2-17-13 – Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, Jordany Valdespin,


“What happened to me was just bad luck, I guess. Getting passed by and losing my job, you think about it, but at the same time I’m pretty confident in how I pitch and have shown I deserve to be in the big leagues. The doctors say they see it in overhead athletes like swimmers, volleyball players and pitchers. It’s not fun having a catheter shoved up your groin through your heart and out through your arm. But once it was done the recovery was very minimal because there wasn’t a whole lot they messed with in there except for the artery.”

          No one discounts this guy more than I do.

          Having a catheter shoved up your groin should earn you an SP5 role as it is, but let’s be realistic. Zack Wheeler may make it to Queens before Johan Santana exits. Barring any injury to one of the five existing rotation pitchers, someone would have to go and the odds on favorite would be Gee.
          All he can do is his best and some think he has the five-pitch arsenal. He’s known as a control pitcher and has worked hard on cutting down on his walks (3.98 BB/9 in 2011… 2.38 BB/9 in 2012). I think he’s safe for 2013 as long as he earned his spot.

John Buck, now the Mets’ catcher, has faced Niese eight times. All he could muster was a double. Buck said (Jon)Niese reminds him of a certain other left-handed starting pitcher whose repertoire centers on the cutter — Andy Pettitte, whom he caught as a 23-year-old at Astros spring training in 2004. "I was pretty young back in the day with Houston and Pettitte was there, and the way he would pitch is very similar to that," Buck said. "But I think Niese has a little bit more speed difference than what Pettitte had from what I can remember. Maybe it was different in Pettitte’s younger days, but the time I saw him, the speed difference is a little more with Niese. It’s something he’s coming into."

          Niese has now pitched five years in the majors, with a career stat line of: 35-32, 4.06, 1.36… however, I believe he turned the corner last season, turning in a line of 13-9, 3.40, 1.17. He also produced his lowest BB/9 (2.32) since 2007 for St. Lucie.

          We talk all the time how San Francisco has won two World Series out of the last three years with basically one regular day star (Buster Posey). The world is waiting for a full season from Matt Harvey and the arrival someday of both Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, but don’t be surprised if Niese isn’t your next potential 20-game winner. I truly see this kind of potential in his arm.

          Though second base is Valdespin's natural position, that may hurt his already-slim chances of making the Opening Day roster. Coming into camp, all four of the Mets' starting infielders are entrenched in their roles, with Justin Turner an overwhelming favorite to secure one bench spot. That leaves one slot open for Brandon Hicks or Brian Bixler -- and Hicks is out of Minor League options, making him the early favorite for the assignment. Valdespin, who played mostly outfield for his Dominican winter ball team, understands his situation. "I won't keep my head down if I don't stay on the team Opening Day," he said. "The only thing I can do is play hard and then go up. But my plan is to stay on the team on the Opening Day for all year."


Mack's Mets © 2012