Mar 31

Niese Facing Pivotal Season

Jon Niese continued the Mets’ run of strong starting pitching with six scoreless innings Tuesday against St. Louis. The Mets haven’t said where, but Niese will likely be slotted fourth in their rotation, meaning he’ll pitch in the second series at Atlanta.

Niese, who gave up four hits and struck out three in a 2-0 victory over the Nationals, had been trying to correct a striding flaw in his mechanics. He noticed his landing (right) leg was not falling directly toward the plate, but toward first base. Consequently, Niese has been throwing across his body, which placed stress on his left shoulder causing it to tire. Such a strain could cause damage to the shoulder, perhaps leading to surgery.

NIESE: Big year for him. (AP)

NIESE: Big year for him. (AP)

“I’ve been working on my mechanics in between starts and in the bullpen,” Niese told reporters. “It feels good now. It makes my arm feel a lot stronger, and with a little bit better command as well.

“I’m striding probably a foot further toward home plate. It’s good. I’m using my legs, using my body to do the pitching instead of just trying to muscle it up there with my arm.”

This is a pivotal season for Niese, who has two years remaining on a five-year, $25.27-million contract. Niese was a hot commodity then as a young, hard-throwing left-hander with a manageable contract.

However, since a 13-9 season in 30 starts (190.1 innings) in 2012, Niese’s stock has nosedived. He’s gone 17-18 and made only 54 of a potential 68 starts.

In their growing disenchantment, the Mets tried to trade Niese over the winter, but their asking price was too high. Niese could also be expendable this winter, especially if Steven Matz is brought up and shows potential.

The Mets gambled, and to date lost on Niese. But, he’s only 28 so there’s still time for him to cash his potential check.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

 

Mar 31

Quit Screwing Around With Idea Of Trading Gee

You have to wonder what Dillon Gee was thinking yesterday during Mets owner Fred Wilpon’s closed-doors meeting.

How could he possibly get swayed away in any emotional thoughts when there are reports of the Mets still wanting to trade him? How could he possibly feel a part for what they are building if they are always trying to show him the door?

GEE: Keep him. (Getty)

GEE: Keep him. (Getty)

Gee won’t make waves; he doesn’t have that type of personality. He said all the right things Monday on SNY, saying he’s only concentrating on getting ready for the season regardless of his role.

Gee, despite limited experience in that capacity, was supposed to open the season in the bullpen prior to Zack Wheeler’s season-ending elbow injury. At the time, manager Terry Collins said he would replace Wheeler.

Then all of sudden enter Rafael Montero, and Collins began backtracking. You have to wonder, considering the talk about the manager’s relationship with the general manager, if Sandy Alderson didn’t have a finger in all this.

Just wondering.

Now, we’re hearing again about Gee being shopped. Such talk won’t dissipate in the wake of Montero throwing six scoreless innings Monday. (Never mind Gee threw seven scoreless Sunday).

Gee has a 40-34 record with a 3.91 ERA in 106 appearances with the Mets. He’s shown an ability to pitch with composure and eat innings in big games. Conversely, the 24-year-old Montero has a big upside, but we don’t know what he’ll do if given the ball every fifth game.

For that, matter we don’t know what Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz could do.

Sure, they are banking on their young pitching and there’s nothing wrong with that optimism. However, they can’t operate under the assumption any of those three will immediately give the Mets what Gee has proven to give.

If Alderson is the genius he’s been portrayed to be, he should know a team could never have enough pitching. In Alderson’s tenure with the Mets, he’s lost Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, Wheeler, Gee (last year) and Jon Niese at various times. Isn’t that enough of a clue?

Alderson is telling us the Mets will be competitive this year. Yet, he’s willing to go with an unproven as a fifth starter this year, and this despite also knowing they won’t have Bartolo Colon next season and Wheeler until at least June.

So, what’s this about trading Gee? Unless they are blown away – and they won’t be – it would be incredibly stupid to trade him.

And, we don’t need any more stupid things.

ON DECK:  Mets Today: What’s happening today.

Mar 30

Mets Matters: Montero, Duda Shine; Muno Should Make Team

The Mets received six strong innings from Rafael Montero and Lucas Duda homered and drove in five runs in a 7-1 victory over Miami.

Michael Cuddyer hit his sixth homer of the spring for the Mets.

The Mets are deciding between Montero and Dillon Gee for the final spot in the rotation. The Mets also say they remain open to trading Gee.

The Mets are also considering a contract extension for Duda of possibly four years at $31 million.

mets-matters logoMETS ADD LEFTY RELIEVERS: The Mets addressed their void for a left-handed reliever by acquiring Alex Torres from San Diego for Cory Mazzoni and getting Jerry Blevins from Washington for Matt den Dekker. … Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin is expected to make the team.

EXTRA INNINGS: Owner Fred Wilpon addressed the team before the game, but would not comment on what he said. … It appears Daniel Murphy will open the season on the disabled list as he still isn’t running. … Unlike the circus that surrounded Matt Harvey’s rehab from Tommy John surgery last year, Zack Wheeler will work out in Port St. Lucie. He will visit the team when it plays in Atlanta and Miami. … It appears second baseman Danny Muno will make the Opening Day roster over Matt Reynolds.

UP NEXT: Jon Niese opposes Washington’s Gio Gonzalez Tuesday.

Mar 30

Good Games From Montero And Duda Raise Questions

Two pertinent Mets’ issues surfaced in today’s 7-1 rout of the Marlins. The most urgent is the competition for a starter’s spot between Rafael Montero and Dillon Gee. The second is the idea of giving Lucas Duda a contract extension.

DUDA: Are Mets talking long-term? (AP)

DUDA: Are Mets talking long-term? (AP)

Coming on the heels of Gee’s strong outing Sunday, Montero was equally dominating today against Miami with six scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and no walks with six strikeouts.

The assumption is Gee would get the starter job, which is what Terry Collins said after Zack Wheeler’s season-ending elbow injury. However, the Mets have dragged their feet on making an official announcement, and now there are reports they are trying again to deal Gee.

Considering the fragility of starting pitching, and clear questions surrounding their bullpen – of which Montero would be more effective – the prudent decision would be to commit to Gee in the rotation.

As for the 29-year-old Duda, there are reports of a four-year, $31-million contract. Duda is coming off a 30-homer, 92-RBI season and will make $4.2 million this year. He went deep today and drove in five runs, so you might think Duda’s agents at the Beverly Hills Sports Council will be putting in a call to GM Sandy Alderson soon.

Reportedly, Duda’s people are interested in talking this week, but don’t want to negotiate during the season. The Mets don’t operate well when under the gun like that, which is probably a good thing.

Normally, I’d be in for signing Duda long term, but you must remember he’s only had one good season. I’m not sure one good year is worth a four-year deal.

If he does it again, then sure, but the price will go up.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s notebook.

Mar 30

Mets Deal Den Dekker

Several hours after the Mets acquired lefty reliever Alex Torres from San Diego for pitcher Cory Mazzoni, they pulled off a second deal for Jerry Blevins from Washington for outfielder Matt den Dekker.

Blevins, 31, was 2-3 with a 4.87 ERA in 64 games. Den Dekker was not going to make the team as a reserve outfielder because Kirk Nieuwenhuis is out of options and is having an outstanding spring.

The Mets have been in dire need of a left-handed reliever since Josh Edgin underwent Tommy John surgery.

They have already optioned Scott Rice to the minor leagues and are expected to do the same with Dario Alvarez.

However, Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin could still make the team.

ON DECK: Strong games today by Rafael Montero and Lucas Duda raise questions.