(Editor's note: Don't worry, it's safe to read this. I'm not yanking your chain on anything for April Fool's Day.)
So the Mets will use some of that money that Jose Reyes didn't get to lock up Jon Niese for five years, plus another two at a team option. Dare I say it ... the Mets did something responsible? Wise? Smart? Yes, all of the above. When asked what he would do with the money, Niese replied that he could now pay for his own cosmetic surgeries, and was planning a face lift, a tummy tuck, and collagen for his lips.
But this is what the Mets need to do: Recognize young talent, lock it up long term for an affordable price, and move forward without necessarily having to fill holes with expensive free agent signings (looking squarely at you, Jason.) The Mets obviously think that he's ready to take the next step in his development and are basically betting on a season that is a marked improvement from his last two, which have been pretty steady. If he does, the Mets come out ahead. If he doesn't, and if the contract works out to be similar to Derek Holland's as is being reported, then he isn't going to be that hard to trade ... seems like a very team friendly contract if that's what it is. I think Niese will be all right and will respond with a pretty good season.
Only question is, can he close? After Frank Francisco's horrid spring and Jon Rauch giving up a grannie to a guy who had one career home run ... in the minor leagues, poor Terry Collins might have to ask Niese to close on his throw day as he's searching for answers.
The ironic part about this is that the Mets had done the same thing with Mike Pelfrey entering his age 25 season, which was pretty good (Niese is entering his age 25 season now), it would have also seemed like a shrewd move, but we'd be pulling our hair out over it now. We're sad enough that the Mets tendered him at a shade over five and a half million. But I want to share with you some reaction to the notion that Pelfrey was in danger of losing his job this spring:
For most players, it's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when spring training switches from simply getting your work in to pitching for your job. (...) That precise moment occurred two days after his March 18 start in Kissimmee, where the Astros hammered him for eight runs in 2 2/3 innings to raise his ERA to 14.90. Terry Collins called Pelfrey into the manager's office that morning and delivered a not-so-subtle message.
"This front office isn't like the one you've had in years past," Pelfrey said Collins told him. "This kind of stuff isn't good. They want answers." (...)
"My first reaction wasn't panic, like 'Oh my God, I want to know what's going on, what do they think is wrong with me?' " Pelfrey said. "I was OK. I felt fine. But I also thought I better get it going a little quicker. I better get after this. It was my understanding that I didn't have to compete for a job, that this was the time to work on stuff, my cutter, my circle changeup. Then when Terry talked to me, I was like, I better get some people out."
So Pelfrey gives up eight runs in less that three innings to Chico's Bail Bonds ... after going 7-13 in 2011, and this is a big shock to him? Was one of the perks of his contract having a sensory deprivation tank on road trips? Or maybe a sensory deprivation rock that he could live under? Pelfrey thought he was okay because the ball felt good coming out of his hand? I have things that feel good in my hand ... nobody is paying me $5 million a year for it.