Going into last season, when looking at the No. 6 hole on the field, general manager Sandy Alderson may have said, “What shortstop?”
Remember that when Wilmer Flores tried admirably to field the position and Ruben Tejada was the best the Mets had to offer.
So when the Mets signed Asdrubal Cabrera in the off-season, it was definitely an upgrade.
But the move was also poo-pooed by some scouts who thought Cabrera lost a step or two.
Boy, were they wrong.
“He plays brilliantly out there,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of Cabrera on Thursday afternoon. Again, he may not be a (Adeiny) Hechevarria, Didi Gregorius type of guy, I know one thing, when the ball’s hit to shortstop and I know he can get a glove on it, you’re out.
“He does nothing but make play after play after play, and he wants to play. I’ve been trying to give him a day off this week. He just told me 25 minutes ago, you know what, when I need a day off, then I’ll come and see you.
“He’s everything you would want and more. He’s a pro.”
On Friday night against the Cubs, Cabrera showed his power, as he launched two rocket home runs deep into right field, a solo shot in the second and a two-run homer in the fifth.
This was Cabrera’s first multi-homer game since May 6, 2013 against Oakland while he was a member of the Cleveland Indians. He is the first Mets shortstop to record a multi-homer game since Jose Reyes on September 27, 2011.
“I feel good, to have game like today, help the team to win, your teammates lift you up too,” Cabrera said. “Every game that we win is good for us.”
The Mets have used Cabrera, whose a switch-hitter, all over the lineup depending on who they’re facing and what kind of need has to be filled and he continues to perform by hitting .262 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI. This is the sixth time he has hit at least ten home runs in his career.
On Friday night, he hit in the five spot against the right-hander Jason Hammel of the Cubs.
“Well, being a switch-hitter, he gives us a lot of flexibility,” Collins said after Friday night’s 10-2 Mets win over the Cubs. “He’s come in here, he’s come to this team with a chance to contribute. He wanted to play shortstop, we were looking for a shortstop. He said he’ll play anywhere, but he’s like to try to play shortstop and that’s what he’s done.”
In a rare move for a team coming off a World Series appearance, the Mets changed it up in the middle of the infield, with Cabrera at short and Neil Walker coming over from the Pirates.
The Cabrera-Walker combo has been a major upgrade over Tejada and Flores at short and Daniel Murphy at second base, especially on defense.
Cabrera entered Friday night with a .990 fielding percentage, with just three errors in 286 chances, best in the National League and fourth-best in the majors.
In terms of hitting, the swap of Walker for Murphy is pretty much even, but Cabrera is a far better hitter than Flores or Tejada.
Cabrera was not the only Mets infielder to go deep on Friday night, with James Loney, Yoesnis Cespedes and Brandon Nimmo also going deep, marking the first time in Citi Field history the team hit five dingers in their new park.
More importantly, though, the Mets weakness least year is now their strength with Cabrera and his play made moving the Amazin’s new acquisition, Jose Reyes to a new position a no-brainer.
What shortstop? His name is Asdrubal.