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 11

Mets Interested In Bringing Back Colon

The Mets are interested in bringing back 42-year-old Bartolo Colon and reportedly the feeling is mutual. It would be great to have Colon back for another year, and not just for the entertainment value.

Colon was 14-13 with a 4.16 ERA, but more importantly, worked 194.2 innings. He tied for the club lead in victories and for the second straight year was the leader in innings pitched.

He also proved to be a rock as a reliever in the postseason. That versatility is what makes him attractive to the Mets for a third season.

With Zack Wheeler not expected back until July, either Colon or Jon Niese can be the fifth starter, and with their bullpen thin in the middle innings he could be valuable in that role, also.

“He is interested in coming back, but he’s going to go out on the market and look and see,’’ assistant GM John Ricco told ESPN at the GM Meetings. “It’s very early, and we really just talked about how happy we were with what he did for us.’’

What Colon did out of the pen was one of the more interesting storylines of the postseason. Over 8.2 innings in seven appearances, Colon struck out seven and gave up two hits.

“He proved in the postseason that he can pitch out of the pen,’’ GM Sandy Alderson said after the playoffs. “Whether he would do that on a full-time basis, or be a swing man/middle guy, or even step into the rotation in the event of injuries, I think we’re still open-minded about the possibility of Bartolo.’’

I can see Colon moving on if he’s determined to remain a starter, but I like that the Mets recognized what the did last season and see that value.

 

 

 

Nov 04

Alderson Holds Court Before Fainting

Before GM Sandy Alderson passed out at the press conference today at Citi Field, he offered these nuggets:

* Said he anticipates the 2016 Opening Day payroll to exceed the $103 million it was this season. “We ended up higher than the $103 [million] because of the additions we made at the [trade] deadline,’’ Alderson said. “So my hope is we’ll start with a somewhat higher payroll – I don’t know exactly what that will be – than we started [at] last year. And we’ll have room at the deadline to make acquisitions, as we did this year.’’

The key addition was outfielder Yoenis Cespedes in a trade from Detroit. Whether of not the Mets can retain the free-agent-to-be, Alderson said the trade was a success.

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

ALDERSON: Dishes on topics. (AP)

* Despite their glut in starting pitching, Alderson said the Mets were open to re-signing free-agent Bartolo Colon to a bullpen role.

At 42, Colon was 14-13 with a 4.16 ERA in 194 2/3 regular-season innings, but went to the bullpen for the playoffs.

“He proved in the postseason that he can pitch out of the pen,’’ Alderson said. “Whether he would do that on a full-time basis, or be a swing man/middle guy, or even step into the rotation in the event of injuries, I think we’re still open-minded about the possibility of Bartolo.’’

* Said the probability was small of trading one of their young starters – Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey or Steven Matz – for offensive help, despite the long odds of re-signing Cespedes.

“I can’t see it happening,’’ Alderson said. “You never know what comes up. But I think it’s unlikely.’’

Even so, don’t forget the Mets agreed to a deal at the deadline what would have sent Zack Wheeler to Milwaukee for outfield Carlos Gomez.

* Said the Mets were undecided as to whether they will extend a qualifying offer to Daniel Murphy.

Alderson, as he frequently does, danced around the issue: “Take it out of the Murphy context. I think you have to start with whether you want the player back. If you decide the answer is yes, then it’s easy to make a qualifying offer.

“If you decide no, then you get to the question of, for gamesmanship purposes, whether making a qualifying offer is a good idea. Murph has been a great player for us over the years. He’s been a Met over his entire career. So we’re going to make that decision a little later this week.’’

Alderson fainted because he had not eaten breakfast and was dehydrated. He was examined by a Mets trainer and deemed all right.

 

 

Nov 02

Harvey Should Take Some Responsibility

There are a lot of reasons why the Mets aren’t in Kansas City today, why their unlikely season isn’t continuing. Terry Collins, being the man he is, took responsibility last night, but it’s not all on him.

Fingers are being pointed in all directions. At David Wright for cutting in front of shortstop Wilmer Flores on that grounder in the ninth. At Lucas Duda for his poor throw, and the bullpen and lack of hitting. All deserve responsibility, but nobody is blaming Matt Harvey, which is wrong.

HARVEY: Diva does it again (AP)

HARVEY: Diva does it again (AP)

Much of the storylines this season were about Harvey, and such was the case last night, when with the sporting world watching, he made it all about him. I don’t want to hear any of this Dark Knight crap. Hell, even Batman had to answer to Commissioner Gordon.

Harvey knew the cameras were on on him when pitching coach Dan Warthen told him he was done. He always knows where the cameras are it seems, and knew they would follow him to Collins.

I softened on Harvey lately, but not after last night. Not anymore, or to quote the Mets’ diva, “No way.’’

With the Mets desperately trying to prolong their season, Harvey made it all about him again.

“I want this game bad,’’ Harvey told his manager. Of course, the operative word in that sentence was “I.’’

Never mind his manager, who backed him and tried to protect him all year. Never mind his teammates. Never mind the frustrated Mets’ fan base. When a team wins a championship, it takes 25 players. All of them, but that’s not how Harvey sees it. He sees it as he being the superhero. He craves the glory.

We are in the ninth inning of the most important game of the Mets’ season and Harvey basically told his manager, “screw you … I am pitching.’’ He told his teammates he cared more about his personal glory than them.

Again, as he frequently has done, he made himself bigger than his team, and last night, bigger than the game.

He has that attitude because all his life people kissed his Bat Belt. In high school, in college, and now with the Mets. GM Sandy Alderson and Collins are to blame because they caved to his petulant demands, and the latter, to his dismay, did so again last night.

A hundred pitches is Harvey’s weakness. After 100 pitches opposing hitters are batting .373 off him with a .440 on-base percentage and .448 slugging percentage. Harvey was over 100 pitches when Collins sent Warthen to pull him.

Where Collins was wrong was not doing it himself and for waffling. Where Collins was wrong was in trusting Harvey more than his gut. Hopefully, Collins won’t make that mistake again.

I raised this point during the height of Harvey’s innings fiasco, and it is time to do so again. With Zack Wheeler coming back, and Yoenis Cespedes leaving, and Harvey being a selfish diva, it is time for the Mets to explore what they can get for him.

Yes, Harvey was sensational last night for eight innings, but in a flash his selfishness wiped that away and that’s my enduring image from this World Series.

I haven’t read any admission of taking responsibility from Harvey, but, I haven’t read The Player’s Tribune, yet. Surely, it is in there.