Mets would need to be “knocked out” to trade Jon Niese

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There was an interesting report by Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com yesterday that Mets’ left-hander Jon Niese was available in a trade centered around Rockies’ outfielder Seth Smith. It didn’t make a lot of sense on the Mets’ end, barring the inclusion of a third team, and it turns out there isn’t much to it.

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, the Mets have “zero interest” in parting with Niese in a deal involving Smith. What’s more, he hears they would have to be “knocked out” to trade him. I assume that doesn’t mean literally. MLB probably wouldn’t be happy about that.

Anyway, this seems to jibe with what Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is hearing, specifically that Niese, Ike Davis, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia are off-limits in trade talks for Athletics’ left-hander Gio Gonzalez. However, if that’s true, Gio Gonzalez probably won’t be a Met.

Niese has a 4.39 ERA over his first 370 2/3 innings in the majors, averaging 7.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. The 25-year-old southpaw has traditionally underperformed relative to metrics like FIP and xFIP, mostly due to an usually high batting average on balls in play. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time next winter and under team control through 2015.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.