Jun 12

Niese Shows Why He Will Be Hard To Trade

The roller coaster enigma that is Jon Niese was on full display Thursday night, which will only make it even more difficult for the Mets to trade him. Every Niese start is an opportunity for the Mets to showcase him for a trade that would open the way for Steven Matz to be promoted.

NIESE: Another fruitless outing. (AP)

NIESE: Another fruitless outing. (AP)

Scouts had to wonder after the Giants loaded the bases with no outs in the first on an opposite field single to left, a scratch infield hit in which the Mets did not get a favorable replay review and a walk. The Mets didn’t get the call, but the pitcher’s responsibility to suck it up and get the next hitter, which all too often Niese does not do.

Before you know it, the Giants had two runs. And, had not one of them scored on a double play grounder, it could have been worse. That was frustrating, especially following the previous two games. But, it also typical of what the Mets have seen from Niese.

Not all roller coasters are downhill, and Niese regrouped to throw three solid innings. He gave his team a chance to win, and indeed, the Mets took the lead. Niese even helped his own cause when he doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Niese was cruising until Eric Campbell committed a two-out error. As I said, a pitcher has pick up his teammates, but Niese promptly gave up the lead when Brandon Crawford hit a two-run homer.

Frustratingly bad at the start, uplifting in the middle, then downright annoying with the homer and Niese left with a no-decision. Again.

The Mets eventually won. As for the showcasing of Niese, any prospective buyer would have to wonder: Why bother?

 

Jun 06

Mets Bag Six-Man Rotation; Gee’s Trade Value Drops

Although the Mets did what I suggested and scrapped the six-man rotation, how this scenario unraveled depicts an organization without a compass. What began coming out of spring training with a short bench and an abandoned batting order, continued today with manager Terry Collins announcing the six-man rotation that was supposed to carry the Mets into August is something to be thought of in the past tense.

GEE: Sent to the pen. (Getty)

GEE: Sent to the pen. (Getty)

Of course, this being the Mets, Collins suggested you never what could happen in the future. Well, not exactly. We do know that no matter the issue, the Mets will continue to waffle.

Collins said he changed his mind after he and pitching coach Dan Warthen discussed the rotation and noticed there would be several times when pitchers would sometimes go on seven days rest. Just asking, but wouldn’t this have been something they would have mapped out before making the decision in the first place?

However, I am more inclined to believe this was the result of some pitchers – Matt Harvey, take a bow – moaning about their work schedules. It is unlikely it would be rookie Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. I doubt it was Bartolo Colon, who probably would benefit the most from the extra rest. I also doubt Gee went to the manager because he has no leverage. I also doubt it was Jon Niese, because he’s pitched so poorly lately that he also doesn’t have any pull. When you’re losing you shut the hell up.

I believe it was Harvey who screamed loudest because he has a history of confronting management. I also believe Collins went through this with Warthen beforehand and was falling on the sword to protect Harvey.

Don’t be surprised if that theory eventually surfaces soon.

There was nobody else but Gee to go to the pen. Obviously, it wouldn’t be Harvey, deGrom or Syndergaard. Niese is the only left-hander, plus he has a history of arm injuries, and you wouldn’t risk him in the up-and-down routine of a reliever. And, Colon isn’t one to work out of the pen.

When this began, I wrote one of the benefits of the six-man would be in showcasing Gee for a possible trade at the deadline, but that’s now a moot point.

Within the past year the Mets waffled on who would play shortstop; who would comprise the bullpen, and who would be closer; who would be the leadoff hitter; what would be the batting order; how many bench players and relievers the team would carry; and now, the composition of the starting rotation.

Frankly, it makes Collins look bad, but it’s not really him, is it? Doesn’t this all fall at the feet of GM Sandy Alderson? How can it not?

May 30

Niese Future Looking Bleak

Jon Niese went into the season as one of the Mets’ most important questions, and it isn’t being answered in the positive. Niese’s record is 3-5 and over the past three weeks his ERA has more than doubled to 4.42.

He wasn’t tagged with the loss today, but deserved to as he gave up five runs on seven hits in four innings. Yes, that’s pretty bad when you come down to it.

NIESE: In trouble/ (AP)

NIESE: In trouble/ (AP)

About the only certainty when it comes to Niese, is that at this rate there’s no way the Mets will trade lefty Steven Matz. At this rate it is becoming clear Niese’s future with the Mets is dwindling.

What else can you conclude with Niese giving up 22 runs is his past four starts?

Manager Terry Collins said Niese is healthy – he has been on the DL in each of the past two seasons – but his problem has been hitters driving the ball in the air (he gave two homers gave up today) when he’s a natural groundball pitcher.

It wasn’t long ago that Niese was a hot commodity as a hard throwing, healthy left-hander signed to a long-term contract.

That list is getting shorter and shorter, perhaps like his time with the Mets.

May 22

Six-Man Rotation Could Be Good For Mets, Pending Harvey’s Approval

The New York Mets are again making noise about going with a six-man rotation when Dillon Gee is activated from the disabled list. Doing so would allow them to not choose between Gee and Noah Syndergaard, Friday’s starter in Pittsburgh.

The Mets considered this before Gee was injured, but rejected it, in large part because it would have meant Matt Harvey pitching with more rest than in a normal five-man rotation.

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

HARVEY: The fly in the six-man ointment. (AP)

However, as often is the case with the Mets, they don’t have a definitive plan. They didn’t when it came to naming a format to regulate Harvey’s innings; settling on a batting order; and determining a leadoff hitter.

I don’t have a problem with a six-man rotation, if it is implemented properly, meaning – stick with it.

The negative is less starts for Harvey and Jacob deGrom, but the flip side is they could be stronger when they do pitch.

Another positive is less starts – and more rest – for Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese. Another positive is that if Gee pitches well, which he has this year at times and in his rehab, it enables the Mets to showcase him for a possible trade by the July 31 deadline. If they do this, they can go back to the more conventional five-man rotation.

But, what if it works? What if the extra rest and extra pitcher improves the team? Remember, at one time a four-man rotation was the norm. The Mets really have nothing to lose by this, especially since it could give them an idea of what might happen next summer when they have Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz.

However, for it to work, two things must happen, 1) the Mets must give it time to develop, and 2) the starters must be on board with the change.

If one starter, and of course I’m talking about Harvey because he’s been known to make noise when he doesn’t like things.

It will be interesting to see if the Mets sacrifice the chance to better the team to appease one player.