Things Read in Others Moms' Basements - Around the NL East 01.15.11

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I missed an entire week of work this week, due to the icing of Atlanta. Now to some, that would be awesome, and back when I was still in school and college, I would've been on that boat. Heck, I'd be on that boat if I were a salaried employee somewhere, but I'm not. So because of this week of ice, my current assignment was closed for the entire week, since their parking lot is an ice-coated parking lot of doom. It's not like people in Atlanta don't know how to drive in the ice . . . well actually most native-Atlantans don't, but typically we're not supposed to get this kind of absolute zeroing, so the whole place is relatively ill-prepared. No matter, I've been more or less cooped up indoors this week, and going a little crazy.

But I did discover something astoundingly great recently - for you other video game nerds, if you have an XBOX Gold account, you can download the ESPN application, and actually tune in and watch some Caribbean winter league baseball. Last night, I watched six innings of DWL baseball, as the Leones del Escogido played against Gigantes del Cibao. Such familiar faces were seen as Diory Hernandez, Wilson Valdez, Starling Castro, Wilson Betemit, Fernando Tatis, as well as handfuls of names I've heard before, to where I whipped out the phone to pinpoint just who they played for. Despite the fact that I don't understand much of the commentary as it is all in Spanish, you don't really need to; baseball is this beautiful, universal language in itself where most can be interpreted just by watching. And despite the cultural differences in the setting and the language it was very much the same game as we all watched in 2010 - LOBsters everywhere, first-and-third-no-out situations resulting in zero earned runs, maybe one unearned on a boneheaded wild pitch or something, and every XBH until the sixth inning not bearing any fruit. Lots of good defense and unwavering by both teams, though.

Welcome back to another week of Things Read in Other Moms' Basements.

NATIONALS

Here we go - The Bog
Stephen Strasburg, appearing during the halftime show between a basketball game between SDSU and UNLV, said the magic words. And he's hoping to begin throwing off a mound in just a few weeks.

Livan Hernandez, likely to get the Opening Day nod against Braves - MLB
In 2005, it was Livan Hernandez, who threw out the first pitch for the newly enshrined Washington Nationals relocated Montreal Expos franchise. He would hurl an astounding 246.1 innings that year for the .500 Nationals. Midway through 2006, he was traded to the Diamondbacks, and for the next few years, toiled around anonymously and in mediocrity and filling various pitching roles for the Twins, Rockies and Mets, before finding his way back to Washington in 2009 via waivers, and staying for 2010 on a minor league deal. And then five years later, he pitches for the Nationals like 2005 was yesterday, and puts up another 200+ inning campaign, with an ERA under four. Signed for a modest $1M for 2011, it will very likely be none other than 'ol Livo again, getting the honors of Opening Day as the Nationals host the Braves in late March.

Former great and Nationals manager Frank Robinson has medical scare - Nationals Enquirer
Dizziness and an irregular heartbeat led Frank Robinson to the hospital, but upon multiple tests, it turned out to be nothing major, and he was subsequently released. I have a lot of fond memories watching Frank the manager, from all the Nationals/Braves games my best friend and I would go to, and we'd watch his stoic, stiff mannerisms, how he leaned on the guardrail without moving, as if he were asleep, and my personal favorite Frank Robinson the Manager moment:

 

That's right Frank, show that arrogant umpire what's what. Never back down.

What has the Nationals' biggest waste of money on a player been (since relocation in 2005)? - MASN
I'm surprised to see that Austin Kearns' 3/$17.5M was picked here, because as underwhelming as he may have been in relation to his salary, at least he showed up on a daily basis, kept his mouth shut, and did his job. I would've gone with Dmitri Young's 2/$10M deal, where he rewarded the Nationals in their confidence in him by reporting to the following Spring Training out of shape, and eventually benched, playing a grand total of 50 games for them under that deal.

The statistic approach to utilizing outfielders for pitching scenarios - The Nats Blog
The Nationals have a crowded outfield picture of Jayson Werth, Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, Nyjer Morgan, and Mike Morse, currently. Early ideas have different outfields, depending on the throwing arm of the pitcher, and this article uses wOBA to determine the best offensive options for the scenario. Spoiler: Nyjer Morgan sucks.

Jeff Francis latest pitcher once attached to the Nationals to go elsewhere - MASN
He's going to the Royals instead, to help contribute to the void left behind by Zack Grienke. Anyone else remember when he had a string of good starts against the Phillies and Diamondbacks in the 2007, prompting the media to collectively make messes over themselves about how "he has arrived," only for him to get lit up in game one of the World Series prefaced by a lead-off homer to Dustin Pedroia, and then would have shoulder issues which has plagued him since?

Ryan Zimmerman is really really good as baseball and the sky is blue - MLB
Aside from all the walk-off homers, and the 30 game hit streak, a whole lot of stats, some traditional, some slightly more advanced, to justify the obvious notion that most of us have already known, that Ryan Zimmerman is pretty gosh-darn shucks good at this based-ball game.

A glimpse at one of the first Bryce Harper baseball cards - Nationals Enquirer
Little does Topps realize that cbtits has probably already made his own, in preparation for Harper's eventual tenure in Potomac if not Spring Training. I couldn't help but notice the refined hand in which his signature is; he had to have been practicing that since he was maybe eight-years old or something, but how cool would it be if instead of signatures, Harper just carried around a jar of eye black around with him, and signed things by dunking his finger in it, pressing it against checks, baseball cards, or balls, and ran his finger down it, much like he does when he applies it to his face. And if he had to "authenticate" it, he could scribble "34" next to it.

Illinois high-school football team using Nats' curly W logo - The Bog
I imagine an article like this will get this shut down pretty quick. One thing I really disagree with MLB on is the disallowing of Little League organizations to use MLB team names and logos for their local teams, unless they pay out the wazoo for the rights to use official Little League MLB apparel. I understand where they're coming from, from a business standpoint, but it's still a little heartless to do this to kids; as distanced as it is watching an innocent, primal form of baseball where 9-3 putouts are a regular occurrence, these are still potentially the potential players of tomorrow to fill MLB organizational rosters down the road. But this's just me ranting. Schools "borrowing" logos is nothing out of the ordinary, I can think of two Metro Atlanta schools that have "borrowed" the Philadelphia Eagles' emblem (flipped and color changed to school colors, but otherwise verbatim), and the Minnesota Vikings logo (flipped, but otherwise not altered one bit). Maybe the NFL is a little more lenient than MLB is. Uh, make that two schools.

 

METS

How to win at K-Rod - Amazin' Avenue
Here's the skinny - despite the legal troubles, the distractions, embarassments, Francisco Rodriguez is still a Met, will be a Met in 2011, and worst yet, still owed $12.2M in 2011. Even worse is a $17.5M (paid more than Mariano Rivera, and maybe all of the Florida Marlins) 2012 option year that is triggered if K-Rod finishes 55 games for the Mets in 2011. Tampering with K-Rod's use will inevitably raise the ire of the MLBPA and cause them to file grievance, because Pujols forbid any teams try and save money when it should be paid to the players whether or not they earned it. Amazin' Avenue figures out how to 1.) Keep K-Rod happy in terms of giving him his closer's title, 2.) prevent him from reaching 55 GFs and 3.) make it look like it's not deliberate to the MLBPA, subsequently 4.) potentially keeping the Mets from having to pay for an expensive option year for an overrated head case.

Willie Harris signs minor-league deal with Mets - MetsBlog
Despite the fact that most traditional statistics point at the notion that this is a fairly negligible, inconsequential move for the Mets, I often cringe at the idea of Willie Harris as the opposition. Throughout his career, and especially since leaving the Braves, he's been quite effective playing against Atlanta in his career (.293/.906OPS in 140PAs). He stands a good chance to be the fourth outfielder, as well as backup utility infielder.

Taylor Tankersley signs minor-league deal with Mets for lefty specialist - MLB
Last week, I asked the question, who the Mets could get for the remaining $600k they had left - so far, it's been just Taylor Tankersley, whom barring any other acquisitions or minor league call-ups is looking to be the lefty specialist for the Mets' bullpen going into 2011. Brian McCann approves. (SSS, .333/1.333OPS)

Luis Castillo supposedly to receive "fair shot" to win 2B job - NY Daily News
Of course, you're going to give a guy with a $6M salary a fair shot to actually earn his money. Otherwise, you have the embarassment of an albatross sucking $6M from the team's payroll sitting on the bench.

The Mets Killers - Amazin' Avenue
So over at AA, they're doing something that I'm quite intrigued by, which is voting out a roster of bonafide Mets Killers, a position-by-position construction of a roster of players, that simply put, have historically demoralized and obliterated the Mets. Catcher, first-base, second-base, shortstop (lead link), outfield, starting pitchers, closers. And we all know, and them too, who is the de facto ultimate Mets Killer from third base.

Which team lost the largest dollar amount of payroll to the DL? Who else? - Fangraphs (h/t Amazin' Avenue)
Percentage-wise, the Mets are not the worst, however. That would be the penny-pinching Oakland A's.

Angel Pagan implores baseball fans to not count out the Mets - NY Daily News
And then goes to throw out the whole "if everyone stays healthy," condition. If healthy, maybe the Braves would have toppled the Giants in the playoffs. If healthy, the Boston Red Sox might've made the playoffs. If healthy, Mike Hampton could be closing in on 300 wins. Yeah, yeah, there's a catch to every bold statement, and despite one stellar year, Angel Pagan throws a hitch into his own.

How to not Moneyball - Ted Berg (h/t MetsBlog)
The Mets gave 1633 plate appearances to players with a sub-.300 OBP. Click the link to see how they compared to just within the division.

It bearLOLs repeating - the Bobby Bonilla deal - MetsBlog
Man, I wish I could be Bobby Bonilla, just for one stinkin' year. This came up last year, but isn't any less funny now, about how the Mets deferring $6M almost ten years ago, has turned into the Mets owing Bobby Bonilla almost $30M in interest, broken down into payments of $2M a year, for him doing absolutely nothing, until 2035.

Kris Benson officially retires after widely mediocre, overshadowed career - NY Daily News
How it Kevin Bacons to the Mets - he was a Met. How it Kevin Bacons to Atlanta - the wife of his who overshadowed his entire career was originally a stripper from Atlanta. Mercifully, most sources are omitting the latter aspect of his career out of their reports, sticking to the mediocre numbers instead. Now, to take a few steps back and laugh at Benson, his wife, and the Mets all at the same time.

[HUMOR] Terry Collins' Ten Coll-mandments - The Apple
I seriously feel the need to preface any link from The Apple with a humor tag, lest people may actually believe that some of the things Randy writes actually might be true.

The Mets Police attempts to go on the lofty quest to name the 50 Worst Mets - of ALL TIME - The Mets Police
Oof. Talk about a lofty goal. Just 50? Reading some of the rational explanations for why some guys deserve to be on the list takes me back to times when in comparison, the 3/$36M to Oliver Perez doesn't seem at all that bad.

 

MARLINS

Marlins sign four to minor league deals - Fish Bytes
As fanshotted by our own cbtits, three of these guys are former Braves. My first thought to this transaction was how with even the most minimal demonstration of every-day playing ability, Dewayne Wise is probably going to end up being the everyday center fielder for the Fish when the Chris Coghlan Centerfield experiment inevitably implodes.

Who's going to man third base? - Marlin Maniac
Maybe when the Chris Coghlan Centerfield experiment inevitably implodes, he can play third base. But until that happens, it could be a toss-up between returning Donnie Murphy, and another former Brave, Ruben Gotay. Maybe Emilio Bonifacio if he can stop sucking at bunting, but it probably won't be Oswaldo Dominguez, because the Fish are too cheap to start his service clock on Opening Day.

Is Omar Infante the long-term solution for second base? - MLB
As most of us know, Infante is great - for limited periods of time. But out of necessity, Infante might be playing everyday at second, unless when the Chris Coghlan Centerfield experiment inevitably implodes, they decide to stick him in second instead of Infante or maybe Bonfacio. Watch all these inoccuous jabs at Coghlan result in him having a great year at CF next year, making me feel silly.

In total, Marlins will have 62 players at big league camp - MLB
Aside from the 40-man roster the Marlins have invited a total of 22 non-roster players to Spring Training to compete for various roles on the Marlins. It's stories like that I'm typically glad to be a Braves fan, in which you rarely hear of fusterclucks like this occuring, because organizationally, the Braves are fairly cognitive to what most situations are, and where to assign guys, and not just throwing a lot of (crap) against the wall to see what sticks.

Was the Marlins bullpen so bad to necessitate all the bullpen moves made? - Marlin Maniac
Statistically, they weren't the worst bullpen in the National League. As Michael Jong discovers, the Marlins bullpen woes weren't that they were always abysmal, they just chose poor times to become abysmal. Did it warrant the overloading haul of the bullpen? Maybe not, but it'll still probably be better in 2011 than the year prior.

Marlins attempting to usurp modicum of credit for a modicum of a tenure - MLB
It's always funny on MLB sites that when a player retires or makes the HOF, every team that said player has played for always finds a way to segue their once-association with them. Trevor Hoffman earned two of his all-time best 601 saves with the Marlins back in 1993 in a miniscule 28 appearances, before he was traded off to San Diego, where he actually made a name for himself, saving 555 games for the Padres. In the grand spectrum of things, even Trevor Hoffman himself probably forgot that he was once a member of the Marlins, but regardless of the semantics, I've always been a fan of Hoffman, and relished the opportunity to see him finish out games in various parks, from Atlanta, Washington, Milwaukee, to San Diego.

 

Phillies supposedly interested in John Maine - High Cheese
No they're not. With a game-genie rotation, and pretty much all of their money locked up in various other players, it's like the Phillies are initiating talks with players, just to give bloggers something to write about until Spring Training comes along. With Blanton aimed to be moved, and Kendrick taking his spot in the rotation, the necessity for Maine is minimal, except to be a long-reliever in the event Chad Durbin can't come to terms with the team, and provided that he's willing to accept a minor league offer, to which probably won't be the case if one of the reported unnamed "15 interested teams" also really are interested in Maine as well.

Ryan Howard not making excuses but saying sprained ankle reason for drop-off - MLB
I'm pretty sure most of us in our lives have had sprained ankles. They don't seem that bad, and as long as you don't remain active on them and let them heal up, they recover pretty fully. But for this story to essentially blame an ankle sprain as a chief contributor in the drop-off of Howard's 2010 numbers is a little bit of a stretch. Most people aren't 6'4, 260lbs, but still, it's not like he didn't go on the DL afterward to let it heal. And the fact that to this day, he's still talking about how it's not 100% yet means that he needs to either get off his feet for a little bit longer, or start really working that Subway diet.

Why Ryan Madson should be happy - Phillies Zone
He's going to be a free agent after 2011. Rafael Soriano just signed for gigantic money, to set up. His agent is Scott Boras. Madson's agent is Scott Boras. It's not a stigmatism in his eyes, it's money bags.

Once top-prospect, now maligned starter returning to the bullpen - Phillies Nation
Phillipe Aumont, the centerpiece in the deal that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle from Philadelphia in the first place, is a prime example of rushing a prospect. The big righty with a big fastball was started in AA-Reading at the age of 21, and was proceeded to be lit up on a regular basis. He was mercifully demoted back to A-ball, where he found a modicum of comfort pitching out the bullpen for Clearwater. He won't be reporting to big league camp in 2011, and may very likely begin the season in Clearwater again, but definitely out of the bullpen.

Ben Francisco has Charlie Manuel's trust - Beerleaguer
The thought is that Ben Francisco will be adequate enough of a replacement of the departed Jayson Werth, that he could even be the guy to bat fifth, and protect Ryan Howard in the lineup. Personally, I don't have such high aspirations for him just yet, if ever. Also mentioned in the link are potentials for logical backups for Shane Victorino, with the most likely being John Mayberry, Jr.

Minor league LHP flipped for minor league 2B - Phillies Zone
Since the Phillies re-acquired J.C. Romero, they had to make room on the 40-man roster, DFA-ing LHP Sergio Escalona, who was a darkhorse candidate to fill the bullpen LHP spot, until Romero returned. So the Phillies flipped him to the Astros for minor league second baseman, Albert Cartwright, who had a toolsy 2010 between A+ and AA, hitting .294, with 30 doubles, 14 triples, 10 home runs, 55 RBI and 31 stolen bases in 127 games.

Stuff about Brad Lidge, surgery, and an upswing - Beerleaguer
Reading this article, and subsequently looking over his career numbers got me thinking about Brad Lidge's career can't possibly be much longer. At least he can say that he contributed greatly to a championship, and legitimately earned it, but when you take a look at his career, there's a pattern. Lidge dominates for a year, and then eventually gets hurt. Surgeries, rehab, rough transition working back into pitching shape, results in poor to mediocre numbers for a year, maybe a little more, and then dominance returns for a little bit. This cycle has already happened twice, and supposedly was on its upswing late last year, but the question is how much longer can this roller coaster last? At 33, Lidge isn't getting any younger, and a litany of surgically-repaired body parts isn't going to extend his career that much longer. Perhaps the Phillies should start considering heirs to the closer's role, or contemplate on maybe not exercising the 2012 option, in preparation for another down swing.

Rosterbating about Lastings Milledge - Phillies Nation
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

 

Bonus links that I was able to seek out due to all this extra time:

Tom Verducci's list of pitchers that he believes will get injured in 2011 - Sports Illustrated
In other words, potential victims of the Verducci Effect (young pitchers who exceed a 35IP+ increase from previous year, or something like that). Concerning us Braves fans is the mention of Brandon Beachy, who threw 57 more innings than the year prior, but considering the modest topping out at 153, I'd be willing to bet he doesn't face any severe arm injury. Divisional names: Alex Sanabia, FLA (#2) and Dillon Gee, NYM (#9). Have to bet that Gee will get injured over Sanabia, just because he's a Met. And, to give TheLetter2 some coniptions, the #1 candidate for arm injury is Giant Madison Bumgarner, who jumped 73 innings from the year prior. Personally, I don't really believe in the Verducci Effect as much as I look at the end result of IPs - like Cole Hamels' 2008 regular season/playoffs/WS inning total, or CC Sabathia throwing almost 300 innings in 2009 to push the Brewers into the post season.

How to remove the sticker from your baseball caps - Flip Flop Fly Ball (h/t Amazin' Avenue)
You know what one of my pet peeves is? Seeing idiots with their baseball caps who still have all the stickers on them. I actually remember when I got my all-navy alternative road blue Braves cap, the guy behind the counter at the NewEra booth at Turner Field told me that keeping the stickers on was to let you know when the cap needed to be cleaned. I gave him an incredulous look, said "oh really?" while performing the oh-so difficult instructions demonstrated in the link.

Grimace close to deal with the Tigers - MetsBlog
A little while back, in a comment, I posted an unflattering picture of this once-reputable, hard-throwing former Dodger/Red Sock/Giant who actually started an All-Star Game a few years ago. And despite his substantial off-season weight gain, he somehow has managed to finagle his way into employment for 2011. Maybe the Tigers will see this picture and think twice about finalizing.

Rafael Soriano signs three-year deal with Yankees - SBN
Our old friend who left us for some money-grubbing pursuits has finally found his way to the Yankees. Reported three-years, $35M to play the set-up man, and potential successor to Mariano Rivera, Soriano will have to shed the closer's role, and return to a set-up role once again. Such a notion doesn't seem like it should be a big deal, but far too often have once-prestigious closers found failure waiting for them when having to play second fiddle, see J.J. Putz (Mets), Tom Gordon (Yankees, Phillies), Takashi Saito (Red Sox) as examples.

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