We need a shortstop. There’s no other way to say it. As much as we want to contend this year, the reality is that until we get our shortstop locked up, we just won’t be able to. We need a guy who is solid both defensively and offensively. We need a guy who is proven. We need to know what he’ll do. With all due respect to Sandy and the gang, trotting out Wilmer Flores every day is guaranteed to leave at least 3 men on base per game. So, it’s up to Sandy to find us a guy who will produce. Starlin Castro is out of the question. It sucks, but that was never going to happen. Tulowitzki just presents to much risk for a blockbuster deal. So that leaves us with only a few options left to weigh. Is Wilmer Flores the more viable option? Let’s take a look:
Eduardo Escobar- Minnesota Twins
2014 stats: 133 games, .275 avg, 6 HR’s, 37 RBI
The rumors are that the Mets apparently nixed a deal that would’ve sent Dillon Gee to Minnesota for Eduardo Escobar. Word is that Sandy didn’t think that Escobar was enough in return. I like Escobar because I think that he is basically what Wilmer Flores could be at the end of this year. The only thing is we have no clue what Flores will be. So I’d rather have a semi-proven shortstop who’s ok defensively, with a little pop, and who can hit for average. Giving up Gee, a guy we’re trying to trade anyway, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Flores vs. Escobar: Escobar
Everth Cabrera- Free Agent
2014 stats: 90 games, .232 avg, 3 HR’s, 20 RBI
Cabrera is a very good shortstop defensively, the opposite of Flores. But this move would put us further back from from where we want to be in terms of upgrading offensively at the shortstop position. Baseballreference.com gave Cabrera the same score as Ruben Tejada in terms of production. Yes, that Ruben Tejada. The upside is we wouldn’t have to trade anything for him. The downside is that we’d have him on our team.
Flores vs. Cabrera: Flores
Jeong-ho Kang- Korea
2014 stats (in Korea): 116 games, .354 avg, 39 HR’s
Ok, before everybody goes bonkers over these numbers we have to remember this is the Korean league. It’s not even the equivalent of the Japanese league, the premier overseas league. However, those numbers are still impressive. Scouts say he doesn’t see fastballs like he’d see in the majors, the majority in the low 90s. Kang puts up red flags when it comes to defense however. Scouts rave about his arm strength , although they do worry about his effort level on defense. Kang is a high risk, high reward option for the Mets. They’d first have to win the posting fee (probably will be around 10 million) and then sign him, which will likely be around 4 years 24 million. The last time we ventured overseas was for Kaz Matsui. A can’t miss prospect from Japan. He missed. This is a big call for Sandy.
Flores vs Kang: Kang
Takashi Toritani- Japan
2014 season (in Japan): 155 games, .313 avg, 8 HR’s, 73 RBI
I’d honestly rather have Kang than Toritani if we could get him, but if we we’re going to look overseas, this is a guy you have to look at. He’s called “the Japanese iron man” because he played something like 400 games without missing an inning at shortstop. His hitting numbers are ok, but not great. What they say about him is that he is a very smart hitter. He draws a ton of walks and finds ways to get on base. He is also an exceptional fielder, winning 9 gold gloves over there. He doesn’t have a posting fee and he won’t cost much. Why is that? That’s the problem, because he’s 33 years old. Coming to America to play baseball in your mid-20s, in your prime is difficult. Trying to learn the game in your 30s? That’s a risk. The market even in Japan isn’t too high for him and with Sandy becoming more and more in love with Flores every day, I doubt they’re going to take a big leap for a 33 year old prospect. I’m torn here. Always a huge risk with these Japanese guys, but Flores is so bad.
Flores vs Toritani- TIE
Who do you want as the Mets shortstop in 2015?