Updated Thursday evening. July 30, 2015.
New York Mets shortstop---as of this posting, at any rate---Wilmer Flores in a more cheerful mood than he was in last night. Photo by Steve Mitchell of USA Today-Sports, courtesy of USA Today-Sports, via nj.com.
Mets have a young infielder, Wilmer Flores, about to turn 24. Shows promise. Haven't watched enough games---I listen on the radio, an old fashioned way to say I have an app on my iPad---so I haven't seen him play the field and can't say how good a glove he has. Mets have been using him mainly at short but also at second. As a second baseman he has a 1.000 fielding average, but he's only started 22 games there. At short, where he's started 71 games his FA's .966. Not great. And he's been charged with 10 errors, which isn't awful. At the plate he's shown he's been eating his spinach. Not tearing up the league. Only batting .249 but he has power. 10 home runs, 14 doubles. And he's driven in 40 runs. Respectable. For the sake of comparison: Milwaukee Brewers' center fielder Carlos Gomez, two-time All-Star, has driven in 43 runs with 8 home runs and 23 doubles. But he's only played in 74 games.
There's a reason I'm comparing an infielder to an outfielder and this particular infielder to this particular outfielder. You may already know it.
Like I said, Flores shows promise. Makes him the kind of player, for a team with a star starting shortstop or not in a pennant drive and looking at the trade deadline coming up, worth giving the time to to see how he develops. Mets don't have a star shortstop. But they are in a pennant drive and in need of a hotter bat. That makes Flores something else.
He's the kind of player a team that's out of it and already looking ahead to next year and shopping around for young talent to help them rebuild might want to take a chance on.
Team like the Milwaukee Brewers.
You're ahead of me, aren't you?
Yesterday the Mets traded Flores along with pitcher Zack Wheeler to the Brewers for...Say it with me. Carlos Gomez.
Except that they didn't.
Except that they did.
The trade was apparently contingent on Wheeler, who's recovering from Tommy John surgery, passing a physical, and the educated guess is the Brewers weren't satisfied with the doctors' report. Trade fell through
Or maybe just put on hold.
Nobody seems to know.
Thing is, last night somebody told Flores he'd been traded.
During the game.
He didn't take the news well, and you can't blame him. Who wants to leave a contending team in mid-season especially to go to They'll be lucky to finish ahead of the Reds and thank God at least we're not the Phillies club like the Brewers. But it seems he likes playing for the Mets or in New York or both and it broke his heart to hear he wouldn't be anymore. Made him cry. On the field. Copiously. And for a long time. With the game going on.
You'd think his manager Terry Collins would have noticed his shortstop was out there bawling and gone out or sent somebody out to find out what was wrong or at least tell Flores there's no crying in baseball. But, nope.
You'd also think Collins would have pulled him from the game, tears or no tears, for the very practical reason that Flores' new team would have been a bit peeved if he'd gotten injured playing for a team he technically no longer played for.
But it appears that whoever told Flores he'd been traded, didn't also tell Collins.
Or it may have been Collins had been told the trade hadn't gone through and it didn't occur to him that Flores might have heard otherwise.
Whatever happened, everybody watching the game on TV got to watch Flores crying his heart out.
But besides the unnecessary crushing of Flores' feelings and his public humiliation, there's a baffling baseball angle here.
What were the Mets doing going after Gomez?
He's good but he's not the truly dangerous hitter the Mets desperately need, and they already have a star center fielder. A Gold Glover. Juan Lagares. So good last year people began to call the outfield area he patrolled Where extra base his go to die. He started this season on the same track, getting to balls only Willie Mays in his prime could have reached, making the highlight clips night after night with spectacular catches. At one point, the Mets left fielder, Michael Cuddyer, said Lagares had gotten so sure of himself he was calling Cuddyer off balls hit to left that were headed straight into Cuddyer's mitt. Then something went wrong.
He turned human.
He wasn’t catching up with balls even average centerfielders would have had little problem with. Wasn’t gunning them back in the way he used to.
He was hurting.
He’s been in and out of the line-up. Lately, mostly out. But not because of his arm. Because of his bat.
Now the concerned speculation is the Mets have soured on Lagares because he doesn't hit like teams want a centerfielder to hit.
Doesn't matter how many Gold Gloves he wins over the years, he can't catch everything and the Mets’ great young pitchers aren't giving their outfielders many deep flies to catch anyway. Collins is probably tired of saying to Harvey, deGrom, and Syndergaard before every game words to the effect of “You know what would really help? If you throw a shut out."
Explains why the Mets would want Gomez.
Meanwhile, Mets fans online----and probably off---have taken Wilmer Flores to their hearts. He's maybe the most popular Met right now since Jose Reyes. Maybe since Mookie Wilson.
We'll see how long the moment lasts.
By the time I post this he may have been traded again.
Inside baseball inside-joke for longtime, long-suffering Mets fans: Last night, while Mets fans on Twitter were going full-tilt on Flores and the trade that didn’t happen, a tweet by Matt Clap showed up in my feed that said:
Sources tell me that the Carlos Gomez deal to Mets held up by Brewers' unwillingness to eat any of Bobby Bonilla's contract
Updated because I’m only playing at being a sportswriter and you need to hear from a real one: Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal reports that it appears it was the Mets who put the kibosh on the trade because they were worried about Gomez not being healthy. Diamond’s story also includes more details about what went on at CitiField Wednesday night. You can read it here: Mets Lose Gomez, Game. Deal for Milwaukee star Carlos Gomez falls through as prospect of leaving Mets leaves Wilmer Flores in tears.