Apr 06

Niese Must Grasp Role As No. 1 Starter

By definition, Jon Niese is correct, he is not a No. 1 pitcher, an ace if you will. However, in relation to his status on the Mets, he is the man.

There is no denying Niese’s importance, but his designation of being the leader of the staff should be emphasized more today against Miami than in the status of an Opening Day starter. After two victories to open the season, the Mets have dropped two in a row, and have not looked good in the process.

NIESE: Announcing his presence with authority.

NIESE: Announcing his presence with authority.

Today, the Mets need Niese to stop the losing. That’s the primary goal of a stopper. That’s what staff leaders do.

“As far as leading the staff, I really don’t want to fulfill that role,’’ Niese said. “Everybody, all the guys in the rotation, have something different to offer.

“So I’m willing to learn from them, and I’m sure they’re willing to learn from me. We all have a job to do. Each one of us has a different way of going about it.’’

I can’t buy for a second Niese doesn’t want that role or responsibility. He’s a competitor; you see that every time he pitches. Saying that gives the perception of him willing to be complacent with what he’s achieved, and his 13 career-high victories in not where he wants to peak.

Let’s give Niese the benefit of doubt and say it’s modesty or a reflection of his demeanor. He’s quiet, he’s modest, there doesn’t appear to be a brash bone in his body. But, he’s not a pushover on the mound who easily caves in to the hitter.

Niese wants that role, and manager Terry Collins indicated as much when he told him he would be the Opening Day starter almost a month ago.

“[Niese] said, `All right!’ That means he wanted it bad,’’ Collins recalled. “He got himself ready for it, for sure. He pitched a great game.’’

Niese held San Diego to two runs on four hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He also had two hits himself.

“I’m not going to lie,’’ Niese said. “The adrenaline was pumping.’’

Catcher John Buck said Niese was easy to catch as everything fell into place for him.

“He had a good two-seamer going. His cutter in was working well for him,’’ Buck said. “So he was spreading the plate really well. And then that curveball, obviously, is a weapon to have with two strikes.’’

No. 1 starters don’t want to leave games. They want to start what they finish. Niese has gone the distance, but knows there have been too many times when he exits with the game still in the balance. That has to stop this year, says Niese, in acknowledging how he must continue to grow.

“I think last year was kind of a year where I kind of hit that sixth inning and had 95 pitches and they kind of shut me down,’’ said Niese, who pleaded for an extra inning and finished with 101. “I think this year I want to be that guy who goes back out and finishes my starts.’’

That won’t happen if Niese hits 100 in the seventh. He needs to be more efficient with his pitches. Too often he’ll work deep into the count, throwing four or five pitches to a hitter.

One less pitch to a hitter could mean two more innings. And, in their minds, staff leaders can’t throw enough innings.

Jan 02

From Wright To Alderson To Davis, Mets’ 2013 Resolutions

With the beginning of the year for making plans for improvement, let’s take a look at some of the resolutions the Mets should be making today.

THE WILPONS: You are the proud owners of a major league baseball team worth close to a billion dollars – that includes Citi Field and SNY – so act like it. With attendance steadily declining along with the yearly win total, the Wilpons should resolve to start spending to upgrade their team of sell it. Enough is enough. Start writing checks to clean up this mess.

WRIGHT: Just ease up when it gets tough. (AP)

SANDY ALDERSON: You were brought in to straighten out the Mets’ financial problems. Now it is time to bring in the talent to make this team competitive. You did it in Oakland and San Diego, now comes your biggest challenge. Reportedly, Alderson has been given a bigger budget, now don’t treat it like it is your money.

TERRY COLLINS: You were brought in change the culture, but that hasn’t been the case. Collins has been a little spotty in the accountability department and that has to change. He must resolve to kick some butt when it comes lapses in concentration, thrown-away at-bats and poor pitch selection from his pitchers. The culture can’t change if Collins doesn’t demand more from his players.

DAVID WRIGHT: OK, you’re getting your long term commitment and enough money to last 100 lifetimes. There have been too many times when Wright takes it upon himself to carry the Mets on his shoulders when the team slides. When things are going to hell for the Mets, Wright needs to resolve to shorten his swing, shrink his strike zone and go the opposite way. Wright must realize he’s little help to the Mets when he’s trying to hit a five-run homer.

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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.

Oct 06

Bowa, Riggleman candidates for bench coach.

It didn’t take long for the suspects list for the vacant Mets’ bench coach position to start growing.

Four former major league managers are interested in working next to Terry Collins next season, including Jim Riggleman, John McLaren, Bob Geren and Larry Bowa.

Riggleman resigned as Nationals manager 75 games into the season in a salary dispute and was temporarily replaced by McLaren.

McLaren briefly managed Seattle while Geren managed in Oakland, with neither establishing an impressive resume.

Bowa is the most high-profile of the group having managed six years with San Diego and Philadelphia.

If the Mets want to instill a fiery presence, Bowa would be the logical choice.

 

Sep 02

Today in Mets’ History: It all comes together on the Coast.

It was one of those games where everything clicked in all departments.

Keith Hernandez (5-for-5), Gary Carter (3-for-5) and Darryl Strawberry (2-for-5) went a combined 10-for-15 with seven runs scored and seven RBI in a 12-4 rout at San Diego on this date in 1985.

The Mets lashed 18 hits, including homers from Ray Knight and Hernandez to back Sid Fernandez’s complete-game effort.

With the victory, the Mets closed within one game of St. Louis in the NL East.