Sandy Alderson Compares Wilmer Flores To Cal Ripken Jr.

Great news, Mets fans: not only do the Mets have someone better than Willie Mays in center field, they also have the next Cal Ripken, Jr. playing shortstop in 2015!

Oh, I know, I know — Sandy Alderson wasn’t NECESSARILY comparing Wilmer Flores‘ skill set to that of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. But really, did you expect me to let go this most recent PR spin?

Hey, just like Alderson, I’m a public relations professional, so precise choice of words, imagery, and pseudo-comparison don’t fly by me unnoticed. Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not bashing Alderson’s PR skills, but rather, impressed with them. Believe me, I’m taking notes. Further, I bet Scott Boras is keeping an eye on Alderson’s slickery (a word I just made up), and equally impressed. Since he wasn’t named the new MLB commissioner, maybe Alderson can find a job in the publicity department of Boras’ camp.

In case you missed it, here is a transcription of Alderson’s comments, courtesy of Mike Vorkunov at

“What was interesting about that and what may have led me to that joke was in looking at Cal Ripken’s career, you know he didn’t play shortstop until he got to the major leagues,” Alderson said during an appearance on MLB Network, noting that Ripken had played third base in the minor leagues. Flores, too, had not played much shortstop until last season.”

“There’s been a lot of conversation about Wilmer Flores and whether he can play the position, Cal Ripken didn’t play shortstop professionally until he got to Baltimore…Shortstops are often questioned as to their ability to play the position and even the greats like Cal Ripken, who’s not a prototypical shortstop – like say the Mark Belanger variety, who he replaced in Baltimore – but it happens with a lot of players so maybe that’s a good sign for somebody like Wilmer Flores.”

That’s what a good publicity man GM says after an unsuccessful attempt to acquire a real MLB shortstop. It’s brilliant. Make a comparison so ridiculously flabbergasting that it gets picked up everywhere, and then two things result. First, the serious fans (i.e., those who read Mets blogs) argue fervently over whether Flores truly can be the next Ripken, Jr. (he can’t). Second, the casual fans (i.e., those who go to the Flushing-location Shake Shack a few times a year and otherwise follow the team through New York tabloid back pages and, sometimes, headlines) accept the direct connection between Flores and Ripken, and go to to purchase a Wilmer Flores jersey.

Oh, and not to be a nitpicker — oh, whom am I kidding? of course I’m nitpicking — but Cal Ripken, Jr. played PLENTY of shortstop prior to reaching the big leagues. Over four minor-league seasons, Ripken appeared as a shortstop 174 times — though who’s counting? (And yeah, Ripken Junior also played shortstop in high school, if you were wondering.)

There’s no argument as to whether Wilmer Flores can play shortstop for the Mets in 2015. Of course he can, as all it takes is Terry Collins writing “ss” next to his name in the lineup, and Flores trotting out between second and third bases every inning. Heck, going by that standard, Daniel Murphy is a Major League second baseman. Whether Flores can play well enough at the position to help the Mets win 90 games, however, is something we’ll have to wait and see. No amount of opinion, scouts’ analysis, nor data from small sample sizes will tell us — we’ll know by September.

Meantime, enjoy the propaganda, and if you’re in public relations (or hope to be some day), take notes every time Sandy Alderson appears in public — he’s worth the study.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Bat February 3, 2015 at 2:10 pm
    Unfortunately I actually read these Alderson comments on Metsblog yesterday and immediately thought “Janish will certainly publish an entire post devoted to Alderson’s Ripken comment.”

    Indeed, I was correct.

    I wouldn’t agree with this statement:

    “That’s what a good publicity man GM says after an unsuccessful attempt to acquire a real MLB shortstop.”

    Look, Alderson tried to acquire Tulo and failed (i.e., Tulo is not on the Mets), but what’s wrong with that? Tulo is better than not only Flores, but every other SS in the majors so why fault a guy for trying to trade for the best player in the majors at a certain position? No matter how good Alderson thinks Flores is, he isn’t Tulo but that doesn’t mean Flores is not good.

    So Alderson tried to acquire Tulo – as did probably any other sane GM – but the price is too high when Tulo’s health is uncertain at this juncture. No shame in that, and again it isn’t much of a statement about Flores because Tulo’s the best in the game – every GM should be trying to acquire him.

    I repeat that I think Flores will hit well for a 2015 SS – this isn’t the era of A-Rod, Nomar, Jeter, etc. all putting up gaudy numbers. Nothing is certain with the bat or the defense = although in my mind the glove is more of a liability than the bat – but I will be thrilled if Flores comes out of the gate and shuts Janish up.

    • Dan42 February 3, 2015 at 3:32 pm
      I suspect that Janish would be among the first to be “thrilled” if that happened. But who actually believes that Alderson could make any offer for Tulowitzki that would be seriously considered?
    • Joe Janish February 4, 2015 at 4:05 pm
      What does Tulowitzki have to do with anything? Was he the only MLB shortstop available since last October?

      Oh, that’s right … Tulowitzki is the only shortstop in MLB who definitely might have a possible chance to be better than Flores next year, according to the cheerleaders at Flushing Central, as broadcasted through their official social media channels.

      • Bat February 4, 2015 at 9:18 pm
        Let me answer that question with another question Joe:

        Who is (or “was”) available and better than Flores other than Tulo??

        I didn’t want the Mets to sign guys like Stephen Drew or Asdrubal Cabrera or Everth Cabrera because I think these guys and the other available guys are – by and large – garbage.

        Sure, there are a number of SS better than Tulo, but those “better guys” weren’t available (AndreltonSimmons, Xander Bogaerts, Alcides Escobar, Jhonny Peralta, etc.), or didn’t want to play for the Mets (Jimmy Rollins – wouldn’t waive no trade to go to the Mets), or weren’t really SS (Hanley Ramirez or Ben Zobrist).

        The category of “better than Flores and available” is limited to a very limited number of guys. Ian Desmond comes to mind, but my understanding is that the Nats were never considering trading him to the Mets, only trading him to another team that would flip him to the Mets once they obtained control.

        So exactly who are the guys that are available and better than Flores? Stephew Drew? Yanks can have him. Alexei Ramirez? I’d be willing to bet that Flores is better than Ramirez this season if Flores gets sufficient playing time.

        • Dan B February 5, 2015 at 11:08 am
          Bat, Alderson has had four years to improve shortstop. He hasn’t. He has shown no imagination in finding ways to improve the team. Also, even if we agree there was no shortstop available better then Flores this offseason, what is so wrong with signing a veteran as a backup in case the Flores experiment fails? Was there not only no better shortstop then Flores but also no one better then Tejada? There is a very good chance Tejada will be the Met starting shortstop at some point due to injury or failure by Flores. That will be a very poor reflection of this team’s offseason.
  2. Bat February 3, 2015 at 4:11 pm
    I’m not so sure Janish would be thrilled if that happened.

    Somehow I suspect he is more interested in having his dire predictions about Flores come true than in Flores (and by extrapolation, the Mets) succeeding.

    • Dan B February 3, 2015 at 6:24 pm
      I can’t speak for Janish but I know I have no faith in Flores nor do I think the Mets will make the playoffs next year. But I hope and pray I am wrong.
    • Joe Janish February 4, 2015 at 4:07 pm
      Bat, can you please reiterate to us the specific “dire predictions” that I’ve made about Flores?

      I don’t recall making any predictions about Flores, but then again, I’m getting old and my mind is not as swift as in my younger years.

      • Bat February 4, 2015 at 9:21 pm
        Joe, you’ve been saying for months that Flores isn’t a SS and that you do not think he is likely to hit.

        I’m not sure he is a SS – we’ll have to see over a larger sample in 2015, which shouldn’t be the case b/c Flores should have been playing much earlier in 2014, given that the Mets were going nowhere and Tejada was already known to be what he is.

        I think Flores will hit, and I think he’d hit even better if he wasn’t buried in the 8th spot, but we can all be sure he will hit 8th because Terry seems to think that SS should always be batted 8th.

        • argonbunnies February 4, 2015 at 10:42 pm
          I don’t like putting Wilmer 8th either, but I’m kinda blanking on better solutions. Who should bat 8th? Does Wilmer bat 6th over Duda/Cuddyer/Grandy/d’Arnaud?

          I am not sold on Lagares as a leadoff hitter, but as long as he’s still improving at the plate, it’s nice to have a guy who can run in that spot. If his hitting plateaus, then Juan could hit 8th.

  3. norme February 3, 2015 at 6:53 pm
    Sorry Joe, but “slickery” already exists. Merriam-Webster has a definition, but I think you might like the definition from the Urban dictionary—a sexual connotation—-who knew? Somehow that word seems to fit li’l jeffy even more than SAndy.
    • DaveSchneck February 3, 2015 at 11:35 pm
      Urban dictionary reference? You are both a baseball aficionado and renaissance man. Impressive.
      • norme February 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm
        Thanks for the thought but even I know when my leg is being “slickeried”.
  4. Marc February 3, 2015 at 7:16 pm
    You don’t think Murphy is a good second baseman? He’s not the best fielder but he does not hurt the Mets out there. You also forgot to point out that Flores has played over 400 games ar shortstop already.

    I root for the Mets and the players they put out there. I’m gonna root for Flores to prove you wrong, and I believe he can

    • Bat February 3, 2015 at 8:32 pm
      Well said Marc.

      I very much agree with the last two sentences you wrote and I too believe Flores can prove Janish wrong.

      • DaveSchneck February 3, 2015 at 11:50 pm
        Bat and Marc,
        The critique of the Met ownership/management actions and statements, a player capabilities or lack thereof, does not mean someone is rooting for or against the team or the players. Speaking for myself, I root for all the guys that put on the Met jersey. I acknowledge that they are all great in that they made it to the show, something achieved by a fraction of a percent of those who play the game. The criticism is not personal and does not represent negativity. It is what it is – criticism. While I root for him to be successful, Alderson certainly has earned more than his share of criticism. He has had a bad winter and continues to reign over a sub .500 team with a league bottom payroll in the biggest market. The needed upgrades this offseason have been lame. Forget Tulo, and forget SS, how can anyone defend bringing in only non-roster invitees to compete for a LH bullpen spot? John Mayberry? Really? No offense to John, but again, Alderson can’t do any better than a non-tender candidate who hit .160 as a starter last year playing in a bandbox?

        While Murphy appears to a great guy, anyone not legally blind can see that his defense hurts the team. So, I’ll root for Wilmer, Mayberry, and Murph, not to prove anyone right or wrong, but I’ll also acknowledge that the Met ownership/management behaves like pretenders, not contenders.

        • Bat February 4, 2015 at 9:08 pm
          I agree that Murphy’s defense hurts the team, and I’ll go one further:

          I would have traded Murphy this offseason.

          Murphy’s offense isn’t good enough to offset his defense. Why? He’s basically a Steve Garvey-type that has a hollow .300 batting average.

          As I have said previously, Murphy is gone no later than the 2015-2016 offseason, and he might be gone before this year’s trading deadline if the Mets are out of contention and Herrera is playing well.

          But certainly I have never stuck up for Murphy’s defense.

      • Joe Janish February 4, 2015 at 4:15 pm
        Why are you so hypersensitive about Wilmer Flores? Are you related?

        I am EXTREMELY curious what Flores needs to do to “prove me wrong.” In this post I disagree that Flores is Cal Ripken, Jr. — is that so incredibly outlandish an opinion? If I also state that Zack Wheeler is not Tom Seaver, and Travis d’Arnaud is not Johnny Bench, am I then also disparaging Wheeler and d’Arnaud?

        I suppose we’ll wait 20 years and see if Flores will turn into a Hall of Fame shortstop who plays the most consecutive games in MLB history and posts a near .800 OPS over that span, while also collecting Gold Glove, MVP, and Silver Slugger awards.

        Come back in 2035 and you can tell me that Wilmer Flores proved me wrong.

        • Bat February 4, 2015 at 9:09 pm
          Joe, you are hugely anti-Flores and it just gets old after awhile.

          As I said previously I hope Flores hits the piss out of the ball and fields adequately and silences you / makes you eat crow.

        • argonbunnies February 4, 2015 at 9:18 pm
          Bat, I think ALL of us Mets fans are HOPING for that! Some of us just view it as unlikely, and thus a bad thing for Sandy to pin the team’s hopes on, that’s all.
    • DanS February 4, 2015 at 12:19 pm
      I’ve been watching “archived” 2014 Mets games and have to say after a random look at about twenty games, Murph is a terrible second baseman: no range, the occasional ball through the wickets, bad feeds to the SS on the double play. I love his attitude and his approach at the plate (though you do wish the guy had a little more “pop”) but he is a defensive liability.
    • Joe Janish February 4, 2015 at 4:09 pm
      The Murphy as second baseman argument has been done to death. I get it — some people will find any and every reason to believe and argue that Murphy is an adequate MLB second baseman. We’ll agree to disagree.
    • argonbunnies February 4, 2015 at 6:15 pm
      Marc, I was saying the same thing about Murphy at the end of 2013. He got off to a rough start, but made fewer mistakes as the year went on, and I still had memories of his quick reactions from when he’d first moved to the infield.

      I entered 2014 expecting that we’d have late-2013 Murphy out there at minimum. But I was wrong. That’s not what happened. He regressed to the clumsiness of his early days at 2B, AND he showed none of the quickness he’d had a few years back.

      If he hits .310 with 45 doubles, then I’ll take it, but saying “he doesn’t hurt the Mets in the field” is just not true.

  5. Tommy2cat February 4, 2015 at 5:55 am
    Sandy is correct. We do have quality players at every position, although some haven’t earned their MLB stripes. He’s right that some players, such as TDA, Lagares & Flores, need to prove themselves at the MLB level. But those players have certainly earned the opportunity.

    Frankly, I think there’s greater onus on Wright and Granderson to step up and produce than on the younger players. At this point in their careers, those two players need to prove that last year was the exception. Hopefully, they realize that an important part of their legacy is on the line – their reputation as leaders.

    I’m very pleased that we didn’t get too active in the FA/Trade market. There’s no reason to. The only real question mark is at SS, where Flores and Matt Reynolds have earned the right to compete as part of an internal solution. Further, Cuddyer’s addition to the line-up provides a quality bat, whereas last year CY/EY, Jr.’s contributions were quite anemic.

    Add Harvey to a very deep rotation, and a bullpen without aging warts (lol) and we should be able to compete in most of our games. I think we’re on the positive side of the tipping point and that success will breed even greater success.

    The numbers support this position. Last year from July 4th forward, our record was 42-35. That’s nearly half a season. Bullpen issues had been sorted out, Wheeler and deGrom had taken important steps forward, first base had been resolved and TDA returned from AAA to perform – offensively, at least – much more to his capabilities.

    So, we’re actually improving a 42-35 club by adding a healthy David Wright, Matt Harvey and Michael Cuddyer. Double the numbers… 84-70, and you can extrapolate improving upon a team that already will likely compete for a wild card position.

    • Joe Janish February 4, 2015 at 4:56 pm
      I don’t trust incomplete records. I especially don’t like records taken from a specific point in a season through the end, because they can be REALLY untrustworthy. The teams the Mets played in the last 77 games of the season aren’t the same teams they’ll play next year. There’s also the matter of September, when rosters expand, minor leaguers are playing frequently, and some teams check out early.

      It’s not “actually a 42-35 club” — it’s a 79-83 club. You can’t just pick a segment of the season and base the team on that segment. How many different teams did the Mets play in those 77 games? What were their records? Who was on active 25-man roster at the time those games were played? Did the Mets happen to miss facing a few ace starters of clubs they met only once during that period? Were key players missing?

      I did a quick look and counted 22 games against playoff teams in those final 77. In contrast, 17 of those games came against last-place teams, and 48 of those 77 were against teams that finished with a sub-.500 record. Granted, maybe the Mets were part of the reason those teams finished as poorly as they did. But really, my point is that the sample size is too small and unreliable.

      In his tenure with the Mets, Terry Collins has had some spurts of success that didn’t last for more than 4-5 weeks, usually coinciding with an injection of new talent. Motivated players came in from the minors or other clubs and played over their heads for a while, the team won more than they lost, then when the players regressed due to over-exposure, the team’s record predictably sunk to previous levels.

      Remember the big PR spin last winter? That the Mets were a .500 team after Zack Wheeler and Eric Young, Jr. were added to the roster on June 18, 2013? It was the rally cry ALL WINTER LONG a year ago — this notion that because the Mets were .500 from that random point forward, they were sure to be at least if not over .500 in 2014. How did that work out? They still had a losing record, even after adding Bartolo Colon and Curtis Granderson AND getting a career-year from Lucas Duda.

      The season is 162 games, and that’s how every team is measured.

    • argonbunnies February 4, 2015 at 6:07 pm
      I could not agree more with Joe.

      As for quality players at every position, you’re just accepting a lower standard: “quality” has been redefined as “not super embarrassing”. Congratulations, your 2015 New York Mets will not be super embarrassing.

      However, if one were to define “quality” as “championship-caliber”, then no, the Mets do not have “quality” guys at virtually ANY positions.

      Some young guys will improve, certainly. Tack on a few wins there. Other guys will get hurt and regress. Lose a few wins there. A net gain of +10 is theoretically possible, but just barely. It’s highly unlikely. By making it sound like a reasonable expectation, Sandy is trying to trick you into moving the onus from the roster-builders to the roster itself. Don’t fall for it. If every single thing goes right for the 2015 Mets and they somehow squeak into a playoff spot, don’t credit Sandy; credit the players for playing way over their heads, and credit fate or luck or whatever for their good fortune.

    • DaveSchneck February 4, 2015 at 9:24 pm
      I agree with Joe and AB about carving ot partials of a season for projections. The starting point for 2015 is a 79 win team in 2014.

      Whether Alderson’s inactivity this winter was good or bad is debatable, but here is the problem.

      • DaveSchneck February 4, 2015 at 9:29 pm
        The lack of providing a stronger alternative to Flores at SS that Tejada, the lack of acquiring a major league LH for the pen to battle with Edgin (far from a sure thing) and the non-roster guys (even more uncertain), and not acquiring a stronger RH bench bat than Mayberry expose Alderson as more of a prentender than a contender. Certainly, stronger solutions to those issues did not require parting with stud pitching prospects or Hanley Ramirez type contractual commitments.
  6. argonbunnies February 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm
    I think that’s setting the PR bar pretty low, Joe. Can’t anyone just roll out of bed, take a weakness in their product, find a superficial similarity to something great, and go public with some backwards logic supporting it?

    Here, I’ll do it with Cuddyer. Let’s see… old white corner guy known for his bat, posted career-best AVG/OBP/SLG lines at 34-35, veteran, good clubhouse guy, friends with the team’s star. Who’s the best player who fits a few of those categories? Bonds? No, too many negative associations. Hank Aaron? No, too much of a stretch. Hall of Fame OF who excelled late in his career… y’know, everyone on that list was ALSO a star in his 20s. I guess I’ll go with Luis Gonzalez.

    “Cuddyer may be a little older, but he’s one of those guys, like Luis Gonzalez, who took a long time to become the best hitter he could be. Guys like that are constantly learning and adjusting, those savvy veteran baseball guys. Once Gonzalez turned that corner in his 30s, and put together two monster seasons, which is exactly what Cuddyer has done, were there some doubters? Sure. So what did Gonzalez do the next year? Had the best year of his career, would have won the MVP if not for Bonds, and led his team to a World Series championship.”

    • Joe Janish February 4, 2015 at 5:01 pm
      Hmm … maybe I should start looking for a new job …

      Now, if only Cuddyer had access to the same “materials” that were available to Gonzalez prior to 2005 …

      • argonbunnies February 4, 2015 at 5:57 pm
        Well, yeah, all Cuddyer needs is some PEDs, and to elevate Queens to the level of Phoenix, and to de-age by 3 years, and to time-travel back into the heart of the high-offense era, and to surround himself with awesome teammates, and to warp fate into making an all-time fluke season a certainty… and then it’s a PERFECT comparison.

        Makes about as much sense as comparing Wilmer to Ripken. They’re both pure nonsense. Please tell me PR is really that easy; I could use a steady paycheck. Just name me a few PR hall-of-famers I can nonsensically compare myself to on my resumé.

      • argonbunnies February 4, 2015 at 5:58 pm
        Oh dear, my trash-talking has been flagged for approval. Perhaps I crossed a line…
        • Joe Janish February 4, 2015 at 7:13 pm
          Argon, it’s been approved. I haven’t yet figured out a way to make sure regular commenters are auto-approved, and I still haven’t figured out why many legit comments are held in moderation. I only know that if I lower the dial on the filters, it’s like breaking the dam — and they catch and delete about 50 spam comments a day.

          Thanks for your patience.

        • argonbunnies February 4, 2015 at 9:14 pm
          It’s weird, right? Just when I think I know why a comment was flagged, I test a theory and, nope, that wasn’t it. A few weeks ago I tried 6 different versions of a comment, and it turned out I could not post with “I think Lucas Duda will hit .240 next year” or something utterly innocuous like that.
  7. Joe Janish February 4, 2015 at 11:36 pm
    Hey Bat, regarding this:
    “Joe, you are hugely anti-Flores and it just gets old after awhile.

    As I said previously I hope Flores hits the piss out of the ball and fields adequately and silences you / makes you eat crow.”

    What gets old to me is your persistent insistence that I have an “anti-Flores” angle and your turning it into a personal thing for both of us. I have absolutely nothing against Flores, and in fact think he’s a great kid who is pure, works hard, and genuinely wants to succeed. Further, I would like to see him succeed. It’s not unlike the way I feel about Daniel Murphy, in fact. However, I don’t let those personal feelings get in the way of objective analysis. Therefore my emotion doesn’t cloud my judgment thus far, which has been iterated and reiterated here several times — he’s not yet proven to me that he can capably play shortstop for a MLB championship club, nor has he yet proven to me that he can hit enough to make up for his defensive deficiencies. Will that change in 2015? We’ll see, but I’m not expecting it.

    And, I’m not expecting him to be a HoF shortstop on the Cal Ripken, Jr. level, either. I think it’s grossly unfair to make such a comparison, to both players.