Jun 29

Assessing Trade Value Of Jon Niese

With the emergence of Steven Matz, expect the Mets to ratchet up their intent to trade from their pitching depth to bolster their anemic offense. The Mets would dearly like to find a taker or two for Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon on the major league level; Dillon Gee in the minors; and Rafael Montero, who has spent much of the season on the disabled list.

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

Of course, interested teams inquire about Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matz, but are turned down. They don’t even both to ask about Matt Harvey, anymore.

Of the the four the Mets most want to trade, Niese has the greatest upside to bring in a bat.

Colon, at 41, won’t attract anything more than a lower level mediocre prospect at best. Gee won’t bring much more. Montero, if included in a package, could bring in the most, but he’s coming off an elbow injury.

Niese, however, at 28, is left-handed, now seemingly healthy, signed to a reasonable contract and has had some degree of success. Niese’s career record is 55-58, but with a respectable 3.89 ERA and average 1.368 WHIP. The ERA is what is most attractive, with the mediocre record attributable to the Mets’ porous bullpen and poor hitting.

Last year, Niese logged 187.2 innings in 30 starts while going 9-11. That’s indicative of a pitcher not afraid to take the ball. That could have value to the Cubs and Dodgers, the teams reportedly interested in Niese.

Assuming Niese remains healthy, a buying team can figure on getting innings, and will undoubtedly have the belief he would benefit from a change of scenery.

Naturally, money will always factor into any deal.

Niese will make $7 million this year, which means roughly a $3.5 million investment for the remainder of this year. Niese will earn $9 million in 2016; $10 million for 2017; and $11 million in 2018. Those are palatable salaries, and making it more attractive is the final two years have team options.

However, what must be remembered in dealing Niese to a potential contender is that if a team is in contention it likely wouldn’t want to deal a major league ready hitter. And, the Mets don’t want prospects as they believe they are capable of winning now.

Consequently, a team wanting Niese likely wouldn’t offer much, which is usually the tact the Mets have when they want to make a trade.

Jun 26

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation: Take Two

For the second time this season, the Mets will go with a six-man rotation. The first time was earlier this month when Dillon Gee came off the disabled list, but quickly fizzled when he was hammered. This time, it is to squeeze Steven Matz into the rotation. He’ll start Sunday against Cincinnati.

Prior to Noah Syndergaard‘s 2-1, eight-inning gem Friday over the Reds, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets were committed to this move. Then again, that’s what Alderson and manager Terry Collins said the first time.

“We’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” Alderson said. “I expect that will continue for a period of time and we’ll see where it goes.”

Alderson wouldn’t define “period of time.”

Matz is 24, left-handed and throws gas. There’s a lot to like about him opposed to Jon Niese, whose career has been on a steady decline the past few years.

The Mets have six starters, but still aren’t scoring any runs. They only scored two tonight and would have lost if not for Syndergaard. Matz increases the depth of the rotation, but the Mets are still a team that can’t score.

There were considerable rumblings when the six-man rotation was initially bagged it was because those in the rotation – notably Matt Harvey - didn’t want to pitch with too much rest.

“This arrangement has been discussed with the other five pitchers,” Alderson said. “I think they understand it’s in their interest.”

We’ll see.

The Mets came across as unprepared and in a panic mode the first time they did this, and it’s no different now. As mentioned several times here, this juggling could have been alleviated had the Mets adopted a concrete plan to limit innings going into the season, but Harvey balked.

Once again, the Mets are flying by the seat of their pants.

Jun 17

Gee Deserves Better … Hopefully He’ll Get It Elsewhere

Unfortunately, the relationship between Dillon Gee and the Mets represents the norm in the player-team relationship.

The Mets have acquiesced to just about everything Harvey wants, and the decision to scrap the six-man rotation – designed to preserve his arm – is eventually what cost Gee his job.

GEE: Hopefully he'll land somewhere. (AP)

GEE: Hopefully he’ll land somewhere. (AP)

The Mets first sent Gee to the bullpen, then subsequently designated him for assignment, which is the first step to outright departure, either by trade or minor league assignment.

If the Mets are unable to work out a trade, they will surely stick him back to Triple-A Las Vegas where he will be at their disposal should somebody get injured or Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz – when they eventually bring him up – spit the bit.

To be sure, Gee has not pitched well this season, in part because of a groin injury, but for the most part he has been more than a serviceable starter for the Mets. What was it … over 50 straight starts of at least five innings?

Hopefully other teams were paying attention, for example, Toronto, which is in need of pitching. The Mets could have traded Gee if they wanted, but GM Sandy Alderson was more determine to hold up the other team and nothing was done.

Hopefully, Alderson learned from this winter and realizes there’s limited interest in Gee. Perhaps he’ll then take what he can get and let Gee go to an organization that can really appreciate him.

Gee deserves it.

Jun 14

Collins Invited Six-Man Rotation Drama

No matter how the Mets phrase it, they are back to a six-man rotation, which kicks into play Sunday when Dillon Gee comes off bereavement leave to start against the Braves. Gee isn’t happy about this; actually none of the pitchers are.

HARVEY: Force behind six-man rotation. (Getty)

HARVEY: Force behind six-man rotation. (Getty)

Manager Terry Collins is getting testy talking about this, but this predicament is his own doing. His and GM Sandy Alderson. Collins said it’s not really a six-man rotation, but occasionally he’ll slot in a pitcher, as it is with Gee.

“It’s drama,” Collins told reporters. “We’re living in New York City, that’s where drama’s made. Here’s something that could create some drama, that could be blown out of proportion when it was very minor.”

Playing in New York City has nothing to do with the drama. All this drama could have been alleviated had Collins mapped out Matt Harvey‘s starts in spring training. He had the schedule in front of him. He knew when the off days were. The only thing he didn’t know were injuries and rainouts. But, neither Collins nor Alderson wanted to deal with Harvey and his mood swings.

When Collins broached the six-man rotation several weeks ago, it was met cooly by the staff, notably Harvey, who made his displeasure known.

“I didn’t like the looks of [the six-man rotation], I didn’t like the feeling in the clubhouse that was going on,” Collins said. “I didn’t like the feeling in here – I just didn’t like it. … So it’s not a six-man rotation, it’s a five-man rotation where we’re gonna slip somebody in because we think maybe a day here as an extra day will help out.”

So, it is a five-man rotation until it becomes a six-man rotation.

Collins said the objective was to scale down his pitcher’s innings so they wouldn’t have to shut them down in September.

Of course, this could have been done had the Mets opted to structure their rotation instead of playing it by ear and flying by the seat of their pants.

Collins doesn’t like the drama, but he and Alderson invited it because they walk on egg shells around Harvey.

 

May 12

Composure Most Important Thing For Syndergaard

Just as they were with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, don’t look for the Mets to bring up Noah Syndergaard for a spot start. Once he’s here, unless he really spits the bit, he’s not going anywhere. Like everybody else, I’m excited to see him pitch, just as I was when Harvey and Wheeler first came up.

What it means is Dillon Gee will move to the bullpen or be traded, with the Mets having to take less than they want to move him – and save money. That much is inevitable when Gee comes off the disabled list. The Mets were so hot to trade him because they knew this day was coming. The only snap for the Mets was Gee getting hurt, otherwise they could have kept Syndergaard down for Super Two status.

noah-syndergaardWe can talk all we want about Syndergaard’s stuff and his fall-off-the-table curveball. We know from spring training, Triple-A Las Vegas and his Tweeting he has no shortage of confidence. However, his stuff and confidence will only carry him so far tonight in Wrigley Field.

The most important thing Syndergaard must take to the mound is poise. Actually, I’d like to see him get in trouble to see how he responds to adversity and pressure. That quality is what defines a great pitcher. We’ve seen it in Harvey and until recently, in Jacob deGrom. Now, I want to see it in Syndergaard.

The standard cliche for a rookie pitcher is it’s still the same game he’s been playing in the minor leagues. Not true. In the minor leagues he’s facing minor leaguers. This is the major leagues and mistakes get hit a long way.

Syndergaard must keep the ball down and get ahead in the count. That much is obvious, But, he also needs to minimize damage when he gets in trouble. He needs to find something when that curveball is missing its spot.

The distance between the rubber and the plate is the same, but everything else will be different, including the opposition, the pressure and all those eyes watching him.

Syndergaard did a lot to get here. He must do a lot more to stay.