The New York Mets have wanted to be taken seriously as contenders for a few weeks now, but the team's inability to get back to .500 hurts their credibility. The Mets are all but mathematically out of the playoff chase right now, so it would be good for their future to give a few of their younger players looks at key positions. For the first time in a while, manager Terry Collins appears to be on board.
Collins told reporters prior to last night's game with the Philadelphia Phillies that Wilmer Flores will be the team's primary shortstop, and the newly promoted Matt den Dekker will also get an extended look in left field. Both should play the majority of the time for the Mets now. Collins also indicated that another part of his new plan is to get first baseman Lucas Duda more at bats against tough lefties, including today's tilt against Cole Hamels.
The Mets have extremely hesitant to give Flores a chance to play every day at shortstop. Collins in particular has been skeptical of Flores' defense, opting to give starts to Ruben Tejada for defensive purposes. Tejada hit well for a while when Flores was first recalled back in May, but he is hitting only .225 on the season and a woeful .167 since the All Star Break. The Mets have a good idea of what Tejada is at this point, and they owe it to themselves to give Flores a full fledged crack at the job. If Flores shows some promise at the plate and is adequate defensively, it could alter the team's offseason strategy.
Matt den Dekker has certainly earned his promotion with strong play for Las Vegas. den Dekker was hitting .331 with a .403 on base percentage for the 51's this season, and as always he has provided excellent defense for the Mets. den Dekker should be an upgrade in left over Chris Young, who hit only .205 for the Mets on the year. den Dekker is not in Saturday's lineup, but he should play nearly every day going forward.
While it is nice that the Mets say they are going to give Flores and den Dekker regular playing time, it is important they actually follow through with this plan. Flores was supposed to get a look at short earlier in the season, and Collins continually played Tejada instead. Chris Young also got a much longer leash than he probably deserved given his play, but the Mets felt his presence in the lineup would be a help. The Mets aren't going to the playoffs this season, but they owe it to themselves to give Flores, den Dekker, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis as much playing time as possible over the season's final 46 games. All three players could prove they should be part of the mix next season. They could also prove they don't belong. Either outcome is good for the Mets, as they wouldn't learn anything about either player by benching them for known commodities that aren't very good anymore.
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