Tagged: Jonathon Niese

The Mets have quietly put together a “core four” of their own in the bullpen

 

Vic Black (Upper left), Josh Edgin (Upper right), Jeurys Familar (bottom left) and Jenry Mejia(Bottom right) give the Mets a “core four” in their bullpen to build around

Vic Black (Upper left), Josh Edgin (Upper right), Jeurys Familar (bottom left) and Jenry Mejia(Bottom right) give the Mets a “core four” in their bullpen to build around

We’ve all read and heard the praise of the Mets young starting pitchers, but not enough has been said regarding the arms in the bullpen. The Mets have quietly put together a young core, that has become a force, late in ballgames.

Sandy Alderson’s goal all along was to build this team around their pitching, and in 2014, that goal is becoming a reality. The starting rotation is stock full with young pitchers such as Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and Jacob deGrom. Now add in future pieces Noah Syndergarrd, Rafael Montero, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey, who will return from his Tommy John surgery next season, and you have an abundance of arms to build your rotation around.

When you look back on playoff team success in recent years, there is always a common trait, a shutdown bullpen. It isn’t always the dominant offenses, but rather the teams that are able to shut down games by the 7th inning, that make deep runs. That is what the Mets are looking to put together. When closer Bobby Parnell went down, a major concern remained as to who the Mets would use to finish off ballgames. However, the combination of Vic Black, Josh Edgin, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, has stepped up and answered that question.

  • Josh Edgin (27) 25 GP – 1.76 ERA
  • Vic Black (26) 22 GP – 1.77 ERA 1.77 ERA
  • Jeurys Familia (24) 44 GP – 2.11 ERA
  • Jenrry Mejia (24) 25 GP – 2.42 ERA – 9 SV

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Dillon Gee Stopped The Bleeding

Dillon Gee: The Stopper

Dillon Gee: The Stopper

In what was an otherwise abysmal weekend in Colorado, the Mets were able to avoid being swept with a win on Sunday. Dillon Gee led the way, pitching 6+ scoreless innings in the hitter friendly confines of Coors Field.

The Mets came into Colorado riding high, going 15-11 in the opening month of the season. After exciting the fan base with their early play, things quickly changed against the Rockies. The first two games of the series were a complete wash, as the Rockies offense dominated Mets pitching and the bats went cold. In game three, the Mets offense came to life, but the pitching continued to struggle. After Juan Lagares put the Mets ahead by one run late, Kyle Farnsworth blew the save opportunity as the Mets suffered a crushing loss.

This made Sundays game all the more important. It wasn’t just that the Mets lost those three games, but how they lost them. Someone needed to step up and stop the bleeding, cue Dillon Gee. With yesterdays win, he improved to 3-1 on the year with a 2.51 ERA. The starting pitching has been the Mets strength, but do they have a real ace on this team? This rotation has been strong across the board, but none of them have taken that next level of dominating the competition. There isn’t anything wrong with that as long as they keep winning, that’s all that really matters. But when it comes time to win that one game when the Mets really need it, who is that arm going to be? Gee is making a case that he is that guy.  Continue reading

Here is your 2014 Mets Opening Day roster

METS

The Mets have set their Opening Day roster and there were few surprises. Notably names who won their battles to earn a spot on this roster are Gonzalez German, Andrew Brown, Omar Quintanilla and Jenrry Mejia.

When Vic Black was demoted earlier this week, it was made pretty clear that German would earn the last spot in the bullpen. German doesn’t exactly do much for me, and will probably spend most of his time in mop up roles and in the middle innings. Assuming Black will eventually turn things around in AAA, German will have to produce to keep his spot on this team.

Brown and Quintanilla are two players I am most disappointed to see on this roster. It’s not that I overly dislike these guys, but we have all seen what these two are capable of and it’s not impressive. Neither has ever produced at a high level and both are questionable big league players. Eric Campbell and Anthony Seratelli would have been my choices to win these battles. Neither are spring chickens themselves, it’s not like they had to be sent to AAA to play every day and gain more experience. They are what they are and both could have provided new energy to this roster. It wouldn’t surprise me to see one of both of these guys promoted sooner rather than later.

The biggest surprised would probably be Mejia, who beat out Dice-K for the final spot in the rotation. It seemed as though the Mets would start the season with the veteran Dice-K, especially once his $100k bonus was picked up. But the Mets made what many felt was the right decision and went with the young option. They both had a nice spring training, but the Mets need to see what exactly they have with Mejia. This isn’t his first time rodeo, he has been up and down now for a few years, spending time in both the rotation and bullpen. Putting him in the rotation gives him a real opportunity as a starter and allows the front office to make a final decision on where his future is best suited.

Here is the complete Opening Day roster:

Rotation
Dillon Gee
Bartolo Colon
Zack Wheeler
Jenrry Mejia
Jonathon Niese

Bullpen 
Bobby Parnell
Jose Valverde
Jeurys Familia
Gonzalez Germen
Carlos Torres
Scott Rice
John Lannan

Catchers
Travis d’Arnaud
Anthony Recker

Infielders 
Ike Davis
Lucas Duda
Josh Satin
Daniel Murphy
Ruben Tejada
Omar Quintanilla
David Wright

Outfielders 
Curtis Granderson
Chris Young
Eric Young Jr.
Juan Lagares
Andrew Brown

This Dan Warthen story proves the locker room is no longer a safe haven

Dan Warthen found himself making unwanted national headlines this week

Dan Warthen found himself making unwanted national headlines this week

Headlines were when Dan Warthen was outed by a reporter for comments he made in the clubhouse. Warthen approached Dice K’s interpreter, Jeff Cutler, to apologize for an ill attempted joke. Cutler did not take offense to this joke, but Wall Street Journal reporter Stu Woo, who witnessed the whole scene, broke this story later in the day.

Here is an excerpt from Woo’s article in the WSJ:

“Jeff!”

Cutler and I turned around. It was Dan Warthen, the Mets pitching coach.

“I’m sorry I called you a ‘Chinaman’ yesterday,” Warthen told Cutler.

“It’s OK,” Cutler replied.

“I didn’t mean to insinuate –- I know you’re not Chinese,” Warthen said. He paused. “I thought it was a pretty good joke, though.”

“It was,” Cutler said, with a small laugh.

Warthen walked away.

Were you offended by Warthen’s joke? I asked him.

“No,” Cutler said.

What was the joke? I asked.

“You should ask Dan about that,” Cutler replied.

After the story broke, Mets starter Jonathon Niese had some choice words for a group of reporters in the locker room “Stop tweeting about our clubhouse. That shit’s got to stop” was his reported statement. Now I’m not sure how Niese would feel knowing that his words were immediately tweeted out by those same reporters, but nonetheless, I was happy to see someone speak up.

Was Warthen’s joke poorly thought out? Sure, I won’t argue that it could offend the wrong person. But if the man in question, Cutler, was not bothered by it, then this becomes a non story to me. Warthen was obviously bothered by his comments enough that he went out of his way to apologize before this story ever made it to the limelight, which was as far as this needed to go. The two of them worked this issue out, without having to be told to, problem resolved, end of story.

I know this is a new day in the world of sports media, where everything these players and coaches do is a story and I mean EVERYTHING. There was a time when the locker room area was a sanctuary for teams to go back and talk freely to one another and there was an unspoken agreement that reporters would not talk about things they heard or witnessed. “Off the record” is a term that seemingly does not exist anymore, any conversation or action seen will be tweeted for the world to read about within seconds.

The locker room/clubhouse area is meant for the team. Reporters are allowed in to ask questions and gain information from the players and coaches. But now they could be looked at as “spies” of sorts, where players and managers will be weary to say or do anything in the presence of anyone. And rightly so, reporters now have the power to end someones career or at the very least tarnish their public image, like Warthen in this case, all with the push of a button.

“I apologize for the thoughtless remarks that I made yesterday in the clubhouse. They were a poor attempt at humor but were wrong and inappropriate in any setting.  I am very sorry,” Warthen said.

“On behalf of the entire organization, I apologize for the insensitive remarks made by of one of our staff members. The remarks were offensive and inappropriate and the organization is very sorry,” added Mets GM Sandy Alderson.

It seems like a story of this caliber breaks every hour these days in the world of sports.  I’m sure all athletes are happy to play in the present day, where contracts have reached astronomical amounts, but I’m sure at least a little piece of them misses the day when there was a mutual understanding with reporters as to what was written.

 

My Mets Spring Training Trip Thoughts and Observations

SNY Cameras caught me my good side (I'm the guy drinking his beer below the score)

SNY Cameras caught my good side (I’m the guy drinking his beer below the score)

The past couple of days I was down in Port St. Lucie taking in a few Mets spring training games with my father. It was a great trip that left walking away with a few thoughts:

What/Who impressed me

Bartolo Colon- I was on hand for Colons first start of the spring. Although he allowed 3 runs over his 5 innings of work, he actually showed positive signs of why he was brought here. His fastball appeared to have good movement and he changes speed with all of his pitches quite well. He was hitting the low 90’s on the radar gun with his fastball and kept the ball down for the most part. The Mets will need their best defensive squad on the field behind him but I think this signing will prove to be a positive one. Who doesn’t love a fat guy?

Zack Wheeler – The forgotten young arm continues to progress. His effortless and fluid motion on the mound is fun to watch. He looks smooth all around and the ball comes out of his hand nicely. I got up close to the bullpen during his warm up session and it was hard to walk away and not be impressed.

Vic Black- I’m looking forward to the addition of Vic Black in the bullpen for a full season. When he’s on the mound, he has a presence about him that most successful relievers seem to have. I like his arsenal of pitches and his breaking ball is sharp. Hopefully Black can take the setup role and run with it.

Juan Lagares Defense- This won’t to a shock to any Mets fan, but his defense is truly impressive. He was tracking down balls with seemingly little to no effort. The most impressive play I saw him make was a throw he made to David Wright that gunned down a runner by a good 20 feet. It was one of those “wow” plays that caught everyone’s attention.

Matt den Dekker- A player who just last spring was fighting for a chance to start for the Mets, is now playing just to remain relevant in the organization, impressed me with his offense. He was 4-4 over the 3 games I saw and looked much more comfortable than I have ever seen him before at the plate. He had a nice approach, taking a few balls to the opposite field which is a great sign. The biggest concern with den Dekker was his lack of offensive production, striking out far too often. If he has turned the corner and is able to continue to put the ball in play, we could be hearing his name back in discussion for outfield playing time very soon.

Josh Satin – With Duda and Davis sitting out, milking injuries, Satin is making the most out of his. He hit a deep home run to left center field against the Cardinals that impressed me the most. He doesn’t pull the ball too often, and when he does, it is with power even less. That homerun is something that I would like to see more from him if he wants to see considerable time at first base.

Wilmer Flores- Flores is making everyone aware that he can swing the bat. His offensive game seems to be the real deal, as he really squares up on the ball nicely. I was on hand for his first game at Shortstop and he did ALRIGHT. He didn’t look like a future gold glove winner, but he didn’t look like he would completely embarrass himself either. His counterpart was Johnny Peralta that day, a player known much more for his bat than his glove. In my mind, I see him as a great comparison for Flores, if he can prove to be a serviceable defender at the position, his bat could force the issue in seeing more time at shortstop.

Kevin Plawecki – Although I only got to see one at-bat from the young catcher, it was hard not to walk away impressed. He has this confidence about him while in the batter’s box and ripped a double down the left field line. He already has the major league body and I am really intrigued with his offensive game. Assuming d’Arnaud will turn things around offensively this season, Plawecki could either become a valuable trading chip or they should look to shift him over to first base. If the catcher position is going to be blocked, why not work this kid out in a position that appears to be up for grabs?

Mike Stanton Homerun – Mike Stanton hit one of the longest home runs I have ever seen in my life off of Jake Leathersitch. He fouled off a few pitches straight back and you just knew he was getting ready to launch one. The ball has a special sound off of his bat and he has as much power as any player in the game. I just hope he doesn’t hit too many of those against the Mets when it really counts.

Chris Christie – The New Jersey Governor was on hand for the games Sunday and Monday. What impressed me about Christie was the fact that this was a genuine trip with his family and not some kind of media stunt. You didn’t seem him parading around the field or sitting in the dugout. He did sit up in the Wilpon’s box with his sons and could be seen actually watching the games. Later on in the day I saw him at Duffy’s bowling with his boys, right in the middle of everyone else. He wasn’t surrounded by security guards or anything like that, he was simply enjoying the evening with his family. Love him or hate him, I respect seeing a politician act like a real person at the very least.

What/Who didn’t impress me

Jose Valverde- I know the veteran reliever was brought in on a minor league contract and comes with praise from Jim Leyland, but I’m not a fan of Valverde. His fastball did still have some life on it, climbing over the 90 mph mark, but he grooves it over the fat part of the plate. Every batter seemed to be sitting back and waiting for him to throw a fastball. He will probably make the team out of camp, but if he continues to pitch like this, I don’t think he will remain on this team for too long. I hope he only serves the team in a mop up role and that he won’t be seeing any meaningful innings.

Jonathon Niese- Niese looked erratic during his first start of the spring. His command and velocity were both off, but that was expected. I’m not sure he is 100% healthy after his little shoulder scare, which could factor into him being the opening day starter. I wouldn’t say I am worried about Niese just yet, as he was able to get his 50+ pitches in, but I can’t say I’m completely confident in him either.

Jake Leathersitch – The young left-hander, who has had great minor league success, looked completely over matched in camp. The biggest blow came from a ball Mike Stanton hit that I’m not sure has even landed yet. He was sent down to minor league camp after the game, he appears to have plenty to work on before a return to the majors.

Ruben Tejada’s Offense and Defense – When you watch Tejada play these days you feel like you are watching a man who has lost all of his confidence. His defense, once the high point in his game, has suddenly become questionable. There are routine balls that are giving him a hard time now, plays that have to be made from a guy who puts up his type of offensive numbers. At the plate, he looks overmatched and behind mostly every pitcher he faces. Although he did hit a nice double down the left field line one game, he looked lost every other time up. You have to wonder if all of the scrutiny he has been receiving is getting the best of him.

Road game observations

On the final day of our trip, we stopped into Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Cardinals to see them take on the Mets. First observation, Cardinals fans are a very loyal fan base. Unlike Tradition field, where you will see scattered Mets attire mixed throughout the crowd, among many plain clothed fans, everyone wears Cardinals gear. From infants to grandparents, the stadium looked like a sea of red. I did notice they were rather boring though. Most of the crowd takes part in friendly conversations, which is a great atmosphere to be around as a fan of the visiting team, but I missed the passion of the yelling fans at the same time. Take that as you will but I did actually miss it.

The biggest difference I noticed between the two ball parks and fan bases? The drinking. At tradition field, the beers are flowing straight to the 7th inning stretch (A little longer if you make your way down to the bar in right field). The Tiki Bar is a few bodies deep and the beer vendors are selling as if it is the last day on earth. At Roger Dean stadium, it was like pulling teeth for the vendors to sell a beer. I was surprised by this coming from a team plays in Budweiser’s backyard. Not sure what to take away from that, maybe this team really does make Mets fans drink, but it was something that clearly stood out to me.

Final Thoughts

If you have a chance to head down to Spring Training in the future, do it. The ticket prices beat the hell out of what you will see during the regular season, we sat on the dugout one day for $28 a piece! That’s a price that you won’t be able to match anywhere in the majors. You can sit back and relax while enjoying a game where you won’t stress over the outcome. Although we all love to see our favorite stars in action, it’s also nice to see some of the future talent get their first taste of major league baseball in as well.

This trip has left me excited for opening day, March 31st can’t come soon enough.

Jonathan Niese’s Return Is An Important One

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Jonathon Niese reportedly has two rehab starts remaining before he is ready to rejoin the team. The 26-year-old lefty has been on the DL with a partially torn rotator cuff since June 21. His health, and return to form, are going to be crucial for the Mets success going forward.

Niese is part of the young core of starting pitchers that Sandy Alderson is looking to build this team around. The Mets signed him to a five-year extension after going 13-9 with a 3.40 era in 2012. He appeared to be reaching his potential and looked to be a front of the line starter for years to come.

But, Niese got off to a rocky start in 2013, posting a 3-6 record with a 4.32 era. This was looking more and more like a regression season, leaving many to question just what do the Mets really have in Niese? Then his shoulder issue became public. It was feared intially that he would need surgery. Thankfully, for his own and the Mets sake, it would only require rest to heal his partial tear.

Now Niese will look to prove his early season woes were due merely to injury. These next two months will be important for the Mets to see if their core rotation of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jonathon Niese and lets trow Dillon Gee in there as well, can come together down the stretch. With the recent promotion of Jenry Mejia, there is no lack of youthful talent on this roster.

Rafael Montero, despite his recent AAA struggles, could be looking at a September call up as well. Noah Syndergaard, who was an after thought of sorts in the Dickey trade, is also getting more and more high praise with every start he makes.

However, all of these young arms are right-handed, except Jon Niese. That is what makes him so important to this team. It is not necessary, by all means, that you have a lefty in your rotation. But it certainly does help to have one or two on your staff throwing from the other side to give teams a different look throughout a series.

I expect Niese to bounce back when he returns. He has come a long way since he was first called up to the majors and possesses all the stuff to make him a quality pitcher. It was unknown early in his career just what his ceiling is as a starter, I see him sliding back in as the teams number 2 upon his return. But as time goes on, and some of these other young arms develop, I believe Niese will slot himself right in the middle of the rotation.

The Mets may not be making a playoff push this year, but these next two months could be a telling sign of where this rotation can take this franchise in the years to come.

Reality Check For The Mets

METS

Yesterday’s game was a typical “trap game” that we hear about so often in sports. They occur when teams are coming off emotionally high victories and play weaker teams they are expected to beat next. It’s common for a bit of a hangover to occur as teams let down their guard and lose games they are not supposed to. Unfortunately for the Mets, they are not in a position to suffer such a hangover and cannot afford loses like last nights to the Marlins.

The Mets dropped the series opener by a score of 5-1. Shawn Marcum pitched great through the first 6 innings but fell apart in the 7th. He didn’t get much help however as the offense showed very little signs of life throughout the game. They clearly looked drain coming off their 5-game winning steak and sweep of the Yankees. It was noted that the Mets celebrated mightily on the plane ride, which arrived very late, down to Miami. I’m all for them celebrating, this team needed/deserved it for what they accomplished the last week. But with just one lose to the Marlins they have quickly come off of that cloud they were floating on.

Things won’t get much easier today as they face the Marlins young ace, Jose Fernandez, while the Mets will be putting Collin McHugh on the mound for his first start of the year. McHugh, is giving the Mets a spot start in the absence of Jonathon Niese who is skipping a start due to injury. He recently made headlines for a controversal tweet poking fun at the Yankees after the sweep was completed. The tweet would have been fine, coming from any player who played a significant role in the series, but McHugh never made an appearance in the four games. Lets hope he makes headlines for his performance on the field this time around.

This is a series the Mets need to quickly bounce back and win. If the Mets plan on making any sort of run this season they have to take care of business against teams like the Marlins. They can ill afford to struggle against teams of this caliber. Today will be a tough pitching match-up but the offense needs to wake up and carry them through this game heading into Sunday which is Matt Harvey Day.