Feb 09

Niese Faces Pivotal Season

Every spring there is that singular player whose career might hang in the balance as is Jonathon Niese’s with the New York Mets.

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

NIESE: Will it ever happen for him?

It was in 2012 when the Mets signed him to a long-term contract through 2016. They signed him for all the right reasons. He threw hard; is left-handed; the contract provided cost certainty; he had some degree of major league success; and at the time was relatively healthy.

In the three years since, he’s won just 30 games, hadn’t pitched 200 innings in any season, and sustained one form of injury or another every year.

With Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard and left-hander Steven Matz waiting in the wings – and let’s not forget Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee remain on the 40-man roster – it doesn’t take much to figure Niese’s value to the Mets is rapidly diminishing, especially since they put him on the block over the winter.

All the reasons why the Mets signed Niese, and why he was coveted by other teams in trade talks, aren’t as prevalent. If 2015 is anything like the last three seasons, next year at this time we might not even be talking about him in the rotation as Matz could supplant him.

Of all the Mets who need a big and healthy season, Niese ranks at the top of my list.

 

Mar 15

Bartolo Colon Gets Vegas Start

The New York Mets signed Bartolo Colon as a two-year, $20-million stopgap to fill the monstrous void created by Matt Harvey’s injury.

An 18-game winner who threw 190.1 innings last season, it is hoped he will better the nine victories Harvey had last year.

COLON: Today's starter (AP).

COLON: Today’s starter (AP).

The second season was the carrot to get Colon to sign – the money didn’t hurt, either – and act as a buffer in case Harvey isn’t ready for 2015, or there is a setback with Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero.

Colon is coming off a rocky start in last Monday’s loss to Miami; he gave up three runs in the fourth inning. He called it a “meaningful’’ game and said he was pleased with his control in his first start.

Colon gets by on location and mixing speeds with his fastball and will work on that against Chicago.

“I don’t shy away from throwing what I’m going to throw normally,’’ Colon said earlier this week. “That’s my pitch. I’m a fastball pitcher. That’s what I’m going to use. I’m going to use my best pitch.’’

The current plan is for Colon to enter the season second in the rotation, but he could get the Opening Day start if Jonathon Niese isn’t ready.

Mar 11

Niese Has Rough Outing; Says He’s Fine Physically

The Cardinals hit Jonathon Niese hard today, but not as hard as the Mets’ left-hander hit himself.

The Cardinals rapped Niese for four runs on six hits and two walks in two innings in his exhibition debut, won by the Mets, 9-8, on Zach Lutz’s tie-breaking homer in the ninth.

Niese wasn’t happy with is fastball, which topped out at 89 mph., or his cutter, but took solace in not feeling discomfort his shoulder, which revealed substantial weakness in a Feb. 26 MRI.

“I’m at 50 pitches, so I’m halfway to 100,’’ Niese told reporters. “I would have liked to have done it in more than two innings. I guess it is what it is. I don’t feel like my pitches are as crisp.

“I think some of that might have to do with mechanics. But as far as my arm, it feels better and better each time. That’s a good sign.’’

As for his velocity, the Mets’ projected Opening Day starter said it should increase as he gets stronger in his final three exhibition starts.

Manager Terry Collins said if Niese is not being ready for Opening Day, March 31, against Washington at Citi Field, he would choose between Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon.

Offensively, in addition to Lutz, Josh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis homered for the Mets. Also, Wilmer Flores, who botched a potential double-play grounder in the first, reached base three times and scored twice.

ON DECK: Mets Wrap.

 

Mar 11

Today’s Mets’ Lineup Against Cardinals

Jonathon Niese makes his first start of the spring after dealing with a dead arm and Wilmer Flores will get the start at shortstop.

Here’s the lineup:

Eric Young Jr., lf
Juan Lagares, cf
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf
Josh Satin, 3b
Matt Clark, 1b
Travis d’Arnaud, c
Andrew Brown, dh
Wilmer Flores, ss
Omar Quintanilla, 2b

Jonathon Niese, lhp

ON DECK: What to make of Mets’ spring training so far.

Mar 08

Mets Week In Review: Alderson Thinking 90 Wins; Davis, Duda Ailing; Syndergaard Impressive

Can you believe it, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, declared in a staff meeting his belief his team is capable of winning 90 games this season.

Manager Terry Collins told the players they should take it as a compliment.

It’s interesting to wonder if Alderson really believes this, then what his patience level would be for Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada if they struggle as in previous years.

In addition to the issues with Davis and Tejada, the Mets have significant questions with their starting pitching, which won’t include Matt Harvey. Also, the Mets have questions about their catcher, outfield and leadoff situation.

In addition this week:

* Davis (calves) and Lucas Duda (left hamstring) were sidelined. Tejada was also shelved with a strained hamstring.

* Pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard continued to impress with two scoreless innings Monday against the Braves.

* David Wright and Daniel Murphy, who sustained strained oblique muscles in previous camps, were held out of the first week of exhibition games. They played for the first time Friday.

* Curtis Granderson homered twice in an exhibition victory Tuesday over Houston.

* Relievers Vic Black and Gonzalez Germen struggled with control.

* Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who underwent elbow surgery, said he is willing to talk with Matt Harvey about his rehab.

* Jenrry Mejia, competing for a spot in the rotation or in the bullpen, said his elbow is pain free.

* Jonathon Niese said he’s not feeling pain in his left shoulder.

* Bartolo Colon and Bobby Parnell worked in an intrasquad game Thursday and were cleared to make their exhibition debut Monday.