Apr 07

Mets To Announce Jon Niese Contract

The Mets will make it official in a matter of minutes and announce the five-year, $25.5 extension for Jon Niese, who, if he lives up to expectations will make that a bargain.

NIESE: Gets new contract.

Premium left-handers are in high demand and Niese has already shown a high upside. Throw in two team option years and the deal could rise to $45.5 million.

The Mets have been targets for bad contractual decisions, but this is a sound move because it will enable them to avoid the arbitration and free-agency issues for the next five years.

All contracts represent a gamble, and any thing long term with a pitcher is such, but because of Niese’s age and upside, they are locking him in to a reasonable deal. This is nothing like the Oliver Perez fiasco.

Niese called the deal a blessing and a relief.

“It means a lot,’’ Niese said. “It’s a relief. It’s just a burden off my shoulders. It’s something I don’t have to think about when I go out and pitch. I can just go out there and pitch, have fun and help the team win.’’

Niese will make his season debut tomorrow afternoon against the Braves.

Apr 07

Collins Does A Complete 180 On Tejada

It looks like the injury to Andres Torres has not only led to what will be the major league debut of Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but has also prompted manager Terry Collins to do a complete 180 on how he intended to treat shortstop Ruben Tejada this season.

Going all the way back to a conference call Collins did with bloggers back on February 28th, the Mets manager was very firm on his stance that we would not use Ruben Tejada as the team’s leadoff hitter in 2012.

In response to a question by New York Baseball Digest’s Mike Silva, Collins told us:

“As far as leading off, the one thing this kid is facing right now is replacing Jose Reyes. That’s a huge thing to put on the shoulders of a 21-year-old baseball player. He’s got enough on his mind to replace Jose defensively, let alone to say, ‘you’ve got to get on, you’ve got to get into scoring position because you’re replacing Jose Reyes.’ That’s an awful lot to ask of that young man.”

Terry Collins echoed those exact sentiments later on when he was a guest of Mike Francesa on WFAN:

“No. I won’t put that king of pressure on that kid. He has more than enough on his plate as it is replacing Reyes at short. We need him to go out there and focus on being the best shortstop he can be. That’s his main focus this season and I won’t add to that.”

So here we are, just one game into the season, and Terry Collins has already scrapped the plan to let Tejada play the 2012 season without the added pressure of batting leadoff.

Tejada will now have the dual role of replacing Jose Reyes defensively in the field, and now offensively as the leadoff hitter of the New York Mets as well. Wow. He’ll be doing this under the gaze of tens of thousands of Mets fans who still resent the fact that Jose Reyes is no longer here, and under glaring spotlight of the New York media who will hound him at his locker at the first hint of trouble.

Ironically, I can’t really blame Collins here because Sandy Alderson gave him little choice. The depth on this team is going to be a huge problem all season long. One day in and already our sixth ranked prospect in the system will be debuting in center field today regardless of whether he is ready or not.

The choices at leadoff hitter beyond Andres Torres were who exactly?

David Wright? Daniel Murphy? Jason Bay?

There was no thought given to this situation after Reyes packed his bags for Miami, and even less thought was given when they traded another likely leadoff hitter in Angel Pagan. Torres was a terrible option to bat leadoff right from jump-street, and everybody knew it.

Anyway, the deed is done, the course has been charted and it’s full steam ahead with Nieuwenhuis in center field and Tejada batting leadoff.

All we can do now is hope for a successful outcome, but make no mistake that so far this season, Collins and Alderson are flying by the seats of their pants.

Apr 06

About yesterday

There was a crispness to the day. Both in the weather and the way the Mets played. It was a delightful day, one that gave us a glimpse of what could be when they put it all together. Hopefully, Mike Pelfrey was taking notes on Johan Santana and pitching out of trouble as he did in the fifth.

The talking heads on SNY – and I’m not talking the play-by-play team – were in their bombastic best yesterday, saying this is how it is going to be all year with Santana and the bullpen.

Really?

How do they know that?

It would be great if that were the case, but remember, Santana is coming off a complicated surgery and the bullpen is a patchwork group. Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco were good yesterday, but if they were that good Toronto would have kept them.

Tim Byrdak was key, but how much of that was adrenalin?

I hope what they are saying happens. Damn, I want this to be a good year for the Mets. I don’t want to rain on the parade, but I guess that’s what I am here for – to put some objectivity to the picture.

Yesterday was fun. It was memorable. But, tomorrow is the real opening day.

 

 

Apr 05

Wrapping up Mets Opening Day

Game #1: Mets 1, Braves 0, at Citi Field (1-0)

BY THE NUMBERS: The Mets are 33-18 in season openers, the best record in the major leagues.

SANTANA: Goes five strong. (Getty)

QUOTE BOOK: “If we pitch we can play with anybody. Our guy pitched today.’’ – manager Terry Collins on Johan Santana’s strong effort.

SANTANA IS BACK: Hopefully, that is the case. If nothing else, it was a good sign and a positive step after five scoreless innings against the Braves in his first start since Sept. 2010.

Santana gave up two hits, and another good sign was pitching out of trouble in the fifth.

Santana threw in the high 80s and he’ll be the first to admit he’s still a work in progress.

Psychologically, this was a huge game for the Santana and the Mets. Had Santana imploded it could have left a strong negative impression. There was nothing but positives today for Santana.

BULLPEN STELLAR: With no outs and a runner on third in the seventh, Tim Byrdak – who underwent knee surgery three weeks ago – entered and got out of the inning.

The Mets’ new-look bullpen threw four scoreless innings. One game, of course, but a good sign. And, who didn’t think the worse when Byrdak entered.

Frank Francisco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

OFFENSE STAGNANT: David Wright, Josh Thole and Daniel Murphy had two hits apiece and Wright drove in the game winner. Jason Bay was hitless in three at-bats and was booed during introductions.

THE DOWNSIDE: Center fielder Andres Torres re-strained his left calf muscle and will go on the disabled list. The Mets haven’t announced who’ll they’ll bring up, but it could be Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Collins said Collins said Ruben Tejada will be the leadoff hitter.

UP NEXT: The Mets are off Friday. R.A. Dickey will start Saturday and Jon Niese will work Sunday.

Apr 05

Posting a new poll

Just wanted to let you know I’ve posted a new poll on how many games the Mets will win this season. I plan on running more polls this season and I’ll let you know when a new one is posted. Thanks. JD