Sep 20

Niese Wins, But Can’t Slam The Door

At 27, left-handed and with a reasonable contract, there’s a lot to like about Jon Niese, both from the Mets and the opponents that tried to pry him away from them.

However, a combination of poor run support, a porous bullpen, injuries, and above all else, the inability to put away an inning once he gets in trouble, explains his 51-51 record and only one winning season – 13-9 in 2012 – during his seven year career.

NIESE: Good, but not dominating. (Getty)

NIESE: Good, but not dominating. (Getty)

There was always the belief by the Mets the light would click on and by interested teams that he could use a change of scenery.

Niese’ biggest problem is he lets innings get away, evidenced by giving up three straight singles to load the bases, before giving way to Josh Edgin, who immediately gave up a two-run single.

Niese cruised through seven innings, but things unraveled in the eighth. What happened Saturday has defined Niese’s career with the Mets.

Now at 9-11 with Saturday’s 4-2 victory, one must wonder if Niese will ever reach the next level and that this might be as good as it gets.

GRANDERSON HOMERS: Although the Mets never thought Curtis Granderson would be the 40-homer stud he was with the Yankees.

Granderson hit his 20th homer Saturday for 63 RBI and raised his average to .223.

Of course, much will be made of Citi Field’s dimensions, but coming off injuries and not having a productive David Wright ahead of him all contribute to a down season.

However, like Niese, Granderson has been a disappointment.

MONTERO TO GET START: Rafael Montero is scheduled to get a start against Houston in the final series at Citi Field next weekend.

Montero threw 5.1 scoreless innings in his last start, Sept. 10, against Colorado.

At one time it was believed Montero would compete for a job in the rotation, but Jacob deGrom’s emergence has pushed him out.

Assuming no departures, and everybody is healthy, next year’s rotation figures to be Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Niese, deGrom and Bartolo Colon.

That leaves Montero in the bullpen or as trade bait.

Sep 14

Reflections Of The Week: Don’t Cash 2015 Checks Yet; Niese Worth Keeping

It has been well documented the Mets are gearing for 2015 because of Matt Harvey’s anticipated return following Tommy John surgery.

Not so fast.

mets-matters logoWith Sandy Alderson saying there won’t be much activity in the free-agent market, where will the power come from? David Wright hasn’t come close to 30 homers since 2010, when he hit 29. That was four years ago. He’s averaged 15 homers a year since.

And, while Lucas Duda has proven to be better than Ike Davis, he’s still not a monster masher.

Plus, despite his chirping, there are no guarantees what Harvey will do next year. Also, Zack Wheeler, despite his stuff, still throws way too many pitches and is a six-inning pitcher.

* Jon Niese pitched well in today’s 3-0 loss to Washington, but is 8-11 with one winning season since his career began in 2008. Still, he’s left-handed, has a reasonable contract and is only 27. All good reasons to keep him.

* It was definitely the correct decision to shut down Wright the remainder of the season. The playoffs won’t happen despite the math. And, finishing .500 isn’t worth the risk of further injury, plus there are things to look at, such as seeing more of Dilson Herrera and Daniel Murphy at third base. It’s always a positive to get as much information as possible.

* With the Mets losing three of four to the Nationals, it makes Jenrry Mejia’s post-game gesturing even more foolish. C’mon, act like you’ve been there before.

* Reliever Vic Black already hampered with a herniated disk in his neck, his fastball down by 3 mph., saying his shoulder aches, why not shut him down for the rest of the season? What is there to be gained?

Finally, I would be remiss if my wide range of thoughts from my first week back blogging on the Mets didn’t include expressing my gratitude for the acceptance and well wishes you’ve given me in my return.

I wasn’t sure of your reaction, and frankly I am overwhelmed.

I am working hard in my rehab, which includes pumping hard on an exercise bike. It is imperative to build up my leg strength. My legs have atrophied to where they are stick-like.

Thanks also go out to Joe DeCaro of MetsmerizedOnline.com and Adam Rubin of ESPN for promoting my return. Also, to the Mets’ Jay Horwitz for continuing my access should I be able to get out to Citi Field this month.

Thanks again.

Sep 12

Gee Pitching For Next Season, Likely Not With Mets

Dillon Gee has pitched well for the New York Mets and he’s pitched poorly. He beat the Washington Nationals tonight, but Gee wasn’t sterling, giving up three runs in 5.1 innings. He was lucky he didn’t lose tonight.

By definition, it wasn’t a quality start, and illustrated why Gee is what he is for the Mets and won’t be anything more than a fifth starter. And, if things go as the Mets envision, he won’t have one of those spots next season.

The 2015 rotation figures to be Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob de Grom, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. Gee threw 108 pitches tonight, which doesn’t get it done. One hundred pitches should have put him through seven and into the eighth. That not only applies to Gee, but the other starters, also. Wheeler and Niese are also known for running up the pitch count.

Normally, I might say Gee is pitching for a look-see next spring. Barring an injury, Gee would make the team out of the bullpen, but the logical spot-starter/long relief role is earmarked for Carlos Torres.

Gee made $3.6 million this season and is arbitration eligible this winter. However, he’s 7-7 with a 3.80 ERA, numbers that hardy warrant a huge raise.

Gee is a gamer. He pitches with guile and grit, and at 28 has a lot of innings remaining. He just doesn’t have the stuff of a Wheeler or Harvey. He’ll probably get two more starts this year to make an impression.

Somebody is sure to have noticed and he’ll be in somebody’s camp next spring. It just doesn’t figure to be in Port St. Lucie.

 

 

Mar 20

Mets’ Pitching Updates: Gee Could Be Opening Day Starter With Niese To DL

They are called “probable’’ pitchers for a reason. It’s because anything can happen, and for the Mets they frequently do.

Injuries to his shoulder and now elbow bumped Jonathon Niese from his scheduled Opening Day start, and thrust Dillon Gee into that role. However, manager Terry Collins has not shut the door on Bartolo Colon.

The current plan is for Niese to open the season on the disabled list and not pitch him until April 6, the fourth game of the season against Cincinnati at Citi Field. He received a cortisone injection Monday to treat elbow inflammation.

Based on his consistency last season and leading the staff with 199 innings pitched, Gee is deserving of the honor of starting Opening Day, March 31, against Washington at Citi Field. Gee had been penciled in start the third game of the season, also against Washington, because of his 4-2 record with a 2.72 ERA last year against the Nationals.

Gee had career highs last year in: innings (199), starts (32), complete games (two), strikeouts (142) and ERA (3.62).

The Mets’ rotation to open the season figures to be: Gee, Colon and Zack Wheeler against the Nationals, followed by Daisuke Matsuzaka, Gee and Niese against Cincinnati.

The Nationals’ projected starters in the first series will be Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman.

 

Mar 18

Demotion Just The Beginning For Syndergaard

So much for the speculation Jon Niese’s elbow issues would prompt the New York Mets to promote Noah Syndergaard and/or Rafael Montero to the major league roster for Opening Day.

We are aware of the financial reasoning by the Mets, who, despite a more aggressive off-season still are bound by economic handcuffs.

SYNDERGAARD: Just a start. (MLB.com)

SYNDERGAARD: Just a start. (MLB.com)

No worries, because either or both will be at Citi Field soon enough. This is technically a demotion, but in reality a watershed moment in his career.

That’s the hope of Syndergaard, who said all the right things to reporters this morning. All the right things, much like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler did in previous springs.

“I kind of knew it was coming,’’ Syndergaard said. “I think no matter how well I threw during spring training, if I struck out everybody, if I didn’t allow any runs whatsoever, I think I still was going to go over to the minor-league side regardless. There’s a business standpoint to it. And I know there’s other things I have to work on.’’

Syndergaard must refine his arsenal of pitches, including a change-up and consistency with his nasty curveball.

Also sent down were pitchers Montero, Cory Mazzoni, Ryan Reid, Joel Carreno, catcher Juan Centeno, and first basemen Brandon Allen and Matt Clark.

It was thought, as a long shot Syndergaard or Montero would be promoted in light of Niese’s elbow problems. Niese could get at least two more starts to prove his worthiness to make the Opening Day roster.

Syndergaard showed he can overpower hitters with his fastball and baffle them with the curveball manager Terry Collins calls a “hook from hell.’’ However, despite his composure, there’s the matter of learning how to set up hitters and slow the game down when he gets into trouble.

What Syndergaard most took from spring training is the knowledge he and his stuff are ready. It will only be a few months; a blip in what the Mets hope will be a long career.

“Just that my stuff can play out on the field. I mean, I can get big-league hitters out,’’ Syndergaard said of what he’ll pack in his duffle bag. “Just playing against guys I watched growing up, just being able to get them out as well.
“There’s a sense of relief just knowing that my repertoire of pitches, my demeanor on the mound, opens eyes up in the big leagues, opens eyes of the big-league hitters. It’s just a lot of confidence going into minor-league camp knowing that I had some pretty great success in big-league camp.’’

Syndergaard and Montero – who was considered for a relief role – will anchor a Triple-A Las Vegas rotation that includes Jacob deGrom, Logan Verrett, and possibly Jenrry Mejia.

The Mets don’t figure to promote Syndergaard until late June or July, delaying his arbitration eligibility by a year.

It’s a money move, plain and simple, but if Syndergaard is all that is advertised, he’ll be making plenty of money.