Lacking a true back-up infielder on the bench, the Mets promoted Wilmer Flores from Triple-A Las Vegas and sent down OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis on Thursday after Ruben Tejada was hit in the helmet with a fastball the night before.
Flores is 24-years-old and had been hitting .323 with 13 home runs in 55 games for Las Vegas, during which he also had a 22-game hitting streak.
Nevertheless, while Mets manager Terry Collins said he expects Flores to stay with the big-league team, he intends to use him as a platoon middle infielder, splitting time with Tejada and occasionally filling in for Daniel Murphy at second base.
“We’re playing pretty good,” Collins said, who’s team has won 11 of their last 17 games. “I’m trying to keep things from being disrupted as much as I can, because I like the way things are going right now. I’m trying not to disrupt that.”
Meanwhile, Nieuwenhuis was batting .246 in 30 games, compared to Chris Young, who is batting .176 with five extra base hits in the same timespan.
“He’s been pretty good,” Collins said about Nieuwenhuis. “Unfortunately, you reach a situation where there’s only certain guys you can move. He was aware of that. I told him it’s going to allow him to go down and be an everyday player which, as we’ve seen before, is very beneficial, because when they come back they’ve gotten off to pretty good starts.”
Young signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract this past winter, while Nieuwenhuis will earn the league minimum.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
In regard to Young, I actually don’t mind keeping him around and demoting Nieuwenhuis, though I realize lots of fans probably disagree. I’m frustrated with Young too, believe me. These are two mediocre players in a mostly mediocre outfield. And, while Young has been worse, he’s also experienced, he can help guide the other young players through a time of year when young players tend to lose focus and struggle. There is no statistical category for this, but it is valuable and part of helping direct and lead young players that a team expects to one day step up and be leaders themselves, I think.
So, fine, keep Young for now, let him do his thing off the field, try to get better on the field, let Nieuwenhuis go get at bats in Triple-A and then then revisit the situation in August. In a month or so, if the Mets are still under .500, if Young is still struggling and if the Mets need a roster spot, I bet Young gets released. But, for now, I understand this decision…
In regards to Wilmer’s playing time, I prefer he get regular at bats. He was hitting well, probably feeling good and I hate to see that come to a screeching halt, simply because Terry doesn’t want to distract the other eight guys in the lineup. I mean, if Tejada is going to end up getting the bulk of at bats — whether because he’s playing well or not, but because the team is doing well — then why promote Flores at all? At that point, bring up Omar Quintanilla instead and let him ride the bench, while Flores keeps hitting well in Vegas. Unlike the outfield situation, this one doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, but I’m willing to keep an open mind and see how it plays out before saying it’s a total mistake…