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.

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Manager in the Bulk Materials Handling industry. He lives in Bethlehem PA with his wife and son, neither of whom fully get his obsession with the Mets.
  1. Extragooey May 21, 2015 at 10:38 am
    I for one don’t mind seeing a rotation of Harvey, deGrom, Colon, Syndergaard, and Matz. And then next year, Wheeler replacing Colon. This looks to the the staff for the next few years.

    Murphy’s bat has cooled since 2011 (looking at his overall numbers). Should really have traded him last year. Maybe you could have gotten back something then. I doubt there’s much you can get for him now.

    Mets didn’t give up much for Piazza. I’m not sure deals like that can happen anymore. Teams in general are just richer and willing to spend money to keep their free agents or potential free agents.

  2. James Preller May 21, 2015 at 11:08 am
    Interesting thought, re: Cozart. And, yes, Murphy. Not sure that Niese would be enough, and don’t think that Reynolds will entice anybody.

    You are fundamentally right, in that this is the type of deal the Mets need to make. And soon.

    Sandy’s tendency to sit on his hands has created problems, and now the season hangs in the balance. You can’t build a team around great starting pitching and couple it with the worst infield defense in baseball. Such a sloooow team.

  3. Bat May 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm
    Cappy, when you say:

    And unfortunately, the half of Murphy that was productive, his bat, has cooled off considerably.

    The bat has cooled off considerably since when? Murphy is one of the only Mets hitting over the past few weeks.

    But maybe you are saying the bat has cooled off considerably since recent years?

    Just not sure I understood that statement.

    • Dan Capwell May 21, 2015 at 2:25 pm
      Over the last few years, he has never really gotten untracked this year. Probably due to his hammy.
  4. Bat May 21, 2015 at 3:27 pm
    I apologize for posting an off-topic comment in Cappy’s thread, but I didn’t know where to put this:

    Janish, did you see this article:

    It is lengthy, but good.

    What are your thoughts about the throwing program that Leo Mazzone advocates for in this article?

  5. Steve S. May 21, 2015 at 8:40 pm
    Cozart has been awful at the plate until now (small sample), and is almost 30 years old. He is a good fielder though. Niese and Reynolds for him and a decent minor leaguer maybe.

    I’m also disenchanted with Murphy. Does he run hard to first base ever anymore?

    I’m all for your other ideas.

  6. DaveSchneck May 22, 2015 at 11:00 am
    Agreed on out of first, but disagree on sub .500. Barring injury, the pitching should keep them around .500 even with minor league offense, fielding, and baserunning.

    Agreed on Murph, nice guy, but time to move on. Good Cosell reference in half-players…some things in the game never change, at least as long as the DH stays out of the senior circuit.

    Agreed on holding onto the young SP studs. The Flores to 2B and plus fielder to SS is the move to make. While I enjoy Colon, 2 plus games in a row of BP is concerning at his age. While he is well-respected, he could find his way to a release with another 2 or 3 of those in a row. There are just too many quality starting pitching arms here.

    Niese is first man to be removed from the rotation, even given his lefthandedness, IMHO. Gee gets hurt al lot, but I just see him as a better pitcher than Niese, and a good fit on a staff of mostly power arms.

    Happy Piazza trade anniversary.

  7. Andy May 22, 2015 at 2:58 pm
    Why would the Reds do this deal? Are they desperate for a decent pitcher?
  8. david May 24, 2015 at 2:16 am
    “Do you see what I see?”

    I see a Mets team that is not just losing, but is looking really bad in getting beaten. And getting beaten regularly, badly, frequently.

    Dan’s post is interesting, and whilst the fall from grace may have been predictable this is seriously disappointing to me as a long time fan. The 1 thing Dan did not mention is to me the key to whatever else this woebegotten franchise does in the next 10 years – it is high time Terry Collins got his ticket punched.

    Want more evidence? Try this on for size – on Friday night TC speaks to Matt Harvey about going to a 6 man rotation. The Harvey goes out and lays an egg. Is it wrong for me to draw a connection? If the Mets were executing on the field, such as getting runners in from 3rd, covering the bases when they should and moving runners over, then perhaps it would be unfair to the manager. However, if you have been watching this team play baseball, you know they have been doing none of these things so who is to blame???????

    One final thought – I wrote a while back about the Mets not putting guys in the best position to succeed. At the time it was in the context of Flores, and I will do so again. Are the Mets better off with Tejada at 3rd and Flores at SS, with Murph at 2B, as is the plan tomorrow? Or are they better off with Flores at 3rd, Tejada at SS and Murph at 2nd? Or With Murph at 3rd, Tejada at SS and Flores at 2nd? And I haven’t even gotten into scenarios with Matt Reynolds on the team instead of Soup who has now been exposed repeatedly as a guy that can be pitched to at the ML level. Still, he may be a better option from the RH side on the bench than Mayberry and the bench remains pretty much useless from the point of contributions (is that not a managerial issue?).

    We are told the Mets are scared to move Flores too soon at risk of blowing his confidence, but I believe he will be a better hitter when he does not have to play SS and think so much about his defense. He is a hitter, so let him hit and stop trying to put the square peg in the round hole already. WWWD?

    • DanB May 24, 2015 at 9:21 am
      Would it matter if Collins is fired? I don’t think he has much latitude in managing the team. If he gets fired, he will be replaced by another puppet manager. The front office is running the show which is ironic to me because I think the front office doesn’t have as much latitude as we think in team building as I believe the Wilpons are more hands on then we feared.
      • david May 24, 2015 at 6:03 pm
        Another day, another beating delivered to the Mets.

        Another embarrassing display of bad fundamental baseball in the 2nd inning with runners on 2nd and 3rd and three consecutive whiffs.

        It is hard to believe this team won 11 games in a row. Where has their confidence gone? Where has their ability to execute gone? Where has this season gone?