Is Jon Niese Ready For Prime Time?

An article by posted on December 2, 2008

Last week, Joel Sherman of the NY Post spoke to Omar Minaya about his plan for the Mets 2009 rotation. Here is what he wrote on his blog.

I have spoken to many Met officials, including GM Omar Minaya, and each has told me essentially the same strategy: That they would like to add a quality starter to place behind Johan Santana in the rotation and go to camp giving Jonathan Niese a chance to be the No. 5 starter. Minaya likens the plan to what happened with Mike Pelfrey last year, when Pelfrey assumed the No. 5 starter role, largely because Orlando Hernandez was hurt.

I really like what I saw of Niese in the little sampling we had to go on last season. That said, I’m not so sure he is ready to be a part of a Major League rotation just yet. I don’t understand what the big rush is all about.

I would prefer to see Jon Niese spend at least a half season at AAA Buffalo before we even consider handing him a rotation spot. I think the Mets are making a huge mistake by force feeding him to the majors so soon.

He only made three starts in the Major Leagues.

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In 14 innings pitched, Niese allowed 11 earned runs on 20 hits and 8 walks. His ERA was 7.07. Niese became the first pitcher in Mets history to give up a homerun to the first batter he ever faced.

Niese was selected by the New York Mets in the seventh round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft. Ever since joining the organization, he has been rushed through each level until finally skipping through AA, AAA, and the Mets in 2008.

At no time, was Niese pitching at a level that warranted such a swift advancement.

He has started a total of 88 games in the minors, and in 457 innings pitched he has allowed 455 hits and 166 walks for a WHIP of 1.37 and a 3.74 ERA.

When we decided to give Mike Pelfrey his shot, he had compiled a 1.26 WHIP and a a 3.12 ERA in the minors; numbers that were certainly worthy of a promotion. Even so, Pelfrey struggled before finally being able to pitch effectively and consistently over a year later.

Also, who would be our fall-back option if one of our starters went down with an injury?

With Niese being nurtured in AAA and learning how to pitch at a higher level after spending most of last season in AA, he serves as a viable insurance policy for the other five starters in the Major League rotation.

I hope the Mets will reconsider handing Niese a rotation spot, and instead decide to sign a capable and proven number five starter for the rotation. There are quite a few low cost options out there ranging from Jon Garland to Randy Wolf.

Lets spend some of that $400 million dollar tax payer funded naming rights money for Citi Field and bolster the bullpen and rotation the right way, and stop using a small market strategy to manage a big market team.

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I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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