It turns out getting sick with the New York Mets can cost you your job. Wilmer Flores was brought up from Triple-A Las Vegas to give the team an offensive boost at shortstop on May 8th, and played in two games at short before getting sick after the game Saturday night. Ruben Tejada got a start at shortstop the next day and drove in the winning run, leading to him getting five more starts in a row. The Mets confirmed that Flores has essentially been Wally Pipped today, as ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports that Mets' manager Terry Collins indicated Tejada will get the bulk of the work at shortstop.
Tejada hasn't done much with the bat this season, hitting .190 in 37 games this season with only six runs scored and nine RBI's. Tejada has been playing well defensively over the last couple of weeks, but he has brought nothing to the table offensively outside of a three game stretch at the beginning of this week. Flores, meanwhile, never got a chance to get his feet wet as a shortstop before being Pipped by Tejada. Flores was hitting well with Triple-A Las Vegas and has picked up three hits in his first 11 at bats. Flores' defense also hasn't been an issue yet, as he has yet to commit an error this season.
On the surface, this move makes absolutely no sense. Wilmer Flores was brought up to give the offense a boost, and outside of the two games at Yankee Stadium the Mets have done next to nothing offensively in May. In fact, the Mets have been shut out four times in their last 11 games. Collins apparently values offense over defense in his outfield, as he has benched Juan Lagares in four out of five games to use Eric Young Jr as his leadoff batter and Chris Young as a power hitter. This is in spite of the fact that Lagares is hitting over .300 on the season. Tejada, however, is barely hitting and remains in the lineup ahead of a better hitting option than Flores.
Collins also suggested that the Mets could get Flores more playing time by using him at second base against tough lefties. That would take second baseman Daniel Murphy out of the lineup, and that would be a big mistake. Murphy has been the Mets' best hitter this season, hitting .320 on the year. Murphy has also killed lefties in the early going, hitting .381 against south paws with a home run and six RBI's in 42 at bats.
Tejada should not have been able to win the starting shortstop job back with three good games in a row. Tejada has shown the Mets for nearly a year and a half that he may never reach his 2012 form again, and the Mets owe it to themselves to give Flores a chance to run with the job for a few weeks and see if he can handle the position long term. The Mets can always keep Tejada around to serve as a late inning defensive replacement and spell Flores once a week, but the Mets need to find ways to score runs. Running Ruben Tejada out every day is counterintuitive, and the Mets can't keep throwing away well pitched games early in the season by failing to score runs.
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