Last night, in a 3-2 loss, the Binghamton Mets lined up with Wilmer Flores at third, Reese Havens at second and Jefry Marte (pictured) at first. It was only Marte’s fifth game at first. The B-Mets used this configuration four other times: July 2, 21, 31, and August 4.
I’m surprised that we have not seen this lineup more. While he’s still learning both positions, I think Flores has a better chance to play third than second in the big leagues. The same range issues that forced him off short will be a problem at second. He has the hands and arm for third, as long as he can handle the quick reactions. I like Flores’ hands and arm at third better than Marte’s.
The reason to keep Marte at third as long as possible is simply that I’m not sure that Marte’s bat (.255/.326/.375 – 117 games) can support a move to first. It certainly can’t support a move to first hitting like that. Sure, he’s only 21 in AA, and he’s always been young for his level, but at some point, he’ll have to produce. Still, I figured it would make sense to get him a little more exposure to first.
By contrast, Flores (.289/.340/.421 – 52 games) has played six games at first, 18 at second and 21 at third. Flores has seen so much time at second in part because Reese Havens missed over a week with a recent back strain, and even in his healthy periods, the Mets have managed his playing time carefully. The other thing that I think might have led to Flores seeing a little more time at first relative to Marte early in his AA tenure is that the bat is better. Thus, if they think Flores’ bat can help sooner, finding him a place to play, or at least, making him useful enough to stand at every infield position becomes a bigger priority.
An 0-for-3 dropped Havens, at age 25 to .230/.362/.368 with103 strikeouts in 87 games.
Of course, Wilfredo Tovar (.214/.269/.279) played short as he has done in all of his 46 games in AA. A gifted defender, the question has been whether he will hit enough to hold an everyday job in the big leagues. At 21 in the Eastern League, the answer is still no, for now.
On the mound, LHP Darin Gorski (3.81 ERA, 2.2 K/BB) did this: 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 K. One of the walks was intentional, but he also hit a batter. In each of his last nine starts, he’s either walked three batters or more, or given up a homerun. These facts are related. If a pitcher cannot miss bats and his command is ordinary or worse, either he is forced to nibble and give up free bases, or come into the zone too fat and give up homers.