Oct 22

Should Mets Take A Flyer On Juan Pierre?

Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly looks at which corner outfielders the Phillies are likely to keep or are on their way out.  Among the ones who could be free agents are Juan Pierre, Laynce Nix, and Ty Wigginton.

I have a mild interest in Wigginton, but Pierre may be a better fit for the team and he shouldn’t be too costly. Here is what Salisbury writes:

Juan Pierre

For a guy who lingered on the free-agent market into January and came to camp on a minor-league deal, Pierre made a huge contribution in 2012 and was a bargain at $800,000. He made 98 starts in left field, ranked second on the team in batting average (.307), tied for second in hits (121) and third in on-base percentage at .351. He also led the team with 37 steals and was caught just seven times.

In addition to his contributions on the field, Pierre was one of the most prepared and professional players to come through the Phillies’ clubhouse in years. He never took a play off. If Pierre wants to stay in baseball after his playing days, some organization would be wise to hire him to mentor young players on the art of being a big-leaguer. The guy has a baseball IQ that is off the charts and excellent people skills. Future manager? You heard it here first.

Despite Pierre’s contribution in 2012, the Phillies face a tough decision regarding the 35-year-old’s future. There are indications that the team would like to add more of a power bat in left field. Pierre also hits left-handed on a team that is heavy in left-handed bats. The heart says bring Pierre back, but the head says the Phillies may go in a different direction.

Pierre has been incredibly consistent over the last three seasons and has averaged 150 games per season in that span. He would certainly give the team such much needed speed, would be a better leadoff hitter than Andres Torres, and fills a need in the outfield. He’s just a slap-hitting, singles guy with the occasional triple, but he still does a good job of rattling a pitcher’s concentration and can lay down a bunt. He’s a great contact hitter and averages only 38 strikeouts a season in his career. The fact that he knows the game and has great fundamentals won’t hurt either especially if it rubs off on some of the other players.

Oct 17

2012 Mets Player Review: Jonathan Niese, LHP


PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS: Jonathan Niese was another Mets pitcher who went into spring training coming off an injury. He pulled a right rib cage muscle in Sept. 2011, while pitching against the Phillies and was shut down. Two years earlier, Niese’s season ended with a severely pulled hamstring. While the Mets weren’t worried about his arm, two muscle pulls had them wonder if he was susceptible to such injuries. Foolishly, Niese felt discomfort in his previous start, but continued to pitch against the Phillies. In 2010 and 2011, Niese won nine and 11 games, respectively, and displayed composure and an ability to work out of trouble. Niese doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but throws a plus cutter and fall-off-the-table curveball. When he’s able to command those pitches, it increases the effectiveness of his fastball. Assuming his health, the Mets expected him to continue to develop and hopefully win as many as 15 games as a No. 3 starter.

2012 SEASON REVIEW: Although Niese fell short of 15 victories, he continued to make strides to become one of the Mets’ most reliable pitchers. Satisfied he was healthy, the Mets signed Niese to a $25.5 million contract extension with team options for 2017 and 2018. Largely unproven, the Mets were banking on Niese’s potential and at the time GM Sandy Alderson said he was the type of player the club could build around. The contract enables the Mets to avoid arbitration and Niese’s first shot at free agency, which is paramount in cost control. Niese tied his career high of 30 starts and logged 190.1 innings. Niese, like most Mets’ starters save R.A. Dickey, suffered from a lack of run support and bullpen collapses. Niese responded from a combined 4-5 in July and August to win this final three starts to finish at 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Niese had an impressive 155-49 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and worked into the seventh inning or longer in 17 appearances. He only had two starts in which he did not work at least five innings. Niese did miss a start after he was pulled for a June 3 game with a rapid heartbeat.

LOOKING AT 2013: Although Niese did not have a reoccurrence of the rapid heartbeat in the second half, he will undergo surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to alleviate the problem. It is considered minor surgery, but anything involving the heart can’t be thought of as minor. Figuring he will make a full recovery, the Mets expect him to build on 2013. Considering his age and salary, he would be in high demand on the trade market, but a pitcher of Niese’s potential is exactly what the franchise needs. Niese’s overall numbers were good and assuming he receives run support – the Mets failed to score more than three runs in 17 starts – 15 victories and 200-plus innings should be reachable. Niese would enter next year as the No. 3 starter assuming everything works in the positive with Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey.


Oct 10

What Is The Market For David Wright And R.A. Dickey?

If the Mets believe they’ll keep David Wright and R.A. Dickey on the cheap they are sadly mistaken. If neither are signed in the next couple of months both are likely to enter the free-agent market, at which point they’ll likely go elsewhere.

I can’t see either coming back to the Mets if they let them enter the market.

There have already been reports the Mets will offer Wright a package for around $100 million and aren’t willing to go more than two years on Dickey.

Sandy Alderson said last week the Mets wanted to move quickly, but your definition and the Mets’ are different, as the club has proven to move at a glacier pace on other key issues.

Wright will make $15 million next season while Dickey is on the books for $5 million. If extensions are reached, they should make considerably more, although it is conceivable they could backload a contract for Wright. Because he’s 38 and this is his last chance for a free-agent market killing, the same can’t be said for Dickey. So, if the Mets don’t go more than three years for him, then he’s a goner.

There are difficulties in trading both, notably that they will be free agents after the 2013 season. No team would be willing to deal for them if they know they’ll leave after the season.

A team trading for Wright must consider his recent production. He had a solid, but not extraordinary season in 2012, hitting .306 with 21 homers and 93 RBI. His last big season was probably 2010 when he hit 29 homers, and he hasn’t hit 30 since 2008. Wright has always been a complementary piece rather than a centerpiece. His best years were when Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran with him and he hit fifth. Wright batting third or fourth hasn’t been as productive.

In explaining Wright’s power decline the past few years, it is part injuries and part hitting unprotected in the line-up. The percentage of each is hard to ascertain.

We must assume the Mets wouldn’t trade Wright to the Phillies or the Braves, both with a reported need for a third baseman. The Red Sox, however, are a different story as they are in the American League and no direct threat to the Mets.

That being said Wright has a greater value to the Mets than he would any other team. That could reduce his trade value to some degree.

Regarding Dickey, he has an extraordinary value to the Mets based on his story and what he did this year. The Mets shouldn’t be worried about his durability, but have to wonder if this season was a fluke. A journeyman throughout his career, Dickey had an ace-type season in 2012 winning 20 games.

Can he do it again?

That’s something everybody is wondering, including those teams that might want him. Do you break the bank for a pitcher who has had only three winning seasons since 2001?

When you factor all the circumstances surrounding Wright and Dickey, both have limitations that might make the return as lucrative as one might think.


Sep 21

Terry Collins Throws Mets Under Bus; Himself, Too.

Terry Collins wouldn’t come out and say it, but his clipped answers to pointed questions strongly suggest he believes his team has quit.

As he said several times during the Mets’ second-half collapse, “it’s all about perception.’’

After being blown out 16-1 by the Phillies before published estimates of around 1,000 fans at Citi Field, an exasperated and visibly upset Collins gave short, terse answers to the questions everybody who bothered to watch were asking: Do you think your team has quit?

There’s no more biting question to ask a major league manager.

Collins gave his team the benefit of doubt after more than a few dismal performances this summer. Not last night. Last night, with his words and their tone, Collins threw his team under the bus, and deservedly so.

Asked if the Mets quit, Collins said: “You’ll have to ask them. I have my own opinion. I’m not going to express it publicly.’’

He might as well have screamed “YES.’’

In addition to the score, Collins said, “I saw some things tonight that were unacceptable.’’

When asked to specify, Collins refused, and when pressed if he thought his players were embarrassed, he abruptly said: “You have to ask them. I’m not inside their heads.’’

Normally, when a coach or manager says such a thing, the first reaction is how can he not know what his team is thinking? Doesn’t he have the pulse of this team?

Collins does, but didn’t want to attach his name to the actual quotes. Maybe he thinks by doing so he won’t be able to work with them next year. At least, with those who will be left.

Or, maybe he wouldn’t say they quit because by doing so would be a reflection on him. After all, when a team quits, it means the manager lost the clubhouse. That’s the perception Collins wants to mask.

The Mets have gone 16 straight games having scored three or fewer runs at home. One would think they’d score four by accident. If they didn’t quit, then they are playing uninspired, listless baseball. Collins said letdowns are to be expected, but this is more than a letdown.

“We’ve had a huge letdown in the second half,’’ Collins said. “People paid money to see us tonight. Our fans, not that we wouldn’t have lost 16-1, but not the way we lost. This is the big leagues.

“It’s all about perception. And the perception is tonight after we’re down 8-0 the game was over. No disrespect to Tyler Cloyd. None whatsoever. But three hits? Please. We’re better than that.’’

Well, not lately.

David Wright and Ike Davis refuted the notion the players quit. Both spoke in cliché, saying this is their job and the players work hard in preparation.

Neither was convincing. The only thing convincing about last night were all the empty seats.

Sep 16

Mets Matters: Should Chris Young Be Brought Back?

Chris Young took the loss today, but worked into the seventh inning, and in doing so passed 100 innings for the season and received a $150,000 bonus.

More importantly, he’s probably showed enough to warrant a contract for 2013, if not from the Mets, then somebody else.

“It means I’m healthy,’’ said Young. “I think I’ve pitched pretty well, better than my record probably indicates. But, there’s a lot of room for improvement.’’

There is, because although Young had his moments when he worked deep into games like today, there were others when he was rocked. Still, he started 18 games, his most since 2008.

Veteran arms are important, so we shouldn’t write off Young returning even though he’s not included in next year’s rotation. Although the Mets have ideas as to how their rotation will look, there are significant questions that make Young’s presence desirable.

Both Johan Santana and Dillon Gee are coming off injuries so there will be caution with them. You have to like Matt Harvey’s future, but it is premature to label him an ace right now.

Something will happen next year, you know it, so having depth is essential. If not Young, then the Mets will shop in the bargain aisle for veteran pitching depth. The advantage of bringing back Young is the Mets’ familiarity with him.

More Mets Matters:

* Terry Collins said Jeremy Hefner would likely get the start Wednesday against the Phillies. A couple of weeks ago this series meant nothing but the Phillies, like the Brewers, have become wild card contenders.

* David Wright now has 1,411 hits, seven shy of Ed Kranepool, the franchise’s career hit leader. Yes, statistics is what it has come down to for the Mets this season. I’d also like to see Wright finish with at least 90 RBI. He has 81. Another milestone would be Ike Davis hitting 30 homers, joining Eddie Murray, Carlos Delgado and David Kingman as Mets first basemen with 30 homer seasons.

* After Jenrry Mejia was shelled Saturday, pitching coach Dan Warthen said he views him as a reliever, claiming he didn’t believe he would be able to throw 200 innings year after year. I wonder how Warthen can make that assessment when the organization keeps bouncing Mejia around from being a starter to the bullpen.

* The opportunities are getting winding down for R.A. Dickey’s bid to win 20 games. He’s scheduled to start tomorrow night against the Phillies and maybe two more after that. He’s stuck on 18 victories.