Wilmer Flores Rumors
Top Mets prospect Wilmer Flores will be promoted to the Majors on Tuesday, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports. Flores, an infielder, didn't rank in any major outlets' top 100 prospect lists at the beginning of the season, but he might if those lists were published now -- he's hitting .322/.358/.532 in Triple-A (albeit in the excellent hitting environment of Las Vegas), and today is his 22nd birthday. Newsday's Marc Carig notes (on Twitter) that with David Wright on the disabled list, the Mets will likely use Flores at third base. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith had an August 5 out clause in his minor-league deal with the Red Sox, but he will not exercise it, and will instead stay with Triple-A Pawtucket, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Rowland-Smith has a 1.58 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 for Pawtucket this season. His opt-out date had been pushed back to August after he missed most of July following an appendectomy. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that, now that the August 5 date has passed, Rowland-Smith can opt out of his deal if any team offers him a spot on its active roster.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has emerged as one of baseball's best executives, WEEI.com's Mike Salk writes. After an awful 2012 season, the Sox have the third-best record in the Majors, behind only the Pirates and Braves. Salk chalks that up to the addition of more depth, character and chemistry to the roster, as well as to Cherington's hiring of John Farrell as the Red Sox's manager.
- The Rangers are preparing to be without Nelson Cruz now that Cruz has been suspended for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, T.R. Sullivan and William Boor of MLB.com report. The Rangers have promoted outfielders Joey Butler and Engel Beltre, and on Monday they started Beltre along with Leonys Martin and David Murphy, giving the Rangers an all-left-handed outfield. That left three righties -- Butler, Craig Gentry and Jeff Baker -- on the Rangers' bench, suggesting the possibility of platooning all three outfield spots. "We're going to use the whole roster and continue to play Texas Rangers baseball," says Rangers manager Ron Washington. The Rangers are still trying to trade for an outfielder, but GM Jon Daniels suggests that the waiver rules governing August trades will make it difficult for Texas to pull off a deal.
On this date two years ago, Ichiro Suzuki picked up his 3,000th career hit with a first inning single against the Rangers. The hit was his 1,722nd in the big leagues, which came after he racked up 1,278 hits with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan's Pacific League. Including the postseason, the 36-year-old Ichiro has 3,456 career base hits to his credit, a staggering number no matter how you look at it.
Here is the latest from around the baseball blogosphere, a day before the non-waiver trade deadline...
- Phoul Ballz spoke to Lakewood Blue Claws manager Mark Parent about Jonathan Villar's inclusion in the Roy Oswalt deal. Parent managed Villar this season.
- Pale Hose Pariah looks at the trade value of Lance Berkman and Brad Hawpe.
- River Ave. Blues wants to see the Yankees swing a trade for Berkman to be the team's designated hitter.
- 1 Blue Jays Way breaks down to the Anthony Gose-Brett Wallace swap.
- The Process Report tackles the Adam Dunn to the Rays rumor.
- Meanwhile, SD Sports Net wants to see the Padres trade for Dunn.
- Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness explains why the Dodgers shouldn't add a starter before the deadline.
- Pittsburgh Lumber Co. calculates Paul Maholm's trade value.
- Scouting The Sally compares the trade value of top prospects Jesus Montero and Wilmer Flores.
- Blogging From The Bleachers breaks down the various Cliff Lee hauls.
- Bleacher GM steps into Dave Dombrowski's shoes for a little while.
- More Hardball looks back at some terrible trades from the 1990's.
Annoyed your favorite team didn't strike a deal with the Mariners for Cliff Lee? At least consider the details of Jack Zduriencik's high asking price, as reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
According to Sherman, the Mariners general manager set out to acquire "an interested organization's best position prospect with less than one year of service." He was offered none better than the Rangers' Justin Smoak. The Yankees' Jesus Montero was apparently the next-best position prospect offered. Zduriencik also targeted players such as Ike Davis of the Mets, Desmond Jennings of the Rays, Domonic Brown of the Phillies, Gordon Beckham of the White Sox, and Brett Lawrie (who would've had to have come from the Brewers in a three-way deal). Sherman notes that the Mets never offered a player better than Fernando Martinez; Jenrry Mejia and Wilmer Flores "were never part of discussions."
Sherman also gets into the failed Yankees-Lee deal like only he can. He gathered that the Yankees and Mariners had a deal in principle, at which point teams expect you to stop talking to other clubs. Sherman expects the bad blood to linger, making the Yanks unwilling to deal with the Mariners in the future. The Yankees were also apparently "rankled" by Seattle's confusingly high asking price for Jarrod Washburn last summer. Another thought: an executive recently wondered aloud to me how Kevin Towers was involved in the Lee trade talks. Towers has a close relationship with both Brian Cashman and Zduriencik.
From the Rangers' point of view, GM Jon Daniels indicated today to The Ticket's Norm Hitzges that he continually had an open dialogue with the Mariners. Daniels felt that the Rangers were in second place Friday morning, until he adjusted his offer.
Jose Reyes told Constantino Viloria at the Spanish-language New York paper La Opinion that he is open-minded about his future with the Mets. As in past interviews, Reyes dismissed the possibility that he would play anywhere but with the Mets, the organization that scouted and signed him as a teenager in the Dominican Republic. The team holds an $11MM option on Reyes for 2011, which seems a no-brainer given the options on the free agent market.
However, Reyes added a new twist by telling Viloria that while he would prefer to stay at short, he "hasn't ruled out" changing positions. More specifically, Reyes mentions that "I played several games at second base for the Mets," referring to the 43 games he logged at the keystone in 2004.
Reyes' preferences aside, there is an argument to be made for bumping the 27-year-old one slot to the right. First of all, one of the team's top position prospects (along with Fernando Martinez and others) is 18-year-old shortstop Wilmer Flores, who has been showing promise at the lower levels of the Mets system—though some see his future outside of the infield. In any event, once the Mets are free of their commitment to Luis Castillo at the end of 2011 (or sooner by trade), there is no ready replacement within the upper levels of the system save Ruben Tejada, a natural shortstop like Reyes but without his speed or offensive ceiling.
In terms of offense, Reyes' .735 OPS this season compares little better to other second basemen than it would have back in 2004, when the likes of Jeff Kent and Alfonso Soriano were setting the power bar. For now, his production puts him firmly on the Orlando Hudson watershed line (.729 OPS), well below boppers like Cano/Pedroia/Kinsler/Utley but still above the slappy types like Schumaker/Theriot/Barmes.
However, after a few more months of an injured Castillo, Alex Cora and fliers like Tejada, Reyes' willingness to switch could resurface as a topic of discussion, especially as it may give the team the flexibility to either finally trade Castillo or package one of the shortstop prospects for pitching, as has been bandied recently.
9:25pm: An AL GM told ESPN.com's Buster Olney that he believes the Twins could acquire Lee with a package built around prospect Wilson Ramos. Rival GMs believe the Rangers may be better off holding onto their prospects than acquiring Lee.
4:15pm: The Mariners have not started making counter offers for Lee, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney. Rival executives remind Olney that the Mariners may want to deal soon, since an injury would deflate Lee's trade value (all Twitter links)
3:37pm: The Mets, Yankees, Rangers and Phillies appeared to be the only teams scouting Lee last night, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Twins and Dodgers were among the interested teams that did not attend, but it is early and Lee is a known commodity, so the lack of scouts hardly means there's a lack of interest.
10:11am: The Mariners will require a blue-chip prospect in a Cliff Lee trade, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post, even though the last two Lee trades may not have included one. Sherman suggests the Mets want Lee badly, while the Yankees would just like the Ms to "keep them posted."
Sherman explains that the Mariners like, but don't love, Mets pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia. He feels that a Mets trade would have to be built around Mejia or Wilmer Flores. The Mets are willing to trade Flores in a Lee deal, reports Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog. They're reluctant to part with other top prospects. The Mets would like to trade for a starting pitcher as soon as possible, but Cerrone says the Mariners prefer to wait until after the All-Star break to trade Lee.
From the Yankees side, Sherman recommends they make Jesus Montero available. They've done so before when Lee and Roy Halladay were on the trade market. Sherman also notes that the Mariners like Yankees Double A second baseman David Adams. Baseball America ranked Adams 22nd among Yankees prospects heading into the season, and he sports a .309/.393/.507 line at Trenton. Should the Yanks prefer to pursue Lee as a free agent, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News learned that old friend C.C. Sabathia would be happy to help recruit.
In a longer blog post, Sherman elaborates on what Lee would mean for the Mets, what the Mariners will require, and how prospects are overvalued these days.
Flores was ranked second among Mets prospects by Baseball America heading into the season, behind only Jenrry Mejia. He placed 41st on Keith Law's top 100 list for ESPN - one spot above Twins catching prospect Wilson Ramos. BA, with more of an industry consensus approach, ranked him 88th. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked him 84th. All of these rankings were compiled before the season, and Flores' stock has only risen.
Flores started the season at Low A Savannah, and despite being in the midst of a cold streak was promoted to High A St. Lucie recently. Though he's only 18 years old, and will be until August, Flores is raking in a tiny 28 plate appearance sample since the promotion.
Reading the opinions of the experts mentioned above, Flores is a special bat who will develop power. He is almost certainly going to move off shortstop, and Law doesn't see him at third base either. He does have a good arm, leading Goldstein to view him as a future right fielder. The prospect gurus seem most impressed that he's holding his own against much older competition.
According to Goldstein, Flores is "at least three years and a position switch away" from the Majors. Is he too far off to headline a deal for Cliff Lee? John Hickey of AOL FanHouse sees the Mariners seeking players who can make an impact around 2012, particularly outfielders and left-handed starters.