Ernest Dove - Stay or Go: Jon Niese


  As the Mets enter into the offseason, the one strength within the organization remains its pitching. Pitching at both the major league, and minor league levels. Today I wanted to further discuss the contributions, productive, trade value and availability of Jon Niese in the open market..

  Jon Niese will be turning JUST 28 years old this month.  For all the hyped fireballers that have made it to Citi Field, and are still on the way, there still remains an under 30yr old veteran, lefty, with a manageable and team friendly type contract (which never reaches over $11mil at any point in his contract).

  Again, for Niese, the key word here is 'lefty'.  Jon Niese is a legitimate lefty starter in this league. Despite some more ongoing nagging injuries, Niese just completed his best statistical season in regards to ERA of 3.40 (tied with 2012 season), and his second highest career innings pitched at 187.2 (behind that same 2012 season). Jon's BB rate of 2.2 was also the lowest of his major league career.  The possible negatives may be his K rate, which over the past 2 years, at 6.6/9 are his lowest of his career.  And, again, there are the nagging injuries.  So, what do the Mets do with Niese?

  Jon finished the season, once again, as the only lefty starter on the 25 man roster (I just thought of Johan Santana and smiled.....) The only possible projected legit lefty starter on the 40 man roster is Steven Matz.  There is definitely a lot to like about this top pitching prospect. He has a higher velocity then Niese, a projected higher ceiling, and has given up a total of 8 home runs......... in 276 career innings, spanning 3 years of pro ball in the minors.

  Many of us already know the story of Matz losing two seasons, following TJS.  However, Matz just finished a second strong full season in a row.  Well, maybe strong is not strong enough of a word, considering that Matz just ended his season by clinching a minor league title, and almost pitching a no hitter in doing so.  Also, thanks to that last gem, Matz ended up going over the usual Mets organization theory of never hitting an additional 30 innings pitched, by allowing Steven that last start to go from 106 in 2013 to 140 in 2014.  So, technically, if Matz were to immediately step into the Mets rotation come 2015, as an SP5, the team could probably skip his spot a couple of times, when team has a day off that week, to keep the other 4 guys at their usual rest days.

  But, one must also consider the other factors:  Number 1 (and primary in this organization/ownership) is he money.  Should the Mets keep Matz in the minors, at least until mid summer, they can save money, and add extra years of team control.  There's also the fact that Matz, through looking pretty darn good doing it, has only managed to dominate at the AA ball at this point.  And number 2, although many fans, writers and bloggers are against a stint in the desert heat for Steven, the fact remains that it never hurts to build the confidence and development of a young pitcher by having him face all the higher talent levels he can, to work out all his pitches, placement and velocity, and see if the production continues.

  There may be other alternatives, which would include the Mets 'killing 2 birds with 1 stone' by placing Matz as the second lefty out of the bullpen, come April 2015, and then enter the rotation after the trading deadline passes.  However, based on Matz injury history, and high upside as a legit top of the rotating caliber pitcher, this may not be a rout the Mets would/should take with the 23 year old.

  So, again, back to the main question at hand.  Should Jon Niese be traded, specifically during the winter meetings.  As we all know, for the most part (excluding guys having surgeries in the offseason) , ALL pitchers look healthy and productive during the winter months.  And, with Niese throwing from that all mighty left hand side, he may or may not have the highest trade value of any veteran pitcher on the Mets 40 man roster. (please note the word veteran, so don't count wheeler, Harvey,etc)........ 

  Jon Niese, as has his righty counterpart in Dillon Gee, has quietly been a stable force within this organization. He has been in the back of the rotation, and he has stepped in and assumed he ACE role, when asked to do so, to log innings and give this team a chance to win.

  Matz, may most likely start 2015 in AAA Las Vegas, no matter what happens with Niese, for the earlier mentions reasoning. But again, Matz has pitched in the minor league spotlight.  Niese has pitched and succeeded in the major league, New York spotlight.  Plus, Niese is an absolute bulldog, Harvey like, in that he hates giving up runs with a passion, and hates being taken out of games, because he wants to succeed, and help his team in every way he can.

  What say you readers?  Jon Niese:  Stay or Go ?????????????????????


Reese Kaplan said...

It always depends on the return. If you're talking a B-level outfielder like Scott Van Slyke, I'm not so sure...if you're talking a stud prospect as part of a Niese+ deal then count me in.

Thomas Brennan said...

I just think that also to be considered is Niese's shoulder. He pitched well with it in 2014. Santana likely pitched well with his shoulder - until it gave in, then he was a huge liability. If I were Mets, get a good deal, trade him, plenty of pitching for 2015, Matz can start in minors and we can go without a lefty for a few months if need be.

Mack Ade said...

The return for Niese is hard to determine looking (as we do) from 'the outside'.

It amazes me how quickly (lefty, 27, cheap contract) we all move on to the next pitchers....

Michael S. said...

I've always liked Niese and considered him part of the core rotation. Jake's emergence this year has shaken things up and Niese's shoulder is a concern. If the return is worth it (A-level prospect(s) or Niese as a major part of a big deal) then do it. I wouldn't deal him just to deal him.

Robb said...

All the good reasons to move Niese (lefty, young, Great contract) are the reasons to keep him too. Im not worried about the injury history. Pitchers break. Some crack, some crumble, and he's more the crack type so far.

It would purely come down to moving him for something I really want vs him being the guy to move. If you think about it, lefty starters with good contracts are a highly valuable commodity.

And should be treated as such.

thunder12k said...

I'm not really looking to move Niese, not yet at least. If an offer came in that I really liked, I'd take it. If the Astros offered Domingo Santana for Niese I'd move him because Santana is major league ready.

Colon will obviously be shopped but I think Gee and/or Montero would be the guys getting moved.

I don't think moving Montero to the pen should be an option right now. If he isn't in the rotation, then trade him. They don't need him pitching the 5th inning.

Mack Ade said...

Robb -

When it comes to pitching - to a great degree - teams get 'stuck' with guys that develop injury histories.

That doesn't make them bad pitchers, just vulnerable.

Mack Ade said...

Thunder -

remember... you don't trade someone unless another team wants the...

it's not just 'I'm going to trade 'player A' so come and get em..."

Let's continue to assume Harvey, deGrom and Wheeler are untouchable...

that leaves Niese, Gee, Montero, Colon for 2 slots... and that's only good until Syndergaard and Matz come up

I happen to think anyone below the top 3 is in play (with different values) but that's just me

thunder12k said...

I agree Mack but the Mets have options.

Somebody will need to be moved though. Montero, Colon, Niese & Gee all have value as they are establish major league talent. And yes I'm saying that Montero proved himself, although in a small sample size.

They could keep Harvey in extended spring training through the first month. Starting the year with Wheeler, deGrom, Niese, Gee & Colon. Although I disagree, Montero could start in the pen.

But when Harvey comes to town things get complicated.

I've said it on here before but in an ideal world, I'd move Montero and Gee, assuming I can find acceptable returns.

You don't need much of a 5th starter through April so once he's needed, bring in Harvey to fill out the 5 rotation spots. You move Colon at the deadline for something useful and replace him with Thor.

Matz waits for an injury or a September callup.

Mack Ade said...

Thunder -

This will now take the creativity and talent of Alderson to 'sell' Montero to another GM. The player has done everything he could do to get this taken care of.

One of the prospects has to go... MOntero, Thor, Matz...

Michael S. said...

My vote is Montero. All three have loads of talent but he seems to have the least upside.

Michael S. said...

Just thinking outloud, but I'm wondering if there is a team out there that has serious pitching needs, a hole at 2B, and a wealth of prospects. I'd like to see if Sandy can package Niese, Murphy, Colon, and some salary relief and double down on the team's young talent.

thunder12k said...


Murphy could play 3B for them. They'd probably be more interested in Niese, Gee & Murphy. Tons of talent to offer back both major league ready or young.

Lew Rhodes said...

Everyone is discounting the importance of the veteran pitcher - Niese is as good of a 4/5 you will find in MLB.

Even this year when "injury prone" he got to 188 IP - I will take that.

He always has struck me as the guy who is just "this much" away from being great - he shows flashes, but never sustains them.

Honestly, at 28, he is just getting into his full prime - I would keep him - his K-rate has dropped because he has learned to pitch better - more earlier and weak contact.

There is a reason all the recent articles say he is the most valuable trade chip on the team

Mack Ade said...

M.S. -

Well, after watching the first 2 games in Baltimore, we know who could use a decent relief pitcher...

Mack Ade said...

Lew -

That's fine... let's keep Niese.

But you still have to get rid of 3 starters by July 2015

Michael S. said...

Mazzoni, Torres, Edgin, Familia, Black sounds like a good start to me.

Thomas Brennan said...

Ernest, you stirred things up today! One thing is for sure - we got surplus to deal!

Rene Riquelme said...

I never feel comfortable with Niese pitching,I would move him.He is injury prone and seems to breakdown in the 6th repeatly.I want to give Matz a shot in spring training.I just wouldn't dump him I want a real good prospect in return.

Michael S. said...

I know I'm in the minority, but I'd be just fine with challenging our two prized pitching prospects and starting the season with a rotation of Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Matz, and Syndergaard.

Mack Ade said...

Michael -

We have to start respecting the fact that the Mets are going to operate in the future respecting the Super 2 ramifications.

I no longer have problems with this and since there are so many others to pick from on opening day (Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom for starts... then Niese, Gee, Montero, and Colon), you still have room for two of these guys being traded.

No... 9 starters in 2015. Let's sit back and see what Alderson does here.

I have to think that, since we are only trying to improve on 3 positions (SS, corner OF, LHRP), we should be happy with the off-season results here.

Michael S. said...

I know they wouldn't do it, but I don't think Syndergaard needs more LV time. Not to mention, his trajectory was to come up after Super2 2014. Since we're past that, no harm in having him start the year in the NYM rotation. Matz would be the exception, but I really dislike the idea of our prized pitchers throwing in the PCL.

But you're right, we have an abundance of great pitching talent and I'm trusting Sandy to properly round out the roster, keeping the best P's for the Mets.

Michael S. said...

'Getting rid' of three starters sounds like a windfall for the Mets.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to have that many pitchers. You can never have too many of those, right?

I looked at what the Mets "have" and came up with the following.

For the Mets you got 6 starters, Harvey, DeGrom, Wheeler, Colon, Niese and Gee. You can put Mejia, Familia, Black, Torres, Edgin and Eveland in the bullpen. If you want you could put Gee in the bullpen as the long man/spot starter. So that's next year's pitching staff.

On to Las Vegas.

The following guys all could pitch in Las Vegas as starters.
"Leftovers" from 2013 are Montero, Syndergaard, Verrett, Mazzoni and Bowman. Then you got the Binghamton starters who earned a promoton, Matz and Pill.

But to come back at the question, Jon Niese: Stay or Go ??????????? I think he goes. The Dodgers have a very crowded outfield and have 3 starts under contract, Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu. How can there not be a match between the Mets and Dodgers? What will it take to get Joc Pederson? Or should the Mets settle for Scott Van Slyke? Scott does have an OPS of 910 in 200+ AB (297/386/524)

Perhaps the Dodgers and Mets should make a bold move. Syndergaard, Plawecki, Niese and Kirk for Pederson, Urias and Van Slyke. I dont know if this is a fair deal but it gives the Mets a RF/CF (Pederson) a LF (Van Slyke) (both with power) and a very young and talented lefty (Urias). It gives the Dodgers a solid #4 (Niese) behind Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu. A near ready every day catcher (Plawecki), a near ready starter (Syndergaard) and a #5 OF-er (Kirk)

And why would both teams make this trade? The Dodgers have Crawford (2017), Ethier (2017), Kemp (2019) and Puig (2018) under contract. Other then Puig, no match for the Mets because of the money. So is there room for Pederson? And when the Mets include Kirk the Dodgers might be willing to deal Van Slyke. The Mets on the other hand have a very crowded rotation and even more in Las Vegas so the Mets could deal their top pitching prospect and a "cheap" lefty under contract after 2018. With d'Arnaud the Mets could trade Plawecki and the Dodgers realy dont have any type of catching in their farm.


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