Around the NL East - Charitable Dickey ignores Mets pleas, Nats fifth starter, should Victorino be extended, Marlins new stadium goes aquatic

NEED MOAR HAPPY TIMES IN TWENTYTWELVE

As the year 2011 winds down to a close, I'd just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all Talking Chop readers. Thanks for your readership, thanks for your words, knowledge and insights and opinions we may or may not always agree on. Your one-time visits, or your frequent stopping by. The site's not fun without readers to share it with, and not so great without a community that's so willing to share back.

The Braves might not have fulfilled destiny in 2011, but it was still a good, exciting season regardless. Here's to hoping for better fortune, more excitement, and more good baseball in 2012, and such sentiment goes out to each and everyone one of you.

Welcome back to the basement.

METS

Mets really don't want R.A. Dickey to do charity mountain climb - Wall Street Journal
I can see this from both sides. MLB and the Mets don't want their most reliable pitcher scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro, because it's really really dangerous, and if he gets hurt, the Mets are boned. They're threatening to void the last year of his deal if he does it and gets hurt, which I can understand from the business standpoint. However, the purpose of the climb is to raise awareness of the underage human sex trafficking in India, which is a rampant problem. Somehow, I'm betting that Dickey does it anyway, and doesn't get hurt, and this all becomes a moot point in the end.

Mets spent $142M and still ended up in fourth place - Amazin' Avenue
After you read a headline like that, there's really not much I can add to it. They spent a ton, and made very little results. Granted, some of it is still coping with the Minaya mess left behind, but still, that stings.

Citi Field's ranking dropped to Negative by Standard's and Poor - Bloomberg.com

Major League Baseball’s Mets sold tax-exempt bonds in 2006 and 2009 backed by revenue such as luxury suites, concessions, naming rights and parking fees. Cash flow has declined each year since the 42,000-seat stadium opened in 2009. Last year, attendance fell 27 percent to 2.29 million.

Daniel Murphy turns to faith during his latest rehabilitation - NY Daily News
An unfortunate man, plagued by injuries throughout his career, where else can he turn to, without becoming too dark? I'm not a religious person, but I'm all for doing whatever non-illegal things necessary to get one's self back into a positive state of mind.

Rob Johnson signs minor league deal with Mets - NY Post
Looking at a depth chart of Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas/Rob Johnson makes me feel really fortunate seeing Brian McCann and David Ross. Just sayin'

Slow week? Slow week - SBNation
You know it's slow when Rob Neyer is talking about fake rumors gone awry.

NATIONALS

Battle for the #5 starter spot - The Nats Blog
The Nationals' rotation is pretty clear right now - Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang. The fifth spot is somewhat of a conundrum, with two possible candidates. John Lannan, who is going to be due close to $5M in arbitration, or Ross Detwiler, he of zero options left, who would have to pass through waivers which he probably wouldn't, given the fact that he still has a decent arm. Decisions, decisions.

Nationals likely to wait for a center fielder - Nationals Journal
This is probably the smart move to make. In an interim basis, Jayson Werth could feasibly play CF, or maybe the tandem of Mike Cameron and Roger Bernadina could. Mike Morse is going to be in left, unless Adam LaRoche completely bombs, moving him to first. Regardless, most of the outfield positioning really depends on two things - the Spring Training of Bryce Harper, and Adam LaRoche's recovery.

Why Adam LaRoche will be the first baseman - The Nats Blog
Short answer: He's due $8M. Now, I know the Nats were smart enough to avoid this folly with Cristian Guzman two years ago, but there was a talented young capable rookie in Ian Desmond ready and able to fill the position. Not quite so much with LaRoche. Chris Marrero is hurt and Morse could feasibly play first, but then there's a hole in the outfield. A bigger one if Bryce Harper isn't ready. So aside from the financial obligation, it's going to take some serious injuries and/or poor production to keep LaRoche out of the position.

Little kid takes Drew Storen deep - Nats NQ
Granted it wasn't a 96 mph fastball, but it's definitely amusing to watch this video clip, and probably a huge rush for the kids involved.

PHILLIES

Why has the WAR leader over the last two years not been extended? - Beerleaguer
Shane Victorino has contributed almost ten full wins above replacement over the last two years, narrowly edging past Chase Utley. 2012 is his walk year, so the question is why haven't there been any reports about possibly extending their best player? For starters, the Phillies are kind of tied up financially a little bit, and with the recent re-signing of Jimmy Rollins, and the also necessity to secure Cole Hamels, their plate is kind of full as it is already. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what happens with Victorino, especially if he goes walk-year crazy statistically.

Can Joe Blanton bounce back? - Phillies Nation
Regardless of his condition, Joe Blanton is owed $8M in 2012. So the question is, can he prove healthy, reclaim his starting job, and then possibly become a useful trade chip, or are the Phillies going to have to eat $8M?

The Case for Gaby Sanchez - Fish Stripes
Aside from the fact that the Marlins missed out on a play to get Albert Pujols, I wasn't aware that there was ever a case against Gaby Sanchez. The thought of that alone is pretty preposterous, because when not comparing him to Albert Pujols, Gaby Sanchez is an excellent player, still under team control for several more years, and is solid as a rock. I get the whole statistical analysis of his age, how "he's peaked," and what he looks like compared to the Pujolses and Cabreras, but to consider him league-average is pretty absurd. Compare Sanchez to like Lyle Overbay, and figure that.

Wow, they went this long? - Sun Sentinel
Apparently, all this time, the Marlins (the Marlins!) didn't actually have someone who spoke any Spanish working in their minor league player development department. Former Rays bullpen coach, Bobby Ramos is going to change that role. I'd imagine such a luxury would kind of be important:

While he was in the Astros’ organization, he taught Melvin Mora how to use a washing machine. He even had to instruct others how to operate hot and cold water faucets.

The hindsight game, starring Cameron Maybin - Fish Stripes
Currently, the Padres are engaging in extension talks with CF Cameron Maybin, the guy sent to the Padres for relievers. Maybin has done well for himself out in San Diego, while the Marlins unsuccessfully tried to convert Chris Coghlin into a CF (told you so). Should this be something that could be filed under the regrets folder? I doubt it - Maybin felt shunned by the Marlins and responded accordingly; if he didn't get moved, he probably wouldn't have produced for the Fish as he did with the Padres.

New Marlins stadium to be aquatic themed - MLB
Who could possibly have seen this coming? Why they're at it, to make it feel more like Miami, they should deliberately not put enough parking in their garages (so 10 spaces instead of 12), and have them be metered, so that you have no idea how much time to allot yourself, so when the game goes into extra innings, everyone's cars are either booted or towed.

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