Mets infielder Wilmer Flores suddenly became a national figure on Wednesday when he was reduced to tears on the field after finding out that he was involved in a trade to the Brewers for outfielder Carlos Gomez.
Two days later, still on the team after the reported trade for Gomez fell through due to the Mets concern with his hips, Flores completed the storybook finish, blasting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th to beat the Nationals in the team’s biggest victory of the season.
After the epic range of emotions in the past few days and his heroics last night, Flores is starting to gain some fandom in this sport, as All-Star pitcher David Price–who actually was traded this past week–tweeted his support.
Sometimes there is crying in baseball, and in this case, it resulted in respect from one of the game’s best.
Now that the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline has passed, the bulk of the major deals around baseball have more than likely come to a conclusion.
However, a player can still be traded beyond the July 31 trade deadline.
From the day following the World Series until July 31 the following year, a player may be unconditionally traded to another club, provided there are no contractural stipulations preventing it. But after July 31 through the end of the year, a player must be placed on, “special waivers” in order to be dealt.
MLB Commisioner Rob Manfred recently said he is might consider moving the trade deadline into August, thanks to the advent of the second wild card and so many clubs still in races on July 31.
At any rate, this is a different process than waiving a player to remove them from the 40-man roster. These are revocable waivers for the the purpose of trading a player, although not necessarily in many cases.
Typically, most players with big contracts are placed on trade waivers. This is typically a discreet process for the sake of the players, but often time information is leaked, sometimes for strategic purposes.
A player placed on waivers or who clears waivers is not necessarily going to be traded, and in most cases, are not traded. But it’s a way to gauge interest in players both during the summer, and ahead of the off-season.
If a player is claimed on trade waivers, the claiming team has exclusive negotiating rights with the team in possession of the player(s) contract. The claiming team can simply agree to take on the entire player contract, virtually serving as a straight waiver claim, or the two sides can negotiate a deal. All players involved in the deal must be on trade waivers.
Sometimes, a team might put in a claim for a player strategically block another team from claiming the right to trade for that player. Sometimes, clubs put in a claim for a player as a favor to another club to prevent a player from falling to their competitor. In either case, the claiming team has no intention of acquiring the player. But such strategy can be crippling for the team that owns the player’s contract because if a player is claimed, no deal is reached and the player is pulled back from waivers, he cannot be placed on trade waivers again until September 1.
That might not seem terrible, but a player who is acquired or signed after September 1 is ineligible for the playoffs with his new team.
If a player goes unclaimed on trade waivers, he would by definition clear trade waivers and be able to be traded to any club, contingent upon any contract stipulations.
Players on or who clear trade waivers must be dealt by September 1, as that marks a new period of trade waivers and the process would have to begin again.
Earlier this week, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski decided to “reboot” his struggling Tigers, opting to. To load up in hopes of earning a play-in game for the Wild Card in 2015.
That reboot included Dombrowski dealing both Yoenis Cespedes and David Price for a large haul of prospects including Mets pitching prospects Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.
But Dombrowski is hopeful his reboot process includes bringing Cespedes back into the fold, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today said the Tigers hope to re-sign his All-Star outfielder to a new contract this winter.
The Mets showed a commitment to win right now by adding four players, including Cespedes, ahead of the trade deadline. That is indisputable, very refreshing and they’ve clearly passed a very important test in terms of changing the perception and discussion about the club.
The next test will be whether or not they can play with the muscle of the Tigers in free agency this winter. It remains to be seen if they can.
The Mets have taken quite a bit of risk in acquiring Cespedes this summer, as he can be a free agent this winter. They gave up at least one excellent pitching prospect to get him, so retaining Cespedes – who is the kind of player this front office has coveted for years – should be a priority for 2016 and beyond.
Presumably, it will take a long-term and significant commitment to do this. He is going to be one of the premier right-handed power hitting bats on the market who is also an outstanding outfielder, a rare combination in a player for this era of the game.
But if the Mets could get this done, they’d get the hitter they need for the future without having to give up their first-round pick in next year’s draft, something they can ill afford to do after surrendering their first round pick in 2015 for Michael Cuddyer.
But perhaps most importantly, it would show the Mets can and are willing to compete for quality players in free agency, and they would pass perhaps their most significant test of all.
It’s going to be complicated, however.
Per the terms of Cespedes’ contract, his team must release him at the end of the deal, and a released player cannot be re-signed by his former club until May 15 the following year.
So the Mets will only have five days after the World Series concludes to get a new deal done with Cespedes. After that time period, the Mets will probably lose him to another club.
On Friday, the Mets made their most significant trade deadline acquisition perhaps in this century, acquiring OF Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers in exchange for Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.
He is unquestionably the big transformational bat the fans and the entire industry has been waiting for the Mets to acquire.
But now that he’s here, how will the Mets align and play Cespedes? Cespedes, has played the majority of his big league career in left field, but he is a more than capable center fielder as well. He recently told Marly Rivera of ESPN that he will play wherever the Mets need him to.
But where can his strengths ultimately be maximized in relation to everyone elses?
The current Mets outfield consists of one staple, and that’s Curtis Granderson in right field. Besides that, every other outfield position has been a rotation of players both before and after Michael Cuddyer went on the disabled list.
Michael Conforto has taken the majority of the time in left field since Cuddyer went down last week, with Eric Campbell and Kirk Nieuwenhuis occasionally sharing time there as well. But it’s fair to argue Conforto’s time hasn’t quite come yet despite an impressive showing so far, and both Campbell and Nieuwenhuis just are not full-time players.
In regards to Juan Lagares, despite being awarded a Gold Glove in 2014, he has suffered through a couple of injuries which has helped contribute towards his regression both offensively (he has a .280 OBP) and defensively in 2015. He has pretty much become a part-time player despite signing a long-term contract extension with the club in March.
However, tonight we should start to see a new established outfield alignment with the addition of Cespedes. Here are the options…
What an incredible spectrum of emotions that Wilmer Flores and this Mets team has endured in a 48-hour span.
On Friday night, on the heels of three standing ovations earlier in the contest, Flores rocketed a walk-off home run over the wall in left field to beat the Washington Nationals in the biggest game of the season to date for the Mets–but it almost didn’t happen.
“You can’t write that,” Terry Collins told the media after Friday’s win. “You guys couldn’t come up with that. And you’re good. But that’s unbelievable.
“Can it happen at a better time to a better person and in a bigger situation than that? We’re all so thrilled for him. It’s unbelievable,” Collins continued.
Rewind to two days prior on a warm Wednesday night at Citi Field against the Padres. It was just about halfway through the game when the news surfaced that Flores had been included in a trade to the Brewers for center fielder Carlos Gomez; a deal that was reported as “done.”
This is the moment that began an incredibly strange, turbulent and emotional few days for this franchise. While the news of the trade had circulated all throughout the ballpark, up to the SNY broadcast booth and even to Flores himself, he remained in the game.
I was spectator at Citi Field as this was all happening, and I’ll say what I’ve already written on this blog multiple times in the last couple days: This was the strangest day of baseball of my life.
The night was no longer even about the game, as everyone was fixated on this reported trade the Mets had made and why in the world Flores was still in this game. Inning after inning it got odder and odder. The atmosphere in the building was one I’ve never felt before.
As the game progressed into the later innings, Flores became aware of what was happening and was reduced to tears both on the field and in the dugout. As excited as this crowd was for the impending acquisition of a big bat, it was incredibly hard to watch this go down with Flores, and at one point I even began to get choked up a bit.
That’s one thing fans easily forget–these players are not assets, they are human beings.
New York did it’s best to send Flores off with a rousing goodbye, but he was struggling to say goodbye back. As he stepped to bat in the bottom of the seventh, the crowd rose to it’s feet, in what was believed to be Wilmer’s final swan song in the orange and blue.
Once the game ended things got stranger as general manager Sandy Alderson told the media that there was no trade for Gomez involving Flores, and that there wasn’t going to be one. After all that hubbub, all that applause and all that emotion, Wilmer was still a Met.
Things have been different, though, since. After his emotions were broadcast over television and social media, Flores suddenly became a player Mets fans were adoring and connecting with. He was reduced to tears at the thought of leaving this franchise, and these fans resonate with that kind of emotion and commitment.
On Friday against the Nationals, in his first start since the events of Wednesday night, Flores made the first of his memorable plays in the first inning as he made a tremendous diving stop to rob Yunel Escobar of a base hit, and he was greeted to the first of four standing ovations on the night.
“New York fans take a lot of criticism for being tough. They take a lot of heat about how hard they are on people,” Collins said. “What they did for Wilmer Flores tonight, you’re not going to find that in a lot of places. That is the most respectful way to handle a situation that these fans can possibly come up with.”
“I was surprised. Those guys are great,” Flores said of the fan response. “They cheered every time I was going to hit, and it felt good.”
After driving in the only run of the game for the Mets to that point, it was Flores once again who stepped up the bat, this time in the bottom of the 12th, where he made magic in a chill-inducing moment that wasn’t even supposed to happen.
He completed a storybook game in romantic fashion with a game-winning home run. It couldn’t have been scripted any better for the player.
“Words can’t really describe what has been going through his head, and us, as a team, the last couple of days,” said Matt Harvey, who pitched 7 2/3 brilliant innings on Friday night. “Obviously, everything that happened to him is pretty incredible. For tonight to happen the way it did, it’s pretty unreal. Everybody is so happy for him.”
A finish suited for Hollywood, and a man made for New York.
“It felt great. I couldn’t be happier,” Flores said after hitting the home run.
On Friday night, Wilmer Flores hit the most unforgettable home runs in his career to date, hitting a game-winning shot in the 13th inning off of Felipe Rivero in the 12th inning to seal a much-needed win for the Mets in their most dramatic win of the season:
The Mets defeated the Nationals by the score of 2-1 on Friday night in 12 innings at Citi Field. Here are my takeaways from the win…
A tough, stingy game from both teams.
Both teams played a stubborn brand of baseball. Neither team gave in at any point during the night, both teams pitched really well and neither side really had many opportunities over the course of the game.
The Nationals bullpen completely stymied the Mets all night long. They were completely mismatched really from the moment Gio Gonzalez exited this game when it looked like an implosion was imminent in the fifth inning. Of course, it didn’t help when Terry Collins allowed those mismatches to take place, especially late in this game.
But the Mets won, and that’s all that matters.
Romance in baseball.
What a week for Wilmer Flores. Two nights ago, he was balling on the field thinking he had been traded away from his home.
48 hours later, he’s the hero. He drove in the first run for the club in the fourth inning. Then, he hit the game winning home run for the Mets tonight, hit the biggest home run of his life to date, and drove home a tremendous win for the club that did not want him on Wednesday night.
The show of support from the fans tonight was tremendous. He got an ovation in the first inning after a diving stop, and it was a storybook ending to seal an amazing story for him this week.
It was a magical moment for a super kid, and a trooper. He put Wednesday’ awkward debacle behind him, and made Friday an unforgettable night. It couldn’t have happened at a better time to a better person.
What a story. How can you not be emotional for the kid after an ending like that? It was such a special moment, one which won’t be forgotten.
The Mets played a rock solid game tonight, and they needed to thanks to their inability to score more than one run against the Nationals pitching, which was stabilized when Matt Williams inserted Tanner Roark in the fifth inning. They played excellent defense all around the field, from Wilmer Flores to Juan Lagares to Juan Uribe, didn’t give away outs and found a way to win.
A little late, but it worked.
The good ol’ Matt Harvey.
That was as good as a performance for Harvey in a real long time. He came out clearly with a purpose to shut the door on the Nationals, who are a little more tooled today than they were ten days ago in Washington. But he was firing strike after strike with his fastball on the corners, which was consistently in the upper-90s with a dandy of a slider falling off the table on the outside edge.
This formula got retired the first 16 batters to face him, which actually had his streak up to 30 against the Nationals dating back to last week. It’s too bad that wasn’t over one game.
But he was magnificent tonight, and pitched like the ace he’s been billed to be throughout his young career, coming through with a clutch performance in a game the Mets had to get.
Unfortunately, he was bitten by a really poor call in the eighth inning when Clint Robinson was able to sell being hit by a pitch with one out, and the umpires somehow confirmed it after a review. Then, Danny Espinosa pinch ran for Robinson, and Yunel Escobar drove him in with a two out single to tie things up.
It’s a shame, because this was a winning performance by Harvey. He did nothing wrong, and the team and the manager did nothing wrong, either.
I had absolutely no problem with Terry Collins leaving Harvey in the game to try and get Escobar. That’s his horse, and he rode him. He was throwing 97 mph after pitch 100, and he overthrew a fastball and left it over the middle. Escobar grounded a single and that was that.
A must-win for the Mets, which was sealed.
There was no way the Mets could lose this game. They could not go home tonight four games out of first. It just wouldn’t have been acceptable.
The club made sure that didn’t happen.
They played a buttoned up game behind their ace (one of them anyway), and played a stubborn game with energy and excitement from the electric crowd on hand tonight. They knew what was at stake, played to win, and got the job done to pull back within two games of first place.
Other notes from Friday:
Ruben Tejada went 2-for-5 on Friday – he’s hitting .312 over his last 23 games.
The Mets had two hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Nationals bullpen, one of which was Flores’ game winning homer in the 12th inning.
Flores home run in the 13th inning was his first home run since June 12.
The Mets open a critical three-game series against the Nationals on Friday night at Citi Field at 7:10 PM.
Here is tonight’s starting lineup for New York:
Curtis Granderson – RF
Ruben Tejada – SS
Daniel Murphy – 1B
Juan Uribe – 3B
Travis d’Arnaud – C
Wilmer Flores – 2B
Juan Lagares – CF
Eric Campbell – LF
Matt Harvey – RHP
Here is tonight’s pitching matchup:
Matt Harvey (9-7, 3.16 ERA) will start for the Mets.
Gio Gonzalez (8-4, 3.83 ERA) will start for the Nationals.
Here’s what I am looking for from the Mets on Friday:
A game of significant importance.
There are 60 games left in the season, the Mets lost a crucial one to the Padres on Thursday ahead of this series against the Nationals.
There is no messing around now. It’s essential the Mets win tonight against Washington and pull back to within two games of their division rival.
That means the defense needs to be on point, they need a sharp, lights out effort from Harvey, and Terry Collins needs to manage every pitch to win this game. Setting the tone with some early execution offensively could go a long way towards securing a win on Friday.
Establish a presence.
The Mets are 6-27 against the Nationals at Citi Field over the last four years. If that trend doesn’t reverse quickly, Citi Field will not be opened beyond October 4.
The Mets have to prove they can play with the big boys in order to establish themselves as a big boy. Starting with a win today and in this series against Washington, they can take important steps in doing so.
It all starts with the big boy on the mound for the Mets tonight. He’s coming off a strong start in a blow out win against the Dodgers last Saturday. But this is obviously a start with major implications tied to it, and the kind of start he has claimed to live for, so hopefully he is sharp, on top of his game, and can deliver a clutch, shutdown performance against what is now a revitalized Nationals lineup.
Late Wednesday, the Mets nearly traded Zack Wheeler along with Wilmer Flores to the Brewers in exchange for Carlos Gomez, but the deal ultimately fell apart and both players were retained.
Since then, Wheeler was rumored to be in a deal involving Reds OF Jay Bruce, but the Mets ultimately acquired OF Yoenis Cespedes instead, retaining Wheeler and dealing Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa instead.
“We made it clear to people from the get-go we were not going to move any of that essential starting pitching,” Alderson said. “Obviously, Zack Wheeler’s name came up.”
After the deal was made official on Friday, Sandy Alderson said Wheeler called him and expressed his desire to stay with the Mets going forward.
Alderson said that had a meaningful “impact” on the club.
“He really expressed his desire and excitement,” Alderson said about Wheeler.
On Monday, Wheeler told Just Mets he wished he was with the team now, contributing towards winning instead of rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery in Port St. Lucie.
“It stinks not to be up there with those guys and pitching with them,” Wheeler said. “All I can do is dream. I am dreaming about it right now – I wish I was up there.
“There’s always next year,” he said. “That’s my whole motivation, To be able to join those guys and win a World Series next year. It should be a lot of fun, and that’s what pushes me everyday down here.”
Wheeler is as genuine a player as I’ve ever met covering the club. He has a great personality, a sense of humor, and of course he’s tremendously talented. He really wants to be here and be a part of a winner, which speaks to his character.
It’s going to be a while, but he may get his wish, eventually.
Perhaps the deal falling through on Wednesday will end up being a blessing in disguise for both Wheeler and the Mets, as they got the better player for a run this year, and retained a major part of their blueprint for years to come.
That along with Cespedes being acquired makes the day extra sweet.
Michael Cuddyer has been dealing with a bone bruise in his left knee throughout the month of July, and the team finally placed him on the disabled list late last week to allow for the bruise to heal.
On Friday, Terry Collins expressed encouragement over Cuddyer’s progress, and said he could head to Florida and begin a rehab assignment this weekend, with the possibility of being activated during their series with the Rays next weekend in St. Petersburg.
Once Cuddyer returns, Terry Collins said he would be comfortable with Curtis Granderson in center field, although its unclear how the club will align their outfield now that they’ve acquired Yoenis Cespedes.
All of this trade talk was fun and entertaining, and in a lot of ways exciting and distracting.
But something which has gotten lost in the hoopla of the trade deadline is the Mets just lost two out of three to the floundering San Diego Padres in their home ballpark, pushing them 4 1/2 games out of the second wild card and three games behind the Nationals for the lead in the National League East.
They’re 5-8 since the All-Star break, down to two games over .500 for the season.
The club has acquired four new players ahead of the trade deadline: Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Juan Uribe, and Kelly Johnson. The roster is now October-caliber, on paper anyway. And, they’ve done it while retaining their five big arms, and all of their top position player prospects.
All of that is fantastic and very impressive, but the whole point is these guys are here to help the team win games, like the one they lost on Wednesday when they were leading 7-1 in the seventh inning.
The Mets have a monumentally large series facing them against the Nationals at Citi Field beginning three hours after the trade deadline passes on Friday night. As it stands right now, even if the Mets acquire a transformation bat, the Mets will be three games behind the Nationals with 60 games to go, and 4 1/2 games behind the Giants with the same number of games to play in the Wild Card race.
What’s more, they do not have to face Max Scherzer this weekend, and the Mets have their three best starting pitchers going.
Of course, they had their three best starters going last week in Washington, and they still lost two out of three to the Nationals.
Even so, the Mets have to prove they can play with the big boys in the league, even with the new talent and now healthy talent (Travis d’Arnaud) on the roster.
They’re 19-30 against teams with a .500 record or better in 2015, 4-6 against the Nationals, 1-3 against them at Citi Field. What’s worse, the Mets have lost 15 of their last 16 games and 6-26 over the last four years against the Nationals at Citi Field.
There are tremendous implications in this weekend’s series. If they get swept, they’re six games out. If they sweep, they’re tied. Winning two gets them two back, losing two gets them four back.
A lot is on the table for the Mets in the next three days.
But the front office and ownership have shown they’re all-in with these moves ahead of the trade deadline, despite a ton of negativity surrounding them this week. Now it’s time to put the pedal to the metal, and go win the baseball games.
Today, coming close to the playoffs became no longer good enough. The pressure is on.