Things Read in Others Moms' Basements - Around the NL East 02.12.11

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Monday night was the conclusion to Serie del Caribe. Both Mexico and Puerto Rico were 3-2 going into the final day; meaning that losses by both teams would result in a four (out of four teams)-way tie, with the two teams scoring the most runs playing a tie-breaker the next day. Mexico losing and Puerto Rico winning would give the crown to P.R., so due to my newfound fandom in Karim Garcia, I was hoping for a Mexico win, and a Puerto Rico loss. Mexico did their job, and defeated Venezuela game 3-2, with Karim Garcia going 0-4 with a strikeout, and Luis Ayala, of all people, recording the five-out save. So it all came down to the final game, with Puerto Rico needing to beat the Dominican Republic to force a tie-breaker against the Mexican team they were already 2-0 against, or else Mexico would be crowned the champions.

With nothing but pride to play for at this point, the Dominican Republic team played hard, and gave Puerto Rico hell. It was probably the most entertaining winter league game I'd seen. The highlight of the night came in the top of the 8th when P.R. loaded the bases, and their most potent slugger, Pedro Valdes crushed one into right center. Our very own Jose Constanza and RF Ricardo Nanita charged back, and two steps into the track, Nanita comes up with it, preventing a game-tying double. The Dominicans shut the door, and it was a truly intriguing sight afterward. 40% of the fans in attendance were Mexican, ready to party, and beginning to party, for their country's victory in the SDC. 40% were Dominican, cheering on their home country's victory for pride. 20% were disappointed Puerto Ricans, with many of them shown leaving early, like the losing team at an American baseball game. Yet the team that actually won the SDC, Team Mexico, were nowhere to be seen. Imagine if the victor of the World Series was dependent on two other teams? It's actually kind of strange when the winners of it all, aren't actually there.

But man, it was great to watch some competitive baseball through a winter month, and I look forward to it next winter too. Catchers and pitchers report next week, with the rest of the players four days afterward. And then we're on the official path to the return of baseball. Welcome to another week of Things Read in Other Moms' Basements.

METS

Mets hire strength and conditioning coach - NY Post
Out of everything that's happened to the Mets over this off-season, this is potentially one of the biggest moves for the club, considering the long list of injuries that has plagued the team in recent years. Brad Andress, formerly of the Rockies from 2000-2008.

He's healthy, but not ITBSOHL - NY Daily News
Jose Reyes is also waffling around the topic of his contract situation, season aspirations, and injury history.

Chris Capuano being used to take shots at Oliver Perez - NY Post
In a not-so veiled fluff post about how Chris Capuano is expecting a productive season, the Post makes sure to call him the Anti-Perez, as well as mention that Oliver Perez opted to not come to the voluntary workouts down in PSL before pitchers and catchers report.

Mets sign Dale Thayer to Minor League deal - Amazin' Avenue
Who cares about his career numbers, he's got an awesome mustache.

And LHRP Casey Fossum too - ESPN
Not the mustache, but signed by the Mets to a minor league deal.

Sorry Nationals fans, blame Harold Reynolds - MetsBlog
Because everything Harold Reynolds says eventually ends up being wrong, blame him for when the Mets squeeze out a fourth place finish, making the Nationals last place again.

Should the Mets consider changing the name of Citi Field? - NY Times
In light of recent events that I'm going to try to steer away from at the risk of trying to write about stuff way over my head, this editorial questions whether or not the Mets should be associated to another company that was also once plagued with financial hardships and had to be bailed out.

Mets scouts expected to do more work; to the tune of what half of MLB scouts already do - NY Daily News
Mets scouts are now going to be assigned scouting of three organizations - and not just the major league teams, but all the way down to Low-A. There are concerns about logistics, spreading too thin the scouting depth, but the thing is, over half of MLB organizations utilize their scouts in a similar way. Now that I think about it, here's where the next Moneyball is - the team that hires 29 scouts to each be responsible for one organization is the next one to find some success, through thorough and in-depth scouting.

Owning it - MetsBlog
Jason Bay had a poor 2010 season. Jason Bay is also the first person to admit that he had a poor 2010 season. I got nothing now. Good luck in 2011?

Tell me if you've heard this before: David Wright ready to be a leader - NY Post

"If there’s anybody on this team that doesn’t think that we can play with the other teams in the National League East, then we should get rid of them,"

Remember that scene from Super Troopers where Brian Cox barges into the room and says "I'll pistol whip the next person who says 'shenanigans'!" and then the other cops trick Farva to run into the room and say "shenanigans" and then they all hand over their pistols? It would be a great opportunity for the Mets to unload unwanted players using this method.

Carlos Delgado eying return - PRWL
He hasn't played a game since May of 2009, and has undergone a litany of surgeries. But he's feeling better these days, and certainly well rested, and is definitely looking to get back to playing baseball, aspiring to be ready for consideration come Spring Training. I'm actually kind of intrigued by him, and he would be likely to be willing to accept a minor league deal - I'd want to give a flyer on him for the Braves

Christina Aguilera offered shot at redemption at minor league game - Amazin' Avenue
The Brooklyn Cyclones (short-season A) have made an offer to Christina Aguilera to come sing the national anthem at one of their games in the 2011 season, after her abysmal performance at the Super Bowl. I doubt she'd accept this invitation, not because she'd think she's above a piddly minor league game, but with no troops present and fly overs, she'd have no excuse of getting caught up in the moment and filled with pride from being surrounded by service men and women, for when she would inevitably flub her lines again.

Samantha Micelli does not have a sense of humor - The Apple
Hey yo. Yo hey. It's hard to believe one of the co-stars of one of the greatest sitcoms of all time Who's The Boss? has such a lack of funny bone. But when The Apple used her as topic of a satirical list, it apparently struck a nerve with the headmistress of gaudy, girl-first baseball apparel. Odd thing is, is it really sexist or offensive?

 

NATIONALS

Stephen Strasburg has begun throwing - Nationals Journal
It's been six months since the injury and subsequent surgery, but he's already begun throwing again. Well on pace to arrive before the 13-18 month timeframe. I really wish Kris Medlen were bigger to where everyone would want to harp on his every step of the recovery, since predictably, he hasn't updated either of his two blogs since like August.

Would Francisco Liriano be a fit for the Nationals? - MASN
Based on the hauls received for Zack Grienke and Matt Garza, the Twins might be tempted to ship Francisco Liriano before he becomes a free agent. With the Nationals still "looking for a legitimate ace," could they be willing to put out feelers on Liriano?

The most underrated player in baseball - The Hardball Times
Been there, said that.

Small ball, huh - Nationals Daily News
I like how this is made out to seem like the comparison between Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham were Barry Bonds, and Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth were David Eckstein. Between both pairs, I'd imagine a somewhat comparable number of cumulative home runs, maybe slightly favoring OPS guy's big seasons. But with this in mind, I don't think the Nats will have to worry about being as small ball as this blogger envisions.

Let the predictions continue - Strasburg in September - The Nats Blog
Mostly on the basis of Jordan Zimmermann's recovery timeline. Let's just hope that a September Strasburg is about as wild and ineffective against the Braves as Zimmermann was, and not play spoiler for playoff aspirations. At least against the Braves. He can go all post-retirement Jordan vs. the Knicks all he wants against any other team.

Nationals sign Alex Cintron to minor league deal - Federal Baseball
For no reason other than minor league depth. This will be his second stint on the Nationals.

Another Nationals minor league catcher suspended - Nats Insider
22-year old Hector Taveras was found to have an unauthorized syringe in his possession. He will be suspended 25 games, instead of the 50-game suspension that goes with a failed drug test.

Nationals fanbase tough critics - The Nats Blog
When asked on Twitter to grade the Nationals winter on effort and result, the vast majority appears to go "Effort, A. Result, D." Tough crowd, I'd be willing to bet the Nationals will win around at least 76 games based on their results, which is a pretty significant improvement.

Rick Ankiel already working out in Florida - TCPalm
I had no idea Ankiel was a Jupiter resident, but apparently he's already down there, working out with his former Cardinals teammates. After a season much marred by injury in 2010, Ankiel's probably trying to get a jump on being ITBSOHL.

John Lannan taking the train down to Florida - Nationals Journal
There's something humbly charming about John Lannan's early departure for camp - he drove himself down to Virginia from New Jersey, loaded his car onto a train, and is taking the Greyhound on rails (Amtrak) all the way down to Florida before camp starts. All because he wants to have his car down in Florida so he can drive around. Makes me wonder what kind of car he has, that he'd go through all this effort, instead of being a typical big leaguer, flying down, and renting something pimp for Spring Training.

Apparently Roger Bernadina is "the Shark" - Nationals Inquisition
O-kay.

Strasburg and pitching coach have friendly wager - The Nats Blog
Lots of players boast the need to get ITBSOHL, but pitching coach Steve McCatty is putting a stipulation on a bet with Stephen Strasburg. Basically, Stras needs to show up at camp, rocking a six-pack abdomen, or else he'll owe McCatty $100,000. Otherwise, McCatty owes him $100. Sounds fair.

 

MARLINS

Marlins feel that they've "improved" defensively - MLB
Omar Infante and Matt Dominguez don't exactly turn the Marlins defense into the run-prevention moguls like the 2008 Rays turned into, and what the 2011 Nationals are aspiring for. And that's before considering the potential for the outfield that could give back as many runs as they contribute.

Clay Hensley prepares for Spring Training by pitching to children - Palm Beach Post
I was really hoping to hear that he was going all Kenny Powers and throwing 100% effort to a bunch of high schoolers who have probably never seen such live pitching in their lives, and everyone striking out. But more or less, it's just an exercise beneficial for both parties; the kids get to see an idea of the kind of pitching exists at the big league level, and Hensley gets to gain a feel for the plate again with someone in the box.

Apparently Burke Badenhop is very popular - Fish Stripes
It's always interesting to see what random players fans of other teams have fascinations over. Sure, it would be easy for Marlins fans to declare Hanley Ramirez, or Josh Johnson as their favorite Marlins, but so could all eleven other fans. It's the guys like Burke Badenhop, the relievers who barely influence the game beyond an out or three, that when fans endear themselves to them, is fascinating.

Chris Hatcher aspiring to convert to relief pitcher - Palm Beach Post
You know it's a slow week when a career minor leaguer who only saw Major League time due to a rash of catcher injuries, and collected zero hits in his brief stint is being talked about. Not very talented even in the minor leagues, Hatcher is giving up on the offense, and going the route of attempting to become a relief pitcher. Hopefully, such an endeavor will bear more fruitful than his career as a catcher.

Marlins to take first BP in new ballpark - Fish Stripes
Select players will be taking batting practice in the new ballpark on Tuesday. Whether or not the park will be closed or opened has not been determined.

Speaking of batting practice - Palm Beach Post
Apparently, if you live in South Florida, and want to try and see some Major Leaguers taking BP, go to Nova High School, where they have some pretty good indoor batting cages which attracts a lot of major league talent that happens to be in the area and wants to get a jump start at taking some cuts. Last seen at Nova being National Mike Morse, Ranger Mike Napoli, and local favorite, Hanley Ramirez.

Hanley Ramirez's chance to win the triple crown? - Fish Stripes
No. He doesn't have enough power, Pujols will probably win it, and there's always a singles-hitter guy like Omar Infante that swoops in to threaten to take the batting title whenever there's a genuine threat.

 

PHILLIES

Phillies inquired about Michael Young - Beerleaguer
Beerleaguer gives the run down on why acquiring Young makes sense, why passing on him makes sense, and the other integral scenarios behind a Young-to-the-Phillies move.

Blah blah best Phillies rotation evar - Crashburn Alley
Using WAR, the 2011 Phillies rotation will hope to be the third team in history to have four pitchers contributing 4.0+ WAR. The other two? The Atlanta Braves of 1991 and 1997.

Looking down from their self-imposed pedestal - High Cheese
Philly.com beat writer looks down from his high horse to see just who will be "second-best" rotation in the National League. Sure, their rotation is certainly imposing on paper, but any nagging injuries to Hamels, Lee, or Oswalt (Halladay is a robot and does not injure), and suddenly, they might not even be top-five. And just to nitpick someone being smarmy, he has Barry Zito listed as RHP at the time of me writing this.

The Good Phight projects 2011 Phillies vs. Braves (offense) - TGP
First up is the offense - based on the James and Marcel projections, the conclusion is that the Braves' offense is projected to be slightly better than the Phillies'. I know it's pessimistic for me to say this, but given the propensity for LOB-fests and the offensive droughts the Braves had last year, I just can't see such a conclusion. I know Uggla is supposed to alleviate a good bit of it, but it's the Phillies' offense that the Braves are being pitted up against.

And the pitching and run-prevention - TGP
Very good, and not really biased in any fashion comparison between the Braves vs. Phillies when it comes to run-prevention and pitching. Predictably, the rotation of legend gives them an extreme advantage over the Braves, but that's what's great about projections, compared to what actually does happen.

Phillies finally realize Danys Baez sucks - Beerleaguer
Considering the fact that with the best rotation evar in place, the bullpen isn't expected to be taxed at all that much throughout the 2011 season. That being said, this particular speculation is calling for the trimming of all unnecessary fat from the bullpen, even if it means eating some of the costs. In particular targeting is Danys Baez, who was one of the worst bullpen options in 2010, but is regardless owed $2.75M for the '11 season. So pay him, and then cut him, so he can't hurt the team, is the belief.

Scott Mathieson wants to talk about elbows - Phoul Ballz
Since being drafted in 2002, Mathieson has gone under the knife three times for his pitching elbow, two of those times being the dreaded Tommy John Surgery. So needless to say, Mathieson has become somewhat of an expert on the topic of elbow injuries. While trying to grind his way back to pitching professionally, Mathieson wishes to debunk the popular myths that TJS is some wunder-surgery that makes people throw harder upon completion, and that it, like all other surgeries requires a great deal of effort, dedication, and would be best off avoiding if at all possible.

Abobo goes to Boston instead - Phillies Zone
After failing to come to terms with the Phillies for a deal that would have guaranteed him $1.1M, LOOGY Dennys Reyes instead goes to the Boston Red Sox for $900k, with the potential to make $1.4M in total.

The 2000s - Best Decade Ever? - Phillies Nation
Well, because of their creative definition of decades, then technically, no. A decade-long stretch between 1975-1985 yielded a better winning percentage, more playoff appearances, more division titles, and the same amount of pennants and World Series titles. But 2001-2010 has been nothing short of impressive in its own right, regardless.

 

Final word on the Caribbean World Series, I promise:

South American winter leagues used to have a wealth of talent, but not anymore - SI
Long ago, guys on the level of Pedro Martinez would play regularly, in their primes, in South American winter leagues. But with the way people are signed to big money and afraid of injury, the talent is all but gone these days, resulting in sub-par talent, and a lot of prospects and borrowed players for developmental reasons. At least they'll always have Karim Garcia.

Other links of interest I wanted to remark on:

Take this bet to the bank: Cleveland Indians lock for playoff berth - MLB Trade Rumors
2004: Red Sox. 2005: Angels. 2007: Angels. 2008: White Sox. 2009: Twins. 2010: Reds. With the exception of 2006, Orlando Cabrera has seen playoff baseball every year since 2004. I don't care how bad the Indians were last year, how bad they're supposed to be this year, but with Orlando Cabrera on their team, they'll make the playoffs.

Pat Burrell "revealed" to be The Machine - Barstool NY
It's funny how many players are busy trying to get ITBSOHL, there are a lot of expensive, albatross-like players just sitting around, hanging out, and in today's social networking-happiness, letting the world know that they're "just regular guys too," Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo declined voluntary workouts, and here we have Pat Burrell revealing a little too much, hangin' out at Barry Zito's with a bunch of cleat-chasers, and supposedly it's revealed that Burrell is indeed, the star of all the snuff films from the film 8mm.

I had already scheduled my post and was ready to call it for the weekend until this link:

Introducing Fly Eli - Tampa Bay Online
This former Ray and National had all the potential in the world.  But on the eve of what I thought was going to be his breakout year, all of the negative, character issues had finally caught up to him, and before he knew it, he was unemployed, and hasn't worked since.  So instead of working hard, and trying to get back into baseball, what does this guy do?  Why not just go and try and be a rapper, instead.  To think a long time ago, this guy once contributed heavily to ruining my first weekend at Nationals Park by drawing a walk-off walk, and now he's a bum.

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