Apr 09

April 9.10: About Last Night; Niese shows up; offense doesn’t.

Losing two of three to the Florida Marlins, including 3-1 last night, isn’t the fast start manager Jerry Manuel envisioned. The upsetting thing is they could have swept this series with several more hits.

There was one positive to take out of the game, and that’s Jonathan Niese, who gave up three runs in six innings. Niese pitched with composure and efficiency for the most part, something they didn’t get the night before from John Maine. Something to look out for is the Marlins did some first-ball hitting because Niese often started out with fastballs.

Offensively, the Mets picked up where they left off the previous night, not to mention 2009. They left two runners on in the second and fourth innings when they could have made a dent into the game. Just three extra-base hits in their past two games.

When you’re not going to pitch consistently, you need to score. And, you can’t afford to waste good outings when you get them. The Mets were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring positions and left seven, and over the past two games have gone 0-for-10 while leaving 16. Not the ingredients of a fast start.

Tonight against Washington, it will be Mike Pelfrey vs. Garrett Mock.

Apr 08

April 8.10: Chat Room, Game #3, vs. Marlins, Niese gets the ball.

Undeniably the Mets’ pitching is suspect, which Jerry Manuel has finally admitted. He didn’t say the team should have been more aggressive this winter, but reading between the lines you can bet he’d like some help.

After John Maine last night, and the fact he moved around Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez, there’s little doubt to anyone that their pitching is in trouble.

“I think an honest assessment is that we have to be somewhat concerned,” Manuel said. “We had some setbacks and some inconsistencies there last year, so we can’t just assume that that’s going to be lights out. We have some questions there, and hopefully tonight we’ll see where we are at least in part to that particular issue.”

Jonathan Niese gets the nod tonight against the Marlins. Interesting, but Manuel said if Niese gets into trouble he’ll get the chance to work out of it if his pitch count is around 50 or 60.

That’s good to see. Without the chance we’ll never know how good Niese could be.

By the way, I won’t be around for the start of the chat room. I’ve started taking classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I should be back around 9 for the last few innings.

Mar 25

March 25.10: Niese fifth starter favorite.

It is by no means a given, but Jon Niese has emerged as the frontrunner to be the team’s fifth starter. Jerry Manuel said yesterday Niese has the inside track over Fernando Nieve, Nelson Figueroa and Hisanori Takahashi.

At one point this spring, I thought Takahashi was the favorite, but moved off that because he didn’t have enough innings to be sufficiently stretched out. The path of least resistance would have been to option Niese because he has options remaining, but he has pitched well enough to warrant a chance and there are other variables.

Most specifically, the sad state of the Mets’ bullpen. Niese couldn’t help out in the pen, but both Nieve as a long man and Takahashi as a left-hander fill two roles. Odd man out, as expected, is Figueroa.

Figueroa will pass through waivers then re-sign with the Mets and be pitching around June. Personally, I hope somebody claims him and he gets a chance to pitch.

Jan 08

Jan. 8.10: Looking at the Mets’ prospects.

John Sickels, author of the 2010 Baseball Prospect Book, is high on Fernando Martinez and Jenrry Mejia, but lukewarm with John Niese.

Most scouts believe Mejia has the stuff to be a starter, but needs time in the minor leagues – maybe two more years – to refine his secondary pitches. The worst thing the Mets could do is to push the envelope with him, but that’s the fear, that they will rush him as they did Mike Pelfrey.

Sickels also believes Martinez is being regarded too harshly considering his age, but is concerned about his durability. The acquisition of Jason Bay makes it clear the Mets don’t believe Martinez is ready this year. Perhaps by the end of the year he may have put himself in position to help.

As far as Niese goes, if his hamstring is sound he could help the Mets this season, but Sickels doesn’t see much of a ceiling for him, calling him a “classic number three guy.’’

If you’re highest minor league level pitching prospect is a No. 3, that’s not encouraging.

Jul 25

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #96; Niese tonight.

Jon Niese (0-0, 5.91) goes tonight for the Mets at Houston against Russ Ortiz (3-4, 4.33 ERA).

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
David Wright, 3B
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Cory Sullivan, LF
Omir Santos, C
Alex Cora, SS
Jon Niese, LP

NOTE: Gary Sheffield was placed on the disabled.