Dec 14

Niese Rumors Continue To Swirl

Site Note: I’m sorry to inform you that John Delcos’ father passed away a few days ago. He’ll be away for a couple of more days. My condolences to John and his family during this difficult time.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the trade buzz surrounding starting pitcher Jon Niese is getting louder and that at least 3 or 4 teams are currently interested in acquiring the young southpaw from the Mets.

“If the package is right, the Mets will deal him,” writes Heyman.

The Mets are believed to be looking for a young pitcher (like Niese?) and a catching prospect in return.

If the Mets have a price established for Niese, it means he’s on the block.

This goes beyond the old adage of “nobody should be untouchable”, although it seems David Wright certainly is for now.

Last week, Joel Sherman of the New York Post mentioned the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as teams that would certainly be in the hunt for Jon Niese.

My question is this:

If you are serious in your assertion that you are working toward building a relevant team in 2014, why would you trade such a promising left-handed starter who will be just 27-years old and entering his prime years by that time?

Niese, 25, would seem to be a Met you’d tab as a keeper at this point, and when teams like the Yankees and Red Sox want in, it should give the front office some pause to ask themselves why?

Among all the starters in the current rotation (Johan, Dickey, Pelfrey, Niese, Gee), what pitchers stands out as a potential building block for 2014?

Are we seriously going along with this plan of putting all our eggs in one basket with Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jeurys Famila who each have yet to have any success beyond Double-A and in the case of Wheeler, Single-A? Is this really the master plan?

You would think a talented pitcher like Niese, who remains under team control for another four years, would be the last player that would be on the Mets’ trading block.

Right now, Niese is the only young pitcher in the organization who has proved himself to be a quality major league pitcher, while the other three are longshots at best and still have a ways to go before proclaiming either of them as such.

I don’t like the smell of this one bit. If anything, the Mets should be locking Niese up through his arbitration years like they did with David Wright and Jose Reyes what seems like eons ago.

 

Dec 07

Mets talking Niese.

It isn’t as if the Mets want to trade Jon Niese, but he’s one of the few valuable chips they have to deal. Left-handed starters are always a premium and the Mets are hoping to bring back a starter, catcher and infielder. Niese ended the season on the disabled list, so his health is a concern making it doubtful they’ll get that much.

And, if they don’t, what’s the point considering pitching is their biggest need.

Reportedly, the Yankees, Boston, Toronto, San Diego and Colorado inquired. If this is the fire sale it seems to be, I don’t see them dealing with the Yankees unless they overpay.

Aug 24

Free fall personified by non-slide

The freefall some have been waiting for all season is here. After being blown out last night in Philly for the second straight game, the Mets have lost 17 of their past 22 games. Some were in excruciating style. Some, like the past two games, were simply ugly.

PAGAN: Shameful display.

Nothing was more ugly, or discouraging than Angel Pagan’s non-slide into the plate to open the game.  He was either lazy, stupid, not paying attention or faked out by catcher Brian Schneider. Your choice which is worse.

He should have been benched on the spot. When you stop thinking, you stop trying, and there appears no stopping the Mets in their fall to the basement.

To me the whole night was summed up by that play. He should have put Schneider on his butt. It was the type of play Pagan made two years ago excuses were made for his inexperience. Those excuses don’t apply any longer. Probably, with Scott Hairston injured, Terry Collins had no other choice but to start him today.

Ugly was also compounded by the loss of Jon Niese with a rib cage pull. Niese iitially injured his back last week in San Diego, and aggravated it pitching to Hunter Pence last night.

He admitted he should have said something, but didn’t. Just a dumb, dumb thing to do.

Niese has been in a funk for awhile, with a 6.82 ERA over his last six starts, lasting an average of 5.1 innings. If he’s been hurting even before San Diego, then add another dumb to the list.

The Mets are now at the point with Niese that they should consider shutting him down for the season. Seriously, what’s to be gained by throwing him out there again?

Niese wasn’t the only disappointment last night.

The frustration started early when they stranded five runners in the first two innings courtesy of five strikeouts. All of them looking.

Defensively, this was a spring training game with players over throwing the cutoff men and going to the wrong base.

The only positive coming out of last night was Lucas Duda’s continued hot inning. He was in right field last night where he should have been for the past two weeks.

He’ll be in right again this afternoon when the Mets try to avoid being swept. Mike Pelfrey will have the honors.

I don’t know about you, but I have little faith in Pelfrey today, and with good reason: He has a 7.58 ERA in two defeats against Philadelphia this year.

Here’s this afternoon’s lineup:

Angel Pagan, CF

Ruben Tejada, SS

David Wright, 3B

Lucas Duda, RF

Jason Bay, LF

Nick Evans, 1B

Josh Thole, C

Justin Turner, 2B

Mike Pelfrey, RP

 

Aug 12

Dillon Gee is this year’s surprise

In forecasting the Mets’ 2012 rotation, there has to be a spot for Dillon Gee, just as this year’s staff held a role for R.A. Dickey as the result of this out-of-nowhere season.

GEE: This year's surprise goes tonight.

Chris Young’s injury was the opportunity Gee needed to build on his designation as an organizational arm to one with a future.

Gee, tonight’s starter at Arizona, has impressed with his guile and ability to challenge hitters. He gives no quarter and so far has been exceptional in spotting his 90 mph. fastball to set up his changeup, which is his best pitch.

“When I look at my stuff on video, I say, `Hey, it’s average,’ ’’ Gee said earlier this season. “But, guys tell me my changeup is a plus-plus pitch.’’

Catcher Josh Thole said Gee’s control carried him in the minors and has stayed with him on this level, but has deserted him recently as he has walked 12 over his last four starts.

Gee, of course, will carry into next season the specter of whether he can duplicate what he’s accomplished. The same questions were asked of Mike Pelfrey this spring.

Gee and Niese have been the Mets’ most effective pitchers. Pelfrey remains an enigma, Dickey can be upgraded and Johan Santana’s remains a question. Chris Capuano has been effective at times and should be brought back.

As they did last year, the Mets will explore the free-agent market for middle-tier arms, such as Jon Garland. There is talent in the minor leagues, but it is at least two years away.

 

Aug 11

Liking how Collins handled Niese

After winning the first two games of this series, coming away with a split is definitely disappointing. It’s not as if the Mets had a realistic chance to catch the Braves for the wild-card, but after losing seven of their last 10 they are now 10.5 games behind Atlanta.

NIESE: Keeps on growing.

After another one-run loss this afternoon (that’s 18 on the season), they are headed to Arizona and San Diego, where it won’t be easy. The Mets are at their point of the season where the goals are fundamental, such as finishing above .500 and making value judgments on the future.

With the latter, I liked how Terry Collins handled Jonathan Niese this afternoon. Collins gave Niese 122 pitches worth of rope and stuck with him in the eighth when most managers would have been seduced by the pitch count and gone the conventional route.

Most managers would have yanked Niese after Cameron Maybin’s leadoff single, and definitely after the stolen base. Then, after an intentional walk and double steal, Jerry Manuel might have been on his second reliever.

With runners on second and third, Collins gave Niese a strong vote of confidence and allowed him to pitch to Aaron Cunningham. Perhaps it was a vote of non-confidence in the bullpen, but this was important to Niese’s development.

Cunningham grounded a ball to Ruben Tejada, who, instead of getting in front of the ball, tried to one-hand it. The ball went off the heel of his glove and Niese was on his way to becoming the hard-luck loser.

Even so, Niese got the ground ball he needed, indirectly rewarding Collins’ confidence.

A couple of years ago teams called the Mets asking for Niese and they wisely eschewed. It was one of Omar Minaya’s better decisions.

Niese still has a way to go, but this was definitely something to build on.