Author: D.J. Short

Jon Niese

Jon Niese says it felt like he was pitching with knives in his shoulder last season


Mets left-hander Jon Niese was bothered by some arm issues last season, but as these things often go, we don’t learn how painful it really was until way after the fact. According to Anthony McCarron of New York Newsday, Niese said Thursday that it felt like he was pitching with “knives” in his shoulder last season. Yikes:

So count Niese among the many Met folks with high hopes for 2015, although he knows there is much to prove, too. Part of the reason for his personal optimism is another winter highlight for Niese — he no longer feels “like there are knives in my (left) shoulder,” he said. “This year it feels normal.”

Niese’s shoulder problems were so bothersome last year that, he says now, “I probably should’ve missed the first month of the season.”

Niese suffered a partially torn rotator cuff in 2013, but he only missed about six weeks and managed to avoid surgery. He came down with what was described as elbow inflammation during spring training last year and missed Opening Day, but managed to make it back in early April. The southpaw then landed on the DL in early July with a left shoulder strain, but he was right back after the All-Star break and finished out the season. The good news is that he feels OK right now — in fact he says “he’s in the best shape he’s been in since 2008” — but it’s a good thing the Mets’ have some crazy rotation depth. They are probably going to need it.

Niese, 28, posted a 3.40 ERA and 138/45 K/BB ratio in 187 2/3 innings across 30 starts last season. He’s owed $7 million this season and $9 million next year with team options for 2017 and 2018.

Mets minor league team to host “Saved by the Bell” night

saved by the bell

After their successful “Seinfeld” night last year, the Mets’ Single-A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League, are at it again. The team will host a “Saved by the Bell” night on Wednesday, June 24.

Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect:

  • Pre-game “Sprain” Dancing Competition
  • A.C. Slater’s Sitting Backwards Musical Chairs
  • I’m So Excited Fan Cam
  • Mr. Tuttle’s Learner’s Permit On-Field Obstacle Course
  • Screech Powers Chess Tournament on the Concourse Level
  • Kiss Cam complete with the usual “WOOOOOOOOOOOW” sounds since our game will also be taped in front of a live studio audience
  • Anyone named Johnny Dakota is banned from the ballpark because we “Say Nope to Dope”
  • Oldest Cell Phone in the Ballpark Competition
  • Friendship bracelet station on the concourse…singing “Friends Forever” will be optional.
  • Zack Morris TIMEOUT Race Around the Bases – kids will race around the bases, but most stop in their tracks every time they hear TIMEOUT.
  • After the game, fans with perms or wearing stonewashed jeans will be allowed to run the bases.

The players (most of whom probably weren’t born when the show went off the air) will also wear special “Saved by the Bell” themed jerseys. No word on if the opposing team will wear Valley High uniforms, but that would be cool. Click here for more details and ticket information, preppy.

I couldn’t make this post without including the video from the  “Saved by the Bell” reunion on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on NBC last night. As a 90s kid, I thought it was pretty awesome:

The Padres payroll could surpass $100 million this season

San Diego Padres Logo

The Padres had a club record $90.1 million payroll last season, but the team currently projects to be around $89 million for 2015 even after a very active offseason from new general manager A.J. Preller. Part of this is because the Dodgers are paying the great majority of Matt Kemp’s salary for this season. However, they might not be done making moves.

Team chairman Ron Fowler recently indicated to Dennis Lin of UT-San Diego that Preller still has some wiggle room with his budget, which could push the payroll over $100 million:

In an email to the U-T, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler confirmed a general payroll range for 2015: It will open above last season’s figure and could top out at a little more than $100 million.

Fowler added an important disclaimer: “However, with A.J. in the GM seat, things could change quickly. He continues to look at options to strengthen the team.”

First-year general manager A.J. Preller has landed an unprecedented haul of right-handed power, remaking baseball’s worst offense while keeping the pitching staff largely intact. Yet his most resourceful maneuvering occurred within the financial parameters of those deals; as of Feb. 5, the Padres’ payroll projects to open at roughly $89 million, a tick under the 2014 figure. (If a trade partner is found for Carlos Quentin, the club could trim a couple million or so.)

As for what could push the Padres over $100 million, many have begun to consider them the favorites to land free agent right-hander James Shields. They have also expressed interest in a trade for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. One non-pitcher possibility is Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, who Preller recently scouted while in the Dominican Republic.

Topps made a baseball card out of 50 Cent’s awful first pitch

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson Visits Citi Field

50 Cent made history last May by unleashing arguably the worst first pitch of all-time during an appearance at Citi Field. Now Topps has decided to pay tribute to the occasion by giving him his own baseball card as part of their 2015 set.


Should 50 Cent have his own baseball card? It’s a little weird, but we’re talking about baseball cards right now and that’s something we don’t do very often anymore. If that’s what they need to do to get some folks talking, that’s cool.

If you have blocked 50 Cent’s errant first pitch out of your memory — and I can’t say I blame you there — feel free to relive it below:

Cubs and Pedro Strop avoid arbitration with one-year deal

Pedro Strop AP

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2.525 million contract.

Strop was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. The 29-year-old right-hander requested a $3 million salary for 2015 and was offered $2 million by the Cubs when figures were exchanged last month, so the two sides settled just north of the midpoint.

Acquired from the Orioles along with Jake Arrieta for Scott Feldman in July of 2013, Strop has been very effective in a set-up role with Chicago, posting a 2.44 ERA and 113/36 K/BB ratio in 96 innings across 102 appearances. My goodness, that has turned out to be quite a nice deal for the Cubbies.