. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4387147)
@36" When I've seen him play he seems to have the skills of an IF, just not a particularly good IFer. He doesn't seem to get a good jump on fly balls and he's not particularly fast. His weaknesses, I think, would be magnified anywhere but 1B. The Mets seem to think so, too, fwiw, as they've never played him in the OF for a single inning (which might simply be an arm issue--I don't know). You'd figure if they thought there was ANY chance he could stick, they would have put him out there for a week, particularly given their dearth of prospects there. It's a lot harder to get hurt in left than it is at second.

Speaking of 1Bmen, I'd enjoy seeing Allan Dykstra be able to put together some sort of ML career. A .248 BA lifetime in the minors, with a .393 OBP? That's Youkilis country. A little power, too.
   38. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4387167)
When I've seen him play he seems to have the skills of an IF, just not a particularly good IFer. He doesn't seem to get a good jump on fly balls and he's not particularly fast.

Obviously, I haven't seen him play but if they haven't played him a single inning the outfield it's probably a little early to say that he can't hack it as a corner outfielder as long as he's a reasonable athlete. The fact that they haven't put him out there yet makes sense as you want to keep a player at a premium defensive positions as long as you can.
   39. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:47 PM (#4387172)
Okay--well, let's just say he can't play the OF then. The whole problem with Flores is he can't handle a position. He so profoundly can't handle a position that the Mets have played him a lot at 3B, a position they seem to have nailed down at the major league level, or so I've heard. You just don't let a guy you know can hit but whom you know may not make it in the NL because he can't field get all the way to AA without trying the OF, ever, if you think he has any chance of succeeding in the OF. It just doesn't work that way. Not even on the Mets.***

***All right. Just maybe on the Mets, but it would be an example of extraordinary malpractice. As much as this is an organization capable of anything at all, I'd still be surprised if, with all the discussion of how Flores may fail simply because he has no position, that the Mets wouldn't have tried something this obvious. If you thought it was a fall back position, and with a guy flailing at third base, shortstop, and second base, and with a gaping organizational wound in the outfield, you'd send him out there for a couple of weeks to be certain he could handle it. Even the Mets know that it takes years to teach young guys to get jumps on fly balls. I think.
   40. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 05:51 PM (#4387179)
I'd give serious consideration to just giving Flores a year at 1B.

Why first base and not the OF?

His bat doesn't look like it will play at either 1B or corner OF. I'm guessing he's not fast enough for CF.

I think they are right that he needs to be a 2B or 3B to have significant value.
   41. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:01 PM (#4387189)
It just doesn't work that way. Not even on the Mets.

JC, I don't understand why you seem to be saying that because the Mets haven't moved him to the outfield yet means that they don't think that he can handle the position. They may have been keeping him at third because they thought they'd need to replace Wright. He's only 21 years old and there's still time for him to learn the position if he start playing there this year at some point.

His bat doesn't look like it will play at either 1B or corner OF.

He put up a .311/.361/.494 batting line in AA as a 20 year old. I think it's a little harsh to say that the bat won't play in a corner outfield spot. His overall minor league numbers are underwhelming but that's to be expected considering he's been extremely young for the league for most of his career.
   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:15 PM (#4387201)
He put up a .311/.361/.494 batting line in AA as a 20 year old. I think it's a little harsh to say that the bat won't play in a corner outfield spot. His overall minor league numbers are underwhelming but that's to be expected considering he's been extremely young for the league for most of his career.

His birthday's the first week in August, (he's about as old a 20 as you can be) and that line still doesn't translate to something you want in RF/LF, unless he's a plus defender.

Why not see if he can hack 3B? Keep his value as high as possible. You can always trade him if you can't fit him.
   43. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:24 PM (#4387214)
Russlan's right--he's extremely young for the leagues he's playing in, and the line he put up in Bingo is insanely good for a 20 year old. I understated the meaning of it upthread because I'm concerned about his baseball intelligence.

snapper is partly right--it's very tough to move a prospect off a skill position if there's any chance at all he can handle it. A line like Flores put up at Bingo, well, if he can bring that to the majors as a 23 year old (giving him 2 and a half years at AA and AAA--plenty of time), you have a star. Not quite Robby Cano, but close. It's why the Mets kept him for as long as they did at SS, even though he was overmatched. That batting line at SS makes him Derek Jeter, with more power. Who can resist that kind of temptation?

Russlan, it's very, very late for a team to not be putting a prospect without a position at a position you think he might be able to play, If you think he can play it, and the Mets aren't even talking about Flores in the OF at all for 2013. Flores' current trajectory means the Mets are going to promote him to AAA, probably late in the season for a taste, if he continues to hit the way he has. At the same time, they have no plans to play him in the OF, meaning they'd be promoting him to AAA still without having given Flores as much as an inning in LF. Teams just really, really, really tend not to do that if they think a player without a position can handle the outfield.

snapper's not quite right on something else--Flores' bat (and he's hitting about the way his better projections expected--this wasn't completely unexpected) will play in a corner, but it's easy for an organization to tell if a player has the speed to handle the OF. You just put him on a stopwatch. If he can't beat a certain time, you don't bother. You then don't harm his confidence by asking him to do something he can't, and you don't hurt his value.

Sure, if he hits like Strawberry you put him in the OF because unless he's Todd Hundley bad out there, you can live with him, and you have to find a place for him. But, given his speed and instincts, he's -15 in LF. Maybe. And he doesn't project to get close to Straw's bat.

The following is the entire, recent, NYT piece on Flores and the OF. I'm copying the whole thing because this isn't a particularly active thread. I believe the Mets know Flores simply isn't fast enough to play in the OF, and they also know that once they show he can't play out there he becomes a little less valuable in trade.

The Mets Like Flores in the Infield, Not in Left Field
By ANDREW KEH
Published: February 26, 2013

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Wilmer Flores has continued to distinguish himself as one of the more promising hitters in the Mets’ organization. But he is a player who, at the moment, seems to lack an obvious position.

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Wilmer Flores said he would move to left field if the Mets asked.

Talent within the organization has long skewed toward the infield, but the Mets lack depth among outfielders. Would the team connect those dots and begin the process of transforming Flores, signed as a shortstop at age 16, into an outfielder?

“It’s an obvious question,” General Manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday morning, “and we’ve considered it.”

But the team has no plans to act on it anytime soon. For now, Alderson said, the Mets are focused on allowing Flores to hone his skills at the plate. As such, he said Flores would remain at second and third base this season for the Mets’ Class AAA team in Las Vegas.

“Our focus is developing him as a hitter, and that’s not something we want to interfere with,” Alderson said.

Flores, 21, has a big (6 feet 3 inches), sturdy (190 pounds) frame, and he wields a bat with some pop. He has shuttled from position to position, last season playing 87 games at third base and 27 games at second base while ascending from Class A to Class AA. He batted .300 with an .827 on-base plus slugging percentage and had 18 home runs across the two levels.

And Flores has gotten off to a noteworthy start this year. He hit a three-run homer during the team’s intrasquad game last Friday and slugged a solo shot Sunday during an exhibition against the University of Michigan. On Monday night, he made a number of nifty plays at second base, impressing Manager Terry Collins.

“I feel very good at the plate, and defensively, I think I’ve been doing a good job,” Flores said.

Flores has not had any conversations about moving to the outfield, but he said he would do it if asked. His concern now, though, has remained sharpening his infield skills, a process made more difficult because he is trying to learn two positions at once.

“Obviously, I’m still learning how to play second, and obviously, I’m still learning how to play third,” he said. “I think I can handle both.”

The process of moving a player around the diamond can be a turbulent one. Daniel Murphy, the Mets’ current second baseman, bounced from one position to another, and went through a difficult spell trying to learn to play left field, before claiming the starting second base job in spring training last year.

Murphy offered his scouting report of Flores: “For his size, he moves well and covers a good deal of ground. You might not look at him and think he’s the fastest guy. But he hunts the ball well.”

According to Murphy, the fact that pitchers hit in the National League has made it an environment where quality at-bats are precious and thus sought by teams from all corners of the field.

And there is a view in baseball that if an outfielder can hit, he is a good outfielder.

“If that would be the case, you’re not sending anyone out there expecting them to win a Gold Glove,” Murphy said of moving an infielder to the outfield. “It takes reps. It takes some patience.”

The main criticism of Flores has been his lack of speed, a flaw that could be more harshly exposed if he is moved to left field.

“Is he blessed with raw speed? No, he’s not,” said the infield coach Tim Teufel, who praised Flores’s hands. “Outfield is not an easy position. It’s not something where you just put a body out there to play.”

Still, the Mets have a lack of capable bats in the outfield. Until the group that ultimately forms there proves itself, the question about whether Flores should be given a chance may remain.

“If they asked me, I’d say why not,” Flores said of moving to the outfield. “I’ll play anywhere there’s a spot.”

It is finding a spot that could be the difficult part.

INSIDE PITCH

The right-hander Jenrry Mejia was not sharp Tuesday during his first start of spring training. He threw away a bunt by Juan Pierre to open the game, and later gave up a grand slam to Casey Kotchman. Mejia was the last person to arrive to the team’s camp because of a visa issue he faced in the Dominican Republic. He said was still fine-tuning his location, and he did not use all of his pitches. ... Shortstop Ruben Tejada, who was scratched from the game Monday after straining his right quadriceps during a conditioning drill, will play Wednesday afternoon, Terry Collins said.
   44. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4387216)
Why not see if he can hack 3B? Keep his value as high as possible. You can always trade him if you can't fit him.


C'mon. They've already tried him there. He's not very good, his arm's not a good fit, and the position is completely blocked. It doesn't make any sense to give up on a 20 year old with Flores' bat and seek only to maximize his trade value.

You just don't play a very young guy at a position where he's subpar and where you have no place for him at the ML level.
   45. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4387223)
Oops:

Metsminorleagueblog.com:

At 7:15 Monday night, Mack Ade of Mack’s Mets reported that Mets RHP Michael Fulmer had torn his meniscus. Ade’s full report, “SP Michael Fulmer tore his meniscus last week… was flown out to NYC for surgery that will be performed tomorrow.

Two hours and forty-five minutes later, although the Mets had not responded publicly or to inquiries, Fulmer basically confirmed the story via his twitter feed.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4387230)
C'mon. They've already tried him there. He's not very good, his arm's not a good fit, and the position is completely blocked. It doesn't make any sense to give up on a 20 year old with Flores' bat and seek only to maximize his trade value.

You just don't play a very young guy at a position where he's subpar and where you have no place for him at the ML level.


Then put him at 2B.

snapper's not quite right on something else--Flores' bat (and he's hitting about the way his better projections expected--this wasn't completely unexpected) will play in a corner,

You're projecting improvement that hasn't happened yet. A 136 wRC+ in AA (and that is by far the best he's ever hit) does not translate to an above avg. OF, especially given that his D will likely be a negative.

   47. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 12, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4387232)
Then put him at 2B.


They have. They will. Have you even looked at his BBRef page?

A 136 wRC+ in AA (and that is by far the best he's ever hit) does not translate to an above avg. OF, especially given that his D will likely be a negative.


For a 20 year old? In any case, how can you not project improvement for a 20 year old? Please. Stop digging.
   48. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 07:34 PM (#4387256)
They have. They will. Have you even looked at his BBRef page?

I look at Fangraphs for minor leaguers, they have league/park adjusted numbers. They call him a SS. I knew they had tried him at both, didn't know which one was his current position.

For a 20 year old? In any case, how can you not project improvement for a 20 year old? Please. Stop digging.

He's 21 and 7 months now, and his career minor league wRC+ is approx. 110. You're the one pretending a very good 275 PAs in AA means he's a leadpipe cinch to put up a 120 wRC+ in the bigs. Most minor leaguers that perform like Flores never have meaningful careers. He has to improve a lot to even be a league average MLB hitter, and that's not valuable at RF/LF/1B.

I'm not saying he can't improve, it's just no certainty.
   49. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 12, 2013 at 08:00 PM (#4387270)
I don't think anyone called it a certainty. He's shown power and strikes out very little. He doesn't walk enough, and his best position is third, which is blocked (I don't agree with JC that he's played himself off the position - it's just not going to be his path to the majors with the Mets). He's on the majority of top 100 lists, but not all of them, and he's towards the bottom of the ones he's on. That's about right. I don't think anyone disagrees that the fact that he's the best position player prospect illustrates a weakness in the system.
   50. billyshears Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:04 PM (#4387317)
Obviously, I haven't seen him play but if they haven't played him a single inning the outfield it's probably a little early to say that he can't hack it as a corner outfielder as long as he's a reasonable athlete.


The word on Flores is that he's a terrible athlete. I believe that I've seen him called the slowest non-catcher in the minor leagues. If that's true, he's not an OF. As far as his bat is concerned, I think that's an open question. St. Lucie is a hard place to hit, and I think the Mets probably left him there too long - I'd cycle hitting prospects through St. Lucie almost as mucg as I'd try to have pitching prospects avoid Las Vegas. He did well at AA, and finally met expectations. But while he was young for his level, as snapper points out, he wasn't THAT young, and he wasn't THAT great. If we're going to pin any hopes on Flores, I think it has to be with the assumption that there is more in the bat than we have seen. I think there is a fair chance that is true, but the odds are certainly against it. And even if that is true, he still doesn't really have a position that he can play for the Mets, unless the 2b experiment works. And again, the odds are probably against that as well.
   51. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:16 PM (#4387329)
6-3 is pretty tall for a second baseman so that doesn't bode well for him there. If he's really as slow as you guys are saying, then I don't think he's a fit for the outfield. Ugh.
   52. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:27 PM (#4387337)
Sickels describes his speed as "below average."
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:28 PM (#4387338)
I don't think anyone called it a certainty. He's shown power and strikes out very little. He doesn't walk enough, and his best position is third, which is blocked (I don't agree with JC that he's played himself off the position - it's just not going to be his path to the majors with the Mets). He's on the majority of top 100 lists, but not all of them, and he's towards the bottom of the ones he's on. That's about right. I don't think anyone disagrees that the fact that he's the best position player prospect illustrates a weakness in the system.

That's a fair assessment. Jack Carter is the one proclaiming:

Flores' bat (and he's hitting about the way his better projections expected--this wasn't completely unexpected) will play in a corner
   54. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:30 PM (#4387341)
I guess that was expressed with certitude. He can speak for himself, but I doubt he would defend the certainty in the statement though.

It should be remembered about Flores that he's a guy the scouts like - the way he squares up, the ball jumps off the bat, etc. etc. scout lingo. So you have to judge what you think of that. Obviously some people give that kind of thing more credence than others. The numbers alone are less impressive than the numbers of plenty of guys who didn't make it.
   55. Conor Posted: March 12, 2013 at 09:45 PM (#4387359)
In my ideal world, the Mets leave Flores at 3B for the year, he has a good season, and then in the off-season he gets packaged with one of their pitching prospects for one of the OF bats they need.

I was looking at some Matt Harvey stats on fangraphs today. If he had enough IP to qualify, he would've had the second highest K% in the majors last year, and he would've been third in average FB velocity, with a swinging strike% that would've been in the top 5 in the majors. Now of course, he didn't have a full season, and you can't compare the numbers directly to those guys, but I have to say I was a little surprised at how good his stuff was. He seemed to have little trouble hitting the mid 90's in the 6th or 7th inning as well. He's a young pitcher, so you never know, but I definitely could see him being a top of the rotation pitcher for a championship caliber team in the next year or so. It remains to be seen, of course, if the Mets put that kind of team around him.
   56. Lassus Posted: March 12, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4387391)
6-3 is pretty tall for a second baseman so that doesn't bode well for him there.

I thought for sure Utley was at least this tall, but BBRef has him at 6'1" - he looks like a lanky giant out there, so 6'3" I guess really is pretty tall for 2B.
   57. formerly dp Posted: March 13, 2013 at 09:17 AM (#4387505)
They may have been keeping him at third because they thought they'd need to replace Wright.
I think that's a pretty accurate assessment-- it also gave them some leverage with Wright, in that they had an eventual backup plan in place. Same with Tejada and Reyes.

It should be remembered about Flores that he's a guy the scouts like - the way he squares up, the ball jumps off the bat, etc. etc. scout lingo. So you have to judge what you think of that. Obviously some people give that kind of thing more credence than others. The numbers alone are less impressive than the numbers of plenty of guys who didn't make it.
To me, the encouraging thing about Flores in 2012 was that he took a step forward, and finally started to match what had been described as his potential. If he can continue to develop, the Mets will have a potential impact bat on their hands. If not, then all of the question marks raised here are going to hold him back.
In my ideal world, the Mets leave Flores at 3B for the year, he has a good season, and then in the off-season he gets packaged with one of their pitching prospects for one of the OF bats they need.
They need their position player prospects to turn into stars or at least quality regulars. Unless the payroll takes a huge jump, that's what the future of the club hinges on.

I continue to be amazed that this late in the spring, they haven't managed to scare up better options in the OF-- the bar for "better" being set at Byrd and Cowgill shouldn't make that a challenge...

   58. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: March 13, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4387601)
There's a gap between terrible athlete and below average speed. Lots of guys play the corner outfield with below average speed.
   59. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 13, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4387631)
Yes. I've never read the "terrible athlete" or "slowest guy in the minors" labels until this thread.
   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 13, 2013 at 12:26 PM (#4387636)
Yes. I've never read the "terrible athlete" or "slowest guy in the minors" labels until this thread.

This is what Sickels has to say about Flores' defense.

Flores moved off shortstop last year and performed adequately at both third base and second base. His arm works just fine at third and he doesn't make an excessive number of errors, but his range is mediocre. His bat profiles better at second base, but he probably lacks the requisite quickness to play there long-term. He doesn't run well enough to be an attractive outfield option, but will he hit enough to play first base?
   61. billyshears Posted: March 13, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4387667)
Here's an excerpt from BA's write-up of Flores as the #19 prospect in the FSL last year:

Though Flores always has shown offensive upside, his position remains in doubt. He's a 20 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, and his heavy feet severely limit his range at third base. His hands are fine and he has a strong arm, but his lack of speed leaves first base as his only other option if he can't handle the hot corner.


Now, I have a hard time believing any 20 year old who doesn't look like latter day John Kruk could be a 20 runner (I mean, I'm a 36 year old lawyer, and I think I'm probably a 35 - 40 runner), but I think we have to take their word for it. I generally go for the bat over defense, but you just can't put a 20 runner in the OF.
   62. depletion Posted: March 13, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4387693)
I wasn't aware of Wilmer being a 20/80 on speed. Greg Luzinski had a good career (37 SB, 31 CS), as did Rusty Staub (47 SB, 33 CS). The Mets aren't overflowing with outfield talent at this time. Perhaps they can nudge him out there.

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