Mets Acquire Fernando Nieve

Hot off the heels of shutting down Tim Redding, the New York Mets have claimed Fernando Nieve off waivers.

Nieve, a 26-year-old righthander, was vying for a spot of the Houston Astros’ rotation. The hard-throwing Venezuelan has struggled in his young career with injuries, and posted an 8.44 ERA in 11 relief appearances for the Astros last year. He had been competing for one of the last two slots on the Houston staff against MLB veterans Brian Moehler, Russ Ortiz, and Jose Capellan.

In 4 2-3 innings this spring, Nieve has allowed eight hits, seven runs and walked six. Astros manager Cecil Cooper acknowledged that Nieve had been a disappointment.

“Nieve needs to step up because he hasn’t pitched the way I’d hoped,” Cooper said. “He’s lost some ground.

“It’s imperative that he pitches well,” Cooper said. “He has a great arm; right now I’m just not seeing it.”

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. CatchDog March 15, 2009 at 6:04 am
    Joe; This guy sounds exactly like Freddy Garcia part deux except younger. Coming back from surgery with no arm strength yet. Another guy to clog the scene in Buffalo or Binghamton.

    Speaking of injured pitchers; Life takes Visa but apparently Tony Armas doesn’t. I know this is a tad off subject but does anyone know exactly where Armas fits in to the Mets plans? I understand that the guy has been a huge disappointment career wise, however with Redding shut down and Garcia throwing beach balls, it seems like this would be a solid opportunity for Armas to move towards the head of the non rostered invitee’s line. Last season ended with surgery. I would assume that Omar checked him out before resigning him. I inquired about him at ST but it appears that not much is expected of the guy. Any thoughts?

  2. joe March 15, 2009 at 11:55 am
    Nieve was once a major flamethrower — like 97-98 MPH territory — and he doesn’t have Garcia’s resume. But since the elbow injury he’s throwing “only” 93-94. To me he’s a poor man’s version of Amby Burgos. With time and patience he could get back up there, who knows?

    I like Armas, and see him as a very cheap, no-risk insurance for the #5 spot in the rotation. Omar Minaya is a huge fan of him, and will give him a shot at a job.

    If Armas is healthy, he has an outside shot to go north, though I’d hope the Mets give the last pitching staff spot to Nelson Figueroa, who has pitched great in the WBC. Most likely, Armas starts the year in AAA and is the first starter promoted when someone falters / hits the DL.

  3. upson March 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm
    Joe, I agree on Armas. I guess the same goes for Figgy as well. They will be both kept in AAA as an insurance. On the other hand, I expect their chances of making the opening day roster to be very slim. The reason is that they are not on the 40-men roster right now and, if activated, they cannot be sent directly back to Buffalo. As the Mets want to keep them as insurance, they will not risk losing them through waivers.

    Hence, my guess is that the Mets will first give opportunity to guys who already are on their 40-men roster and cannot be sent directly to the minors. If I am correct, this means O’Day, Cherry (rule 5), Stokes, Knight and now Nieve (out of options) have an inside track for the three remaining bullpen spots. Barring injuries, I expect the above group to take at least two of the spots with the third possibly going to Parnell or some LHP. I do not see a room for Figgy or Armas though. (Although I’m sure both will get a chance during the season.)

  4. joe March 15, 2009 at 2:48 pm
    Thanks Upson, those are excellent points that are surely part of the equation.

    I would be surprised if they brought Parnell north, unless he shows something remarkable in the next two weeks. They may want to prolong one of his options as long as possible.

  5. upson March 15, 2009 at 5:02 pm
    Joe, I totally agree with your take on Parnell. However, Adam Rubin has been mentioning his name consistently pretty much from the beginning of the ST. I have not quite understood the reasoning but now with Duaner and Redding out of the picture, he might be actually right.

    On a related note though, I would not be entirely surprised if Omar was also creating some roster room for a possible later waiver list pick-up. I do not follow other teams very much, but I’m sure there are some teams with abundand pitching and limited roster space. [The Rays and Jason Hammel comes in mind, for instance. Also, Philip Humber is out of options.]

    I cannot help but thinking how this Redding injury helps the Mets. I did not like the idea of him being a long man and having him on the DL gives the Mets some flexibility early in the season.

  6. joe March 15, 2009 at 5:50 pm
    I’m not sharing the excitement surrounding Parnell just yet. Rubin, I believe, is Tony Bernazard’s PR guy … at the least he’s one of Bernazard’s mouthpieces, and of course if Parnell is seen as a valuable commodity it helps justify Tony’s existence as director of player development.

    Another good point you have, Upson …. Omar could very well be creating roster room to pick up someone valuable in the last week of March. Certainly it has to be a strategy to consider, since the relievers we’ve seen in Port St. Lucie have been underwhelming. On the one hand, I do like the array of arms in camp, and like the idea of having most of them available for the AAA shuttle. But on the other hand, few have shown anything to distinguish themselves.

    I think the Mets would prefer that Redding be healthy and pitch like he did for DC last year … but I’m with you on this one. That $2.25M deal is looking worse and worse … especially considering the other players and pitchers who could have been signed for the same or less.

  7. Walnutz15 March 16, 2009 at 7:35 am