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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Anybody (Else) Love Wilmer?

Some players you take an instant liking to. I took an instant liking to Wilmer Flores when he first came up two Augusts ago. He’s likable. He’s rootable. I’m rooting for him to succeed if indeed he is the Mets’ starting shortstop in the year ahead. I rooted for morning-line starting second baseman Brad Emaus heading into 2011 and presumptive starting center fielder Collin Cowgill in advance of 2013, but that was more about rooting for the Mets and less about the Bill Pecotan entities filling particular roles. I can’t say I worked up a winter passion for either one of them. Flores’s case is different in terms of a mostly unproven commodity being essentially handed a very important assignment and me being enthusiastic about the man in the uniform. I’d love for Wilmer to work out for the Mets because, as I said, I like him.

Look at that face. What's not to like? (Photo by Sharon Chapman.)

Look at that face. What’s not to like? (Photo by Sharon Chapman.)

Yet I find myself wondering: Are other general managers calling, texting, e-mailing, faxing and/or Telexing Sandy Alderson to ask into Wilmer Flores’s availability? Shouldn’t they be? Wilmer is 23 years old, plays multiple positions, is heralded for his hitting ability, drove in six runs in two different games in 2014, isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2017 and is under team control for the rest of the decade. It sounds like the makings of a sizzling hot stove commodity.

It may well be that his name has come up in conversations that have completely flown under the rumor radar, but how come you never hear anything about how in demand young, potential-laden Wilmer Flores is? Are the Mets the only team that knows what a gem they’re nurturing? He’s been tabbed the Opening Day shortstop months ahead of the 2015 season by a team widely considered on the cusp of contention. How come some organization among the other 29 hasn’t been reported to be doing its damnedest to pry Flores loose?

If he’s good enough for the New York Mets, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be considered a great get for somebody else. Plus you’d think the Mets’ competitors would want to impede their budding rivals as they approach maturation. What better way to halt the burgeoning Big Met Machine than by poaching their prize shortstop prospect?

Yet we don’t hear about anybody trying to trade for the kid. It seems several shortstops changed uniforms this offseason. Nobody made a play for Wilmer? Teams reportedly come at the Mets dangling their own shortstops — allegedly asking the moon in exchange — but the player or players they want back are never supposedly Flores. These other teams have their own agendas. They don’t care about helping the Mets unless they can help themselves. Yet nobody wants to help themselves to Wilmer Flores, the Met the Mets keep insisting will be the bedrock of their infield?

For someone so likable, it’s strange that more teams aren’t signaling any kind of attraction to him.

8 comments to Anybody (Else) Love Wilmer?

  • Lou from Brazil

    I think the Mets might have something in Flores, and I’m not going to worry if he doesn’t look like Rey Ordonez out there. Beyond playing passable shortstop, he’s a capable backup at 2nd and 3rd. I don’t know why, since I’m not a big stat nerd (or call it lazy, I’m okay with that), but I have a feeling Flores is just going to rake. Imagine a .270 average and 12-18 homers? He has some pop, it doesn’t seem that ridiculous to me. The media narrative on Flores is so overwhelmingly negative that I have to believe he can surprise people and at least be decent. Is it out of the question that the Mets can develop a position player too? He may be just holding down shortstop for a season until he can move over to 2nd anyway. I’d like for him to get a chance to develop his bat for a full season in the majors, without Terry’s love affair with Tejada getting in the way.

  • Daniel Hall

    I can’t help but I don’t love Wilmer. I used to love Ruben Tejada. Maybe I still love Ruben. Wilmer’s put Ruben’s locker into the darkest, wettest, loneliest corner of the clubhouse. No. No, I can’t help but I don’t love Wilmer. If he’d hit .320 and slug .500, and made less than three errors in 155 games this year, maybe I could tolerate him.

    Yes, Daniel is being irrational.

  • nestornajwa

    April 1 already?

    Of course, if we did lose Flores, and he went on to a more-productive-than-expected career, he would join Jose Oquendo, Marco Scutaro, Melvin Mora and other “Swiss Army” types who flowered in their post-Mets careers.

  • Dave

    Somewhere along the line, major league quality shortstops became a rare commodity. True, from the first time we heard of Wilmer Flores, which as I recall was when he was about 9 years old, we were told he didn’t project as a shortstop. But the Mets don’t have anyone else right now who projects as much of one either. I think he’s going to hit, and in fact when all is said and done in 2015, I think he’ll be a lot closer to acquisition hopeful du jour Ian Desmond than most give him credit for (maybe 8-9 fewer HR’s, >100 fewer K’s, neither will win a Gold Glove), and at a far lower cost. Other potential trade pieces are now $50 stocks selling for $150. And don’t even get me started on Tulo and his life on the DL before he even turned 30.

    The Wilpons’ first choice at short would be an unpaid intern. Flores is the best and closest thing they (and we) are getting.

  • Rob

    I LOVE Wilmer, I have complete faith in him if they just leave him alone and let him play, and I think he is absolutely capable of putting up a 15 HR / 65 RBI / .270 season with average defense.

    He has an excellent minor leage history, he’s very young, he’s been jerked around, and yet he hasn’t looked overmatched or lost his composure on either side of the ball. If he was a stock, I’d be putting MY money into Wilmerco. And I have NO IDEA why other teams haven’t tried to get him. There’s a Melvin Mora inside that box.

    • Dave

      I think those numbers are very realistic, and at his age, pretty impressive. He might not develop into an elite hitter, but to compare to Mets past and present, I’d say his ceiling could be on a par with Murphy, Hubie Brooks, Steve Henderson…perhaps even (albeit for another team) an Amos Otis or, as you suggest, Mora. Might fit the mold of Mets position player lacking an actual position, but just might be a bat that you can’t keep out of the lineup, and within a year people might think someone would have to be nuts to want Ian Desmond instead of Flores.

  • matt

    I’m rooting for him. I hope the team does well enough that his day-to-day doesn’t get scrutinized by the press. But it’s been awile since the Mets had a young hitter who no one is quite sure what he’s capable of, and in a good way.

  • open the gates

    You know what? We may actually have a keeper in young Wilmer. And as I keep reminding the folks who insist that the Mets will never contend without a first-rate shortstop, the last time the Mets won the series, they did it with Rafael Santana. Flores certainly has more upside.