There are two reasons why the Mets are not winning; their bullpen is in shamble and there is not enough power in the lineup. Since bullpen production can change dramatically year from year, Sandy Alderson should be worrying about supplying this line up with another right handed power bat to hit fifth and provide protection for Ike Davis. That bat is not going to come by means of free agency, so Alderson will have to pull off a trade. Guess who his best trade chip is? Maybe it is that young left handed starting pitcher with a controllable contract and success at the major league level.
Jonathon Niese was the Mets starting rotation’s unsung hero this year. With a record of 13-9 and an ERA of 3.40, Niese was the stabilizing arm in the middle of the rotation all year long. Niese’s salary of 3 million dollars next year will go down as one of the true bargains in all of baseball. Only 25 years old, there is no reason to believe Niese will regress, but instead he will improve as he enters his prime. That is why the Mets should trade him.
The Mets farm system is not getting as much respect as it should be getting. From Matt Harvey showing glimpses of what Mets fans can expect for the next decade, to Zack Wheeler waiting in the wings and being hailed as a top ten prospect in baseball, to younger prospects like Michael Fulmer and Rafael Montero dominating their levels this year, the Mets are in great shape when it comes to starting pitching depth. As players age and their contracts expire, the Mets will have no problem replacing their starting pitchers over next few years.
With a surplus of quality starting pitching prospects, the Mets can start dealing from that strength to plug the holes on this team. R.A. ‘Cy Young’ Dickey’s emergence allows the Mets to have this flexibility. As of now the Mets have Dickey, Dillon Gee, Harvey, Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Santana, and possibly Wheeler in the mix for the starting rotation in 2013. If the Mets were to trade Niese, they could run out a rotation of Dickey, Gee, Harvey, Santana, and Wheeler (this is assuming he could beat Pelfrey out for the spot which would allow the Mets to try Pelfrey out as a closer). That is a rotation the Mets could win with even though the loss of Niese’s consistency in the middle of the order would be felt as Harvey and Wheeler go through their growing pains as younger players.
So who could Niese haul back? This writer is not here to start rumors, but there has been a lot of chatter about a possible Niese for Justin Upton swap. Sandy might have to part with an extra arm or two (arms like Luis Mateo and Domingo Tapia), but it would be a trade he would have to pull the trigger on. His 17 HR production from this year and 2010 does not scream power hitter, but his 26 HRs from 2009 and his 31 HRs from 2011 certainly does (in 2011, at the age of 23, Upton finished 4th in NL MVP voting).
Upton has been in the league so long people forget that he is only 25 years old yet he has 6 years of MLB experience. He has not even entered his prime yet and is young and controllable until 2015. Also, he is a childhood friend of Wright and could convince Wright that the Mets are heading in the right direction as an organization. With a middle of the order of Wright-Davis-Upton, the Mets line up could be dangerous for years.
Niese for Upton. Makes a whole lot of sense doesn’t it?