I don't really have much to say in this space this week, because it's evidently been quite the sombering week for many of you guys. I can say it over and over again, to look at the bright side, and to not lose faith, but the only one who can really make that happen for a lot of you are the nine guys that take the field, and hope that they score more runs than the other team. At least we can all agree that this season has been anything but uninteresting, which is a lot more than can be said than some other teams like the O's, Dbacks, Pirates, and Indians, or for like the last three years in Braves Country.
So I'll take this time to say to those of you who actually are awake and cognitive on a Saturday morning to read my weekly post, to invite you guys out to Washington D.C., when the Braves are up there to take on our world-beating rival Nationals next weekend. This is something that cbtits, Smoltz's Beard and I have tentatively agreed to meet for, and it would be nice if more than four people actually showed up to a Talking Chop gathering, and so we try once again: Washington D.C., Nationals Park, next weekend. ALL Braves fans welcome, be it you're from NOVA, ROVA, DC, Maryland, West Virginia, southern Pennsylvania, it doesn't matter, come out, support the Braves, watch cbtits pout and not drink with the rest of us, and have a good time. If there is ample interest, follow-up postings will commence. For the record, the Braves are 2-4 against the Nationals in Washington D.C. for me, but the Nationals are 4-4 against everyone else in neutral games I've attended.
Welcome back to another week of Things Read in Other Moms' Basements.
Francisco Rodriguez in more trouble after sending 56 text messages to baby's mama despite orders to stay away - NYPost
I bet Joel Zumaya can't wait for pitchers to be weary of excessive text messaging, as it could be detrimental to pitching hands. Either way, restraining orders couldn't stop K-Rod from texting baby's mama 56 times in an attempt to reconcile. First, with wooing words of sympathy, to eventually the "your parents are controlling you" accusations, but either way, he's facing additional criminal counts for going against a restraining order by making texts.
Oh Mets, you kill me - NY Daily News
I remember my high school senior class photo - my group of friends and I all wore black and silver and we all did the hand signature of the former pro-wrestler Meng's Tongan Death Grip. When we got our yearbooks, we were mortified to find out that all of our hands were (crudely) airbrushed off, leaving us all with stumpy limbs, and the one of us who was black, who felt that since he is black, he didn't need to wear a shirt, had a t-shirt photoshopped onto him. But the important thing was, we were all present and accounted for, in the large group picture. That can't be said for Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez, despite their roles as overpaid but talented starting pitcher and closer.
Friday night is Hispanic Heritage Night for the Mets - MLB
A busy weekend for Matthew Cerrone - MetsBlog
So based on a lot of conversations from some inside sources, the Man of MetsBlog, Matthew Cerrone has put up a few interesting posts in regards to the future of the Mets: Who's going to be in the front office, who's going to be the next manager, and what players are likely to stay and likely to go?
Luis Castillo thinks the Mets are going to unload him - NYPost
And we Braves fans think Fredi Gonzalez is going to be the next manager.
Oh noes! Jennry Mejia also has bum shoulder - MetsBlog
No structural damage, but it's a shoulder strain, and the top pitching prospect for the Mets is going to sit out the rest of the season, and possibly the fall, as well.
Josh Johnson shut down for remainder of year with back strain - MLB
Hmm, this indeed sucks for the Marlins, since their ace won't be able to attempt to spoil the Phillies, but at least this means Johnson can't spoil us. And if you're paying attention, this is the second ace who's gone down for the rest of the season after facing the Braves (other being Santana). Not that I condone any harm coming to another human being, but I wouldn't exactly be that sympathetic if Roy Halladay decides that he can't pitch for the rest of the season after seeing him in Philly.
Dan Uggla makes a little history - MLB
And not a cheapie record like "most hits on Sunday night games on ESPN with the temperatures below 70 on full-moon nights." Dan Uggla is the first and only second baseman to post four 30 homers seasons, and on top of that, they're in consecutive years. Nobody else, has accomplished that, in all of baseball's history. Congratulations, Dan Uggla.
Clay Hensley to pick up closing duties - Miami Herald
After going 3-for-3 in his first three save chances, it's apparent that Edwin Rodriguez is going to stick with Hensley for the rest of the year, despite the fact that he's not exactly a flame-throwing typical closer, and more apt to rely on breaking pitches to generate outs. Then again, he did learn from the best, when it comes to underwhelming stuff, having been a part of Trevor Hoffman's bullpens, back when they were both in San Diego.
Mike Stanton hits a lot of homers - MLB
It took him all of 83 games, but Stanton has reached the 20 HR plateau in his rookie campaign. And then the rest of the article more or less says that he's on his way to becoming Adam Dunn (low average, high strikeouts, lots of homers, RBI).
Or maybe he's more like Wily Mo Pena - Marlin Maniac
A very scary thought for Fish fans, considering Pena flamed out pretty quickly, although I did see him out in Portland, and he was having a somewhat respectable year in AAA.
Nyjer Morgan finally suspended for eight games - MLB
I like the way they say "cut" to eight games, because there's really nothing cut here. He's absolved of the seven game suspension he was facing for the egregious claims that he deliberately pegged a fan with a ball in Philadelphia, but he's taking the full, expected eight-game suspension from his fight in Florida, which is going to cost him $15,000 on top of it. He will sit out against Philadelphia, Houston, and one game against us.
Debating between OPS Guy, Carlos Pena the baseball player, first base defense, and the importance - WaPo
An interesting debate about first base defense, how it's not necessarily that important, and now a premium defensive position, and what a good first baseman contributes. Straight out of John Dewan's mouth, he of the Dewan's Plus-Minus defensive metric:
"the most important component is offense"
And with his offense this year alone, Dunn has contributed to roughly four additional wins with his offense alone, where as Carlos Pena, a possible Nationals target this off-season has saved maybe one full game with his defense alone.
Bryce Harper headed to instructional fall league - MLB
You know it's a slow news week, and how all the usual outlets are kind of winding down the season, or maybe it's a Washington thing, what with the Redskins season underway. But Bryce Harper, still 17, is headed down to Florida to begin instructional fall league, which is more or less an excuse to show his BP again. I don't see what the big deal is, they're BP pitches, and didn't Prince Fielder hit bombs out of old Tiger Stadium when he was like 13-14? More or less, on the line for young Harper are his chances to go to the AFL, depending on how well he does in Viera.
Nationals Park is cursed? - NDN
Well, I kind of figured this to be true, but not necessarily because it's where John Wilkes Booth was once buried, but because of the simple fact it was Southeast D.C., where the cost of living perpetually stayed in 1996 when all around the area was exploding in land value, due to some less than hospitable tendencies around the area.
Doubted? Who in their right mind would ever have doubted the Phillies?? - MLB
Fine, get your "he mad" graphics ready. But this kind of column is the kind of reverse jinx psychology that just irritates the hell out of a guy like me. The Phillies have played .500+ ball every September/October since 2002, eclipsed .600+ ball four times, and actually played .700 ball in 2004. It goes without saying that the Phillies are a really good team in September, and always make a huge run in September. And this year, they're playing .800 ball, and this columnist is gloating about habitual success? I've been saying for weeks that no lead is safe against the Phillies; they've simply got way too much offense, way too much pitching, and they hang more six-run innings on a regular basis than any team that I can remember. It goes without saying that if either of our teams want to get it done, it's gotta be done ourselves, against each other, and that'll be the only one true testament to who's better.
Jimmy Rollins has sore hamstring, questionable - Philly.com
I suppose this is the only good news that the Braves might be able to look forward to, eventually going to Philadelphia for the all-deciding road trip of destiny.
Wishful thinking - Phillies Nation
It's the last line, really, but the Phillies fandom around the intertubes lately have been doing somewhat of a cardinal sin right now - looking past today, and focusing on tomorrow. Now I know it's the Nationals that they're facing, but I certainly wouldn't object if they had a little bit of a chip on their shoulders and took it to the Phils for sleeping on them, because the last time I checked, we're all pretty focused on beating the Mets right now.
Roy Oswalt and the changeup - Philly.com
Like many young players, Roy Oswalt disliked being told what to do. But as the years have gone by, it's such advice that has helped extend his career, and keep hitters honest against him, and we're referring to his changeup, which he was always so hesitant to use in his younger days, that is turning into a huge reason why he's able to perform well, mixing it in with his fastball and curve.
Why Roy Halladay should not start game 1 of the NLDS - Philly.com
Getting a hair ahead of ourselves, are we? That's cool, I encourage them to keep doing it. But long story short, why the Phils best pitcher probably shouldn't start in the playoffs? Experience. Oswalt and Hamels have a good bit of playoff experience amongst them, but the stallion Halladay clearly is inferior because he has never pitched in a playoff game before. Right.
Umm, I question your priorities, but okay, that's cool ... - MLB
If my house were to spontaneously combust, I could think of quite a few things I'd grab before my season tickets. But apparently, this New Jersey teacher couldn't think of anything else in the world that mattered to her more than her Phillies tickets, and raced back into a burning house to procure them, before the house was ultimately destroyed. I mean, I feel for the lady, but man, that's some crazy dedication, there.
Carlos Ruiz is relaxed, and subsequently productive - Philly.com
You guys know why I know he's named "Chooch?" No, not necessarily because I'll go see what the guys at TGP are doing, but because how often I've glazed over the baseball highlights, only to see how many times Carlos Ruiz has hit some clutch, late-game, go-ahead/walk-off RBI hit to steal a win from the jaws of defeat. All. Season. Long. The sooner more teams realize that Ruiz is a perfectly competent hitter, and stop relaxing on him because they finally got around Howard, Utley, Victorino and Werth, the sooner his numbers will probably come back to earth.