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Mets Can’t Figure Out What to do With Their Infield

The Mets have a history of strange infield decisions.

Dilson Herrera #2 of the New York Mets bobbles a ground ball for an error during the third inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 1, 2014 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Dilson Herrera #2 of the New York Mets bobbles a ground ball for an error during the third inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 1, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)


The comedy of errors in the infield over the weekend which helped displace the Mets from first place in the National League East is nothing new for the franchise.

Historically, the Mets have a time-honored tradition of indecisive, ill-advised and ill-fated treatment of even some of their most talented infielders.

All season, the Mets have steadfastly insisted on keeping Wilmer Flores anchored at shortstop, ignoring all evidence that the tall, slow-footed 23-year-old is just not suited to play the position. Even when it became apparent that David Wright would be out for a long time with his spinal stenosis (and it would not be at all surprising if Wright never returned this season), the Mets, whether the decision is coming from manager Terry Collins or being forced upon him from above, eschewed the obvious solution to move Flores to third–the position for which he is much better suited–and place Ruben Tejada, a natural shortstop, at short.

No, why do that when you can make two players feel uncomfortable and out of sorts by keeping Flores at shortstop, where he has the arm but neither the feet nor the instincts, and Tejada at third, a spot which he has rarely played in his career.

Let’s forget, for a moment, the organization’s refusal to be proactive and make a deal. Juan Uribe recently became available and, while he would have been the perfect short-term solution at third base, the veteran instead went from the Dodgers to the Mets’ division rival Atlanta.

In 1985, the Mets platooned Wally Backman and Kelvin Chapman at second. Their slow reaction to the fact that Chapman, who played well the previous year, could no longer hit, and that Backman could not (and never would be able to) hit left-handers, helped cost an otherwise excellent team the division (they won 98 games; St. Louis won 101). In the off-season, the Mets went out and got Tim Teufel to be the right-handed hitting half of the platoon, Backman never had to face lefties, and he ended up having a career year.

But a few years later, the organization never figured out whether to play young infielder Gregg Jefferies at second or third. Teufel also saw time at both spots. And, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, in succession, the organization tried to convert three different infielders–Juan Samuel, Howard Johnson and Keith Miller–into center fielders. Each experiment was a disaster.

One of the greatest infielders the franchise ever produced was Edgardo Alfonzo. Quick quiz, though: Do you remember him as a second baseman or a third baseman? It is to Alfonzo’s everlasting credit that he excelled defensively (and of course offensively) at both spots, but that’s no thanks to an organization that kept jerking the quiet Venezuelan around from position to position after Alfonzo initially had come up as a shortstop.

One year after the best homegrown shortstop in Mets history, Jose Reyes, arrived in the major leagues in 2003, the Mets recruited and signed Kaz Matsui from Japan. Part of their sales job in getting Matsui to come to the states was handing him the shortstop job and attempting to convert the far more talented Reyes into a second baseman. That experiment lasted a year, around the same length of time it took them to realize how preposterous it was to try re-teaching Reyes–at the time perhaps the fastest player in major league baseball–a different way to run. See, the Mets had this brilliant idea that teaching Reyes how to run bow-legged might save his hamstrings and reduce his risk of pulling them.

Fast forward a decade, and here we are, with the Mets still looking clueless, confused and comical about how to handle their infielders.

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