Jon Niese: I Went Back To Ohio…

Well, Part One of my envisioned decline of the Mets this season has come to fruition, a little ahead of time. ICYMI, I predicted them out of first place by Memorial Day, below 500 by Father’s Day and in search of a new manager by Independence Day.

Forget the Tulo and Cub rumors. The Mets aren’t trading any of their young aces (a concept I embrace). Those Dodgers rumors may generate website clicks, but there is no one in that organization that can really help the Mets the way my deal will. I propose instead that the Mets swap Jon Niese, Matt Reynolds and cash the Cincinnati Reds for shortstop Zack Cozart.

Niese is from Defiance, Ohio, closer to Cleveland but still only a two-hour drive to Cincinnati. Call it a homecoming, but call it what it really is: the Mets paying a ransom to unload an unwanted ballplayer into a place where he just might turn it around. Reynolds gets his chance at short and the cash helps offset the Reds payroll increase. I would think half of Niese’s 2016 salary plus the 2017 buyout are good starting places. The Reds are facing a long uphill slog the next few years in the stacked NL Central. This deal potentially makes them better, both now and in the future.

Cozart is no superstar and he may not even be the long-term answer at short. But…he is a bona-fide big league shortstop and he is having the best year of his career to date swinging the bat. He immediately makes their up the middle defense stronger and he lengthens the batting order somewhat, addressing two needs. This is the type of move that a contending team makes. There could be an interesting domino effect throughout the rest of the system as a result of this move.

Steven Matz gets called up from Vegas, replacing Niese. To quote the immortal Stan Lee: ‘nuff said.

Wilmer Flores moves to second base. GM Sandy Alderson can announce that the job is Flores’ for the remainder of the season. We all get to see, once and for all, if Flores’ bat plays in the majors.

• With Reynolds gone, Gavin Cecchini gets the call to Las Vegas, forming the potential keystone combo of the future with second baseman Dilson Herrera. This is kinda what the Mets did in the early ‘80’s with Wally Backman and Rafael Santana. They suffered through the 1983-84 seasons with several disposable middle infielders while Backman and Santana percolated in AAA or the big league bench. In 1985, the Mets swept the other guys aside and permanently installed those two. The rest is history. The salaries of Cozart and Flores make them similarly disposable if they don’t produce.

Daniel Murphy gets traded, somewhere, anywhere. I am officially off the Murphy train. Way back in the late 1970’s Howard Cosell described then-Met outfielder Steve Henderson as “ a half ballplayer” and stated “you don’t win pennants with half-ballplayers.” Cosell’s description of Hendu fits Murphy. And unfortunately, the half of Murphy that was productive, his bat, has cooled off considerably.

BTW—tomorrow is the anniversary of the Mike Piazza trade. A deal my nephew will never let me forget actually happened. Big trades do actually happen in May.

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Glenn Fleisig Says Pitching Injuries are NOT Inevitable

News flash for Sandy Alderson: pitching injuries are not inevitable. Neither is it so that every pitcher is on a time clock waiting for Tommy John surgery.

Further, flaws in pitching mechanics DO cause arm injuries and correcting flaws WILL prevent injuries.

But don’t take it from me — this is from the mouth of Dr. Glenn Fleisig, Research Director of American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) and the foremost expert on biomechanics of the baseball pitching motion.

Those were just a few of the topics covered in my discussion with Dr. Fleisig, which you can hear below:

Check Out Baseball Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with On Baseball on BlogTalkRadio

If the player above doesn’t work, or you’d prefer to listen via iTunes, you can also listen to the podcast at OnBaseball.com.

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Mets Game 38: Win Over Brewers

Mets 5 Brewers 1

Hmm… and they said that pigs couldn’t fly.

As the Mets scored 10 runs in an inning last night, hovering out of my window was a cute little pig with the words “Mets’ Offense” written on its side. And while he struggled a little more tonight, he’s still there, spinning around his curly tail to stay airborne.

Like most Mets fans – and the stadium looked full – I watched this game to see Noah Syndergaard and to hear many references to Thor. If only his early line drive had got past Carlos Gomez (“Thor hammered that”) or his curveball had been a little sharper (“Thor dropped the hammer on him”).

The most notable incident in the Mets’ 5-1 win was Carlos Gomez getting plunked on his ear flap by a fastball from Syndergaard. It was ugly to watch. Syndergaard remained rooted to the mound. He naturally tends to stare forward, blinking only occasionally, but you could see him shaking. He’d previously made Gomez look foolish on a curve and Gomez’s helmet – in the style of Bartolo Colon – had flown off his head.

Hey, I know chinstraps might not look cool, but they’d be much safer. But Gomez thankfully seems to be ok. He’s a great player, a honed version of the rough edged and skinny kid who played for the Mets.

Syndergaard was interesting to watch. His fastball is laser straight, but he used it particularly well to get strikes in the upper-in quadrant to lefthanders. He looked decent against righthanders too, and scratched out of a jam in the sixth. He touched 99mph to Braun in that inning, and could rear back and throw 96-98mph at will. There’s no lateral movement to his fastballs but – like Robles showed in eighth – the pace of the pitches unsettles the batters. Forget the chinstrap, I’d want a suit of armor.

It was interesting to see him lined up against Wily Peralta. Peralta won 17 games last year and his fastball – again touching high 90s at times – dances around. It ducks predominantly down and away from right handed hitters. Peralta’s stuff is amazing. But he sulked around the mound as his curves weren’t called for strikes, and he became increasingly surly and wild.

I often wonder what the point is of complaining with the home plate umpire. Daniel Murphy is the poster child for pointless arguments. The umpire was equally tight with Syndergaard’s curves, and he should have struck out Scooter Gennett on a 1 and 2 pitch in the fifth. But what can you do? I refuse to think an umpire is biased, and their strike calls are constantly monitored. We also have “Mr. Boxy” on Fox TV, an annoying white box hovering over the strike zone who is intently watching them.

The Mets five runs were largely because they kept hitting Peralta’s breaking stuff. Campbell chased a double over the third base bag and Duda clonked another double to the right field wall to score the Mets’ second run. Curtis Granderson also hit a long, long home run to lead off the game.

Granderson can now seemingly only hit pitches low and inside. But the experiment with him hitting leadoff is sort of working. His OBP is .359, which is serviceable. He struggles on defense and his arm strength has declined even further… although not as much as Khris Davis’ lousy throw on Cuddyer’s two-run single.

I’ll confess here I just like Curtis Granderson. Watching baseball in the UK wasn’t easy until the mid 1990’s. I had to watch late-night highlight shows or find ways to listen to Mets’ broadcasts. In the mid-90s a new TV channel started, Channel 5, who showed live baseball two times a week.

Fast-forward to the mid-2000’s and Granderson would appear on the Channel 5 show. I can’t imagine he was paid anything (the show aired live from 1am), yet a guy who was tearing it up for the Detroit Tigers took the time to be insightful and funny to try and broaden the appeal of the sport in my scummy little country.

I have my fingers crossed each time Granderson bats and – as Joe has said – it’s not his, or Wilmer Flores‘, or Michael Cuddyer’s fault that he’s been put into a defensive situation where his skills are exposed. Eric Campbell epitomizes the Mets team: bit-part defenders thrust into full-time roles. They’re good enough to beat the poorest teams in the NL, but are they good enough against the best?

Due to that, I have a crash mat for my flying pig against the Cardinals tomorrow. But we’ll see. He’s a nice little fella to have around and he can fly as long as he wants. The Cards are struggling somewhat but they’re a tight, well organised team. If the Mets split the four game series, that will be something positive. Will it be enough to stay ahead of the fast rising Nationals? Probably not.

Ah, well…

Mr. Alderson… exhaling a deep breath sounds an awful lot like a sigh. But I’ve still got my money – literally – on the Mets being the fifth best team in the NL. And that’s something. Something.

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Baseball Instruction from OnBaseball
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