Mets talking 'long term' at short? Just stop!

Ruben Tejada walks back to the dugout after Ruben Tejada walks back to the dugout after striking out in the sixth inning of a game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Anthony Rieber Newsday columnist Anthony Rieber

Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998 and in his current position since July 4,

In the wake of Stephen Drew agreeing to return to the Red Sox Tuesday, it seemed a natural time to check in with Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins about what the Mets are doing at shortstop these days.

Here's what they are doing: rotating two guys at the spot, possibly for the rest of the season. And who plays won't be based on what happened the night before. There's an app for that, apparently.

"I can tell you right now, I've got already penciled in who's playing shortstop the rest of this week," Collins said. "And it's not just one guy."

It's Wilmer Flores, as it was Tuesday night against the Dodgers, and it's Ruben Tejada, who may start Wednesday night. Or Thursday.

Flores went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI and handled all seven chances cleanly in the 9-4 loss. Tejada struck out as a pinch hitter in the sixth.

"Now that they're both here," Collins said, "we've got to pick and choose what we're looking at. But there's no reason why you can't get through the year with two guys getting opportunities to play."

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The Mets already tried that with Lucas Duda and Ike Davis at first base for a time. It did not go well and now Davis is in Pittsburgh and Duda is ensconced at Citi Field. Neither player is an All-Star, though . . . which brings us back to shortstop.

It's not clear if either Flores or Tejada is even a major-league quality starter. Drew is, but Alderson said "the short answer is no" when asked if he thought Drew was worth the money (a reported $10.2 million) to the Mets that he's getting from Boston.

Alderson also mentioned the Red Sox won't have to surrender a draft pick. Drew, who was good enough to hit 13 home runs for a World Series champion last year, would have cost the Mets a precious (to them) third-round selection.

So it's Flores and Tejada.

Or Tejada and Flores.

Can either win the job outright? Here's Alderson's nearly entire answer to that question:

"That's a good question. I think that what we have to do is make sure that we're taking a structured approach to these things," the general manager said. "So for example, other young players that we have, I think that we need to have a good idea of how they're going to be used over a period of time . . . I think what we have to do is make sure that we have the long term in mind. With respect to shortstop, with respect to centerfield, with respect to the bullpen, with respect to the starting rotation. I don't mean to suggest the long term is the next five years, but we have to make sure that we give some of our young players a chance to realize whatever potential they have. Does that answer the question?"

Sorry, Mets fans. The needs of the future are taking over the needs of the present. Again.

As we head to Memorial Day, Alderson is talking about the long term. It's hard to blame him. The team fell to 20-24 and has no realistic chance of reaching Alderson's 90-win goal without a major upgrade in talent or performance.

Perhaps the reason for the new plan is something that happened during last week's Subway Series. After Tejada had a good game, Collins said Flores was going to start the next night.

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But when the lineup card went out, Tejada was back at short. Collins went with the hot hand instead of the longterm plan. If there's a disconnect between the GM and manager, perhaps it was that.

"It's hard," Collins said when asked about trying to win while working in young players. "It's very hard."

It's also harder when those players are not flashy young prospects. Of course, the Mets have one of those in Juan Lagares and sat him four times in five games last week.

But that was the old plan.

We think.

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