Dec 12

Mets Have Options For Fifth Starter

The Mets have numerous options to replace Jon Niese as fifth starter, which is another reason why trading him isn’t such a loss. Since a .500 record is considered the bar for a successful fifth starter, Niese’s 9-10 record shouldn’t be too difficult to make up.

COLON: Want him back. (Getty)

COLON: Want him back. (Getty)

And, the most important thing to remember is the Mets will need a fifth starter until Zack Wheeler comes off the disabled list, probably in July.

Their first choice should be bringing back Bartolo Colon, who won 14 games and worked 194.2 innings at age 42.

Colon proved he could work out of the bullpen during the playoffs, which is what his role would be after Wheeler returns. Colon made $10 million last year, but I doubt it will take that much to bring him back.

There’s been little buzz in the market about Colon, but while he’s said he’s open to returning to the Mets, he also said he still wants to start.

Even if Colon doesn’t come back, the Mets have three other internal options, including Rafael Montero, Sean Gilmartin and Logan Verrett.

Verrett had success last year as a spot starter – remember his start in Los Angeles when he replaced Matt Harvey? – and as a Rule 5 pickup Gilmartin proved he could be effective if they lengthen his workload in spring training. However, being a left hander, and with the Mets still needing lefty help in the bullpen, I’d rather have him work in that role.

The guy the Mets really like, and as a side thought, somebody they might want to showcase for a deal at the deadline, is Montero. He’ll be a major spring training story.

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Dec 07

Niese Mets’ Best Trade Chip

While the Mets insist they aren’t actively shopping left hander Jon Niese, you can be certain they make it known to every team they speak with that he’s available.

The Mets made it clear they aren’t going to trade Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler. That leaves Niese as their lone pitching trade chip. And, with them high on Rafael Montero, that leaves Niese as the bait to obtain an outfield bat.

NIESE: Could he soon wave good bye. (AP)

NIESE: Could he soon wave good bye. (AP)

“We haven’t been actively shopping him, but other than the four guys [Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard and Matz], we’re going to be looking for ways to improve the team,” assistant general manager John Ricco told reporters at the Winter Meetings. “If there’s a deal that involves him and makes us better, I think we would definitely consider it.”

Niese is attactive to other teams because he’s a left, throws hard, isn’t phased about pitching in big games and has a manageable contract. He’s also healthy, having made 29 starts last season. On the downside, he’s been mostly mediocre (9-10 with a 4.13 ERA last year).

He also has an unnerving knack of not being able to slam the door and minimize trouble.

Even so, when teams talk to the Mets about pitching, he’s the first name they bring up.

ON DECK: Wrapping up Mets’ first day at Winter Meetings.

Nov 07

Expect No Trades, No Limits On Mets Starters In 2016

Expect no trades or innings restrictions on the Mets’ 2016 starting rotation. With the anticipated departure of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, there have been numerous reports the Mets might explore obtaining a bat in exchange for Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz.

HARVEY: Expect no limits in 2016. (AP)

HARVEY: Expect no limits in 2016. (AP)

The Mets attempted to trade Zack Wheeler, who spent the season on the disabled list following Tommy John surgery, but that deal fell through.

“I can’t see it happening,’’ Alderson said this week of a possible trade among the four who were on the postseason roster. “You never know what comes up. But I think it’s unlikely.’’

The Mets attempted to trade Jon Niese in the past and are expected to do so again this winter. If not, he could stay in the rotation until Wheeler is ready to come off the disabled list in July.

If they are able to trade Niese, Logan Verrett or Rafael Montero could slide into the rotation until Wheeler is ready.

The concept of innings restrictions became a hot issue in the second half of the season, but manager Terry Collins said that should not become a topic in 2016.

An innings jump of 30 to 40 innings is considered normal, and is that turns out to be the case all the starters should exceed 200 innings, with Matz reaching about 190.

“We went into the second half of the season with pitching issues that had to be handled and had to be dealt with,’’ Collins said. “Hopefully next year, with what these guys have gone through this year, that won’t be the case. It might be, ‘Hey, look, we want to skip a guy here.’ ’’

 

Jun 29

Assessing Trade Value Of Jon Niese

With the emergence of Steven Matz, expect the Mets to ratchet up their intent to trade from their pitching depth to bolster their anemic offense. The Mets would dearly like to find a taker or two for Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon on the major league level; Dillon Gee in the minors; and Rafael Montero, who has spent much of the season on the disabled list.

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

NIESE: What is his value? (AP)

Of course, interested teams inquire about Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matz, but are turned down. They don’t even both to ask about Matt Harvey, anymore.

Of the the four the Mets most want to trade, Niese has the greatest upside to bring in a bat.

Colon, at 41, won’t attract anything more than a lower level mediocre prospect at best. Gee won’t bring much more. Montero, if included in a package, could bring in the most, but he’s coming off an elbow injury.

Niese, however, at 28, is left-handed, now seemingly healthy, signed to a reasonable contract and has had some degree of success. Niese’s career record is 55-58, but with a respectable 3.89 ERA and average 1.368 WHIP. The ERA is what is most attractive, with the mediocre record attributable to the Mets’ porous bullpen and poor hitting.

Last year, Niese logged 187.2 innings in 30 starts while going 9-11. That’s indicative of a pitcher not afraid to take the ball. That could have value to the Cubs and Dodgers, the teams reportedly interested in Niese.

Assuming Niese remains healthy, a buying team can figure on getting innings, and will undoubtedly have the belief he would benefit from a change of scenery.

Naturally, money will always factor into any deal.

Niese will make $7 million this year, which means roughly a $3.5 million investment for the remainder of this year. Niese will earn $9 million in 2016; $10 million for 2017; and $11 million in 2018. Those are palatable salaries, and making it more attractive is the final two years have team options.

However, what must be remembered in dealing Niese to a potential contender is that if a team is in contention it likely wouldn’t want to deal a major league ready hitter. And, the Mets don’t want prospects as they believe they are capable of winning now.

Consequently, a team wanting Niese likely wouldn’t offer much, which is usually the tact the Mets have when they want to make a trade.

Jun 26

Mets’ Six-Man Rotation: Take Two

For the second time this season, the Mets will go with a six-man rotation. The first time was earlier this month when Dillon Gee came off the disabled list, but quickly fizzled when he was hammered. This time, it is to squeeze Steven Matz into the rotation. He’ll start Sunday against Cincinnati.

Prior to Noah Syndergaard‘s 2-1, eight-inning gem Friday over the Reds, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters the Mets were committed to this move. Then again, that’s what Alderson and manager Terry Collins said the first time.

“We’re going to go to a six-man rotation,” Alderson said. “I expect that will continue for a period of time and we’ll see where it goes.”

Alderson wouldn’t define “period of time.”

Matz is 24, left-handed and throws gas. There’s a lot to like about him opposed to Jon Niese, whose career has been on a steady decline the past few years.

The Mets have six starters, but still aren’t scoring any runs. They only scored two tonight and would have lost if not for Syndergaard. Matz increases the depth of the rotation, but the Mets are still a team that can’t score.

There were considerable rumblings when the six-man rotation was initially bagged it was because those in the rotation – notably Matt Harvey - didn’t want to pitch with too much rest.

“This arrangement has been discussed with the other five pitchers,” Alderson said. “I think they understand it’s in their interest.”

We’ll see.

The Mets came across as unprepared and in a panic mode the first time they did this, and it’s no different now. As mentioned several times here, this juggling could have been alleviated had the Mets adopted a concrete plan to limit innings going into the season, but Harvey balked.

Once again, the Mets are flying by the seat of their pants.