Jon Niese Sent Down

The Mets have sent Jon Niese to minor league camp, effectively removing him from the competition for the fifth starter’s role.

The lefthander pitched eight innings this spring, allowing six runs on six hits — including two homeruns — and a startling seven walks. He did strike out seven.

Whether it was nerves, lack of preparation, or skillset, Jonathan Niese did little to suggest that he’s ready to pitch at the MLB level. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to help the Mets at some point this year, it simply means he needs more time to develop. Since we in the NYC area didn’t get to see much of Niese on TV, it’s hard to evaluate his performance. Looking strictly at the numbers, the walks are the biggest concern — spring training or no spring training, you can’t succeed walking more than one batter per inning.

The move will not only allow Niese to develop at his own pace, and away from the microscope, but will also give Livan Hernandez and Freddy Garcia more reps in game situations.

Some folks may ask why Niese’s poor numbers earn him a demotion, while Garcia’s equally awful stats allow him to stay with the big club. A few reasons, beginning with the fact that Garcia has succeeded in MLB before, while Niese has yet to do so. Secondly, Garcia is coming off an injury, and there is speculation (hope?) that he is not yet showing himself at 100%. Niese, on the other hand, is completely healthy, and what he shows today is pretty close to what he’ll show a month from now — at least, from a physical standpoint / velocity range. Additionally, if Niese is NOT throwing at 100% right now, the Mets may not think that velocity is what will help him reach the next level. They may believe his issue has more to do with command and consistency. In contrast, Garcia’s career is almost completely dependent on whether he can get his fastball close to 90 MPH, because he has shown good command of the rest of repertoire.

Personally, I’m glad Niese is out of the spotlight. He’s not ready for it, and needs to concentrate on honing his skills without outside pressures. With time, he’ll find his way to Flushing, eventually.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude March 20, 2009 at 11:06 am
    Agree on Niese. Mets’ broadcastors love to harp on the idea that Neise is the most dynamic option the team has for the #5 spot, and they may be right, but he certainly is not dynamic enough to be ML ready quite yet. In time he’ll get there. Perhaps some would have preferred Niese get his feet wet at the ML level and take his bumps a la Mike Pelfrey, with the idea of speeding Niese’s maturation along. But it’s not a guarentee that Niese would react as well as Pelfrey has, and the Mets also have the the options of going with Livan, Garcia, or Redding over Niese, whereas last year once El Duque got hurt Pelfrey was forced into action out of necessity. Niese’s best place right now is at AAA, where hopefully he can get a good 10-20 starts in against career AAAA-ers and top prospects until the Mets need to promote him. I also share the same idea about Bobby Parnell. With O’Day, Robertson, Muniz, Villone, Figueroa, Nieve, and Fossum all hanging around, there’s no need to rush Parnell. Let’s give him time to ripen and transition into a bullpen role, and try out some of our other options, who would need to be waived or released if not chosen over Parnell, first. I know we’re all excited to showcase our young gems to the rest of baseball, but there will be an approproate time and place. Just be patient.
  2. CatchDog March 21, 2009 at 5:45 am
    Joe; the plan that Livan give the Mets 15 or so starts thru the All Star break or until his WHIP heads north and then hand the ball over to Neise may work out well. Perhaps even Redding or Garcia may fit into the equation along the way but I’m hearing that Freddy may be gone after this weekend’s outing. When Neise eventually slides into the rotation, barring injury or trade, it could provide the Mets with a fixed starting rotation thru 2011 (Maine will be a FA after 2011). That is something this team has not had in a long time.

    Last season, Neise was tipping his pitches in his last start; his delivery was much slower when throwing a curve and it appeared that he was also fanning his glove a bit when he was throwing the curve from the stretch. Half of a season in Buffalo may provide the seasoning needed to compete better at the Major League level.

    Isuzu; I like your use of the phrase “we’re all excited to showcase our young gems to the rest of baseball”. Whether it’s objectivity or subjectivity, I agree with your classification on some of our young talent. Nothing wrong with being an optimist.

  3. joe March 22, 2009 at 1:46 pm
    Don’t be surprised if Livan emerges as the Mets’ workhorse and wins 12-13 games at the back of the rotation. I wouldn’t be in such a rush to get rid of him if he’s eating up innings and giving the offense a chance to belt their way to wins.

    Niese was slowing down his delivery on the curve as far back as last March, when I watched him pitch in side sessions and in an exhibition game in Port St. Lucie. Not sure if that’s going to get fixed so quickly.