Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that both the Dodgers and Cubs have interest in Mets left-hander Jon Niese. It’s been no secret that the Mets would like to move Niese and/or Dillon Gee in the right circumstances as that would relieve the logjam in the starting rotation.
Niese, 28, has the prorated portion of his $7 million salary for the 2015 season remaining, plus $9 million in 2016 and a $500,000 buyout for either the ’17 or ’18 season. He has a 4.12 ERA this year along with a 58/27 K/BB ratio in 83 innings.
Though Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel have both been excellent in the Cubs’ starting rotation this year, Jon Lester — the club’s big off-season signing — has struggled, as have Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood. The Dodgers have had dominating starting pitching at the top end with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, but lack depth and Niese would certainly help in that regard.
Calling Friday night’s game between the Cubs and Cardinals, MLB Network broadcaster Bob Costas laid the criticism on heavy when reliever Pedro Strop was exiting the game in the eighth inning. Strop had allowed a game-tying home run to Greg Garcia, then hit Kolten Wong, got Matt Carpenter to fly out, and walked Jhonny Peralta before manager Joe Maddon pulled him in favor of Jason Motte.
Costas said of Strop’s performance, “Motte is on his way in, Strop is on his way out, pointing toward the heavens. We can only ask, or wonder that he is asking some departed relative for forgiveness for this atrocious performance.” Deadspin has video which includes the comment.
As expected, the comment didn’t go over well. The New York Daily News reports that Costas has reached out to the Cubs’ PR department to apologize personally to Strop. The two will meet on Sunday in Chicago.
“I intended it as a kind of sarcastic comment about this overall thing where everybody seems to be pointing toward the heavens for every accomplishment, large and small,” Costas said. “That wasn’t my intention. And so I owe him an apology. And I will apologize to him tomorrow.”
Jon Lester was struggling yesterday afternoon, and after issuing a walk he jawed about the strike zone a little. You see that from frustrated pitchers pretty often.
What you don’t see pretty often is the home plate umpire taking offense at that and marching out to the mound to confront the pitcher, to the point where he literally has to be held back by the catcher. Watch home plate ump Andy Fletcher lose his cool:
On what planet is this acceptable behavior from an umpire? I would hope MLB does something about that. And, for once, does so publicly, the way it disciplines players publicly for their loss of composure.