Fernando Nieve Rumors

Minor League Transactions: Free Agents, Herges, Ramirez

Matt Eddy of Baseball America brings us minor league transactions for October 3rd to 9th, the first full week of the offseason for most clubs. Here are a few notes of interest from the latest series of minor league moves across the league:

Mets Designate Fernando Nieve For Assignment

The Mets designated Fernando Nieve for assignment after last night’s loss, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. In need of relievers, the team flew in right-hander Manny Acosta from Triple A and he will replace Nieve on the roster, according to the Mets.

The Mets claimed Nieve off of waivers from the Astros last year and he responded by posting a sub-3.00 ERA in 36.2 innings of work. This season, the 28-year-old Venezuelan has a 6.00 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Mets' decision to designate Nieve had something to do with the five runs he allowed the D'Backs to score in his relief appearance Monday.

Odds & Ends: Dye, Mets, Lincecum, Vazquez, Colon

Some links for your Friday afternoon…

Mets Moves: Valentin, Armas, Spivey, Nieve

4:01pm: Hubbuch says the Mets put Nieve on waivers and will keep Rule 5 reliever Darren O'Day.  Nieve, who is out of options, was claimed from the Astros recently.

12:20pm: According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the Mets released veterans Jose Valentin, Tony Armas Jr., and Junior Spivey today.  Valentin could return to the organization as a coach eventually.

Mets Claim Fernando Nieve

According to Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, the Mets have claimed right-hander Fernando Nieve off irrevocable waivers from the Astros.

Nieve squeezed in just 10 2/3 innings last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2007.  He could be used in middle relief in New York, but will need a really nice showing over the last few weeks of spring training to make the squad.  Nieve posted a 4.20 ERA over 96 1/3 innings during the 2006 season.

Astros Place Fernando Nieve On Waivers

According to Ed Price of Fanhouse, the Astros placed pitcher Fernando Nieve on waivers this week.  Nieve is out of options, so the only way the Astros can send him to the minors is if no one claims him.

Nieve, 26, spent most of ’08 at Triple A.  He posted a 5.72 ERA in 72.3 innings there but did average 92.5 on this fastball in his Major League stint.  He had Tommy John surgery in May of 2007.

Astros’ Rotation Spots Open; Mets Sign Trio

A few notes popping up:

  • The Houston Astros will have tryouts for the starting rotation at Spring Training. Felipe Paulino and Fernando Nieve are both young arms that will be considered, Alyson Footer of MLB.com reports. The Astros are tentatively counting on Roy Oswalt, Mike Hampton, Brandon Backe, Wandy Rodriguez and Brian Moehler to fill out their rotation.
  • The New York Mets have finalized deals with utilityman Rob Mackowiak, right-handed pitcher Kyle Snyder and left-hander Jon Switzer to minor-league deals. The three will be competing for 25-man roster spots at Spring Training, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports.

Carroll: Astros-Rangers Trade?

Will Carroll’s latest rumor mill is churning up a new trade scenario:  Brad Wilkerson and Rod Barajas for Brad Lidge, Morgan Ensberg, and Fernando Nieve.

Barajas is most certainly expendable with Gerald Laird hitting .347/.380/.579 in 121 at-bats this year.  Barajas will be a member of this offseason’s weak free agent catcher class.

Wilkerson’s been subpar this season even while playing at Ameriquest, so I don’t see how swapping out Ensberg’s bat for his helps the club.  Even Barajas’s below-average hitting would be an improvement upon Brad Ausmus, but the Astros just wouldn’t gain enough in the proposed deal.  I have to think more players from Texas would be involved.

Carroll On Tejada-Astros Discussions

Baseball Prospectus author Will Carroll has opened up Will’s Mill for the weekend, and he’ll be burning up the phone lines fishing for all sorts of good trade rumors.

Today he mentions an offer Tim Purpura has given to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada: Adam Everett, Morgan Ensberg, and Fernando Nieve.  According to Carroll, Tim Purpura is focused on Tejada and is being urged by Roger Clemens to go get him.

In Everett, the Orioles would be acquiring the game’s best defensive shortstop.  His hitting, at .241/.300/.327 this year, lags far behind the average AL shortstop.  The average AL shortstop is hitting .286/.342/.423, similar to the work of Eric Chavez or A.J. Pierzysnki this year.

On the 10th of June, Ensberg bruised his shoulder diving for a foul ball.  He was hitting .256/.380/.562 at that point, though he hadn’t done much in May or June.  In Ensberg’s 18 games after the shoulder bruise, he hit just .158/.422/.263.  He drew plenty of walks but the power that resulted in 36 HR last year had vanished.  Ensberg took live batting practice yesterday for the first time since being placed on the DL on July 10th. 

Nieve, 24, has a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider.  He was just sent down to Triple A a week ago because of Brandon Backe, but had been demoted to the bullpen upon Roger Clemens‘s return in late June.  It’s just a 15 inning sample, but Nieve did pretty well as a reliever: 8.2 K/9, 2.94 ERA, 1.17 WHIP.  As a starter he had a 5.6 K/9, 4.67 ERA, and 1.28 WHIP.  It is a fact that many pitchers add several miles per hour to their fastball by switching to relief, and Nieve’s two plus pitches make it easy to envision him as a future closer or top set-up man.