Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Jon Niese’

Catching Up: The Week That Was

Posted by JD on May 5, 2011

A lot has happened since I last posted. The Mets dropped two out of three in Philly and then returned home to drop two out of three to San Francisco. Tough stretch, but not without its positives:

  • With the exception of the opener in Philly, the Mets were “in” every game. Citing moral victories is damning with faint praise, but they were facing Cy Young-caliber pitchers in three of those games (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Tim Lincecum).
  • Carlos Beltran has been on fire. His slash line over the past six games? Try .333/.429/.708 (in 28 plate appearances) for a ridiculous 1.137 OPS. Three doubles, two home runs, and four walks will do that for you. And for you trivia buffs, Beltran’s home run today gave him 1,443 total bases in 2,886 at-bats with the Mets. That means his slugging percentage with the team sits at a very neat .500 (good for sixth all time among the franchise’s qualifying batters, narrowly falling short of John Olerud’s .501). That will change the next time he comes to bat, but round numbers are neat.
  • Quality starts. The Mets received them from Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, Chris Young and Chris Capuano during the two series (t0o be fair, Pelfrey had a decidedly non-quality start in the series opener in Philly). The starting rotation has a long way to go before it’s out of the woods, but there were some positive signs this week.
  • Ronny Paulino finally arrived and, as the saying goes “he arrived in ill humor,” going 5 for 7 and driving in the winning run in extra innings on Sunday night. For what it’s worth, 27 other Mets have had as many as five hits in a game but Paulino is the first to do it in his debut with the Mets. So whatever else happens, he’ll always have his place in Mets history.

It may seem silly to you that I chose to focus on these four items when the Mets just lost four of their last six. I get that. They’re 13-18 and in last place, and their roster is still full of holes. There’s no reason to expect them to play all that much better. Yet, I find them to be much more compelling than last year’s group and I remain optimistic that they’ll claw their way back into contention for a Wild Card berth. I’ll be the first to admit that there’s no rational reason for me to believe this. But I can’t help feeling that if they click, if they all perform at their career norms at the same time, they can be relevant in 2011. There’s still time, however fleeting it may be.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Something Nice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Will the 2011 Rotation Include Pat Misch?

Posted by JD on November 29, 2010

It’s starting to look like it might (at least to me, anyway). Consider the rotation as it stands today: with Johan Santana recovering from surgery to start the season, Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, and Jon Niese are the only established major league starters on the roster. In some ways, referring to this group as “established” is being kind: they each have questions to answer in 2011). Pelfrey can be solid (if unspectacular), but has been prone to extended streaks where he struggles to be average. Can he be more consistent next year? R.A. Dickey was a revelation this season, but he’s 36 and the 174 innings he pitched last season were a career high. Can he do it again? 2010 was Jon Niese’s first full season, and he’s struggled with injuries the past two season. Can he stay healthy long enough to contribute?

That being said, those three will anchor the rotation next season. John Maine has most likely played his last game with the team: I expect him to be non-tendered this week. Dillon Gee will be given a chance to win a spot in the rotation in Spring Training, as will Misch and probably Tobi Stoner. Misch is easily the most established (there’s that word again, used even more generously here) of the three, which can’t hurt. Add in Sandy Alderson’s (and Terry Collins’) comments about not wanting to rush prospects to the majors and that’s about it for in-house candidates.

There are, of course, outside candidates. Joe Janish of Mets Today put together a list of signable (read: not Cliff Lee) free agent pitchers last week, focusing on the risk/reward aspect of each. Having just returned from a trip to Atlantic City, I find some of these gambles attractive, particularly Chris Young. I wouldn’t be opposed to signing one of them to a one-year deal and hoping for the best, but I don’t know if it’s possible. I’ve read in many places that the Mets’ off-season budget may be limited to $5 million. If that’s the case, these players may not fit in the Mets’ budget (even accounting for the discount generated by their injury histories). I mean, it could happen, but should the Mets really gamble on a pitcher with a history of injuries when their budget is so limited?

The next few days will see a number of pitchers hit free agency as the December 2nd non-tender deadline approaches. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of non-tender candidates. While there are some interesting names for the bullpen, the starting pitchers leave something to be desired. I’ve always liked Brian Bannister and he might benefit from making half his starts at Citi Field, but he’s always struggled with major league hitters and he’s been injury prone recently, too. I wouldn’t have taken a shot at Zach Duke before he was traded to the Diamondbacks, making that moot anyway. Jeff Karstens? Kyle Davies? I guess, at the right price. But it’s debatable whether their better than Misch or not.

Acquiring a starter via a trade is also a possibility. The Mets could possibly trade Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran (Beltran for Daisuke Matsuzaka might make some sense, I guess). Personally, I remain convinced that the Mets should refrain from trading either of those players until June, at the earliest. Their value is what it once was, but there’s still a reasonable chance that they can recapture most of it: it simply makes no sense to move them now. We’ll see.

In an effort to be fair to every candidate, I have to mention that Oliver Perez currently has a 10-inning scoreless streak over his last two starts in the Mexican Winter League. Whatever.

So, there you have it: based on the known available options (and their costs), Pat Misch will very likely be the fifth (or possibly even the fourth) starter in the rotation next year. Bill James predicts Misch’s 2011 season as: 23 games (12 starts), 75.0 innings pitched, 82 hits, 50 strikeouts and 18 walks (2.78 K/BB ration) for a 4.20 ERA (4.19 FIP). Obviously, the counting numbers would be higher if Misch won the job out of spring training, but a 4.20/4.19 ERA/FIP for less than $1 million isn’t that bad. It’s less than optimal, but budget constraints make it one of the more plausible options available.

Posted in Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, Offseason Moves, Oliver Perez, Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins, The Rotation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Citi’s Dimensions

Posted by JD on September 26, 2010

I was out of pocket the past few days and missed the drama in Philly, what with Chase Utley’s slide (didn’t see it, so I won’t pass judgment), Carlos Beltran’s reaction (and his homers from both sides of the plate), and the Mets taking a series from the Phillies. Sure, there’s not much drama left in this season for the Mets. But it’s always nice to see them beat the Phillies, even if it doesn’t mean much in the bigger picture.

I did happen to catch Adam Rubin’s post about the dimensions of Citi Field. In the latest installment of what has become a recurring debate, the Mets announced last week that they are not planning to make changes to Citi Field’s outfield walls. Personally, I think that’s for the best.

While I understand the frustration of Mets fans who’ve seen their share of long fly balls die in outfielder’s gloves (or bounce off the wall for a double), the expected pitching staff for 2011 can probably use all the help it can get. Right now we’re looking at Mike Pelfrey, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, and a couple of question marks in the rotation (I can’t bring myself to believe that Johan Santana will be ready for Opening Day, and he’ll need some time to find himself once he returns to health). Add in some degree of change in the bullpen, whether it’s a new closer (they’re going to try to shed Francisco Rodriguez), a new lefty reliever (Pedro Feliciano is not a lock to return), or general turnover, and there will be plenty of uncertainty on the 2011 staff. The deep outfield will be a great help for the staff, and tinkering with it now doesn’t seem to help their chances to succeed.

Home runs are exciting and are a tremendous boost to any offense, but they can just as easily crush a team that surrenders too many. Maybe the increased run production will offset any additional runs allowed, but at this point I don’t think the percentages favor it enough for the Mets to risk making any changes. They have to address plenty of variables as they prepare they’re 2011 roster: there’s no need to add another to the list.

Posted in Citi Field, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Innings Limit for Niese?

Posted by JD on August 21, 2010

Hat tip to Mets Police for bringing this NY Post article that indicates that the Mets may limit Jon Niese’s innings pitched (one good turn deserves another: thanks for linking to my Jason Bay post yesterday guys). It’s a sound move, especially as the Mets continue to tread water at the .500 mark. While I’m quite certain the “Future Hall of Famer” reference came with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Niese is nonetheless a big part of the Mets future. Running up his innings pitched total may or may not impact his future performance (the so-called Verducci Effect has come under scrutiny in the past year and it turns out it may not be the greatest predictor of future health), but why take the chance in what is turning out to be a non-competitive season?

Some minor quibles with Mike Puma’s article: while Niese did pitch 164 innings in the minors in 2008, his total innings pitched that season was actually 178 (when you factor in his time on the major league roster). Also, he pitched a total of 120 innings last season (factoring in those pesky thirds of an inning) and he’s logged 139 innings this season (he made one start for Buffalo in April).

That being said, there are 40 games left in this season. Without studying the current arrangement of the rotation, let’s assume that would leave him with eight starts. He probably wouldn’t throw five complete games, but if you assume that he throws five quality starts, that would result in him throwing 187 total innings this season (five seven-inning starts would give him 195, five five-inning starts would give him 179).

As you can see, there’s some maneuverability available for the Mets here. Personally, I’d let Niese make his next three starts (running him up to about 160 innings), call up Dillon Gee to take his place in the rotation, and spot Niese out of the bullpen to let him finish somewhere around 170-175 innings pitched. Do I trust Jerry Manuel and Dan Warthen to behave accordingly? Of course not.

Given his recent injury history and the Mets’ fall from contention, the plan to limit Niese’s innings pitched is sound. How the Mets go about executing it (if they do it at all) bares watching. Here’s hoping it all works out: I look forward to watching Jon Niese pitch for the Mets for years to come.

Posted in Jerry Manuel, Jon Niese, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oswalt Rumors and Draft Picks

Posted by JD on June 14, 2010

Two story lines broke today that were of interest to me, and neither were particularly encouraging. The first was related to Roy Oswalt: the New York Post reported a friend of his said that Oswalt “likes the veteran fiber of the Mets” and would accept a trade to Flushing.

Kudos to Oswalt’s buddy for that excellent quote, but no thank you. In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel compelled to share with you my utter dislike for Roy Oswalt. It’s pretty straightforward: I don’t like Oswalt because of his grudge with Cliff Floyd. I distinctly remember my outrage when Oswalt plunked Floyd with first base open, after Floyd had hit a grand slam off of him in a previous game. It was petty and I’ve never let go it. My inner “irrational fan” wants nothing to do with that jerk.

My “rational fan” side is only slightly less disinterested. Oswalt is still an above-average starting pitcher who, in his prime, was dominant. The problem is that he’s owed a lot of money over the next two seasons, will probably require a contract extension to waive his no trade clause (“veteran fiber” be damned), and plays for an organization that will demand premium prospects in return.

Truthfully, it’s that last piece that is the biggest negative. I read a couple of stunning trade suggestions from Mets fans on Twitter today that alternatively had me laughing out loud or dropping my jaw in utter disbelief. I don’t want to single anyone out, so I’ll just tell you my parameters for a deal. If the Astros asked for Jon Niese straight up, I’d decline the trade. Jenrry Mejia straight up? No thanks. Wilmer Flores? Nope. Fernando Martinez? No way. Dillon Gee? I’d think about it. Any combination of the above? Please don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

If the Astros are willing to eat a significant portion of Oswalt’s contract or accept Oliver Perez as part of a package, I’d think about upping the quality of prospect included in the deal. If not, I’d start with Tobi Stoner, Pat Misch, and a C quality prospect (or lower). If the Astros accept, great. If not, save those bullets for Kevin Millwood, Jake Westbrook, or (if possible) Cliff Lee: their cost/benefit ratios are far more acceptable than Oswalt’s*.

*This may all be a moot point. While I was writing this, Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk (hat tip to MetsBlog) reported that the Texas Rangers are working hard at acquiring Oswalt. According to Calcaterra, the Rangers and Astros have agreed on the players involved but are waiting for MLB’s approval on the contract side (the Rangers are in bankruptcy and MLB is floating their payroll until their recent sale is finalized). Stay tuned, as Buster Olney is tweeting that there’s “nothing to it”, but it looks like it may be out of the Mets hands anyway. Which is a good thing.

In other news, MetsBlog reported that the Mets had come to term with 25 draft picks, the highest of which was 4th round pick Cory “Son of Greg” Vaughn (for the full list of signees, click here). I’m all for getting the kids signed and playing as soon as possible, but I have mixed emotions about these quick signings.

I have no insight regarding the scouting and drafting process beyond what I read in the past 10 days or so and I’m not involved in the negotiations, so I can’t comment on what was demanded and what was offered. But the quick signings indicate that the Mets drafted these kids knowing that they wouldn’t try to break the bank. It’s possible that they’re the players Omar Minaya wanted, but available evidence indicates otherwise. If even one of these guys makes the majors, it won’t matter one bit, but as I mentioned here and here, that was the last thing I wanted to see. The amateur draft may be one of the bigger crapshoots in professional sports, but that’s no excuse for a franchise as wealthy as the Mets to intentionally handicap themselves like that.

Posted in Mets, Omar Minaya, Trades | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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