Is it time for Wilmer to be the everyday first baseman?
I think so, yes. First off, in 55 plate appearances, Adrian Gonzalez is batting .239 with a .345 OBP and .391 slugging percentage, most of which have come against right-handed hitters. He still has a good eye, and he knows his strike zone, but it has been more than a year since he's had any sort of punch to his bat.
Meanwhile, though he has played in 18 games, Wilmer Flores has started just seven, but all of them have been at first base. In that time, he's hitting .263 with four extra base hits, five RBI and is on pace (mostly as a bench player) to be a 1.5 WAR player this season, according to FanGraphs.
In what is an odd, early-season, short-sample reversal, he's batting .286 against right-handed pitching, but just .235 against left-handed pitching. Historically for Flores, it's very much the other way around...
"The ability to not play for two days and then have a start at first base, or third base, or second base, and move him around, those are special players," Mets bench coach Gary DiSarcina recently told Kan Davidoff.
That's nice. But at this point -- given the above results -- Flores should probably be playing every day regardless of whether a left- or right-handed pitcher is on the mound.
Flores, 28, will earn $3.4 million this season. He is again eligible for arbitration in 2019, after which he can be a free agent for the first time in his career.
By the way, in case you're wondering, 1B prospect Dominic Smith is batting .173 with no extra base hits during his last seven games, while batting .246 on the season.
How will things end between the Mets and Matt Harvey?
It's hard to imagine a story that doesn't end with Matt Harvey pitching for another team next season. The question, however, is whether he'll be a starting pitcher or a reliever, given that he's now part of Mickey Callaway's bullpen.
My fear is that Harvey is again dealing with some sort of physical hurdle, be it something going in his shoulder or maybe a residual nerve, brachial plexus issue associated with last year's TOS surgery, which is not uncommon.
I say this because, the fact is, he was not getting above 92 mph with his fastball during that last start, not to mention showing a weak slider and mid-80s change up. He's literally trending the wrong direction.
In four starts this season Harvey is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA.
"It's a big decision," Callaway told reporters this past weekend about moving Harvey to the bullpen. "I knew it wasn't going to be the most comfortable conversation. It's a tough message, but it sounds like he is going to embrace it and go out there and get the job done."
I've heard from team insiders that Harvey is open to the words and ideas of Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland, who were the only people in the room when informing Harvey of the decision to move him out of the rotation.
The buzz and rumor around Citi Field suggests Harvey might have been given one more start, but because he told reporters, 'I'm a starting pitcher,' it left Callaway no other option than to switch Harvey's role now instead of later. Why? Well, had Harvey been given another start, it could have looked like he's calling the shots instead of Callaway. So, good for Mickey and Eiland recognizing this moment and quickly filling the leadership vacuum.
In either case, I've heard Callaway framed the move to Harvey as being "temporary," while leaving open the possibility of him rejoining the rotation at some point down the road. In the meantime, the medical staff can get Harvey checked out, he can rest, work with Eiland and Callaway on pinpointing specific improvements, and perhaps find himself a new gear pitching in relief.
For all Harvey knows, short bursts of action in relief might help him pick up velocity. And, being able to use a starting pitcher's repertoire -- against a handful of hitters that haven't seen him that day -- might make his arsenal more effective than it has been.
"The game is going to dictate," Callaway said, when telling reporters how he intended to use Harvey in the bullpen. "He throws strikes and he's got pretty good stuff, so I'm not going to not pitch him because there's a runner on. If we need to win and he makes sense to go out there and pitch, he is going to pitch."
Personally, I hope it works out for Matt. I know people see the money and looks and opportunities and dismiss empathy for professional athletes. But, the reality is that he's a human being, he's given a lot for this organization, he's responsible for some amazing moments, has provided exciting times for us (as fans), and he's done it on what's been a very, very bumpy road.
In the time since he stood proud and tall on the pitcher's mound beneath roaring a crowd during the 2013 All Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey had Tommy John surgery, missed an entire season in recovery, and returned to throw the most innings ever for a pitcher in that situation. And, just when it seemed he had his career back on track, he needed surgery to remove a rib and correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, after a season when he couldn't feel his fingers and questioned whether he'd ever throw a baseball again in his life.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, obviously, I am at a 10 with being pissed off, but my performance hasn't been there," Harvey told reporters after being informed he was being moved to the bullpen. "I have to get back where I need to be, get my sh*t in order and figure it out."
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!