Questions remain after trade that didn't happen
NEW YORK -- So, now what?
A more appropriate question cannot be asked in the aftermath of the Mets-Brewers deal that didn't happen. The untraded -- red-eyed Wilmer Flores and rehabbing Zack Wheeler -- are still property of the Mets. And Carlos Gomez is now on his way to Houston.
Now, the Mets are left to pick up the pieces. There are several, aside from the public's reaction to the televised awkwardness that followed the game Wednesday night. Sympathize with manager Terry Collins. He wasn't at fault, but he was the one who had to deal with the cross-examination of reporters, who were as incredulous as they were curious.
How could the manager not have been made aware of what had been discussed? Collins had been with general manager Sandy Alderson for two hours before the game. How could a player be expected to play through tears?
Less than 12 hours after Flores learned -- from folks in the stands at Citi Field -- that he supposedly was en route to Milwaukee, he was neither headed for Beer City nor in the Mets' matinee lineup. His mailing address, until Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline passes, essentially is no-man's land, not a popular zip code. Flores clearly had lost standing in the Mets' eyes if they were willing to deal their Opening Day shortstop. And weeks ago, he already had lost his job as a regular.
Because television cameras caught Flores' tearful reaction Wednesday evening and a dozen non-sports outlets repeatedly showed him sobbing, he lost some face, too. He now is a dinner table topic, fodder for those entertainment shows. Tom Cruise, Miranda Lambert and Flo.
Beyond that, the efforts of Wheeler to rebuild his arm following Tommy John surgery have in no way benefited from being packaged and prepared for a second change of employer -- the Giants, Mets and Brew Crew. What are his feelings about the Mets now?
And whether a Flores-Wheeler package would have constituted overpayment for a reckless, oft-times immature player with questionable re-signability is worth debate no matter how many pockets in Gomez's five-tool belt are filled.
The ripple effect goes beyond the two players who might have departed. What of Juan Lagares now? During the early weeks of this season -- when all fly balls hit between left and right were within his range and Larry Bowa, former teammate of Gary Maddox, said Lagares was as skilled as any outfielder he'd seen -- the Mets were delighted that they had locked up their young center fielder for four years.
Neither fly balls nor National League pitchers have cooperated with Lagares since mid-May. He has lost standing as well, and what he needs to lose are the pounds he has added. Lagares lost his center-field assignment -- albeit temporarily -- to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Lagares did start Thursday in what became an unfathomable 8-7 loss to the Padres.
The hypothetical question -- and oh, how general managers hate the hypothetical -- is: "What were the Mets' plans for Lagares with Gomez on the roster?" No way he would have been retained to serve as a fourth outfielder with most of the guaranteed $23 million due him.
More ifs: With the re-signing of Bartolo Colon more than unlikely and Wheeler in Milwaukee, wouldn't the Mets have needed to add a fifth starter next year? That would have been an offseason issue had the deal been made. But it's worth asking now.
And for what? In many ways, Gomez is the kind of dynamic player the Mets have lacked since Carlos Beltran produced his finest season in 2006 and Jose Reyes played a full season at Shea --- multitalented and able to turn a game singlehandedly. We caught a glimpse of Gomez's skills with the Mets before he was traded to the Twins in the Johan Santana deal in February 2008.
The day in 2007 when Gomez, Beltran and Endy Chavez played the outfield together was an exhibition of defensive genius. Never were the foul lines at Shea Stadium closer to each other. And once Gomez escaped Minneapolis, where manager Ron Gardenhire considered him little more than an excitable mascot, he made himself into an offensive force.
But Gomez still suffers from moments of mindless baseball -- show-off throws to the wrong bases, overaggressive baserunning and Dave Kingman swings in circumstances that warrant a sacrifice fly or a ground ball to the right side.
Still, when properly harnessed, Gomez is an extraordinary talent. How long he might have remained with the Mets is another issue. Gomez is signed through next season and represented by Scott Boras, the agent who never takes less for an answer.
Boras already is at odds with the Mets about Gomez. After Gomez had been made aware of the trade -- the Brewers told him -- came the Mets' decision to say no. Their doctors detected an issue with Gomez's hip. Boras subsequently has said there is no issue. But the Mets have backed off, hoping that the peculiar wisdom of these words applies: "Sometimes, the best trades are the ones you don't make."