Things Read in Others Moms' Basements - Around the NL East 02.26.11

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I often wonder why a lot of baseball teams' first opponents during the spring are college teams. The Phillies creamed Florida State, and in prior years, we've seen the Braves cream the University of Georgia, and the Marlins dismantle the University of Miami. A few years ago, the New York Yankees went down to Blacksburg and annihilated Virginia Tech. I mean, as amateur players, I know there's some merit to simply getting the opportunity to play against professionals, but often times, I don't think I'd really enjoy getting my butt destroyed, even if it is against MLB superstars.

The rationale, I theorize is that it's supremely important for "a team" to start things off on a winning note, even if it means beating up on lesser competition. Imagine what would happen to the psyche of an MLB squad if like one day, the next great Stephen Strasburg suits up for San Diego State against the Padres, or the next Clayton Kershaw amps up when Texas A&M takes on the Rangers, and they simply have themselves a career day, and the colleges beat the pros? Can anyone answer this for me, I'd really like to know.

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

METS

Terry Collins is clearly hands-on and in charge - MetsBlog
Matthew Cerrone has made a point to stick with Terry Collins this spring, and you only really have to visit MetsBlog a few times each day to see just how Terry Collins is always in the mix of things working out with the players, and getting right up in the areas of players to talk with them and give them feedback. Regardless of how the Mets' season goes, I can't really say this is a bad thing at all, especially for a new guy.

MLBPABig Brother will be watching K-Rod use - NY Daily News
It's been brought up that the Mets may be a little light on the use of K-Rod this year, as it would be expedient to unload the headcase closer sooner rather than later, but a clause in his contract initiates an (expensive) option if he breaks a certain number of appearances. And naturally, since the MLBPA sees nothing but money, they're going to be carefully watching K-Rod this year, to see if the Mets are obviously tinkering with his future potential income.

Mets borrow $25M from MLB - MetsBlog
In order to "improve liquidity" financially, in the midst of the Bernie Madoff scandal.

Rationalizing the future of Jose Reyes - Amazin' Avenue
Using WAR comparisons to Barry Larkin and Rafael Furcal, AA tries to rationalize what kind of player Jose Reyes still could become, and debate on whether or not he's worth extending.

Beltran to start ST as a DH, unknown nickname origins - NY Daily News
In order to maximize at-bats while minimizing stress on surgically repaired knee, the Mets plan on DHing Beltran throughout the Spring. Also mentioned in the link, Mookie Wilson and Boof Bonser have no idea how each of them ended up with names like Mookie and Boof. LOLMets?

Mike Pelfrey and the sinkerball conundrum - Amazin' Avenue
Long story short: Considered a groundball pitcher, Big Pelf enjoyed arguably his best season yet in 2010 - but a lot of that was result of weaning off the sinker. What's going to happen in 2011?

Chris Young the pitcher is probably smarter than you - NY Daily News
If you weren't aware, Chris Young the pitcher is a Princeton graduate. In honor of Black History Month, here's a story about Chris Young the pitcher's 80-page thesis he wrote about "The Impact of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball on Racial Stereotypes in America: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Stories about Race in the New York Times."

Luis Castillo arrives to camp late, but not late .. . what? - NY Post
Remember that scene in Office Space where Jennifer Aniston is getting grilled for wearing the bare minimum 25 pieces of flair? Well technically, Luis Castillo wasn't late for reporting to camp, but look at Brian over there - he's wearing 38 pieces of flair, and has a great smile.

Oh please oh please oh please - NY Daily News
Let Oliver Perez make the starting rotation. Oh please let Oliver Perez pitch like Cy Young this spring, and make the starting rotation. I'm begging.

The second base candidates - MetsBlog
Despite almost two years of working out at second base, Daniel Murphy doesn't look like he's going to be getting the job. If anyone, I'm guessing it's going to be Chin-Lung Hu, who has always been a slick fielder, but simply has been to inconsistent with the bat to stay in the majors.

Whatever happened to Fernando Martinez? - WSJ
At the young age of 22, this spring is F-Mart's fifth Spring Training with the Mets. Once thought to be the future, now he's apparently seen as a reminder of the failures of Omar Minaya. Kind of sad, in a way.

Distressed shirts for distressed Mets fans - NY Times

The creators of the shirts are longtime Mets fans who asked not to be named because they did not want their professional reputations compromised

Yeah, I know both the link and the shirts are pretty lame, but I wanted to take a dig at this quote. Considering "the model" of the shirt has d-bag tattoo sleeves and a studded bracelet, I guess the professional reputation of bicycle couriers and bodega coffee shop employees is something seen as prestigious up in New York, huh?

If he makes the team, he can't kill them anymore - NY Post
A little fluffy story about former Brave/National/now potential Met, Willie Harris, and how he used to obliterate the Mets in prior years. Although a catch he made against the Mets while playing for the Nats is his favorite Met-Kill, it goes without saying that his best Met-Kill was while playing for the Braves, robbing Carlos Delgado of a game-winning HR at the wall.

Yovani Gallardo is apparently huge in New York - The Apple
I'm fairly confident that this is just an honest mistake, but it's funny to me that it's in New York where a litany of Brewers/Gallardo merch is hugely on sale over the Mets merchandise.

Worry not, New York - R.A. Dickey's face is back - Amazin' Avenue
RAAAHGHGHG

He also rides his bike 12 miles to and from Digital Domain Park every day - MLB
Well, that's certainly one way to stay in great shape.

I'd buy this easily if it weren't on white - The Apple
I'm certainly not against buying shirts supporting other teams' fans, when they're clever/amusing/funny, and I'd buy this Oliver Perez shirt if it wins, if it weren't on another white t-shirt to take up space in my closet.

 

NATIONALS

Livan Hernandez wishes to be the RH Jamie Moyer - WaPo
I don't hide it at all when I say that I admire Livan Hernandez. There's a humble, charming demeanor behind him, which if you can get past the events of 1997 and point your fingers at Eric Gregg instead, that Braves fans might be able to see. From the unflappable poise on the mound, pitching speeds of slow-slower-slowererer, to the agent-infuriating self-agreement to take an insanely under-valued, team-friendly contract, here's a guy who appears to get it, without being clouded by ego or money.

Jim Riggleman wants team to raise their expectations - MASN
Remember in the movie Mr. 3000, Bernie Mac gets in the head of the young, cocky home run machine on the Brewers to take up a more leadership role, and going into the home stretch of the season, he's riling up his teammates, and it all culminates with all of them chanting and barking out "THIRD PLACE," as indicative of their standing aspirations to the end of the season? Yeah, kind of like that.

Bryce Harper hath arrived - Nats Insider
The surrounding Viera area should be pleased over the last two years with all the buzz and frenzy surrounding the last two Nationals #1 draft picks. Reporters and fans were crawling all over Space Coast Stadium, trying to get a glimpse of young Harper, who took BP and did some exercises. The plan during scrimmages is to utilize Harper in RF, with Werth in CF on days when the squad is split, or whenever Nyjer Morgan isn't there.

And what to expect from the Harper circus versus the Strasburg circus - Nats Insider
Two very different personalities, between the two #1 draft picks, and what to expect with the Bryce Harper experience this spring.

But he be allowed to wear his douchey war-paint eye black in the pros??? - MLB
According to Mike Rizzo, no.

He is however, extremely confident - MASN

But I'm going to make their decision hard. I'm going to come out here everyday and play like I can (make the team). Until they send me down to the minor league camp, I'm going to make their decision hard."

This comes as no surprise, as he's sounded confident and borderline cocky throughout the entire time once he was discovered. But we all know he's not going to make the major league team.

Top 10 seasons turned in by teenagers - where could Harper end up? - The Nats Blog
Some pretty impressive seasons turned in, with the benchmarks being Mel Ott in 1928, and Tony Coniglario in 1964. Harper's got some impressive experience under his belt already before even playing in his first MLB game, but there's plenty of reason to think he could feasibly be able to crack this list.

His first official professional game could very well be in Rome - MASN
Since it's highly predicted that Harper's first stop, regardless of how he performs in Spring Training, will be with the Low-A Hagerstown Suns, and they start their season on the road. In Rome, Georgia, against the Rome Braves. Want to be the first to see his first professional game? Rome may very well be where it's at.

Sloth is just a little bit behind - Nationals Journal
Tom Gorzelanny's a tad behind everyone else this spring, because two weeks of his offseason were derailed by some bad sinus infections, as well as pneumonia, of all things.

Jim Riggleman has more or less given clubhouse to the players - Nats Insider
That's a little bit of fresh thinking. Unlike guys like Bobby and Fredi, who are pretty strict about their clubhouse rules, Riggleman has a few no-nos, but it for the most part leaving it to the players to police themselves, with the approval of apparent team leaders, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, and Ian Desmond.

Quite possibly one of the greatest ITBSOHL stories - WaPo
But he never said he was ITBSOHL, but Matt Stairs has lost an astounding 37 lbs. during the off-season. His routine? Playing hockey. He is Canadian by birth, after all.

Is Roger Bernadina a lock? - The Nats Blog
Surprisingly, no, despite coming to camp looking like the Curacao Lex Luger. CF is going to be a mash between Nyjer Morgan, Rick Ankiel, and occasionally Jayson Werth. RF is Jayson Werth's, almost all the time. LF was thought to be a lock for the Curacao native, but Bernadina has options available, while Ankiel is guaranteed money, and with guys like Mike Morse and maybe Matt Stairs on the bench, there simply might not be any room left for him.

A middle infield with SWAG - Nats Insider
Felipe Lopez and Jose Vidro. Felipe Lopez and Cristian Guzman. Cristian Guzman and Adam Kennedy. Needless to say, the middle infields of the Nationals since their arrival, have been less than impressive. With the expectations of the two young home-grown talents of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, they're showing a little bit of SWAG this spring.

Chien-Ming Wang getting better - MLB
According to Ivan Rodriguez, he's throwing harder, and his slider is showing some life, and his sinker is starting to sink. He could feasibly become a useful mid-season weapon if the goal is to simply stash him in AAA until he feels like his arm is up to strength.

Maybe it's not that bad that the Nats missed out on Webb, Grienke - The Nats Blog
Brandon Webb still has girlie arm, and Zack Grienke's comments make him look like a little bit of an anti-social meanie.

Nationals sign boatload of international free agents - MASN
16, to be exact, with eleven of them coming from the Dominican Republic, and the other five from Venezuela.

Stanford students oblivious to stud pitcher classmate - Nats Insider
After the regular season ended, Drew Storen went back out west to continue his education at Stanford, and while eating with classmates, easily and correctly called a pitch that struck out Shane Victorino.

"How did you know that?" one asked. It took every ounce of Storen's will power not to retort by saying: "Uh, dude, I struck that guy out on the same pitch one month ago." Instead, he played coy and replied simply: "I just watch a lot of baseball."

Storen buzzes teammate for playful revenge - MLB
Last season, the Phillies rallied against the Nationals, with Jayson Werth hitting a game-winning walk-off home run off of Drew Storen. Now teammates, Storen extracted a little bit of revenge in their first live BP session, by buzzing Jayson Werth at the plate. Both understood, and it's an interesting piece to see how former adversaries and new teammates think about the past, present and future.

Cla Meredith possibly first casualty of Spring Training injuries - Nationals Journal
Walked off the field with trainer, pointing at his throwing elbow. Uh oh, suddenly making the team seems like less of a concern as simply being able to continue pitching. Whew, nevermind, false alarm.

Nationals introduce football into outfield drill - Nats Insider
Big deal. Billy Wagner worked out throwing a football almost every year prior to beginning his baseball throwing program. But Bo Porter's new technique principles that outfielders tend to break stride and form when running hard for a rangy flyball, so in order to help alleviate such breaking, running with a football helps keep the body in tight form.

Stories like this make Adam LaRoche smile - MLB
Chris Marrero, the first base prospect that has ultimately been touted to have been the successor to OPS guy, has his own apparent flaws, that are inhibiting his eventual arrival to the show. Long story short, his glove sucks. His bat is no doubt good, as I've witnessed myself in Potomac several times, but considering people have been pegging for his arrival for two years now, and the glove still being an issue, Adam LaRoche might feel confident that he might not get traded so soon, after all.

The Riggs tells Alberto Gonzalez to shut his damn mouth and know his damn role - MASN
Okay, maybe I was paraphrasing a little there, but it's close to accurate - Jim Riggleman is more or less tired of Alberto Gonzalez's primadonna whining about being held back, when he has pretty much not earned anything yet, and tells it to the media like it needs to be said.

 

MARLINS

Hanley Ramirez plans on putting the Marlins on his back - Sun Sentinel
In an attempt to become what's known as the MVP, according to Jeffrey Loria, Hanley Ramirez has lofty aspirations for the 2011 season. In attempt to be as leader-y as possible, he talks about his personal plans for the season, and inspiring and challenging teammates, like new clean-up hitter, Mike Stanton.

Second biggest Marlin story of the week: Hanley Ramirez has joined Twitter - Fish Stripes
Seriously, every single Marlins outlet I check has mentioned something about this. Will there be a day when Facebook and Twitter fall out of favor of the rest of the internet, or is this trend genuinely around to stick around? And before you ask, yes, many Marlins fans have tweeted questions in regards to Hanley's hustle.

Edwin Rodriguez: "We’re going to be the last team standing come October." - Fish Bytes
Now managers are getting into the Jimmy Rollins school of talking smack.

Ricky Nolasco has jammed his thumbEVERYBODY PANIC - Fish Stripes
He'll take a few throwing drills off, and subsequently suffer dead arm a little later than everyone else.

Chris Coghlan, Centerfielder, to bat second - Palm Beach Post
In order to be cautious with the reconstructed knee, as well as to create a RLRL sequence, the Marlins plan on batting Cogs4Christ second to start the 2011 season. Batting before him will be a guy with plenty of leadoff experience - Omar Infante.

Nevermind, it'll be Cogs afterall - MLB
Guess the knee's alright afterall.

Leo Nunez to add slider to arsenal - Sun Sentinel
Primarily a fastball-changeup guy who far too often fell in love with the changeup, Nunez paid dearly at times last year. Until he learns how to properly sequence his pitches, it really won't matter how many pitches he adds to his arsenal, if he's not throwing them correctly.

So perhaps Nunez should not be a lock - Palm Beach Post
It shouldn't be forgotten that Nunez did lose his job towards the end of last year, and it was Clay Hensley who was closing out games in September. So with that in mind, should the closer's role not automatically go to Nunez, regardless of how many pitches he throws, because Hensley could be better off?

Jose Ceda needs to lose weight - MLB
6'4, and a monstrous 288 lbs., the Marlins have told Ceda that he will not be participating in any drills until he can lose at least 10 lbs. At 288, I'd say he could probably afford to lose closer to 40 lbs, but since they really just want to use him as a hard-throwing reliever, I guess 10 is at least a show of commitment.

I think we heard a lot of this last year - Palm Beach Post
While speaking with PBP, Javier Vazquez says a whole lot of things that he said last year, before having an abysmal year with the Yankees. With the exception of how much he looks forward to playing near Puerto Rico now, but the point is, much of the genuine success of the Marlins really does hinge a lot on how well Javier Vazquez performs, in addition to the solid production expected out of Johnson, Nolasco, and Sanchez.

Matt Dominguez surrounded by veterans - MLB
In an attempt to get him to soak up as much professional experience from experienced veterans, the Marlins are essentially surrounding 3B hopeful Dominguez with veterans the likes of Wes Helms and Josh Johnson, to see how they do things, and hope he picks up on their habits.

A defining year for LHP Sean West - Fish Bytes
After a solid start in 2009 for West, he was hamstrung with injuries for almost all of 2010, and even in the fall leagues. So basically this spring is a test to see who the real Sean West is, and if healthy, if he could become a contributor to the Marlins' pitching staff.

The All NL East team, complete with pitchers - Marlin Maniac
No surprise, three starters are Phillies, and Tommy Hanson cracks the fifth starter. Overall, only one Met makes the entire roster, and of all players it's K-Rod.

New Marlin Ryan Webb is Florida native, but not most famous alum from his high school - Sun Sentinel
The dubious honor of most famous Clearwater Catholic Central alum would be the daughter of none other than The Immortal Hulk Hogan, Brooke Hogan. Honestly, I don't really know how much of this has to do with baseball at all, other the fact it references a Marlin player, but any excuse to name drop Hulk Hogan into TRIOMB is as good as any.

Gaby Sanchez and Mike Stanton are pigs - Fish Bytes

"That was an expensive grocery bill -- $300!" Sanchez said.

Apparently both players really like to eat. It's not necessarily junk food, but apparently both players have some bottomless pits. Considering both are young RF and 1B, I wonder what our own young RF/1B tandem packs away?

 

PHILLIES

Jimmy Rollins: "We'll win 100 games" - MLBlogs

Yeah, we'll win 100 games. I really plan on going after, who is it, Seattle won 114 or something recently.

It was the 2001 Mariners that won 116 games, tying the historic mark set by the 1906 Chicago Cubs who also won 116 games With The Rotation in set, I can't blame him for boasting, but it stinks when Jimmy Rollins mouths off like this, because the last time he made a bold prediction, it came true.

Mike Schmidt thinks Rollins should be more like Pete Rose - High Cheese
In terms of playing baseball, not gambling. But regardless, Schmiddy simply thinks that J-Roll should simply focus on being a high-average, running threat kind of player, as should Victorino. He also thinks that the 2011 Phillies could be the best ever.

Roy Halladay named Opening Day Starter - MLB
Was this ever a question?

Cliff Lee has mild strainEVERYBODY PANIC - Phillies Zone
Right underneath his left arm's armpit, and he was shut down for a week prior to the diagnosis. So, this being the case, the Phillies' season is officially over, and they're going to lose 114 games.

Who's going to be #25? - Phillies Nation
The Braves are fortunate to have only a few spots really to fill this Spring, while other teams like the Nationals, Mets, and Marlins aren't quite so fortunate. None of them are as fairly cut and ready as the Phillies are, who literally have their lineup, bench, bullpen, and of course The Rotation set to the point where they're really only looking for the 25th man on the squad this Spring.

History suggests Ibanez might not suck, but probably will - Phillies Zone|
Using Ibanez's .793 2010 OPS as the bench mark, and B-R's play index, it's revealed that only 12 guys at the age of 39 mustered out better than a .793 OPS, and three of them were Barry Bonds.

Could Chad Durbin come back to the Phillies? - Philles Nation
When I was a freshman in high school, I went out for the freshman basketball team. I'll be the first to admit that despite the fact that I had sweet jumper back then, I guess I just couldn't have seen me on the team in the end, so needless to say, I was cut in the very first round. Afterward, the stereotypical high school coach was all like "YO. But we still NEED an EQUIPMENT MANAGER." Every guy like me who got cut kind of just stood there looking at him incredulously, because there was still this thing called pride, but then one of the guys who got cut pretty much bolted off the line, and jumped into the group of guys that advanced past the first cut. In the end, he got to be on the team, got a uniform, and got to hang out with the basketball players, but he was the equipment manager. This wasn't a sitcom, he had no hidden skills that would come out when the star player goes down and the team's lacking in depth. He was the equipment manager. What's the point of this story? It sounds like Chad Durbin is doing whatever it takes to simply just be on the Phillies, to be a part of the ride, regardless of if he has an undisclosed offer to start for the Red Sox, on the table. Nevermind, Phillies pulled offer off the table.

WARG to likely be top lefty off the bench - Beerleaguer
With no more Greg Dobbs or Matt Stairs, pretty much the responsibilities for the sparsely used Phillies bench will fall onto Ross Gload (WARG).

Unless they somehow manage to make a trade for Mike Morse - Phillies Nation
Long story short - evidently not content with WARG to be a primary bench guy, the Phillies are reportedly interested in Washington's Mike Morse. Considering the division rival aspect, and the steep prices that both teams would want, naturally the Phillies want to offer Poor Joe.

Fun with lineup simulators - Crashburn Alley
I understand how these things work and all, but I'm not quite sure Charlie Manuel will really ever go for a lineup where Carlos Ruiz is batting lead off, regardless of how good his OBP was last year.

Tyson Gillies trying to recover reputation - MLB
Back in August, he was arrested for possession of one hell of a drug. Now the road to redemption begins.

Poor Joe just wants to be a part of the club - Zoo With Roy
I must reiterate just how ironic it would be if Joe Blanton led the Phillies pitching staff in any statistic of positive connotation. Seriously, the way he's going about his business and not saying anything egotistical, whining, or anything negative, is slowly turning me into a fan, while the whole rest of the world is (inappropriate euphemism) themselves over The Rotation.

3.3 Million tickets sold already - not Red Sox Nation, but it's beginning to feel like it - MLBlogs
I can't hate on it, since it's simply the mark of everything going right, but damn, 3.3 million tickets sold already is pretty impressive.

Jayson Werth insinuates that the Phillies could have had both him and Lee - High Cheese
Basically, Werth thinks that if the Phillies signed Lee at a lower cost instead of trading him to Seattle, it would have made it an easier decision for him to stay with the Phillies, even if it was slightly discounted.

What do Braves fans hate more than Phillies? Eric Gregg - MLB
And his next of kin, Kevin Gregg. Kevin talks about his life as son of only the third black umpire in history, in honor of Black History Month.

The Rotation is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Zoo With Roy
Come on, does anyone even have to ask why I'm linking this?

[SATIRE] Shane Victorino doesn't wanna Spring Training - The Onion
A good idea just how the casual fan envisions the kind of guy that Shane Victorino is, that he's the subject in hand used to lampoon this satirical parody.

 

Additional Links:

Adam Wainwright to have Tommy John SurgerOH GOD EVERYONE PANIC - SBNation
So far, this is going to be the biggest story of Spring. The Albert Pujols of pitching (CYA runner up like three times in a row now) goes down, and suddenly, there's movement from all around. The Reds think they're a lock to repeat the division. The Brewers now think they're going to win the division. It's going to be hard for even Dave Duncan to work some magic without his most reliable and dependable workhorse out of the equation. Without Wainwright, and if the Cardinals tank, will they unload Albert Pujols? The Phillies think they have a suitor to unload Poor Joe Blanton. The Braves think they have a suitor to unload Kenshin Kawakami. And so on, and so on. But in the end, I really just feel bad for Adam Wainwright, because he simply has been quietly one of the best pitchers in baseball for the last three years, and now he's going to miss all of 2011.

J.D. Drew once wrestled with alligators - Boston.com
The guy we traded Wainwright to get, J.D. Drew reveals that he once wrestled with alligators. A 5-6 foot alligator, with nothing but a knife. Maybe it's good we didn't keep him around?

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