Mets Merized Online » Jon Niese http://metsmerizedonline.com Mon, 04 May 2015 18:44:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.7 MMO Game Recap: Nationals 1, Mets 0 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/mmo-game-recap-nationals-1-mets-0.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/mmo-game-recap-nationals-1-mets-0.html/#comments Sun, 03 May 2015 02:08:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=180613 jon niese

The Mets (16-9) were shut out by the Nationals (11-14) on Saturday night, losing 1-0 at Citi Field.

Jon Niese pitched for the Mets and pitched well. The lefty tossed seven innings of one-run ball, working around nine hits and a walk while striking out five.

But Gio Gonzalez pitched even better for Washington. After Niese worked in and out of trouble in the top of the first, Gio did the same in the home half, with some help from Jayson Werth, who unleashed a laser from left field that nailed Juan Lagares at the plate as he tried to score on Lucas Duda‘s double.

The Nats scored the game’s only run in the top of the second. A pair of singles and a bunt put runners on second and third with two outs and Michael Taylor at the plate. Daniel Murphy dived to get a glove on Taylor’s sharp grounder to third and knock it down, but was unable to play the ball cleanly, and a run scored on the infield single.

Both teams threatened several more times, to no avail. New York got runners on second and third with two out in the fifth, but Lucas Duda grounded into the shift to end the threat. Niese had some tough luck in the top of the sixth (a potential double-play ball finding the tiny space between Dilson Herrera and Ruben Tejada, and a laughable blown call on a two-strike pitch down the middle,) but escaped the jam with the help of instant replay and nice plays from Murphy and Tejada.

The Mets might have had a chance in the bottom of the sixth, but Herrera was thrown out trying to turn an infield single into a double (don’t worry, it wasn’t as ridiculous as it sounds). Gio denied the hosts again in the seventh, and although Carlos Torres pitched two perfect innings after Niese’s departure, the Mets could muster nothing against the Washington bullpen, and the visitors held on to take a 2-1 series lead.

lagares juan

Niese didn’t have a pretty outing, but he had a good one. Seven innings, one run. His ERA is now 1.87. His sabermetric stats can be horrible for all I care… until those translate into runs scored by the opposition, they mean nothing (yes, I realize the point is that they are indicative of a high likelihood that runs will be scoring before long, but let’s see those runners cross the plate, first.) If anything, Niese had BAD luck tonight with his defense, the ump, and other things pitcher’s can’t control. But he fought through it. Nice outing. I’ll take it from my middle-of-the-rotation starters all day long.

The offense? Not so good. It hasn’t been good at ALL lately, not since the winning streak ended. We got away with it last night, but it wasn’t in the cards tonight. A couple key hitters are injured right now, and others were on the bench for a rest today, but that’s no excuse to get shut out. They had six hits and worked a couple walks, and hit a couple balls hard right to Washington gloves, so it wasn’t like NOTHING was happening with the bats. But nothing tangible was happening. Like I said, it’s about the runs.

Niese failed to get a bunt down in the fifth, and it might have cost the team a run. If only we could just send an extra hitter to the plate like they do in the AL. It would solve the Murphy dilemma and the “Catcher of the future” conundrum, too.

Although I like Niese more than most people, I was surprised that he kept getting out of those jams. He’s a good pitcher, but when he does get in trouble, he often struggles to steady the ship, and he was in trouble all night.

Looks like we won’t be winning this series. Let’s see if we can pull out a split.

Up Next: The Mets will look to avoid losing their third straight series when they wrap up their four-game set with the Nationals tomorrow at Citi Field. Dillon Gee (0-1, 4.26 ERA) will face Doug Fister (1-1, 3.28 ERA) at 1:10 PM.

]]> http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/05/mmo-game-recap-nationals-1-mets-0.html/feed/ 0 MMO Morning Grind: Three Takeaways From Mets 11-3 Start http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-morning-grind-three-takeaways-from-mets-11-3-start.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/mmo-morning-grind-three-takeaways-from-mets-11-3-start.html/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 12:00:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=179639 plawecki flores

The league-leading, red-hot Mets won their ninth straight game in a row to move to 11-3 on the season – the best record in baseball. Here are Three Takeaways from the game last night.

1. The Mets are CAPITALIZING on other teams’ mistakes.

mmo feature original footerThere has been much talk from fans and broadcasters alike about how many errors have been committed against the Mets early in the season. Are teams making mistakes against the Mets? Yes. But teams didn’t play flawless ball against us from 2009-2014, and the Mets didn’t make much noise during that time. The difference isn’t that every opposing fielder has suddenly turned into Dan Uggla on the field, it’s that the Mets are capitalizing on the mistakes of their opponents, who had been doing the same to the not-so-Amazin’s for the last six years. The Mets loaded the bases with none out early against Trevor Cahill and they got four runs out of it, thanks in part, but not entirely, to an Atlanta error. You need a bit of luck to win, whether it’s a soft pop-up to left turning into a ground-rule double or a couple tough plays inexplicably being too tough for fielding maestro Andrelton Simmons. But when a lucky break cracks the door open, you need to be good to burst through that door. Nine in a row? I think it’s safe to say the Mets have been good.

2. Next Man Up

When one guy (or two, or three) goes down, the next man up has to come through. The Mets have been answering the call all season, with Jeurys Familia racking up the saves in place of Jenrry Mejia, Eric Campbell producing in David Wright‘s absence, and Jerry Blevins pitching perfectly place of Josh Edgin. When Blevins was done in by a line drive to his now-fractured pitching arm on Sunday, gloom and doom started to set in, aided and abetted by the subsequent injury to Travis d’Arnaud. But Alex Torres filled Blevins’ shoes tonight, striking out Freddie Freeman in a huge spot in the sixth. Strike three ended up in a mitt belonging not to d’Arnaud, but to Kevin Plawecki, called up to replace the injured catcher. Plawecki had himself a heck of a Major League debut, showing why he entered the season as the Mets’ #2 prospect. Plawecki notched two hits, hit another one very hard (but right at Freeman), and showed off his strong arm by gunning down a runner at second. The Mets have been special so far this season, but injuries will still happen. Will the Mets continue to find solutions when problems arise? They should. The good teams do.

3. Niese is in a groove

Jon Niese isn’t Matt Harvey. He doesn’t need to be. Harvey and deGrom are an awesome punch at the top. But Niese is sporting an ERA of 1.50, which sure isn’t bad for a guy who doesn’t even have a clear right to the “#3″ title over Bartolo Colon. Ron Darling said during the game that the Mets’ starting pitchers should have a “seven innings or bust” mentality. Jon didn’t quite get there as he exited after 6.2, but if he can give the Mets six innings of three-run ball every night, he’s filling the role of a capable #3. If he’s giving them six-plus and only giving up one run, those are #2 numbers at least. Zack Wheeler‘s injury before the season took some of the upside out of this rotation, but if their #3 and #4 guys are pitching like #2s (I won’t expect Jon to keep up that superstar-level 1.50 mark), this team will continue to keep rolling, even when the bats don’t back the hurlers with seven runs).

This team is on fire. Enjoy it, guys.

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3 Up & 3 Down: Down Goes Philly, Break Out The Brooms http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/3-up-3-down-down-goes-philly-break-out-the-brooms.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/3-up-3-down-down-goes-philly-break-out-the-brooms.html/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:59:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=179158 mets win sweep phillies

3 Up

1. Mets Are Fired Up!

Mets ace, Matt Harvey, not only elevates the play of his teammates, but he elevates their passion to win as well. Tuesday night’s match-up was a contest to see who had more fire, more of a burning desire to win. As important as it was for the Mets to take a W the day their young stud took the mound, it was equally important for Philly to knock him down a peg.

In all fairness, Philadelphia made Harvey look human more than once in that game. The Amazin’s #1 did struggle with his location, as many experts noted would happen coming off of Tommy John surgery. The difference is Harvey’s mental make-up. No matter what was going on with his physical abilities, there was zero doubt in his mind that his team would find a way to grit it out. The best part was seeing him still get an opportunity to retaliate and close out the inning after loading the bases.

Oh, and all this non-sense about Utley being tough too? It was cute how he stared back at Harvey after he made his way 90 feet down the line to first. Interesting how he had no desire to even look up from the ground when Harvey trotted up with his glove already coming half way off ready to brawl.

To be clear, I’m in no way promoting violence, but this isn’t little league and no one is handing out ribbons for effort- sometimes the game gets ugly and the team that backs down might as well hand over the win. I want to see my team play with some heart and some guts.

2. Duda and d’Arnaud

These two gentlemen combined to go 8-25 in the series (.320) with four doubles, two home runs, eight RBI’s and four runs scored to go along with some excellent defense. The driving factor for both of these players is their ability to work the count, look for good pitches to hit and driving those pitches hard as hell when they do see it. Plate discipline + exit velocity in motion folks.

3. Cuddyer and Granderson Heating Up

This is crucial for the team’s long term success. With the way Duda and d’Arnaud are playing, they can carry this offense until the Captain returns from his hamstring injury, but over a full season, the homegrown hitters will look to the free agent vets to provide added juice at the top and in the middle of the lineup.

Granderson batted .364 in the series with a .500 OBP and two runs scored. The Grandy man has yet to drive in a run (less RBI’s than Bartolo Colon or Jon Niese), but he has absolutely lived up to expectations out of the leadoff spot.

Michael Cuddyer was slow after a hot spring training, but has steadily picked up his pace, now climbing his way up to a .273/.351/.455 slashline on the season. He went 4-9 in the series (.444) with a double and a triple- yes you read that correctly, driving in a run and scoring two himself. Right now, I still believe d’Arnaud is a better candidate for cleanup, but that production will generate quite a bit of value as well.

3 Down

1. Lame Delay

Ron Darling voiced his frustration over the challenge, that wasn’t a challenge, during Harvey’s outing on Tuesday. Honestly, it’s hard not to agree with Darling here because Harvey was just settling back in to his game when he was forced to cool off. The result, a hit and run scored in the very next batter. As great as it is to get a call overturned in your favor, it isn’t worth stifling the performance of a guy like Harvey unless the team is absolutely certain it’ll go in their favor.

2. The Captain Is On The DL

The Mets should be able to weather this storm, but some plan has to be put in place when David Wright returns to action so that these “tweaks” are avoided. If that means that the Captain no longer steals bases, than that’s acceptable. As a commenter pointed out in one of yesterday’s threads (is2015theyear?), it was a 3-2 count and runners were in motion, but maybe even sacrifice getting in scoring position in that situation for the sake of keeping a .300+ average/20+HR/100+RBI/100+ run scored ball player in the lineup? Seems worth it.

3. The Flores Experiment Is Still An Experiment

As someone who writes about the team he loves dearly, I’m always careful to wish the best for each and every player, but also point out the reality in every situation. Many players in the lineup are either already hot, or starting to heat up, so the need for offense out of Flores hasn’t been as crucial as earlier projections may have indicated.

That being said, the Mets will the shortstop position to start generating some form of value soon. Flores is a ball player, I want to be clear that like many others, I’ve seen an ability in him to be an everyday player- just not a shortstop. He’s been exposed on defense for having a lack of range, fundamentals, etc.- all the things we already knew- the caveat being that his offense has been equally as unproductive. Something has to give with this position by the July trade deadline.

The reality is that either Wilmer Flores gets it going quick (as in the next few series) or Ruben Tejada resumes the starting role. We know Tejada’s ceiling, practically zero offense, but there’s a floor to his overall value stabilized by his excellent defense- and he does play good defense. The pitching staff needs his range controlling the left side of the infield, especially since d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares are playing so well with their gloves. In theory, adding Tejada at the moment creates little to no loss on offense, yet maximizes the defense up the middle, a strong attribute for a team dependent on their pitching to get to the post-season.

There’s also Matt Reynolds waiting in AAA and to be honest, it’s difficult to see him being a long term solution at shortstop as well, all these guys are second basemen. However, when looking for value, Reynolds is an excellent ball player who could hold the position down with some valuable on base skills and speed to spark the top of the lineup.

As I’ve said all along, I truly hope Flores can get it going and prove me and the rest of his critics wrong. Trust me, there’s no pleasure in being right on this one because it’s doubtful the Mets will act swiftly in fixing the situation.

Lets! Go! Mets!

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3 Up 3 Down: Mets Salvage The Finale! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/3-up-3-down-mets-salvage-the-finale.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/04/3-up-3-down-mets-salvage-the-finale.html/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 10:00:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=178808 recker familia

3 Up

A Different Core Four

Earlier this spring, Matt Harvey referred to a unit within the team known as the ”core four” and in it the team’s most valuable players.  It included himself and David Wright, Curtis Granderson and newly acquired outfielder Michael Cuddyer.  Harvey may have been on to something with the title, but he should have bet strictly on homegrown talent like himself.  David Wright remains a core piece and has rebounded from 2014 to the tune of a .320 batting average in 6 games, with a home run, 2 RBI’s and a run scored.  Instead of the veteran corner outfielders though, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud are actually the two hottest hitters on the team right now.  Duda (.863 OPS) went 3-5 during Sunday’s series finale, with all three hits coming against LHP.  D’Arnaud (.813 OPS) went 3-7 in the series with an RBI and it was tough to see the Mets take their hottest hitter out of the lineup, but the team still managed to come up with the win.

Bullpen Takes Identity

Jeurys Familia may not have envisioned his opportunity to close coming about in the way it did this week, but with the suspension of Jenrry Mejia, he earned his first save in Sunday’s finale.  Jerry Blevins and Carlos Torres were credited with their second holds on the year, with Blevins proving to be a legitimate bullpen threat against left handed pitching.  Depending on the returns of Vic Black and Bobby Parnell, this team could end up feeling no impact from the loss of Mejia.

Hard Nosed Veteran Move

Michael Cuddyer still has work to do at the plate, but his slide on Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons should go a long way in earning the respect of his teammates and a lot of fans.  The Mets are all too often the nice guys, Cuddyer went in, cleats up, way off the baseline and aiming right up at Simmons, who earlier dropped a hard forearm in the face mask of Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on a collision at home plate.  To some, both plays seem unrelated, but anyone who was watching intently could see there was a different vibe from these Mets.

3 Down

Middle Infield Defense

This was discussed in the last 3 & 3, except against the Nationals, the consequences were minimal.  In Atlanta, the mistakes were costly, although the causes ranged from tough luck to poor mechanics and fundamentals.  Jon Niese didn’t have his best stuff on Friday night’s series opener, but he gritted his way through a decent performance and only gave up one earned run through five innings before being pulled.  Wilmer Flores had multiple poor throws and continued to look uncomfortable at shortstop and at the plate to start the season.  Daniel Murphy was inconsistent as usual and David Wright missed a tag on Jace Peterson that ultimately proved to be the difference in Niese’s outing.

Montero’s Pitch Selection

Part of what made Rafael Montero so appealing during spring training was that he used all of his pitches, including a deadly change up.  He still has a lot of potential, particularly after seeing him get up to 95 mph regularly on the gun, but his pitch selection was mostly fastballs during Saturday’s 5-3 loss.  It’s questionable whether communication between him and catcher Travis d’Arnaud was an issue, normally the catcher would be expected to mix up the calls or visit the mound with any issues that needed further discussion.  The idea that both of them were on the same page through that outing seems far fetched given the choice in pitches.

Corner Outfield Vets Slow To Start

Curtis Granderson has managed to compile a .348 on base percentage so far this season, but only one hit in six games played (.063 average).  Michael Cuddyer hit his first home run as a Met during the Braves series, but is also sluggish out of the gate with a .208 average and only 3 RBI’s, despite serving as the cleanup man.

Onto the Phillies at home tomorrow, Lets! Go! Mets!

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MMO Game Thread: Mets vs Cardinals, 1:05 PM http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/mmo-game-thread-mets-vs-cardinals-105-pm.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/mmo-game-thread-mets-vs-cardinals-105-pm.html/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:55:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=177390 matt harvey

It’s Matt Harvey Day! Literally. The Mets ace turns 26 today. Harvey is slated for 80 pitches today as the New York Mets take on the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 PM in Jupiter. He will be opposed by right-hander John Lackey.

Manager Terry Collins plans to bat Harvey eighth this afternoon. He is considering consistently using the pitcher in that slot this season, according to Adam Rubin. Curtis Granderson would lead off, followed by David Wright and Lucas Duda, while Juan Lagares bats ninth.

Upcoming Starting Pitchers: Saturday – Jacob deGrom, Sunday – Dillon Gee, Monday – Rafael Montero, Tuesday – Jon Niese, Wednesday – Bartolo Colon

Here are today’s Starting Lineups:

New York Mets

  1. Curtis Granderson, RF
  2. David Wright, 3B
  3. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF
  4. Michael Cuddyer, LF
  5. Wilmer Flores, SS
  6. Travis d’Arnaud, C
  7. Eric Campbell, 1B
  8. Matt Harvey, RHP
  9. Danny Muno, 2B

St. Louis Cardinals

  1. Peter Bourjos, CF
  2. Jason Heyward, RF
  3. Matt Holliday, LF
  4. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  5. Yadier Molina, C
  6. Mark Reynolds, 1B
  7. Scott Moore, 3B
  8. Ty Kelly, 2B
  9. John Lackey, RHP

Enjoy the game and Let’s Go Mets!

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MMO Game Thread: Braves vs Mets, 1:10 PM (SNY) http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/mmo-game-thread-braves-vs-mets-110-pm-sny.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/mmo-game-thread-braves-vs-mets-110-pm-sny.html/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 16:26:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=176188 jon niese

The New york Mets host the Atlanta Braves at Tradition Field on Friday at 1:10 PM. The game will be broadcast on SNY.

Jon Niese gets the start for the Mets and will be opposed by lefthander Manny Banuelos for the Braves. Also slated to pitch for the Mets are Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel, Cody Satterwhite, and Scott Rice.

Bobby Parnell threw off a mound today and said his bothersome hamstring feels good. He’s still unaware of a date he’ll pitch in games.

Josh Edgin is leaning toward having Tommy John Surgery, but the Mets are suggesting he go with rest and rehab first. So Edgin decided to get a second opinion from the renowned Dr. Andrews.

Here are today’s lineups:

NEW YORK METS

  1. Curtis Granderson, dh
  2. Wilmer Flores, ss
  3. David Wright, 3b
  4. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, rf
  5. John Mayberry Jr., lf
  6. Travis d’Arnaud, c
  7. Eric Campbell, 1b
  8. Matt den Dekker, cf
  9. Ruben Tejada, 2b

ATLANTA BRAVES

  1. Eric Young Jr., cf
  2. Phil Gosselin, ss
  3. Jace Peterson, 2b
  4. Kelly Johnson, 1b
  5. Todd Cunningham, rf
  6. Rio Ruiz, 3b
  7. John Buck, c
  8. Eury Perez, lf
  9. Matt Kennelly, dh

Enjoy the game and Lets Go Mets!

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 11, Nationals 9 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/mmo-game-recap-mets-11-nationals-9.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/mmo-game-recap-mets-11-nationals-9.html/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:47:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=176161 michael cuddyer

The Mets defeated the Nationals by a score of 11-9 during today’s spring training matchup in Port St. Lucie.

New York jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first with a solo home run from Curtis Granderson. Granderson finished the day going 1 for 2 with a walk. Michael Cuddyer also contributed early with a home run in the third inning off of reliever Evan Meek.

However, it wasn’t until the 8th inning that the Mets offense exploded. The Mets scored nine runs in the 8th and received key RBI hits from Wilmer Flores, Johnny Monell and Eric Campbell. Matt den Dekker added to the damage with a triple and Alex Castellanos crushed a two run home run to put the up the Mets up for good.

On the pitching side, Jacob deGrom started for the Mets and he allowed two runs during three innings while striking out five batters. Both runs were scored on a double by Michael Taylor in the third inning

Top prospect Steven Matz pitched three innings in relief and allowed two runs. Matt Bowman also pitched in relief and he tossed two shutout innings.

Dario Alvarez struggled mightily in the 9th inning as he yielded four runs and three walks without retiring a batter. The tough part was that three of the only four batters he faced were left-handed hitters.

On Deck: Jon Niese will take the mound tomorrow at home against the Atlanta Braves at 1:10 pm. The game will be televised on SNY.

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Will Logjam Keep Syndergaard and Matz in Vegas When They’re Ready? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/will-logjam-keep-syndergaard-and-matz-in-vegas-when-theyre-ready.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/will-logjam-keep-syndergaard-and-matz-in-vegas-when-theyre-ready.html/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 10:30:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=175522 noah syndergaard

The front end of the Mets rotation is young and looks sharp.  Even as a fan of the NY Mets, I take for granted how deep this pitching is, both in quality and in quantity.

Matt Harvey will lead fellow flame throwers Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler in a 1-2-3 punch that will buckle opposing lineups.

But if you’ve read any recent reviews on Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz , the two of thrm are storming the gates of an early call-up at some point this season.

Many feel both prospects already possess the ability to make hitters swing and miss, but there are salaries blocking those young arms in the event they’re ready.  The general feeling is that Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon will have to be moved first.  Herein lies the risk/reward of proven performance at high salary versus sky high ceiling with league minimum salary.

What if Niese, Colon and even possibly Gee are pitching to their ceilings?  Niese is no stiff, the man can sling a baseball and has been one of the best southpaws in the league over the last few years.  Gee has pitched through some outstanding stretches at various points in his career.  Colon is doing his thing, putting innings on his back and carrying a workload.

If the Mets can add another front end caliber pitcher at a time when one of the three backend starters is struggling though, financial reasons cannot be an impediment. The pitcher who gives the Mets the best chance to win more games should always be the choice.

steve matz

According to Wally Backman, Matz is the best pitching prospect in the organization and one team official “half-jokingly” told Mike Puma (NY Post) that the 23 year old Long Island native would be his choice for Opening Day starter.  He’s creating a ton of buzz for his maturity on the mound, keeping the ball down in the zone and flashing all the signs of a legit top rotation arm.

Syndergaard is still considered the crown jewel of the organization’s pitching surplus though and it’s due to his improvements over the offseason as well, both to his arsenal and his physical make-up.  The 6’6 Texas native is listed at 240 lbs, but it looks like he put on some more muscle this offseason.  His curveball and fastball are his two best commodities, but many believe his change-up has improved vastly.

Admittedly, I’m basing this off the fact that all five young pitchers (Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Matz and Syndergaard) stay healthy and continue progressing at their current rates.  It’s one of those great problems to have, and one I believe the Mets will have to contend with this season.

Between the three veteran pitchers, there’s over $23 million in salary and the Mets will look to get as high a return as possible. That may mean keeping them in the rotation (or bullpen), regardless of performance.

Will the team pull out all the stops to ensure winning is the only goal this year, or can fans expect the team to try and save face in the event of an underperforming starter?

Here’s to the best men getting the job, for the love of the game, not the almighty dollar.

Lets! Go! Mets!

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Will Murphy Get Traded At Deadline? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/will-murphy-get-traded-at-deadline.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/will-murphy-get-traded-at-deadline.html/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 13:45:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174541 daniel murphy

Alex asks…

Do you think the Mets will trade Daniel Murphy before the trade deadline? It’s pretty clear they are not extending him. Let’s say the Mets go into July with a slim one game lead on the second wild card (I wish!) and Daniel Murphy is having another All Star season and in the top five in hits, doubles, and runs scored, would they still trade him? Or do they keep him and he walks at the end of the season leaving us with nothing to show for him? How should they play this?

Daniel replies…

I say Murphy will be traded at the deadline in an attempt to improve the roster or add farm depth, especially if he is an All-Star.  His value has never been higher than it was at the All-Star break last year, a repeat performance would be a great second opportunity for the Mets to capitalize on a high return.

Even if Murphy is doing well, perhaps even a tick better than last year on both sides of the ball, with the Mets in the thick of it – I think the organization still treats it as a decision based on the long term instead of the short and opts to add depth on the farm or includes him as part of a trade to upgrade the current roster.

That being said, it all depends on the team’s position in the NL East and how the rest of the roster is playing at the time of the deadline.  If the pitching staff manages to keep this team in the thick of it, but Murphy is yet again one of the few reliable hitters on an anemic offense, he would likely be retained and allowed to walk after the season.

Back to my original sentiments though, I think this offense will be more potent than critics are giving it credit for and Murphy will end up being one of the casualties of emerging farm growth.

Dilson Herrera has been projected as a future All-Star and already showed a ton of promise during his surprise call-up last year.  He seems like a quick learner and under the tutelage of Wally Backman and George Greer, it’s highly likely he could be ready to compete at the major league level for a job by the All-Star break.   Even if Herrera becomes part of a trade package, SS incumbent Wilmer Flores showed serious promise at second base in a brief stint last year that only deepens the talent at the position and increases the need to move Murphy’s salary (not that I care how many dollars the Mets save).

It’s a tough decision, but it’ll be a business decision at the end of the day, that’s for sure.  Murphy, along with Bobby Parnell,  Jon Niese (also facing the trade block) and David Wright, are the last Amazins to play in Shea Stadium.  I suppose there’s always a sense of nostalgia when you consider that thought.  He’s a hard worker, loves the fans, the city and has always made it known that his loyalties  are with the NY Mets.  For that, I hope Murphy has a great 2015 with this team and gets to enjoy a championship with the club, but if not, I still hope he enjoys continued success wherever the road leads him next.

Lets! Go! Mets!

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Mets Not Necessarily Looking For A Major Leaguer In Return For Gee http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mets-not-necessarily-looking-for-a-major-leaguer-in-return-for-gee.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mets-not-necessarily-looking-for-a-major-leaguer-in-return-for-gee.html/#comments Sun, 18 Jan 2015 17:01:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172653 dillon gee

Here’s a new wrinkle on the Dillon Gee trade front from Mike Puma of the Post.

The Giants, Padres and Rockies continue to be potential landing spots for Gee, but an industry source indicates that at least one AL team has now shown interest in the veteran right-hander.

Additionally, the source added that the Mets no longer consider it necessary to receive a major league player in return for Gee.

While that was always a possibility, the message has mostly been they’d deal a starter to improve the active roster when the offseason began.

It was believed Gee would be dealt for either a proven lefty reliever or as part of package to acquire a solid everyday shortstop.

January 14

Joel Sherman of the NY Post hears that the Mets expect to trade a starting pitcher, most likely Dillon Gee, within the next 7-10 days.

However, it might not happen until free agent pitcher James Shields signs with a team first. The Mets are hoping Gee could be some team’s Plan B if they fail to sign Shields.

Sandy Alderson initially felt that the market would open up for Gee once Jon Lester signed but that never really happened after he agreed on a deal with the Cubs six weeks ago.

The Mets were hoping to move Gee when they were dealing with the Nationals and Rays to try and land shortstop Ian Desmond. However, they balked after the Rays insisted on Noah Syndergaard plus an additional prospect.

There have been several teams connected to Gee this offseason, with the Rockies, Giants and Twins among the teams who reportedly had the most interest in the veteran righthander.

The Mets reportedly discussed a deal for Gee with the Rockies back during the Winter Meetings, but nothing ever materialized and there’s been no buzz from either side since.

The Twins reportedly offered the Mets shortstop Eduardo Escobar for Dillon Gee, but were turned down. The Rangers also showed early interest in Gee, but suddenly backed off and talks broke down.

The Mets have repeatedly said they had no preference as to which starting pitcher they move, but it’s been pretty clear they prefer to hang onto their lone left-hander in Niese, and are unwilling to sell low on Colon.

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Alderson: Very High Probability Wilmer Flores Is Opening Day Shortstop http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/alderson-very-high-probability-wilmer-flores-is-opening-day-shortstop.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/alderson-very-high-probability-wilmer-flores-is-opening-day-shortstop.html/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:11:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171711 Foto de Wilmer - Flores

A quick update live from Citi Field:

Sandy Alderson confirmed once again that there is a “very high” probability Wilmer Flores is the Opening Day shortstop.

“I don’t think the Jed Lowrie signing increases the probability, because we weren’t really in on Lowrie,” Alderson said.

“To that extent the probability of Wilmer Flores as the Opening Day shortstop remains about the same, but I think it’s very high.”

Surveying The Mets SS Landscape

The starting shortstop role for the NY Mets will be resolved once and for all, although not until mid 2015 when it makes more sense to execute a move. There are too many moving variables this winter and not enough willingness from trade suitors to entertain the Mets’ offers, or vice versa.  The team has internal options at shortstop, with high offensive ceilings, but the jury is still out on whether any of them have the range to stick at the position defensively. So what can change between now and the end of the July trade deadline that gives the Mets another opportunity to seek an upgrade?

First, free agency is an option for the Mets, but I’m not buying this as the route Sandy Alderson is going to take.  Players like Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew were once incredible defenders at their position, with moderate to above average pop in their bats, but they’re at an age where even their defense starts to become unreliable.  Making anything other than a one year offer seems to go against what the organization is aiming for, a younger core of players under team friendly contracts, but anything is possible so I won’t eliminate this entirely.

In reality, another three and half months of baseball should be enough time to make a final decision on Wilmer Flores at shortstop.  Regardless if he plays well there or not, I think Flores will be moved to second base permanently the moment Daniel Murphy is traded, which I also believe is imminent.  Teams like the Giants, who have checked in on Murphy, may feel inclined to test their internal options at second and third base to start the season.  However, their last ditch efforts may prove fruitless in the middle of a playoff race, which sends Murphy’s value upward.  This creates potential for a return of high end prospects, or it could also be the catalyst in a three way trade that lands the Mets a bona fide shortstop.

The trade market will be much more defined by July as well.  Troy Tulowitzki will always be a long shot, but the Yankees acquiring Didi Gregorius means the most aggressive suitor is out of the equation.  There are other teams that are hungry for Tulo, but everyone will want to see how the superstar returns from hip surgery before entertaining any calls from the Rockies’ front office.  If he returns to the player he was in the first half of 2014 though, it’d be hard not to pick up the phone, especially if it’s ringing. A battery combo of Noah Syndergaard and Kevin Plawecki is likely where the conversation starts, but adding his first half performance of 2014 to a Mets team on pace for 85-86 wins, immediately vaults them to the top of the NL East.

Chris+Taylor

The two Settle Mariners shortstops, Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, have consistently been mentioned in talks with the Mets, but so far nothing serious has manifested.  One of those two players will own the M’s starting shortstop position out of spring training, but I imagine even the slightest lag in performance will make way for the one that’s on the bench.  Miller’s offensive upside is said to be high, but the jury is still out on whether his defense can stick at short and he struggled at the plate last season, eventually making way for Taylor.

The latter was not ranked as highly as Miller within the organization, but he took advantage of an early call up and hit .287, played outstanding defense and flashed above average speed on the base paths with five steals in 47 games.  Both players had abnormally skewed BABIP’s, which is never concrete in small sample sizes, but undoubtedly factored into the Steamer projections that show both Miller and Taylor having similar seasons in 2015.

Taylor’s BABIP was outrageously above the league average of around .300 in 2014, but his career BABIP in the minors is consistently high, so it could be indicative of how well he hits the ball.  Then again, Miller simply needs to reach the potential he’s been tabbed with in order to be back in competition with Taylor and his BABIP suggests he’ll improve on last year’s campaign significantly.  If that’s the case for these two offensively, it seems more logical to seek out the player with better defense.

There’s always the possibility that the Cubs and Mets come to a mutual agreement on the value of each others prospects and in that case, Starlin Castro would re-enter the discussions.  No matter how well the current All-Star is performing, prospects always carry hope for a higher ceiling and that’s exactly what Chicago sees in Javier Baez and Addison Russell.

Perhaps the middle to back end of their rotation falls apart at the same time that Baez, Russell and top prospect Kris Bryant are all looking for full time jobs as infielders.  In that scenario, a package of Jon Niese, representing a solid #3 starter and top catching prospect Kevin Plawecki may get a deal done.  I’m not advocating this, but if the Mets plan to retain all their elite pitching, regardless of almost any deal, this is one of a few scenarios where the Amazins’ could take advantage of a buyer’s market.  There’s a lot that needs to happen in order for this scenario to manifest, so it’s fair to dismiss these two clubs as future trade partners.  That being said, circumstances always have a way of changing down the road.

Lastly, Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang has been a name catching fire with the Mets over the last few days as MLB clubs get prepared to make a bid on the international free agent.  I question how serious the Mets are about getting involved because it’ll require some frivolous spending. The idea of ‘bidding’ does not fit into the Mets business model because it requires shoveling $2-$10 million just to have the right to sign the player. In all fairness, the Mets often get chastised for a lack of spending when the situation genuinely doesn’t warrant it, regardless of the dollar amount.  Yes, Kang is putting up big power numbers, but you have to question whether he’ll connect like that against American pitching.  As hot as this topic is right now, I just don’t see it happening, whether I’m right about his abilities or not.

It’s too early to confirm it, but common sense pegs Wilmer Flores as the opening day shortstop.  If that’s the case, the front office should monitor external options now and up to the July trade deadline and be prepared to vault the club past the 85-86 win club they’re currently set as.  Flores may run away with the job after the hard work he’s put into his fitness and conditioning this offseason.  If that’s the case, the conversation turns to retaining Daniel Murphy, or trading him to clear a path for top prospect Dilson Herrera.  If the shortstop position needs to be revisited, the team will have more clarity in July and in a better position to strike a deal that gets the club back to October baseball in 2015.

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It’s Easy To Forget How Good Jon Niese Has Been http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/its-easy-to-forget-how-good-jon-niese-has-been.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/its-easy-to-forget-how-good-jon-niese-has-been.html/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 20:12:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171752 jon niese

Reading the tea leaves, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon will all inevitably be traded in the near future sooner or later and certainly before their team control with the Mets expires. Top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard will likely come in and assume a rotation spot this season, followed by the final development and eventual promotion of Steven Matz who will ultimately replaces fellow left-hander Niese.

The question is, what will Matz have to accomplish at the major league level in order to reproduce the void created by Niese’s absence?  What would it take for the younger to surpass the elder?

Matz and Niese have often drawn parallels between one another because they are both southpaws and were each drafted and developed by the Mets. However, Matz is still just a prospect and there’s no telling if his career will ever match or surpass what 28-year old Niese has been able to accomplish thus far as a major leaguer.

Jon Shestakofsky, Manager of Media Relations and Baseball Information for the Boston Red Sox, tweeted an interesting fact about the top five starting LHP in the National League who’ve racked up the most wins over the last three seasons (’12-’14). Here’s how the best stack up:

1. Clayton Kershaw (51)

2. Madison Bumgarner (47)

3. Gio Gonzalez (42)

4. Cole Hamels and Wade Miley (34)

Next on that list would be none other than Jon Niese with 30 wins. During that three year span, Niese also produced an impressive 3.49 ERA.

Niese also ranks in the top twenty among all NL pitchers over the last three seasons in the percentage of ground balls induced (14th) and the percentage of men he’s left on base (19th).  By most measurements, Niese is a well above average veteran starter.  His  cutter and his curveball blend beautifully with one another when they’re both clicking and he gives the Mets a reliable weapon to throw off the timing set by the other hard throwing righties.

While we’re all excited to eventually see Steven Matz who brings the same tools as Niese and is supposedly better, it’s easy to forget just how valuable Niese’s performance level, grit and determination is.

Niese has pitched well above what’s considered average among all starters, but even better, he’s up there with some of the best among lefties. He quietly produces and gives you all the things you look for in a hard-nosed veteran, yet there he sits, quietly on the trading block, biding his time.

Does it make sense to hang onto Niese at least until we know exactly what we have in Matz? Or should Sandy deal our only proven lefthanded starter when the first decent offer comes along?

Lets! Go! Mets!

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Latest On Dillon Gee: Rockies Are Definitely Interested http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/latest-on-dillon-gee-rockies-are-definitely-interested.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/latest-on-dillon-gee-rockies-are-definitely-interested.html/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 21:41:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171357 dillon gee

Adam Rubin reports that the Colorado Rockies “definitely have interest” in acquiring Dillon Gee, according to what source told him.

Rubin adds that the Mets are intrigued by lefty reliever Rex Brothers, a team insider said. Brothers, 27, went 4-6 with a 5.59 ERA in 74 relief appearances for Colorado last season.

Lefty batters actually hit .309 against him in 2014, versus .271 against righty batters.

1:00 PM Update

Sandy Alderson believes the Mets can trade a starting pitcher in the near future, but said he was “not confident” that a trade will happen in San Diego.

“I think we’re comfortable that we’ll be doing something, but right now there’s nothing close. It could happen today. It could happen tomorrow. It might be a little later.”

The Winter Meetings conclude Thursday morning after the Rule 5 Draft.

December 10, 9:00 AM

It looks like the Mets and Rangers are moving ever so closer to a deal that would send  right-hander Dillon Gee to Texas according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.

No word yet on what we might be getting back, but there’s a growing sense this is more of a salary dump for the Mets and not a deal to acquire the shortstop, lefty reliever or right-handed bat they are in the market for.

That said, 21-year-old prospect Luis Sardinas could be a potential piece in the deal according to what sources have told Chris Cotillo of MLB Dish.

Gee is expected to earn about $5-6 million in his second year of arbitration and is under team control through the 2016 season.

The Rangers have been interested and linked to Gee for a few weeks now so it would be no surprise if Gee – a Texas native himself – lands there.

However, in addition to the Rangers, the Mets have reportedly discussed Gee with the Giants, Rockies and Twins in the last 24 hours so interest is picking up.

So far no deal is imminent yet, but it’s clear something could go down before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday.

After deciphering the last few days of comments from Mets camp and reports from San Diego, it’s become clear the Mets are more likely to trade Gee than Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon. The team is reluctant to deal their only left-hander and on Monday Alderson himself said that Colon wasn’t being shopped.

Mets payroll, currently estimated at about $100 million, is very likely to go down according to Sandy, and moving Gee would bring it closer to $94 million.

Stay tuned my friends….

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Winter Meetings: Mets Approached Mariners About Chris Taylor and Brad Miller http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/winter-meetings-mets-approached-mariners-about-chris-taylor-and-brad-miller.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/winter-meetings-mets-approached-mariners-about-chris-taylor-and-brad-miller.html/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 05:15:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171111 Chris+Taylor

Potentially some good news on the Chris Taylor front.

Reporting from the Winter Meetings in San Diego, sources have told Adam Rubin that the Mets have had discussions with the Seattle Mariners about both of their young shortstops — Taylor and Brad Miller. Some reports have suggested that Seattle may keep both of them, playing Taylor at short and Miller in the outfield, but I think that’s just a smoke screen and one of them will get dealt this offseason.

As I’ve pointed out a few times already, the Mets need to address their prolonged lack of production from the leadoff spot, that much is true. I took a look at some of the different options out there, many of which have already been discussed on MMO, and. I’ve come to the conclusion that the best course of action for the Mets is to try and work out a trade for Taylor.

The Mets have had the MLB’s worst leadoff production over the last two seasons, and it’s time for Sandy Alderson to take a more aggressive approach to resolving this issue. We have to stop this annual focus on players best suited to bat 5th or 6th and finally get a true leadoff hitter who can ignite this offense and give our middle-of-the-order bats some additional RBI opportunities – opportunities that have been too scant over the last few seasons.

I feel strongly that Chris Taylor could be exactly what this team needs right now. While Miller is the name that’s often mentioned when discussing a potential deal with the Mariners, Taylor is the player who actually addresses a variety of Mets needs.

Taylor’s .347 OBP in his short MLB stint puts any of the Mets’ current leadoff options to shame, and I believe it was only the tip of the iceberg for this young and talented player. His on-base percentage over a three year minor league career is a robust .407 in 1,183 plate appearances over five different levels, but he brings more to the table than his excellent on-base skills.

chris-taylor-

Taylor has always been considered a better overall defensive shortstop than Miller, and after he was promoted he dazzled in the field showing superior range, soft hands and an above average arm. Scouts initially tabbed Taylor as glove-only utility infielder because he had no plus tools on offense aside from some speed, but that is now obviously debatable.

Taylor, 23, confounded the experts and hit his way to a major league debut last July, and eventually  wrestled the everyday shortstop job away from Miller. A 5th round pick from the 2012 draft, he batted .287/.347/.346 in his first 151 plate appearances in the big leagues. He has no big home run power to speak of, but can spray the ball gap to gap and some expect him to be a 35 doubles, 10 homer producer at the plate.

Last month, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com predicted that the Mets and Mariners will eventually get together on a trade this offseason that would send either Taylor or Miller to Flushing in exchange for one of Dillon Gee, Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon. And two weeks ago, an MLB executive and an agent told Adam Rubin that the two teams matched up well for a trade.

Steamer projects that Chris Taylor will bat .261/.323/..354 in 2015 with 27 doubles, 5 homers, 62 RBI, and a 2.9 fWAR. I think that’s a very conservative projection. The bottom line is that when you combine all that Taylor brings to the table both offensively and defensively, and compare that to our primary needs, Taylor appears to be the best option for the Mets – head and shoulders above anyone else.

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Alderson On Trading Pitching: “Everyone’s Looking For Something For Nothing” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/alderson-on-trading-pitching-everyones-looking-for-something-for-nothing.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/alderson-on-trading-pitching-everyones-looking-for-something-for-nothing.html/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 00:35:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171266 dillon gee jonathon niese

Speaking to reporters at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson described his inability to trade one of his pitchers as follows: “Everybody’s looking for something for nothing.”

As most of you already know, the Mets are actively trying to deal at least one of their bottom three starting pitchers; Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee, and Jon Niese. As we’ve pointed out on several occasions, the main hurdle for the Mets thus far has been trying to move one of those arms in what is currently an extremely pitching rich market.

Top free agent starters like  Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields still remain unsigned this offseason, while even more options like Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Kennedy are reportedly available in trade.

As one MLB executive put it last week, “This might be the worst time in history to be out in the trade market with pitching.”

“Every organization now thinks it has pitching. Maybe not as much as the Mets, but more than in the past. No one can find bats. I just think the teams with bats are king right now.”

Marc Carig of Newsday spoke to general manager Sandy Alderson this weekend, who understands what he’s up against and will wait the market out if he has to.

“I don’t think any of the top, most highly rated pitching free agents have signed, so it means that everybody is still out there on the market,” Alderson explained.

“I guess I would agree that there has been a run on position players, and we’ve been part of that. But at some point, people will turn to pitching, and then it’s a question of who’s available, who signs, who gets traded. At the end of the day, there’s always somebody that needs more pitching, so I’m not too worried about that.”

There’s no shortage of teams who are actively pursuing top of the rotation starters, however nobody puts Gee, Niese or Colon in that category. In fact, several MLB executives have told Joel Sherman of the Post that “none of the three is likely to bring back a particularly robust return.”

Instead, the Mets are hoping that they could swap one to address one of their minor needs, namely a left-handed reliever and a right-handed bat for the bench.

If they do intend to trade for an upgrade at shortstop, they’ll have to give up a younger and better arm like Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard and Sandy is very reluctant to do that – especially when none of the available shortstop options are an ideal fit.

The Mets are hoping that the Winter Meetings will help to alleviate the glut of quality starting pitching options and that it somehow will shift attention to Gee, Niese and Colon. The plan is to be patient – and that could mean waiting until January or February before we see one of them get dealt.

This does not mean the Mets can’t still make a trade this week, only that the historical advantages associated with having as much pitching depth as the Mets, do not currently apply.

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Jon Niese: Damaged Goods or Different Goods? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/jon-niese-damaged-goods-or-different-goods.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/jon-niese-damaged-goods-or-different-goods.html/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 16:02:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171103 jon niese

An MMO Fan Shot by Chris Malia (CJM)

Regarding fan opinion, Jon Niese is perhaps the most divisive player on the Mets. Scrolling through a comment thread about Niese, you can find opinions ranging from soft and overrated to gritty and extremely valuable. While value can be measured in terms of his stats and contract, his toughness or lack thereof is harder to determine. While heated arguments will produce opinions layered with stats and anecdotes, there is something yet to be explored regarding Jon Niese, happening beneath the surface of these stat and anecdote laden arguments. Jon Niese is evolving rapidly and substantially as a pitcher.

The secret is out—the Mets are concerned about Niese’s health. Nobody should be surprised. What is surprising—however—is that nobody’s really picked up on how significantly Jon Niese’s shoulder has actually affected his throwing. Not his performance, just his throwing. Take a look at the pictures.

jon niese

All three of these pictures are screenshots of Niese throwing a fastball. The first picture is from 2010. Niese is delivering the ball almost directly over the top. The second picture is from 2012. You can see an obvious drop in arm slot as he’s gone to a more comfortable three-quarter release. The final picture is from 2014, and his arm slot has dropped even lower than in 2012. He seems to be getting closer and closer to a sidearm delivery.

Why is the arm slot dropping? His shoulder hurts. Obviously, anyone who’s played baseball or has been a fan of baseball understands that throwing over the top is unnatural. Three-quarter and sidearm deliveries put less stress on the arm, especially the shoulder. It’s not unusual to see pitchers’ arm slots drop as they age. Years and years of abuse will do that. When Pedro was with the Mets, his arm slot was significantly lower than it was during his glory years. In Niese’s case, we know with certainty that he’s dealt with shoulder issues. What we don’t know is whether the drop in arm slot has been implemented by Niese intentionally to try to preserve his shoulder’s health, or whether it’s been done because Niese simply can’t throw over the top without pain anymore. The reason behind the drop in arm slot—intentional or not—doesn’t have much bearing on the analysis to follow.

For Jon Niese, a drop in arm slot has forced him to change the way he pitches. When he came up, his most talked about weapon was the 12-6 curve. And it was a good pitch, unquestionably. However, the 12-6 curve relies on an over-the-top delivery. The over-the-top release allows the curve to have its sharp, off the table drop. Releasing the same pitch from the three-quarter slot will not produce as sharp a break. So if Niese is unable to produce the necessary over-the-top release, it stands to reason that he’d be less inclined to use his curveball and that his curveball would lose effectiveness. The numbers support that hypothesis. Here’s a look at his pitch selection from 2011 (his peak curve usage year) through 2014.

Fastball Curveball Cutter Changeup
2011 54.9 22.7 17.2 5.1
2012 49 19.4 27.8 3.8
2013 48.6 17.5 25.2 8.8
2014 49.6 16.9 24.2 9.2

The curveball column has been marked in bold. The data coincides with the drop in arm slot—Jon Niese has been using his curveball less and less over time, as usage has dropped nearly 6 percent since 2011. Jon Niese’s well documented shoulder issues seem likely to have caused this drop in arm slot, and subsequently a drop in curveball use.

Is it just pain that has caused Niese to use the curveball less? Earlier in the article, I mentioned 12-6 curveball effectiveness pertaining to arm slot. Not surprisingly, Niese’s effectiveness with the curve also appears to be waning. Here is a look at his groundball, line drive, and flyball rates using the curve from 2011 through 2014.

Groundball % Line Drive % Flyball %
2011 66.7 19.2 14.1
2012 63.4 16.1 20.5
2013 56.3 18.4 25.3
2014 46.3 28.8 25

In 2011, two thirds of the curveballs put in play against Jon Niese were hit on the ground. Groundball rate has dropped 20% over 4 years. What was once a pitch Niese could pretty safely throw for a groundball is now a pitch that results in line drives and flyballs over half the time. I/t doesn’t take a Sandy Alderson computer manipulation to understand that grounders are preferable to line drives and flyballs.

What we’re left with is a pitcher who has lost his most effective weapon—perhaps his only true weapon as a pitcher. Niese has been forced to evolve. When looking at the pitch selection table, we see that fastball and cutter use have remained pretty consistent. But neither pitch is particularly fear-inducing. Niese was previously a pitcher who could rely on his curveball’s effectiveness to throw batters off-balance. Without that pitch, he has begun to turn to the changeup as an off-speed offering. His changeup usage has jumped from 3.8% in 2012 to 9.2% in 2014. The problem is, his changeup has failed to be as effective as his curveball once was. In 2013, his curveball produced grounders at a 55.9% rate and in 2014, that rate dropped to 47.4%–over half his changeups put in play in 2014 resulted in line drives or flyballs. Jon Niese is still searching for a way to throw batters off-balance without his curve.

Where does Niese go from here? A quick glance at Niese’s arm-slot drop and his curveball usage makes one think Niese is damaged goods. I’m not so sure that’s a fair assessment. Niese’s 2014 season was by no means bad. It was actually good. He threw 187 innings with a 3.40 ERA and a 3.67 FIP. Those are fine numbers for a mid-rotation starter, especially one getting paid what Niese is receiving. Somehow Niese managed to remain effective as a starter in 2014 with both his off-speed offerings producing the most ineffective results in his career. I don’t want to delve too much into Niese’s psyche, but it’s not a stretch to believe that this forced evolution in his pitching style has made pitching games more mentally rigorous than it once was.

Jon Niese is battling his way through the fire right now. To be successful, he needs to be a different pitcher than he was when he first came up. From that perspective, his 2014 season could be looked at as promising, because he was able to pitch effectively while adapting to new tools. Instead of lingering on what could’ve been with Niese and his curveball, lamenting the fact that he’s now damaged goods, I think I prefer to look at Niese as different goods. He’s not the same pitcher he was, but he has the potential to be as effective or more effective as he adjusts.

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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Chris Malia (CJM). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Minnesota Snow Storms and New York Media Maelstroms http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/minnesota-snow-storms-and-new-york-media-maelstorms.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/minnesota-snow-storms-and-new-york-media-maelstorms.html/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:45:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170213 mets twins target field

Target Field covered in ice and snow a day before Twins host the Mets.

The bleak Minnesota landscape can really get to you, especially when you’re experiencing mid-January weather in November. I tend to be cranky when it’s so cold your nose hairs crackle. As a New Yorker who likes to complain I’ve run into problems confronting my neighbors with questions like “what the hell was wrong with your ancestors that made them want to live here?” They politely chuckle failing to appreciate the seriousness of my query and go back to their jovial salting and shoveling.

See I possess kind of a trifecta of tribulation that has often caused me to run afoul of the stoic and obdurate happy people … I’ve got the New York disposition, the Mediterranean blood, and worst of all I’m a Mets fan, which pretty much seals the fist-shaking “F.U. polar vortex” deal. This triad of ill-temper limits my patience for whatever annoyances may cross my path, like a dog hair on my couch, or a cap left off the toothpaste…

So the other day when I read John Harper’s article about Jon Niese in the Daily News, I found myself looking for a snow bank to swing a shovel at.  It sounds like Niese was upset after being “top-stepped” by Terry Collins because he didn’t bunt after being given a bunt sign. Now here’s the thing … you can’t expect me to believe that casual fans can point out a poo-poo platter of bizarre late inning permutations orchestrated by our cantankerous white haired gnome of a manager, and that the players who are actually following his orders don’t notice …

Unfortunately, the team, as constituted, is an odd assemblage wide-eyed rookies who don’t have the service time to question anything, and veterans who either tend to be reclamation projects or who have one foot in the proverbial grave – either way there are few viable mid-career veterans with backbone on this team and, oddly enough, it sounds like Jon Niese is one of them. The other veteran in this category is of course David Wright and boy it sure seemed like there were times Collins got under his skin as well.

It kind of reminds me of when I first moved to Minnesota. I was a winter rookie back then. I did stupid stuff like wearing wire-rimmed glasses on a bike ride to the good old U of M in January. Nothing like having a nice chunk of skin torn off the bridge of your nose as you walk into class screaming, the whole room turning and wondering what is wrong with that guy? See I didn’t complain much those first couple of winters … I figured I was the problem. Now-a-days having been here 19 years, I push back. Sure I’ve got my 800 gram Thinsulate Red Wings and my arctic parka, but still I complain … especially to some of my more docious neighbors. I will routinely accost them as they shovel a particularly chunky snow-plow drift blocking their driveway with questions like, “Did you know, home prices in Florida are at all time lows?” It’s a rhetorical question of course.

Anyway, the Mets by and large lack the sort of player who might push back when Collins emerges from his mushroom forest to manage the team and proceeds to throw wrenches out of his penny-arcade bag of tricks. Maybe the team was purposely constructed to conform and obey, but if that’s the case, someone should let management know that this docile persona runs categorically at odds with a fiery and temperamental fan base. Not to mention the fact that they’re going to have to somehow manufacture a backbone if they ever want to win. So the Niese story is really not a story at all, it’s more like growing pains.

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Nevertheless John Harper gets wind of this tidbit about how Jon Niese lost his temper last season (I especially liked the “F#%& You … Take me out if you don’t like it” part – which is pretty much how I feel about the weather) … and he holds onto this little nugget, keeping it in his pocket protector like a chunk of beef jerky he found under his car seat that still looks maybe good enough to eat. Harper then decides to feed us this rotten little morsel, but not just any time … noooo … he waits until worst possible moment, the day the Mets made some positive headlines with the signing of Michael Cuddyer. How dare the Mets try to energize their fan base…

I don’t know if it’s like this with other major league teams, but I doubt it. Maybe the press corps in New York have this dog-eat-dog mentality because they work in the media capital of the world. They are presumably the best at their trade in spite of their tasseled penny loafers and weird hats. It’s a tough gig in a tough town … I get that. I might even excuse a haughty air in press boxes across Midwestern cities that barely rival Staten Island … what I don’t excuse is the old guard’s “kingmaker” mantle and the wrecking ball approach to covering a young team struggling to find its identity.

It isn’t all of them. Mark Carig is a throwback in his honesty and he genuinely seems to take his role as a journalist seriously. Ackert and Rubin are articulate and exacting respectively… Diamond, DiComo and Vorkunov are young, refreshing and insightful…

I think there was a day when a journalist would have taken Neise’s little explosion and kept it to himself if he ever wanted to interview Jonathan again. What purpose does the story serve? It undermines the player’s value at a time when the team’s GM is actively shopping him, it damages the player’s reputation, it harms the relationship between the press and the team… and for what? A few thousand additional hits on a web page and a nascent twitter storm?

The team is young and maturing and as it does it will outgrow not only some of its rookie errors but its complacency and acquiescence too. At some point they will discover they can in fact swim … even in the shark infested waters of the New York media landscape. It’s a shame that one of the lessons young athletes have to learn in NY is to be wary and guarded towards the press, their comments scripted, generic, Jeteresque

We already know what most players are going to say, so why bother with a quote? Why bother trying to cultivate the sort of rapport with your host-team that might make for interesting insightful journalism if they know full well you will throw them under a bus the first chance you get? All for the instant gratification of kicking up a shit-storm in next morning’s sports pages. And they wonder why the print media is going the way of Polariods and the fax machine.

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Looking Back At Colon Deal, Looking Ahead To 2015 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/looking-back-at-colon-deal-looking-ahead-to-2015.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/looking-back-at-colon-deal-looking-ahead-to-2015.html/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 12:00:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169051 bartolo colon

Last year’s free agent class included quite a few short term deals for starting pitchers. Mets GM Sandy Alderson signed 41-year old righthander Bartolo Colon to a two year $20 million deal last winter and the veteran proved to be a durable workhorse who led the Mets this season with 202.1 innings pitched. The deal itself served a purpose and proved useful in 2014, but over the scope of the full two years, it now looks like more of an obstacle, despite the underlying need for insurance within the rotation.

The Mets are built on young power pitching. The rotation of the future may eventually come full circle this year, by that I’m including top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. Couple those two prospects with a font line that includes Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and a healthy Matt Harvey, and the Mets’ best case scenario is a beauty. However when is it reasonable to make decisions based on best case scenarios?

With all the 20-something power arms the team has under control, there’s an element of durability and experience that’s missing from that group of young men. There’s such an intense focus within the Mets community on finding a power hitter while the future of the rotation is being buoyed by lofty assumptions. It’s assumed that Harvey will return without a hitch, but even if he did, the Mets will likely follow an innings limit plan that mimics the program administered for Stephen Strasburg. Jacob deGrom was dominant down the final stretch of the season, but even he served time on the DL with what turned out to be nothing more than fatigue from an increased workload in the majors. Jon Niese and Dillon Gee have been mainstays in the middle of the rotation for several years now, but between their 10 combined seasons (not including rookie years), only three have amounted to more than 185 innings.

If Colon’s purpose was to secure innings around a fragile, inexperienced group, it seems premature to be shopping the remaining year on his contract this winter. The $11 million left on the deal has proven difficult to move off the books, which is understandable considering he’ll be 42 next season. Also, his inaugural season with the Mets wouldn’t necessarily warrant that salary either. Bartolo ended the year with a 4.09 ERA and nearly 1 home run per 9 innings of baseball (0.98), by comparison, his deal may not have been the best fit of all the free agent candidates available.

In hindsight, Phil Hughes‘ performance in 2014, as well as his contract, made much more sense for the Mets in many facets. In his first year out of pinstripes, Hughes revived his once promising career as a Minnesota Twin. He was a better pitcher than Colon and the numbers clearly illustrate this. Compared to 2013 with the Yankees, Phil had 16 wins (+12), 4 losses (-4) and 209 innings pitched (+64) for the Twins this year. The 2014 WAR he posted of 6.1 was fourth best among qualified starting pitchers in the majors. His home run per nine innings rate (HR/9) dropped by 53%, resulting in a more aggressive approach around the strike zone and a massive 73% reduction in walks per nine innings (BB/9).

In reality, all Sandy wanted was a solid innings-eater for half a season, with the understanding that if he wasn’t moved off the books by the All-Star break, it wouldn’t cripple the team’s 2014 season. The gamble in giving Colon that second guaranteed year was banking that the contract could be moved before 2015 when Harvey would finally rejoin the rotation. That has come and gone and now the real hurdle will be executing what is perceived to be the original plan and shop Colon heavily during the winter meetings. The general feeling is that the Mets can retain a balanced mix of hard throwing youngsters and experienced veterans before the remaining prospects are fully developed, but this will put the Mets out of budget to acquire an offensive upgrade. Which brings us to this current conundrum.

A team with as much young talent as the Mets have right now… A team that’s now strong enough to start talking about being a contender… A team like at this given point in its evolution needs a healthy amount of operating room (financial flexibility) to strike when the time is right.

This Mets pitching staff could play out a number of different ways over the next two to three years, but one thing is clear. The Mets now have most of the pieces in place to overcome the final hurdle and vault themselves into contention. But it may also require a willingness to add a high value free agent(s), even if it means a contract in upwards of three years in length.

Does this mean completing the final piece of the puzzle with a round of reckless spending? Of course not. Spending doesn’t always have to be reckless, just ask the Cardinals, Orioles and Giants. Perhaps the missing piece isn’t even out there right now, that’s for the front office to decide. But the point I’m trying to make is that it’s reasonable to expect this level of dedication and commitment from ownership and the front office if in fact this latest 90 win mandate in 2015 has any real backbone or truthfulness to it.

Lets! Go! Mets!

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3 Up, 3 Down: Hot Hand Luke http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-hot-hand-luke.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/3-up-3-down-hot-hand-luke.html/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:00:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166894 daniel murphy lucas duda

The New York Mets wrapped up their 2014 campaign at Citi Field yesterday, taking two out of three from the Houston Astros to finish 79-83 on the year. The Amazins’ concluded their final two games with authority as they head into a highly anticipated offseason. Below are the series takeaways in this edition of 3 & 3.

3 Up

1. In front of a crowd of nearly 35,000 fans, which included his parents, Lucas Duda smashed his 30th home run of the season and rounded out one of the most hysterical dugout celebrations I’ve ever seen on television. The two-run jack was his 14th at home this year, the most by any player at Citi Field in a single season and it was a total no-doubter. To witness a player discover his power stroke in Flushing, in a lineup where he is the protection, is just remarkable. For the series, Duda hit (.333), slugged (.917) and totaled an OPS of (1.250) to go with his 6 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.

2. Matt den Dekker turned in one of the best series of his brief Major League career, going 4 for 10 (.400) with an RBI and a run scored. The majority of writers, fans and critics believe the Mets would benefit from another power bat in the lineup and feel that left field is the most logical position for such an acquisition. However, den Dekker put up a strong fight towards the end season to throw his name in the conversation. In the month of September, he hit .328, got on base at a .426 clip and posted an .858 OPS. After being in center for the majority of his amateur and professional career, den Dekker made great adjustments defensively and played a strong left field. An outfield tandem of den Dekker in left and Juan Lagares in center is about as ‘lock-down’ as you can get. I’m probably in the minority here, but barring any overwhelming offers, I’d like to retain the pitching we’d use to trade for an outfielder and watch Matt back them up in left.

bobby abreu3. In the 5th inning of yesterday’s game, Bobby Abreu knocked the 2,470th hit of his 18 year MLB career. Immediately after, Abreu left to a standing ovation as Eric Young Jr. came in to pinch run for the veteran. Citi Field sent the former All-Star off with a warm and joyous applause, but many see this as merely the beginning of Abreu’s career as a Met. The front office believes he had a positive influence on the many young call-ups in search of guidance this season and find his offensive approach to be identical to the organizations hitting philosophy. MLB.com’s Tim Healey summed up the end to Abreu’s storied career nicely, noting that he “was playing against the organization with which he got his professional start (the Astros), playing for the team against which he collected his first big league hit (the Mets), and playing under the same manager as when he was a 22-year-old September callup in 1996 (Collins).” Congratulations Bobby, may all the good fortune that followed you as a ball player continue in the next chapter of your life.

3 Down

1. Jon Niese battled injuries and discomfort all season and ended up leaving Friday’s game early with the return of an accelerated heart rate. Overall, Bartolo Colon was the only Mets pitcher to reach 200+ innings this season. Zack Wheeler came close at 185.1 and despite the fact that he remained healthy all year, he consistently suffered from high pitch counts that forced him to routinely exit games in the 5th or 6th inning. Dillon Gee was also no stranger to the disabled list. Matt Harvey will be coming off of Tommy John Surgery and undoubtedly be under an innings limit and Jacob deGrom, aside from an outstanding rookie campaign, battled shoulder soreness with a stint on the DL. For a team that is grounded in its young starting pitching, there’s a component of durability that’s certainly missing.

2. The Mets did tie for second place, but did so with a losing record for the 6th straight season. The club hasn’t made it to the playoffs in 8 straight seasons now and aside from the “additions” they’ll be getting from the disabled list, it doesn’t appear that much will change heading into 2015. If the team can stay healthy all season, I think we have the pieces to be relevant, at least in the wild card standings, but I hope the front office has a better back up plan than AAA Las Vegas should the youth initiative fall through next year.

3. The season is over with and I’ll still be paying an outrageous cable bill even though I’ll have nothing to watch. Here’s to Spring Training 2015, down in Port St. Lucie.

A special thank you to all those who followed along with 3 & 3 this season, I learned a tremendous amount from all of those who added their input. I also realized that expanding my thoughts on the Mets through MMO is a true passion of mine, so a special thank you to Joe D and all the MMO staff for allowing me to be a part of such a great entity. The writing was as therapeutic as the season was frustrating, but I would not have enjoyed 2014 as much as I did had it not been for Mets Merized Online.

Lets.Go.Mets.

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MMO Game Recap: Astros 3, Mets 1 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-game-recap-astros-3-mets-1.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/mmo-game-recap-astros-3-mets-1.html/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 02:48:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166693 terry collins 2

An early exit for a dealing Jon Niese and an unfortunate relief appearance by Carlos Torres coupled with a key error led to a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros in the final series opener of 2014.

Granderson began scoring with a solo shot to right with one out in the fourth, handing the Mets an early lead. The home run was Granderson’s 20th home run of the season, the seventh time he has reached that plateau in his career.

Jon Niese was having one of his better outings on the season before being pulled with one out in the sixth inning with an elevated heart rate. Niese, who has faced similar issues in-game before, threw just 66 pitches and had not allowed a run before exiting. The 27-year-old ends his season with a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts for the Mets this year, identical figures to his 2012 campaign.

Unfortunately for the Mets, Carlos Torres, who came in injury relief, was unable to continue the theme of dominant pitching following Niese’s early departure. With a run already plated on a Jose Altuve RBI single, Chris Carter followed with his 21st double of the season. Fast work from Eric Young Jr. and Wilmer Flores as Anthony Recker dropped the relay throw, allowing Altuve to come home safely and giving the Astros the lead. Carter would score later in the inning on a Matt Dominguez single, making it 3-1.

From there, the Mets offense was unable to rally, losing their 83rd game of the season. The Mets are now 38-41 at home, securing their fourth consecutive losing season when playing at Citi Field.

Rafael Montero will start for the Mets Saturday, taking on Samuel Deduno of Houston at 7:10 p.m.

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