McDonald: Flores Will Be Fine But The Bench Needs Help

So on Day 1 of life without David Wright, the Mets did alright.

In fact, his replacement Wilmer Flores came through with two hits and drove in a run in the Mets 6-2 win over the Marlins.

Add to that James Loney and Rene Rivera hitting two-run homers each and everything is fine in Metland.

“I was really excited for all of them, because they are getting opportunities,” manager Terry Collins said in Miami to reporters. “James and Flo are going to get a lot of playing time, so it’s nice to get them in the mix and Rene has done a nice job so far.”

Look given the Mets situation, you’ll live with what they have at first and third. Right now, no one is going to give the Mets a starting third baseman. Every team knows they are shorthanded and will hold Sandy Alderson over a barrel so early in the season.

If James Loney can hit to his career numbers and Flores can come in around .250 with modest power, playing every day at his natural position, then the Mets will be fine.

“That is the thing about us, the ability to pick one another up,” Noah Syndergaard said to reporters. “I feel we were able to go out there and handle a lot of adversity. It’s a great thing to be a part of. I feel we’re going to take off from here.”

However, it’s not the replacements the Mets should worry about right now. It’s the bench.

The injuries to Wright and Lucas Duda have depleted the Mets reserves. Although the jury is obviously still out of Ty Kelly and Matt Reynolds, trusting key pinch hitting roles to rookie players is a dubious proposition.

That’s why last year Alderson’s first major move was to get Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson for the bench.

There were just too many 4-A players on the Mets roster the first half of 2015 and it showed when the injury bug creeped up. By getting big league veterans for bench roles will make a more complete team as the team moves along the schedule.

It’s not as sexy as getting a starting third baseman, but it’s probably a better fit for the club.

In the coming weeks, Alderson needs to be working the phones to strengthen the reserves, particularly on the infield. Both Kelly and Reynolds could eventually develop into decent players, but the Mets do not have the same luxury of trying them out as they did the last few seasons. They are expected to win and are in a pennant race right now.

And unlike acquiring a starter, these bench players won’t cost an arm and a leg when it comes to prospects.

Even though there has been some chatter to promote T.J. Rivera, who hails from the Bronx, understand that he is 27 and never played in the big leagues before. Just because he’s hitting in Las Vegas doesn’t mean he will produce in Queens.  Kelly was hitting close to .400 when promoted and he’s at .118 as of this moment.

It’s not time to go into panic mode. With Flores playing his natural position, he should be a lot more comfortable going out there every day and Loney is a decent hitter with some pop.

But as June creeps into July, expect Alderson to strengthen the bench. It’s important to have as many big league players on the roster as possible.

And if he does then life without Wright could be much easier than first thought.


About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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