Last season, Cubs' super-utility man Ben Zobrist hit .272 with 18 home runs, played 20 games at all three outfield positions, he started more than 100 times at second base, hit from seven different spots in the batting order, played first base and shortstop and picked up four at-bats as a pinch hitter.
"There have really been only two Ben Zobrists in the past 50 years and one of them is Ben Zobrist," David Schoenfield wrote in a Dec. 28 post for ESPN.com.
According to Schoenfield, Wilmer Flores is the best young candidate on the Mets to be groomed in to their version of Zobrist, i.e., a guy that can play multiple infield and outfield positions, while hitting well-enough to be a full-time player.
Flores (4) watches his three run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
"Not enough glove for shortstop, not enough bat for first base, but a great bat against lefties as a platoon for Lucas Duda, and enough bat to play elsewhere against righties," Schoenfield says of Flores. "I'd suggest grooming him to play outfield, but the Mets already have 46 corner outfielders"
Interestingly, Mets GM Sandy Alderson reportedly pushed hard for Zobrist last winter. However, he turned down more money from the Mets and Nationals to sign with the Cubs. Earlier last month, I wrote that, while Flores and T.J. Rivera are fit to be Zobrist, it's actually Jose Reyes who will be used in this role next season.
Terry Collins and Alderson have both said this winter they want Reyes to be an everyday player for the Mets in 2017. However, they plan to do it by playing him at shortstop (filling in for Asdrubal Cabrera), second base (filling in for Neil Walker), and third base (in place of David Wright, who will need plenty of time off for his back and spine). Schoenfield will also be happy to hear they intend to work him out in the outfield this spring, as well...
Terry used 129 different batting orders last season, not including pitchers. With Reyes, Flores and Rivera on the roster, we could be looking at a different lineup every day next season...