Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Trade Target: Jon Niese

Courtesy of slgckgc licensed by Creative Commons
Recently it was reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the New York Mets are getting offers on pitcher Jonathan Niese with the Blue Jays among the teams interested. Niese is a 25 year old starter whose repertoire consists of a 90 mph fastball with solid command, a dominant curveball and a solid cutter and changeup. Niese's traditional stats suggest he is somewhat of a mid to back of the rotation starter with a career 4.39 ERA and 22-23 record, but the peripheral stats suggest he is much better. Above all of this what I find particularly interesting is he seems to be Ricky Romero's statistical twin. They are both southpaws who have similar service times (Niese at 2.107, Romero at 3.000), but there is a lot more.

For starters both Romero and Niese have the exact same career strikeout rate at 19.2% and are similar in their walk rates at 7.5% and 9.4% for Niese and Romero respectively. Beyond that Niese and Romero are also very similar in their batted ball profiles with Niese's career numbers at a 20.5 LD%, a 49.1 GB%, and a 30.3 FB%, while Romero's numbers are at a 17.2 LD%, a 54.7 GB%, and a 28.2 FB%. To top it off both Romero and Niese have similar home run rates at 11.8 HR/FB% and 10.7 HR/FB% in their careers.

Not only are Romero and Niese statistical twins, but Niese's actual rate stats as well as his adjusted ERAs suggest that he is much better than he has shown, which makes him a prime trade target. Over his career Niese has consistently outperformed his ERA with a career ERA at 4.39, but with a career FIP at 3.77 and a career xFIP at 3.64. Most particularly notable is Niese's xFIP from this past season which was at 3.28 and 1.12 points lower than his 4.40 ERA. Niese's career low xFIP if qualified would have ranked 14th in the league between Anibal Sanchez and Dan Haren. Some of the xFIP is probably derived from Citi Field, but taking in to account that Niese is mainoly a groundball pitcher means that Citi shouldn't affect his numbers too much.

All of this Niese hyping is nice, but really doesn't meaning anything if he doesn't come for the right price. On the Getting Blanked Podcast they suggested Snider plus something else, because Snider alone probably isn't enough. I would suggest something along the lines of Travis Snider and Deck McGuire, Snider an outfielder which is something that the Mets could use and a pitching prospect who projects as a mid rotation starter. It is a steep price to pay and it could leave you with having to play Thames in LF for 2012, but for a guy who is right now an easy #3 in the AL East with his groundball style and one who could easily become a Romero 2.0, which is a very valuable commodity. Romero made the adjustments as a 25 and 26 year old pitcher, why can't Niese?

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