Things Read in Others Moms' Basements - Around the NL East 02.05.11

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Karim Garcia. Some may already know who he is. A lot of you probably don't. If you Wikipedia his name, you will learn that he's most well known for a bunch of less than gleaming things. He was the guy traded from the Diamondbacks for Luis Gonzalez, right before he went all Brady Anderson, clubbed 57 homers, and led Arizona to a World Series title. Then in 2003, he got into a fight with a Fenway Park groundskeeper during the ALCS, and had beef with Pedro Martinez, prompting him to blurt out the meme-worthy line of "Who are you, Karim Garcia??" as if he were The Rock speaking to Chris Jericho. Karim Garcia's MLB career was never really that spectacular, as he is a career .241 hitter, with 66 homers and 212 RIBz, but I'm simply fascinated with his resume of teams played for. In ten years, he played for ten MLB teams (Dodgers, Dbacks, Tigers, Mets, Orioles x2, Indians x2, Yankees x2). When his career in the United States came to an end, he took it overseas, and went to Japan, where he played two years for the Orix Buffaloes of the NPB. Then he went to the Mexican Leagues and played for the Sultanes de Monterrey. When that eventually wore out, he crossed the ocean again and took his trade into Korea, where he played for the Lotte Giants of the KBO.

And the reason I'm talking about Karim Garcia this week is the baffling way he simply just keeps showing up. During the final week of the Dominican Winter League, he was on los Leones del Escogido, playing in right-field. The Leones ended up being knocked out of the tournament, with the Toros ultimately moving on to represent the D.R. in the Caribbean World Series (SDC). As I tuned into the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico game the other day, the P.R. punished the Mexican team with repeated opposite-field hits and/or first-pitch swinging, and on one particular bloop, I watched the ball sail into short-right field, and drop, with a guy that waddled worse than Melky Cabrera fail to arrive in time for what looked like a catchable ball. Worse off, was his throw back into the infield was hideous, the third baseman was incapable of fielding it, and the pitcher wasn't covering backup, leading to an additional unearned run. I didn't understand what the commentators were saying, but it warranted the camera crews to zoom into the perpetrating outfield, and when the cameras hit him, it was none other than Karim Garcia. I'm not going to lie, I have zero idea how things work down there, but I'm simply baffled by Karim Garcia's innate ability to somehow continuously keep playing baseball. He's Mexican by birth, but played for a Dominican team no less than two weeks prior. And now he's back on Yaquis de Obregon, playing for Mexico's representative in the SDC? Furthermore, I don't know how he did it, but back in 2007, he played for the Cuban national team in the Pan American Games, and snagged a bronze medal for his efforts there too.

Say what you want about the Kenny Loftons and Julio Francos, who seemingly bounce around MLB, Asia and South America. In their primes, they were good players, which warranted tenures from time to time. But I have to salute Karim Garcia this week, for being a ballplayer of somewhat marginal talent, but through persistence and flexibility, has somehow managed to have kept working, playing the greatest game in the world for over the last 15 years. Even if it meant bouncing around 14+ different teams, when he does finally decide to call it quits, nobody will be able to tell him that he didn't leave it all out on the field. In six different countries.

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

NATIONALS

Ryan Zimmerman ranked top third-baseman in baseball - CBS Sports
That is tied, with Evan Longoria. Seriously, I don't think there are any two more evenly matched baseball players at such an elite level. Take the financials out of the picture when comparing both, and it's pretty much a dead lock to whom anyone would rather have between the two. I wonder what both thinks about the pendulous debate between which is better?

Bryce Harper aiming for September call-up - MASN
It's almost hard to believe despite the cocky arrogance and bravado exuded by the young Bryce Harper, that he'd go on record and say a September call-up was his ultimate goal from the upcoming 2011 season. It's fairly certain he's as aware as we the fans are, that he's going to be starting in the minor leagues even if he bats 1.000/1.000/4.000 all spring, but to settle for a "realistic" September call-up seems kind of meek from the wunderkid who has defied all previous expectations.

Laynce Nix signed to minor league deal - Nats Insider
Oh Laynce Nix, he of the name with the oddly placed Y in it. I will always remember you for being the guy posterized by Brooks Conrad's game-winning slam when you were on the Reds team that choked away that gigantic lead in one inning. How you feebly jumped at the wall, and its debatable to whether or not you forced it to cross the home-run plane or not, but we'll all remember your frustration, cursing, and pouting, as well as former teammate Brandon Philips' devastated frozen stance, in pure disbelief. Anyway, he's going to try and make the Nationals 25-man roster as a backup outfielder.

Danny Espinosa versus expectations - Federal Baseball
Espinosa seems like a lock to be the starting second baseman for the Nationals to pretty much everyone... but Espinosa himself. I like the mentality he's got, and it's good respect for the game, that he feels that he hasn't proven anything yet, and has to earn his spot. Considering the Nationals have had a rag-tag of guys playing 2B from Felipe Lopez, Cristian Guzman, and Adam Kennedy, the position could be in good hands for the future if Espinosa delivers.

Justin Maxwell traded to the Yankees - Nats Insider
Since he was DFA'd, the Nationals had to trade him or clear waivers, so he was traded to the Yankees. Returning in the trade is 24-year old AA-level RHRP Adam Olbrychowski. Nothing genuinely special about Olbreychowski other than his name is hard to type out, but he'll likely be nothing more than middle relief in AAA or AA.

Comprehensive list of pitchers who the Nationals failed to acquire - The Nats Blog
Add Justin Duchsherer to the list since the last time I touched on this subject, as for whatever reason, has decided Baltimore would be a more suitable place for him. But see - this kind of inability to get players happens to everyone at some point, not just the Braves in 2008.

The Nationals' catching battle - MASN
Upon reading this article about how the Nationals will handle the glut of catching talent in the organization, most scenario seems to have the idea to start Ivan Rodriguez, and put in Wilson Ramos as backup to be the successor, and trade Jesus Flores, and wait for Derek Norris. I can't help but think, start Pudge, Flores to backup, while Ramos waits in AAA, and Pudge is at the point of his career where minimal positive production is all that he'll need to be considered a somewhat useful trade chip to almost anyone needing catching depth, due to the wealth of the mythical veteran presence he would bring. Flores, coming off shoulder problems, limits his activity being a full-time backup, and Ramos, who is the future, has been getting consistent at-bats in Syracuse, and slides right into the starting role for the Nationals after Rodriguez is traded for minor league depth.

Well, don't count on this one though - Nationals Journal
Even lower than Derek Norris on the depth chart is Adrian Nieto, a catcher in Low-A, who was recently busted for Oxandrolone, which is a steroid. Suspended for 50 games, at the start of the 2011 season.

The Nationals pursuit to escape Viera - MASN
Last week was a story about the Marlins' as well as the Cardinals' aspirations to move away from Jupiter, Florida, so they could be closer to the other teams in the Grapefruit League. As one of the other four remaining teams on Florida's eastern shores, the Nationals also have similar aspirations, as their home in Viera, Space Coast Stadium is the furthest distance from any of the other clubs in the GL. They're under lease until 2018, but are willing to break it if they can manage to come to agreement with the Astros, and put together a shared home in Kissimmee. And if they were to do such, it wouldn't be long for the Fish, Cards, and Mets to ultimately leave the eastern shore following.

Your (sort of) nicey-nice story of the week - Mechanicsville Local
I deduct points from this story because of the little boy in mention is a self-proclaimed die-hard Yankees fan who proportedely has cold-sweat nightmares for pitching for the Red Sox in a town where Braves affiliates used to play and are now Giants affiliates. But it's still a nice story about a little boy who blew out his elbow, in the same fashion which a mature bodied baseball player would require Tommy John Surgery for, at roughly the same time Stephen Strasburg blew his out. A connection was made through a get-well card between the two rehabbing baseball players, and the little boy is doing his best to pretend to be a Nationals fan for the camera. On another note, does anyone else kind of feel the vibe of resentment Strasburg's letter has, towards fans who all seem to want things from him? I mean that's what most casual fans do, want, want, want, it's not like he shouldn't be shocked that so many are greedy.

Outside-the-park beer garden planning on expanding - The Nats Blog
The Bullpen (how "original"), which is located just steps outside of the centerfield gate at Nationals Park, is planning on expanding further down the block, just outside of the Navy Yard metro escalators. So future Nats fans who have never been to the park may possibly get confused when stepping out of station, and instinctively going straight into the Bullpen's new location, instead of turning left to head to the park. Personally, this is a good move for the establishment, considering just how mind-boggling crowded it got inside the old Bullpen, with the typical fair-weathered DC-ites willing to pay $7 a beer outside the park, just as long as other people can see them.

PSA Women: Don't get this for your man - MASN
Gals, if you've got $150 allocated for a Valentines Day gift, I hate to sound sexist or chauvinistic here, but here's a list of things that would go over well with your baseball fan significant other: Food. Video Games. Electronic toys. Hardware. Tools. Concert tickets. Baseball tickets. You in something sexy and meant only for their eyes. Baseball mascots, such as Screech or Uncle Slam are not a wise idea for a Valentine's Day gift.

 

METS

R. A. Dickey signs two-year deal to stay in New York - NY Times
It's worth up to $7.8M for the two years, and an available optional third year. It might be for the Mets, but it's nice to see some reward come to a genuinely nice guy, especially one who has had to suffer through 14 previous non-guaranteed one-year deals to get to this point.

Angel Pagan receives one-year deal from Mets - NY Post
With the signing of Pagan for one-year, $3.5M, the Mets have no remaining arbitration eligible players. With this signing, there will be a competition in Port St. Lucie between Pagan, and Carlos Beltran, over who is going to be the starting center-fielder, with the loser being shifted to right. This will be a little more intense than some might think it will be, because it's no secret Carlos Beltran is driven by the idea that he's the best CF in baseball, and nothing would be worse than not even being the best on his own team.


The Whole Bernie Madoff Debacle described in three minutes
- Amazin' Avenue
This is probably the easiest way to go through it. If you're interested in much more descriptive stuff, the following links in this gray box is all related.

Bernie Madoff had bigger relation to Mets than believed - NY Times
Long story short - after negotiating big contracts with players, the money that was allocated to the players were placed by the Wilpons into Bernie Madoff's investment company, so that the funds could make money while waiting to be paid to the players. In short, not that it's any fault of the Mets organization or the Mets players themselves, but how much of the money they've been making, has been dirty?

Sometimes a good headline is all you need - Amazin' Avenue
It's pretty much AA's community discussing everything mentioned just above, but the headline easily catches my attention.

And how much the Mets would be worth if all negative allegations end up being true - Amazin' Avenue
Ouch. My favorite comment:

the wilpons are going to drive me to buying drugs off craigslist

Partial sale expected to be completed by June - MetsBlog
To whom yet, not sure. Names thrown out there have been Martin Luther King, III, Mark Cuban, SNY the network, Mike Piazza, and so forth. Not going to lie, a lot of this stuff if way over my head, or at least beyond the point where I'm having difficulty relaying the links, so it might simply be best for those interested to read it themselves for optimum clarity.

The Cragislist post, before it was taken down - MetsBlog
Since we already mentioned Craigslist before.

 

Rob Neyer muses on Daniel Murphy - SBNation
One of the big stories this week was simply the departure from ESPN, and arrival to the SBN family by famed sportswriter, Rob Neyer. He's obviously hit the ground running, with lots of interesting articles, but pertinent to the Mets is this one, about the experimental moving of Daniel Murphy to second base.

Jose Reyes will supposedly play out the whole season - MetsBlog
Instead of figuring it out now, the Mets are going to let a contract situation be a distraction to Reyes for a whole year before moving next... reportedly.

Sandy Alderson admits that he wouldn't have applied for the job without Bud Selig's cherry picking suggestion - NY Daily News
Interesting. Seems fitting that the Mets would have a GM that really wasn't interested in managing a squad until the idea was planted into his head, maybe two levels deep. Either way, he fluffs the organization by boasting no worries in the squad in regards to the turmoil the ownership is going through.

Mike Piazza writing memoirs, so being asked a lot of questions, like steroids - The Mets Police
I'd actually read Mike Piazza's story, I'll admit to thinking he was a pretty interesting baseball player in his time. But naturally, in order to promote, and probably to get all okays from possible involved parties, Piazza is in the spotlight from time to time, and naturally, the first thing people want to talk to him about, being a power-hitter and all, was steroids? Deferred until the book comes out. Oh, and he says better days are bound to be ahead for the Mets.

Five worst Mets free agents ... OF ALL TIME - Yahoo
Considering that it's me linking them, it's obvious who is going to be topping this list, but I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I have to imagine there are some names worse than some of the other four.

Improving Flushing through eminent domain - Amazin' Avenue
Long story short - in an attempt to improve the adjacent area surrounding "new" Citi Field, eminent domain is likely to happen. In other words, the city government will seize the land, unwillingly evict all residents/tenants, pay them "market value" for their land, raze the area, and try and turn it into a "classy" area. As cruel and harsh as this might be to the mom 'n pop culture, I really wish such actions would be done in Atlanta, surrounding Turner Field, as well as D.C. surrounding Nationals Park.

[SATIRE] SNY to host "Save the Wilpons" Telethon - The Apple
It's a fake story, but funny ... I think it's fake, at least. Way to blur the lines, Apple ...

Citi Field to be host to 2013 All-Star Game - NY Post
This news seems so inconsequential and piddly compared to all of the trainwrecks going on in Metsland. I know Mets fans don't really care to hear it, pity from a Braves fan, but I sometimes feel bad for the way the team just can't get things together, and especially for so little of it being baseball related. At least when the Mets were really good in 2006, it really, really gave incentive for every time the Braves managed to topple the Mets in 2007.

 

MARLINS

Well that makes one of us - MLB
Despite the fact that pretty much everyone is skeptical of it, I guess it's the duty of the official Marlins website to feign some confidence in the Chris Coghlan, Centerfielder project.

Marlins add NL East castaways RHP Shawn Hill, UT Greg Dobbs - Sun Sentinel
Hill is kind of negligible, as he's more or less been AAAA-caliber filler at the age of 30 now, with former stints with the NatSpos, Padres, and Blue Jays. But former Phillie Greg Dobbs on the other hand I do find myself cringing at. His career numbers aren't at all that impressive, but he'd primarily be used as a pinch-hitter, but his career numbers against the Braves are a .313 batting average, and an .838 OPS in 108 plate appearances. Combined with Wes Helms, the Marlins have two Brave-pests on the bench.

Ron Swoboda wants to work with inexperienced outfielders - Palm Beach Post
Swoboda, who is best known for a diving catch to rob Brooks Robinson in the 1969 Mets vs. Orioles World Series, wants to take a stab at making Chris Coghlan and Logan Morrison better outfielders. He's 66 years old to this day, but he feels that he can help both of them learn how to better recognize the ball off the bat, and how to better prepare for their upcoming expected full year of manning the outfield.

Matt Dominguez reminds president of Mike Lowell - Fish Bytes
Mostly in a defensive way, and apparently its his bat that is going to determine whether or not the 12 fans will be bitching about him needing to have started on Opening Day, because given the Marlins financial tendencies, and the depth they already have for third-base hold overs, Dominguez is seemingly a shoe-in to start in AAA until June.

Josh Johnson meets with Mark Henry World's Strongest Man competitor for strength training - Palm Beach Post
I like how Johnson doesn't go with any fancy diet, or P90X, or any other light-impact strength training. No, he goes to a guy that trains to be a World's Strongest Man strongmen to get some strength training. If Josh Johnson goes through 2011 throwing 107 mph striking out 402 guys, then we'll all know precisely why. Also bonus lols at the fact that Johnson lives on the outskirts of Las Vegas, and one of his kids is named "Cash."

You pay the money, and you do the work - Fish Stripes
So get this - in order to help alleviate costs, the Marlins are allowing all twelve of their fans to pay - money, to do work, installing seats at the new ballpark that doesn't open until 2012. Not just any ol' seats, but their own seats, since this is typically going to be geared at all 24 people who have season tickets in the new park. Pay the Marlins to help build the park. Sounds . . . keen.

Want to be a professional baseball player? Head down to Jupiter! - Sun Sentinel
I seriously didn't think in this day and age teams actually still held open tryouts. But if you're not signed to any college, and/or have written permission from your high school principal, you're welcome to try out to be a part of the Florida Marlins baseball organization!

 

PHILLIES

Don't count Domonic Brown out for Opening Day - Philly.com
A flaky GM in Ruben Amaro, a fanbase that can't seem to make up their mind on whether or not Brown is ready based on a paltry 70 unimpressive plate appearances, a comparison to Jason Heyward, and whether or not the Phillies want to start opening day with a platoon of Ben Francisco and Ross Gload, leads to a deliberation on whether or not Domonic Brown will be starting on Opening Day or not.

Gary Matthews Jr. considered for minor league deal - Beerleaguer
If this were a major league deal that he were under consideration for, I'd be ecstatic, since Sarge, Jr. isn't really that good of a baseball player anymore. But it's for a minor league deal, and mostly to bolster the minor league depth. Also to consider is the fact that Sarge, Sr. is a part of the Phillies announcing team, and is a staunch Phillies supporter, even to where he admitted to not cheering for his own kid when he was a Met.

Phillies that could feasibly be traded come July - Crashburn Alley
A lot of the scenarios hinge on the unrealistic possibility that the Phillies fall out of contention, and/or the development of Domonic Brown, and/or the ability of the bullpen moving on. But furthermore, some of it also hinges on if the Phillies are so dominant, that some of their resources could possibly be seen as excess, and could be traded off to bolster the farm, too.

The Phillies have their own KK this off-season - Phillies Nation
With the announcement of Andy Pettitte's retirement, any team looking to unload a pitcher is suddenly hoping the Yankees pick them. And much like the Braves would feasibly like to unload Kenshin Kawakami's contract, the Phillies are essentially hoping for the same, for someone to take Joe Blanton and his fatty contract off their hands too.

Halladay's workout partner, like no more Chad Durbin - Beerleaguer
I like how there's always news or stories about Roy Halladay's working out. I mean, it's no secret that he's a gym rat, and such regimes is what leads him to be the most durable, efficient pitcher in baseball, but it's funny how it's often newsworthy when scrubs like Kyle Kendrick try to imitate him, or when other, other-worldly pitchers like Cliff Lee workout with him. In other news, Chad Durbin may, or may not remain a Phillie, depending on interpretation of all the signs.

Kyle Kendrick's changeup sucks - The Good Phight
Over at The Good Phight, mvhsbball's BFF in Philadelphia has written an interesting piece about Kyle Kendrick and his mostly ineffective changeup, a pitch he developed for 2010 to have a reliable out-pitch. I say "mostly ineffective," because at least against the Braves, he was as good as Halladay, holding the Braves to a pitiful slash of .206/.280/.250 in 20 innings in 2010, making the Braves the only team in the National League he was this good against.

Phillies sign journeyman reliever Jason Grilli to minor league contract - Phillies Nation
He is not invited to major league camp, and therefore will have to earn his way up to the big club the old fashioned way. Kind of a downer, considering how much he reportedely seemed to be celebrating signing with the Phillies on his Twitter account, calling himself the "Italian Stallion" and other lame Rocky references.

The Overlooked Bullpen? How about Overrated? - Crashburn Alley
According to WEEI's rankings of MLB bullpens (Braves rank #4), the Phillies are ranked #7 overall. I guess that's a fair assessment, but CA's breakdown of the Phillies bullpen going into 2011 doesn't really help their cause in my opinions. Lidge is a roller-coaster of success and failure, and I just get this impression that Ryan Madson isn't going to be the uber-closer that many Phillies supporters think he's going to be. Kind of like guys like Scot Shields and Grant Balfour, Madson strikes me as one of those guys who doesn't inspire confidence like a Rivera, Wagner, or even Lidge when he's on one of his upswings.

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