Jan 09

Mets Need Breakout Year From Jon Niese

If there’s one player the New York Mets urgently, if not desperately need a breakout year from it is left-hander Jon Niese.

Some might say Ike Davis, which might be true if we even knew he’d be on the team. Another could be outfielder Chris Young, but odds are he won’t be back in 2015, so does it matter what kind of year he has? If he’s having a good season he might get dealt at the deadline. If he plays the season out and does well, the Mets would think he’d be too pricey to retain.

NIESE: Mets need big things from him.

NIESE: Mets need big things from him.

Niese, however, is cut from a different cloth.  He’s in a five-year contract, but coming off a disappointing season in 2013 in which he was injured and won only nine games.

“He was hurt and took a step back,’’ said one National League scout. “Two years ago he was on the verge of a breakout season if the Mets had hit for him.’’

The tightness in his neck and shoulder surfaced after consecutive freezing-weather starts in Minneapolis and Denver.

Niese was 13-9 in 2012, and with a little run and bullpen support could have won 17 games. He was the Opening Day starter last season when Johan Santana was injured, but if the appointment were based on solely on merit, he would have been named regardless.

Despite never having pitched a complete season – defined as 34-35 starts – Niese had steadily improved, winning nine, 11 and 13 games, respectively, from 2010-12, until a shoulder limited him to 24 starts, 143 innings and an 8-8 record.

Everybody is looking at Zack Wheeler to take a Matt Harvey-like step in his second year. I could happen, but what must happen is for Niese to start living up to the high expectations.

Wheeler is far from a given and Harvey is out, which leaves Niese, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon in the rotation. Of the three, Niese has the highest upside.

It’s time he lives up to it.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 18

Harvey Excited About Mets’ New Additions

harvey

So far, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has gotten many of his players pumped up after shelling out $87 million for outfielders Chris Young, 30, and Curtis Granderson, 33, plus the addition of 41-year old starting pitcher Bartolo Colon. In the space of one week, Alderson added 44 years of baseball experience to the 25 man roster.

David Wright has already given the moves two thumbs up, and on Monday night, Mets ace Matt Harvey gave his vote of confidence.

“I like it,” Harvey said on the MSG Network Monday night at halftime of the Knicks’ 102-101 loss to the Wizards. “I talked to owner Jeff Wilpon, and he gave me a call after he signed both those guys. We’re really excited for Mets baseball.”

Harvey, who will miss the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery, said his rehab has gone according to plan so far.

“Everything’s going really well,” he said. “Obviously, at this point, I wish I could be out there for Opening Day. I’ve come to the realization that’s not really possible. Rehab is going really well, and my arm feels extremely well. It’s a slow process, but everything’s going really well.”

“Bartolo’s going to have to hold it down for me while I’m gone,” he said.

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Dec 15

Mets Want To Deal Ike Davis Before Christmas

I can’t recall another time when a team was so open about trading a player as the New York Mets currently are with sending Ike Davis out of town. Anywhere. To anybody.

The Mets hope the market for Davis warmed with Tampa Bay retaining first baseman James Loney. The Rays, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Houston and Pittsburgh were in need of a first baseman when the Hot Stove season began, but Loney and Corey Hart are now off the market.

The Orioles, Pirates and Astros have not been active talking with the Mets, but GM Sandy Alderson has been in frequent contact with Brewers GM Doug Melvin.

The Mets targeted Brewers fifth starter Tyler Thornburg for Davis, who’ll likely make $3.5 million this year through arbitration.  After hitting 32 homers in 2012, hit .205 with nine homers and 30 RBI this year.

Thornburg would complete the Mets’ rotation, which added Bartolo Colon Wednesday at the Winter Meetings. With Davis gone, first base would go to Lucas Duda, or possibly Daniel Murphy if he’s not traded.

The Mets aren’t hot to deal Murphy, but are listening to offers, notably Baltimore.

At the close of the Winter Meetings, Alderson said there was a possibility of trading for an impact shortstop. What he didn’t say, was outside of Davis and Murphy, who he had to trade, at least on the major league level.

Alderson remains adamant against trading Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard.

The Mets aren’t done and this is the week they could fill their remaining holes, as the following week is Christmas followed by New Year’s, when most MLB offices are closed.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 13

The Times, They Are A Changin’

jeff wilpon winter meetings

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post

Maybe this really is a sign the Mets are back in the business of brandishing, pairing the Colon signing with Curtis Granderson and seemingly stating, for the first time in forever, Madoff’s $50 billion lie finally has stopped chiseling away at their finances and their foundation. The Wilpons and the Katz’s have been steadfast in their argument that Madoff didn’t kill their baseball team as much as you would believe, but the counter evidence of what has become of the Mets these last five years is compelling.

Remember, before Dec. 12, 2008, the Mets had taken on several varsity-level contracts — Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Billy Wagner, even Paul Lo Duca — and bought out the arbitration of their young stars, Jose Reyes and David Wright. The spending didn’t yield a title. But it did produce the best three-year stretch in franchise history, and puts a lie to the theory that whenever the Mets spend money, it winds up in flames. Before Dec. 12, 2008, the Mets had learned to behave like the Yankees — and had learned to like it, truth be told.

Bob Klapisch of The Record

But Jeff Wilpon had a rough day in several of the local newspapers Wednesday, including The Record, as he was challenged to do more after signing Curtis Granderson, and not to punt on the 2014 season. By mid afternoon, the Mets decided to yield to Colon’s demand for a second year. Just like that, the team had its temporary replacement for Matt Harvey.

Of course, Colon is not Harvey; that’s an understatement. And we’ll never know for sure whether the stinging criticism had anything to do with Wilpon’s sudden willingness to stretch the budget. But Mets fans shouldn’t be concerned about the particulars, because Colon is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation presence, despite his risks.

David Lennon of Newsday

The Mets just changed the conversation.

It took close to $90 million, and yesterday’s sizable risk in the extra-large Bartolo Colon. But for the time being, we’re done ripping the Mets for not reaching into their pockets to improve the team. The Mets were the only team to go to four years for Granderson, and with Colon now on board, it’s probably safe to say that no other club was willing to do two. But that’s what we ultimately needed to see from the Wilpons — some signs that they weren’t mailing in 2014 because of the injury to Harvey.

At least the Mets are making us feel like they are back in business. Rather than just hearing about blueprints and a multiyear rebuilding plan, we’re seeing the actual remodeling effort going on, with the addition of impact players who should make a difference right away — not five years from now. Spending money isn’t the answer to everything. But it does stop all the chatter about not having any. For the Mets, that has value.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I beat the Wilpons up all the time, actually I kill them all the time… But to be fair, they are giving Sandy Alderson the opportunity to spend and transform the roster this offseason. Sandy is getting a chance to buy and not just sell. Vaccaro, Lennon and Klapisch do a nice job of conveying that. The Mets do seem to be back in business and regardless of what you think of the moves, just be happy that we can make moves like this again. LGM

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Dec 12

Wrapping Up Mets At Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The New York Mets left the Winter Meetings a better team than when they arrived. They haven’t been the busiest team this offseason, and didn’t make the biggest splash, but they have been far from dormant and above all, kept their word on being proactive.

COLON: Surprise addition.

COLON: Surprise addition.

Jeff Wilpon and Sandy Alderson took considerable heat for being dormant and talking a good game, but the additions of Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colon were not talk. They aren’t the highest profile free agents, but will make an impact on the 2014 Mets assuming their health.

GRANDERSON

* Fills outfield spot they’ve had open since the beginning of last season.

* Adds left-handed power bat to give protection to David Wright.

* Provides veteran presence in the clubhouse along with a player who understands what it takes to play in New York.

COLON

* Fills one of the two slots for a starting pitcher for 2014, and assuming Matt Harvey’s return the following season, completes the 2015 rotation.

* Adds a pitcher who threw 190 innings in 2013 for Oakland, so we’re talking about durability.

* Adds mound presence young arms can learn from.

In addition to Granderson and Colon, this also came from Mets’ manager Terry Collins:

* Bobby Parnell might not be ready for spring training.

* As of now, Ruben Tejada is their shortstop.

* He’s prepared to go into spring training with both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on the roster.

* He’s prepared to have Anthony Recker as the back-up catcher to Travis d’Arnaud.

* Wilmer Flores is in better shape, which could enable him to play the middle infield.

* The Mets don’t have a leadoff hitter if Eric Young doesn’t play.

* Said Chris Young is poised for a surprise season.

The Mets still have a way to go and must address the following:

* Find a resolution to the Davis situation. Sandy Alderson spoke with the Brewers on his way out of town, but Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin said nothing is happening there.

* They need another starter, at least for the first two months of the season until they are ready to bring up Rafael Montero.

* The acquisition of a veteran back-up shortstop behind Tejada.

* Bullpen depth in anticipation of Parnell not being ready.

* Determine who will be their leadoff hitter when Eric Young doesn’t play.

Although the Mets were more active than many anticipated, I felt they let several opportunities slip through their grasp, among them:

* Did not pursue Phil Hughes. Who would you rather have, a 27-year-old Hughes for $24 million over three years or a 40-year-old Colon for $20 million over two years?

* Despite needing bullpen help, didn’t make a run at Joba Chamberlain, who signed with Tigers.

* Could have had Nate McLouth over Chris Young. McLouth signed today with Washington.

There’s still a lot of time and a lot of work to do before spring training.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos