Tag: Jonathan Niese

johan santana getty

Johan Santana throws lightly off mound in Mets camp


Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters on Saturday that Johan Santana probably wouldn’t be ready to throw off a mound for another “10 days or so.”

But that estimate was about nine days off.

ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports that Santana made light tosses from a mound on Sunday morning in Mets camp. He clearly wasn’t throwing his hardest and the catcher receiving those throws squatted a few feet in front of home plate. But it has to be considered some sort of progress for the lefty.

Santana intentionally scheduled a light offseason workload and has been playing catch-up for the past few weeks in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Jonathan Niese may have to start on Opening Day in his place.

Jon Niese didn’t need heart surgery after all

Jon Niese
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Back in June Jonathan Niese left a start with a rapid heartbeat. He missed a couple of days but then came back and finished out his season, with doctors deciding that he did not need a heart procedure — an ablation procedure — until the offseason.

Now it’s the offseason and the doctors have changed their mind again: he doesn’t need it. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports:

“The doctors just said that it was nothing major and that I didn’t need to have surgery,” Niese said via telephone Monday evening. “I’m just going to go on as normal and that’s it. It’s a really good thing.”

Niese finished the season 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA in 190 innings.

The National League is poised to have some excellent rotations

Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez

Even with Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez still up for grabs, the National League already seems set to sport some excellent rotations in 2013. How about this for the top four:

Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Dan Haren, Ross Detwiler
Giants: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito
Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick
Reds: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey

The Haren addition gives the Nationals an edge over the Giants, in my opinion. There seemed to be league-wide concern about his back and hip, but he should be another above average starter to go along with the three potential aces already in the rotation.

The second four doesn’t look too bad, either:

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook
Braves: Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado
Mets: R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Jonathan Niese, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee

The Dodgers may very well add Greinke and join the top tier. They also have Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu pending, and while there’s been some skepticism of late about getting him signed, there’s certainly nothing stopping the Dodgers from coming up with the money.

The Cardinals have question marks in their top five, most notably with Garcia’s shoulder. But they have Shelby Miller and maybe Trevor Rosenthal, if they choose to use him as a starter, ready to step in.

Likewise, the Braves’ group isn’t quite so impressive at the moment, but their best pitcher, Brandon Beachy, is planning a midseason return from Tommy John surgery.

And then there’s the Mets, if they don’t trade their Cy Young Award winner.

Honorable mention to the Diamondbacks, who have Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and some excellent prospects behind them, as well as Daniel Hudson perhaps returning from Tommy John in June or July.

Jon Niese won’t undergo his heart procedure until the offseason

Jon Niese
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Jonathan Niese left Sunday’s start with a rapid heartbeat. Yesterday he told reporters that he’d have the ablation procedure to correct it at the All-Star break.  Today, however, the Mets announced that it will go down in the offseason.

Given that the doctors were likely weighing  the danger of the heartbeat thing against the disruption the ablation procedure would cause for his season and came out in favor of pushing the procedure off suggests that, no, the heartbeat thing is not a major concern.

Let’s not go overboard for Jonathan Niese now

Jon Niese

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, we have the Blue Jays, Padres, Red Sox, Rockies and Yankees all in on Mets left-hander Jonathan Niese. And it’s easy to see why teams would be interested. Niese is a 25-year-old left-hander making close to the minimum with a decent track record and pretty legitimate stuff.

The most intriguing thing about Niese is that he’s fanned 7.65 batters per nine innigs as a major leaguer. That’s a better mark than Dan Haren, James Shields, Matt Cain or Cliff Lee. CC Sabathia barely tops him at 7.68. Being that strikeout rate is pretty much the best indicator available for future success, it’s no surprise there’s quite a bit of demand for Niese.

But there’s something to be very cautious about here, too. Niese appears to suffer from Glendon Rusch disease, in that he gives up hits at a much greater rate than one would expect given his strikeout and home run rates. The major league batting average on balls in play last year was .291. Niese finished at .333. Usually when something like that happens, it gets written off as a fluke and the pitcher gets talked about as a bounce-back candidate for the next year.

It doesn’t appear to be a fluke with Niese, though. He came in at .324 in 2010. In 2009, he was at .313 in Triple-A and .317 in five major league starts. In 2008, he was at .304 in the minors and .375 in three major league starts. In 2007, he was at .340 in high-A ball.

In Niese’s case, this likely has a lot to do with a lack of fastball movement. He can get swings and misses, particularly with his breaking balls, but hitters tend to line up hit fastball pretty well. It’s not something that figures to change, so Niese may well be one of those guys who is never quite as good as his peripherals.

That doesn’t mean he’s not worth having; Niese is still a perfectly acceptable No. 4 starter as is. But the price will be significant, and teams expecting him to break through will probably be disappointed.