Apr 07

Mets To Announce Jon Niese Contract

The Mets will make it official in a matter of minutes and announce the five-year, $25.5 extension for Jon Niese, who, if he lives up to expectations will make that a bargain.

NIESE: Gets new contract.

Premium left-handers are in high demand and Niese has already shown a high upside. Throw in two team option years and the deal could rise to $45.5 million.

The Mets have been targets for bad contractual decisions, but this is a sound move because it will enable them to avoid the arbitration and free-agency issues for the next five years.

All contracts represent a gamble, and any thing long term with a pitcher is such, but because of Niese’s age and upside, they are locking him in to a reasonable deal. This is nothing like the Oliver Perez fiasco.

Niese called the deal a blessing and a relief.

“It means a lot,’’ Niese said. “It’s a relief. It’s just a burden off my shoulders. It’s something I don’t have to think about when I go out and pitch. I can just go out there and pitch, have fun and help the team win.’’

Niese will make his season debut tomorrow afternoon against the Braves.

Apr 04

Good move in long-term deal with Niese

With Opening Day hours away, the Mets began the 2012 season on a positive note by agreeing to a contract with left-hander Jon Niese.

NIESE: Locked up for five years.

In agreeing to the five-year, $25.5 million deal – pending a physical – the Mets will avoid the arbitration and free-agent processes and locked up one of their most important young players.

With the Mets resolving their most stressing financial problem is reaching a settlement in the Madoff scandal, their next most important step is to achieve as much economic certainty as possible. That would be in reaching long-term obligations with their young talent.

They did it with David Wright and Jose Reyes several years ago. The next wave would be Niese, Ike Davis, and possibly Wright again.

Niese won a career-high 11game last year before it was cut short with a side injury. There’s no guarantee Niese will become the next Jerry Koosman, but his career is off to a good start and he’s caught the attention of others. Several teams have inquired into Niese and for good reason; he’s immensely talented and poised. And, hard throwing left-handers are a premium.

The Mets have taken deserved heat for their questionable decisions. They should also get credit for their good moves, and this is one.

Mar 28

Murphy clanks at second; Mets lose again.

This will happen more than a few times this season, so let’s get used to it. Murphy is learning the position and the Mets don’t have a minor league option they can plug into second, let alone one who can hit as well as Murphy. Before it’s all over, providing Murphy doesn’t get hurt again, he’ll help the Mets more with his bat than he will hurt them with his glove.

MURPHY: Was his problems in the field.

The Mets are literally a patchwork team and second base is one of those patches. Had Jose Reyes stayed, Ruben Tejada would be more than satisfactory at second base.

In Murphy, the Mets have a potentially potent bat with an erratic glove at second base. Murphy had positive moments when they played him at first and I have a good feeling he’ll be more than adequate at second by the end of the season.
Wasted was a quality start by Jon Niese, who gave up two runs with six strikeouts in six innings. With Santana a question, Niese enters the season the Mets’ most reliable pitcher.
Feb 22

On the power of positive thinking.

My expectations for the 2012 Mets are admittedly low, but that’s just me, and readers of this blog realize I don’t jump off the deep end when it comes to this team.

However, I will take if they continue the aggressive play they performed last year under Terry Collins. The Mets didn’t win, but there was a crispness to their play at times.

There was a marked difference in the improvement in hustle last year from the Jerry Manuel era. Collins also promised a greater concentration on fundamentals and at times we saw that last summer. The 2011 Mets did have their comeback moments. There were times when we felt good about them.

They did win 70 games despite missing Carlos Beltran for half a season; had Jose Reyes on the DL twice; lost Ike Davis for five months; had David Wright injured; watched Jason Bay give them nothing again; traded closer Francisco Rodriguez, who was having a good year, at the break; didn’t have Johan Santana all year; watched Mike Pelfrey regress and had Jon Niese injured. There was also a bullpen collapse and Daniel Murphy’s injury.

Come to think of it, considering all that, they were lucky to win 70 games. If you were told all that would happen coming out of spring training you would have jumped at 70 wins.

Reyes will be difficult to replace, but a healthy Wright and Davis could offset the loss of Beltran. Anything Bay and Santana gives them has to be considered a bonus. Pelfrey and Niese just have to be better, don’t they?

If the Mets play fundamentally sound and pitch better they could approach .500. The season is six months long, and one or two more wins a month gets us to the breakeven record. No, .500 doesn’t get you into the playoffs, but it is the first step in rebuilding.

I want this team, as Fred Wilpon once said, to play meaningful games in September. If that happens, Citi Field could be a fun place to visit this summer, and that’s what this franchise needs.


 

Dec 22

Dealing Niese makes no sense.

Pitching is the most valuable commodity in the sport, with a premium on left-handed starters.

In Jonathan Niese, despite last year’s injury, the Mets have a young, inexpensive lefty in their control with some degree of success and loads of potential. For a rebuilding team such as the Mets, Niese is just the type of pitching prospect they should be looking to acquire.

So, why am I hearing all this noise about the Mets trying to trade him? It just makes absolutely no sense unless they are receiving quality pitching and more in a package, which they are not.

Certainly, Colorado outfielder Seth Smith doesn’t fit that description.

I understand the Mets are in a rebuilding mode and have tried to be patient in that regard. I also understand the winter is ripe for rumors, most of them unsubstantiated. But, if the Niese talk is even remotely close to being true, that would border on the absurd.

Also crazy were reports the Mets were discussing lefty Gio Gonzalez and considering posting a bid for Yu Darvish.

Gonzalez goes beyond wishful thinking. The only way a team would surrender what it takes to get G0nzalez is if they could sign him to a long-term extension and we know the Mets don’t have that ability.

As for Darvish, the Rangers spent $50 million just for the rights to negotiating with him. No way the Mets would have even thought of something so ridiculous. For a team with little success in the Japanese market and in a cost-cutting frame of mind, and with the limited success of Japanese pitchers in the major leagues, that would have been crazy.