Jan 15

Jon Niese Could Be Most Indispensable Met

Normally, I might say David Wright when it comes down to who might be the most indispensable Met this season. Wright is, after all, the center of the Mets’ offensive universe and when he’s hitting it elevates the entire team.

However, I’m a pitching guy first and when I posed the question to myself this morning Jon Niese popped up as the answer.

NIESE: Needs breakout year.

With the trade of R.A. Dickey to Toronto and Johan Santana entering his walk year coming off another injury, Niese, despite a career-high 13 wins last year, is the No. 1 starter.

Dillon Gee is a health question and the No. 5 starter is anybody’s guess, so it comes down to the necessity of Niese having to pitch well every fifth day to minimize the losing streaks, which will happen as they do every year. It was Dickey who kept the Mets on an even keel last summer; Niese must now do the same.

The Mets always liked Niese, as evidenced by the long-term contract they gave him and refusal to discuss him in trade talks. When teams call the Mets, they ask for Niese, a hard-throwing lefthander, with major league success and a manageable contract.

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Jan 14

What Would A Successful 2013 Look Like For Mets?

Here we are, a month away from spring training, and really last summer’s collapse doesn’t seem that far away.

The winter is for expectations, grandiose in some cities that fell short last year and tepid in others. In Flushing, what would a successful season look like?

On paper, it’s not even close, the Mets aren’t as good as they were when the season ended with them 14 games under .500. And, they were struggling to get that kind of record.

Let’s look at the progress they’ve made:

* Their Cy Young Award winning 20-game winner, R.A. Dickey was traded for prospects – one of which is coming off back and knee injuries, which aren’t good for a catcher – at least two years away.

* Another starter, Dillon Gee, is a health issue, as is their $25 million investment in Johan Santana. That makes Jon Niese, with a career-high 13 victories, their de facto ace.

* There have been no significant additions to a “Let’s-see-what-they-can-do’’ outfield. I guess it is better by the subtraction of Jason Bay, who’ll hit at least 20 homers for Seattle (Who can’t feel that?).

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Jan 13

Mets Matters: Team Considering Brian Wilson And Honoring Piazza

ESPN reported former Giants closer Brian Wilson worked out for Mets GM Sandy Alderson in California.

The 30-year-old Wilson underwent Tommy John surgery last season and could be a decent risk on two fronts: 1) he’s young enough to where he could replace Frank Francisco after 2013, and 2) if he rebounds the Mets could get something for him at the July 31 trade deadline.

Wilson is far from ready, so if the Mets bite it would be a gamble. Wilson says he’ll be ready by Opening Day. Wilson made $8.5 million last year from the Giants.

Whether Wilson replaced Francisco this year or next is irrelevant. If he’s healthy he could aid a currently weak bullpen.

METS COULD HONOR PIAZZA: I voted for Mike Piazza for Cooperstown, so I have no problem with him going into the Mets’ Hall of Fame.

Reportedly, the team is also considering retiring Piazza’s No. 31. I don’t have a problem with that, either, but there are other worthy candidates the club should think about first, notably Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter and Dwight Gooden.

All were significant members of the team’s most dominant era.

Jan 12

Piazza Denies Steroids In Book

Some writers claim they voted NO on Mike Piazza for the Hall of Fame did so because his book, “Long Shot,” isn’t to be released until Feb. 12, after the induction announcement. Coincidence or deliberate timing?

You can make an argument either way, but not surprisingly Piazza denies any steroid use. Of course, nobody would realistically expect him to.

It’s pretty disheartening to hear how objective journalists painted Piazza with the same broad brush applied to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Vote your conscience, but the evidence against Piazza is circumstantial at best. Pimples are not a conclusive argument.

 

Jan 11

Will Pete Rose Get Another Hit?

Well, now here’s a sign the apocalypse is upon us. Pete Rose, baseball’s career-hits leader, is about to host a new reality series.

The cameras will follow around Pete and his wife, former TV exercise queen Kiana Kim, to capture the daily doings of the every day couple. It should be as real as the Kardashians

ROSE: As we remember him.

Of course, this would have been more compelling had it been done when he was playing, or better still, managing the Reds. But, there’s a reason for Rose doing this other than money, and that is to be a continuing thorn in the side of Bud Selig.

I always liked Rose, always thought he should be in the Hall of Fame, primarily because his gambling was done when he was managing. I know this is contrary to my views on steroid users, but it is something I can’t get over, probably because he was one of my favorite players growing up.

I thought Rose was betrayed by then Commissioner Bart Giamatti. One of the contingencies of his agreement was that Major League Baseball would not state Rose gambled on baseball, but five minutes into Giamatti’s press conference he said Rose gambled on baseball.

That is probably one of the reasons why Rose so vehemently denied gambling for years. It also irked me that they banned him from the sport, yet in the ceremonies for the all-time team they paraded him out there. Of course, that was to avoid the embarrassment of not inviting him since  it was a fan vote.

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