Saturday, May 17, 2014

Wherefore Art Thou, Wilmer?

This is how I would look if Ruben Tejada was keeping me on the bench.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Wilmer Flores was called up to the majors a little over a week ago to play shortstop for the slumping Ruben Tejada.  Flores started two games at short, collecting two hits and drawing a walk, then got sick and hasn't been seen in the starting lineup since May 10.

A day after Flores last played, Tejada went 2-for-4 and drove in the winning run in an extra-inning victory over the Phillies.  Tejada has been in the starting lineup ever since.  There's only one problem with this.

Tejada was hitting .181 before his extra-inning heroics.  He's hitting .176 since.  And Flores is no longer sick.  But not only is he not starting games, he hasn't even been used as a pinch-hitter.  At all.  That's zero at-bats, zero plate appearances.  And I have zero answers.

Earlier today, Adam Rubin tweeted that Tejada will continue to be the Mets' primary shortstop.  He also mentioned that Flores might move over to second base the next time the Mets face a southpaw to give the left-handed hitting Daniel Murphy a day off.  Again, there's a problem there.

Daniel Murphy is hitting .359 versus all left-handed pitchers and also has a .538 slugging percentage against them.  But that's actually low compared to his numbers in games started by southpaws.  In those games, Murphy is hitting .441 with seven extra-base hits (four doubles, one triple, two homers).  For all you kids out there, that's a .794 slugging percentage is games started by southpaws.

So let me get this straight.

Terry Collins would rather start a player who was having an awful time with the bat (Tejada had a .181 batting average and a .299 on-base percentage through May 9), then had one good game before getting even worse at the plate since then (.176 average, .263 OBP).  In addition, he'd like to find room for Flores by sitting Murphy when a left-handed starter is on the mound.  And of course, Murphy is hitting the cover off the ball under those circumstances.

Yup, that seems about right if you're taking notes from the "Managing For Dummies" manual.

Come on, Terry.  You're a better manager than that.  I understand that Flores was sick.  And I understand that Daniel Murphy needs a day off before the summer heat arrives.  But can't you find more time for Flores at shortstop instead of second?  I mean, Daniel Murphy on his worst hitting day is still better than Ruben Tejada on his best.  And if you really don't want to put Flores in the starting lineup, at least let him pinch-hit every once in a while, especially since it doesn't look like he's being sent back to Las Vegas anytime soon.

Wilmer, Wilmer, wherefore are thou, Wilmer?  If Terry Collins continues to have his way, the only place you will find Wilmer Flores these days is on the Mets bench.  And that just makes everyone sick, not just Flores.

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