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.
The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.
Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.
Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.
James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.
The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.