Mar 03

Not Worried About Montero’s Rough Day

Rafael Montero got hammered Thursday afternoon, but no worries he wasn’t going to beat out Sean Gilmartin or Logan Verrett for a spot in the Mets’ bullpen anyway. Montero has always been ticketed as a starter at Triple-A Las Vegas barring an injury.

MONTERO: Rough day. (AP)

MONTERO: Rough day. (AP)

Montero gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in a 39-pitch first inning in the Mets’ 9-4 loss to Washington.

It didn’t matter that the first five Nationals reached base. What mattered was Montero, who was on the DL from April 30 through the remainder of the season with a bad shoulder, is healthy. Whether he starts at Vegas or works out the bullpen in Flushing, he can’t do either if he’s not healthy.

“I think it’s just key for me to be healthy right now. I’m happy with that,” Montero told reporters. “And, I’m really just looking at it as just the first time going out. Hopefully, everything will go better going forward.”

Part of the essence of spring training is what Montero went through today, and that’s a player coming back from an injury. Montero will pitch numerous more times this spring, perhaps compiling as many as 20 innings. But, regardless of how well he performs, unless somebody gets hurt, Montero will end up in Las Vegas.

When he gets there he should be used in a starting role, because he could end up in that position with the Mets if Zack Wheeler has a setback in his rehab. Should that be the case, his innings needs to be stretched out.

So, what happened Thursday has to be looked at as one of those things. Nothing seems to be going to imminently happen to Montero.

The same can’t be said for Yoenis Cespedes‘ pig.

Mar 03

Mets Lineup Against Nationals

Here’s the Mets lineup against Washington for today’s exhibition opener. The note next to the player’s name is his expected Opening Day role:

Alejandro De Aza, DH: Role player. Mets say they aren’t shopping him.

Juan Lagares, CF: On the bench with playing time severely limited after Yoenis Cespedes resigned.

Michael Conforto, LF: Opening Day starter in left. Batting third might not be a bad spot for him.

Wilmer Flores, 3B: Backup at all four infield positions.

Kevin Plawecki, C: Backup catcher.

Marc Krauss, 1B: Minor leagues.

Eric Campbell, RF: Minor leagues.

Ruben Tejada, SS: Bench player.

Dilson Herrara, 2B: If he makes the team it will be off the bench.

Rafael Montero, RHP: Starter in minor leagues.

 

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.’ ’’