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 10

Jenrry Mejia Not Close To Being Ready

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Staying healthy has always been an obstacle in Jenrry Mejia’s pursuit of a starting job in the New York Mets’ rotation and it is that way again.

Mejia, who underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow, isn’t a given in being ready for spring training.

If he was ready, he’s be the fourth starter slotted in after Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese.

MEJIA: When will we see him?

MEJIA: When will we see him?

As of now, general manager Sandy Alderson doesn’t expect him any sooner than May.

“He demonstrated he could pitch effectively as a major-league starter,’’ Alderson said. “It’s a question of can he stay healthy. … He won’t even be able to demonstrate that over the course of spring training or even the first month of the season.’’

The 24-year-old Mejia made five starts with an ERA of 2.30 before needing surgery.

The puzzling thing in how this was handled was the Mets said Mejia needed surgery in the offseason, yet kept pitching him.

It wasn’t the first time the Mets mishandled Mejia.

In 2010, then-manager Jerry Manuel, who going into the season knew his job was in jeopardy, battled the front office to bring up Mejia at the start of the season to work in the bullpen.

The troubling aspect of this decision was Manuel rarely used Mejia, especially when the game was in the balance. Eventually, he was returned to the minors, but as a starter. The strain of changing roles damaged his arm and he underwent Tommy John surgery.

At the time, Mejia was the Mets’ hottest prospect, but by not settling on a defined role for him it hurt his trade value. After all, how could the Mets pitch to other teams his potential value as a starter when he wasn’t even in that role for them?

Alderson doesn’t know when Mejia will be ready, and how he’ll perform when he’s available. As of now, it is back to Square One for Mejia.

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

Sep 27

Tact Not A Virtue Of Mets’ Terry Collins

Tact is not a strong suit of New York Mets manager Terry Collins when it comes to dealing with the media.

Collins has had several abrasive moments this season, notably when he said he didn’t care what the fans thought during in the Jordany Valdespin episode. Everything about the Valdespin incident was handled poorly, which I partially attribute to Collins’ lame duck status. Collins immediately spun into damage control and it didn’t hurt when the team started playing better soon after.

COLLINS: Lighten up.

COLLINS: Lighten up.

Then there was his dumbfounded denial of ever hearing of Matt Harvey’s sore forearm that led to his elbow injury. The manager gets an injury report from the training staff whenever a player has treatment, so Collins knew. Denial about injuries is not the way to go.

He’s had two more the past few weeks.

The first was when Ruben Tejada went down with a broken leg in the ninth inning of the Mets’ furious rally to beat San Francisco. Tejada was injured in the top of the ninth, yet finished the inning on the field. There was no announcement in the press box about the injury, and also no surprise when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter.

After the game, toward the end of the questioning session, a reporter asked how Tejada was feeling.

“He broke his leg,’’ snapped Collins, in a demeanor that elicited muffled laughter because nobody knew and the impression was the manager was being sarcastic.

Collins’ first words after every game, to alleviate any confusion, should be an updated injury report. The questions will be asked, so get it out of the way. The reporter asked an innocuous question because the Mets made no announcement and Collins didn’t volunteer the injury.

Lastly, last night came his barbed response to the question whether he would consider giving Dillon Gee an inning so he could reach the 200-inning milestone, something the pitcher deeply covets.

“Why?’’ Collins said. “I mean, seriously? I don’t think so.’’

He never said why he wouldn’t.

Collins was accused in his managerial stint with the Angels of not being in touch with his players. How could he not know this was important to Gee? If the concern was injury related, then say so. Or, he could have said something along the lines of “that’s 200 innings as a starter, it would cheapen the milestone to give him an inning as a reliever.’’

Instead, Collins came off as condescending. He’s been around long enough to know the question would be asked, so he should have had a better answer. The appearance was he was surprised, and bothered, by the question.

If all else fails, he could have simply said, “I don’t know. That’s something I will have to discuss with Dillon.’’

It is expected Collins will get an extension. Hopefully, he’ll come back more tactful and less sensitive.

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

Jun 04

Who’s The Odd Man Out When Wheeler Joins The Rotation?

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As we usher in what we hope will be the long and prosperous era of Zack Wheeler, perhaps as soon as next week, there’s no question who the Mets will probably cut to make room for him. That distinction will fall to lefthanded reliever Robert Carson – he of the 9.00 ERA , 3.9 K9 and 1.52 WHIP. If you want to make some easy money, go to anyone of the top 5 sports betting sites and wager it all on Carson being demoted.  Pack some sunscreen, Robert…

The difficult decision comes down to who gets bumped from the starting rotation to make room for the Prince of New York. The choice will likely come down to a battle between Jeremy Hefner and Dillon Gee.

Given that Shaun Marcum was Sandy Alderson’s biggest haul of the offseason, you can also wager that the veteran will be excluded from the conversation by virtue of his $4 million price tag.

If you were to rank these three statistically, Hefner would be the big winner while Marcum and Gee would be holding up the rear. But for an organization who was supposed to use numbers and statistics to direct their decisions, that really hasn’t ever materialized and it certainly won’t begin here. My hunch is that the one who has performed the best in the rotation, will be the biggest loser.

Jeremy Hefner:  .255 BAA – 1.30 WHIP – 4.34 ERA – 57.0 IP

Dillon Gee: .309 BAA – 1.58 WHIP – 5.69 ERA – 57.0 IP

Shaun Marcum: .293 – 1.37 WHIP – 5.71 ERA – 41.0 IP

If you were to take Hefner’s BAA and ERA and compare them to the other number five starters in the the game, the Mets have themselves one of the top number five starters in the game. The other two? They are subterranean, but both rate higher than Hefner on the seniority scale which has always mattered most with Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson.

It will be a tough break for Hefner who has worked his tail off for the Mets so far this season and has not been as bad as his 1-5 record would indicate.

  • April 5 against Miami – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, L
  • April 25 against Los Angeles – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, ND
  • April 30 against Miami – 8.0 IP, 2 ER, L
  • May 24 against Atlanta – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, ND

How’s that for some rotten luck?

Sadly, when Zack Wheeler gets promoted, Hefner will be in for some more rotten luck.

Mar 14

Dillon Gee Wild In Mets 9-1 Loss To Tigers

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The Detroit Tigers defeated the New York Mets this afternoon by the score of 9-1 at Tradition Field. Most of the damage came against starting pitcher Dillon Gee who was absolutely awful and completely out of sync.

Gee had no control as evidenced by his four walks, two hit batters and three wild pitches in just two innings of work. The right-hander will need to get things sorted out very quickly if the Mets are to improve their MLB betting odds for this season. Gee was charged with six earned runs and didn’t beat around the bush after the game when he was asked if any particular pitch was giving him trouble. “All of them [gave me trouble], terrible.”

The  finally tally on balls and strikes told the story; 53 pitches and only 24 strikes.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, Gee said he did not care to throw additional pitches in the bullpen after the outing. He instead just wanted to turn the page on a lousy day.

I agree, turn the page…