Jul 06

Collins Lays Down Law With Harvey

The other day I suggested the Mets’ Matt Harvey “just shut up and pitch.” Evidently, manager Terry Collins has similar thoughts, but was less colorful than me. Anyway, the bottom line is Collins and GM Sandy Alderson want to do the right thing with Harvey and the other starters to protect their arms.

Of course, had Alderson developed a definitive plan coming out of spring training this wouldn’t be the issue it has become. And for the record, Princess Harvey made it the hot button topic. Quite frankly, it amazes me how many people don’t understand the six-man is designed to protect Harvey and the other young pitchers, all of whom are on innings counts.

If the Mets hope to play meaningful games in September, they’ll need those pitchers. Seriously, wouldn’t Harvey rather the Mets limit him now or in September? Logic would dictate that be the case, but why can’t Harvey understand that?

When Harvey blamed his rustiness on the six-man rotation – and undercut Collins in the process – the manager told the pitcher to “get over it.”

“I know he’s frustrated by it, and he and I have talked about it,” Collins told reporters, in yet another effort to placate Harvey. “But you’ve got to come up and be creative between starts. I certainly understand it. I certainly do understand it. He’s a tremendous competitor and he wants to be out there as much as he can on a regular basis.

“I guess the easiest way for me to say it is, ‘Matt, we’ll go back to a five-man, but I hope you enjoy watching the rest of the season sitting on the bench in September when we need you.’ So we’ve got to make the adjustment.”

That’s what the Diva doesn’t understand. The Mets are in the six-man rotation to protect Harvey, All-Star selection Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, not to mention Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Then again, when you’re thinking only of yourself and not the big picture, that’s what happens.

I’m glad Collins had his say with Harvey, and more than that, brought his comments to the forefront. It’s about time.

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 23

Niese Betrayed By Hitters And Defense

Just when you think you never want to see Jon Niese on the mound again for the Mets, he goes out and pitches a decent game. It was a game he could have won if the Mets had any kind of offense. Then again, Milwaukee had its chances to blow it open, but to his credit Niese kept the Mets in the game.

In six innings Niese gave up two runs on eight hits and three walks. By today’s lax standards it was considered a “quality start.’’ Eleven base runners in six innings are not particularly good. Neither are the 99 pitches he threw.

However, what I took from Niese’s effort in tonight’s 3-2 loss at Milwaukee was how he minimized the damage. It isn’t something we’ve seen often this season.

Something we have seen often is the Mets’ woeful offense. They scored just two runs and had no hits after the third inning. Also, throw in a dozen strikeouts. There was also a costly defensive breakdown in Michael Cuddyer’s run-producing error in the seventh. And, Ruben Tejada misplayed another bunt while playing third base that cost the Mets a run.

The Mets have scored eight runs in their last six games, all losses.

The loss was the Mets’ 17th of the season by a margin of two runs or less and dropped them to .500 at 36-36. Now, all fruits from their 11-game winning streak are gone.

Damn, they are frustrating.

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?