Around the NL East - Josh Johnson avoids the knife, Ryan Madson DL'd, Davey Johnson returns to the dugout, Mets amidst swirling trade rumors

I just want to say it's been a pleasure doing Saturday NL East columns with you guys over the last two years. We may not always see eye-to-eye, and sometimes my lame attempts at humor are not always comprehended in the fashion in which I may envision, but I am always grateful for your time and readership.

No, I'm not leaving Talking Chop by any means, but with $450 worth of (real, South Carolina) fireworks at my disposal for this July 4th weekend, there stands a chance that I could very well blow both my hands off, and I wouldn't be able to use computers, save for maneuvering a mouse around with a stump, after this weekend. But if not, I guess I'll just see you fine cats next week.

Welcome back to the basement, and I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July weekend.

METS

Sabermetrics and fandom - Amazin' Avenue
At least once year, this debate is brought up, and with each passing year, increases to both sides of the argument, with neither side really desiring to relent. This is a slightly better written out explanation and attempt to find a happy medium, and one link that I highly recommend reading.

Elite company - MetsBlog
Jose Reyes finished June with 45 hits, 29 runs scored, seven triples and 11 stolen bases in 26 games. The only other guy to reach those numbers in one month? Ty Cobb.

Cecil Fielder thinks Mets have chance to land Prince - NY Daily News
And for no really good reason, other than him probably wanting to see his name in print again. Seriously, the Pittsburgh Pirates would have a more logical chance to get Prince, because of the availability of Middleswarth potato chips, than the gut-instinct of a fat father who's more or less estranged from his fat son.

David Wright begins hitting off tee - MetsBlog
Still no word when he's going to be coming back though.

Carlos Beltran okay with being traded as long as it's to a contender - NY Post
Well, at least he's not hiding the fact that he would be gravy-training it back into the playoffs, as long as he has a chance to play for a World Series title. Some players just want to make sure they stay employed.

I wonder if their season will turn out as unfortuitous as it did for us in 2006? - NY Times
In the span of four games, the Mets hung 52 runs on their opponents. This is one run better than the Braves' 51-run/4-game outburst, which also was part of a 65/5 and 73/6 torrid stretch in the dismal, streak ending year where the Braves didn't finish above .500. In other words, it's fun for now, but pointless in the bigger picture.

Jon Niese passes potential heart scare - NY Daily News
Initially diagnosed with a rapid heartbeat, pitcher Jon Niese went through a series of tests, and passed, for potential heart conditions. Naturally, this has rattled Niese somewhat, and given the track record of the Mets medical staff, I can't blame him for a little bit of future anxiety.

Tim Byrdak makes excuses instead of chalking up goferball to simply being Tim Byrdak - NY Post
I thought the "I wasn't ready yet" excuse pretty much stopped after little league, but apparently Tim Byrdak chalks up a bad pitch to not being ready enough to throw it. For starters, Byrdak had already warmed up once before being summoned in, and two, pitchers are allowed to shake off signs if they want...

Willie Harris to bereavement list due to loss of unborn child - MetsBlog
Willie's been subject to a lot of criticism by a lot of nerds throughout the last few years, but let's not let him forget that we don't care about him as human being. That being said, terrible news for our former 6-for-6 hero, and condolences to Willie, his wife, and family for their devastating loss.

 

MARLINS

Historically bad - Fish Bytes
Finishing the month of June with a 5-23 (.179) record, the Marlins narrowly avoided matching 4-24 (.143), which would have put them into the 20 worst months in baseball history since 1950, but by narrowly defeating the A's, they're only in the top 50 now.

Really bad - Fish Stripes
Only one team since 2000 has lost 14 consecutive 1-run games, and you're looking at 'em. Statistically, that's a 1 in 1,250 chance.

No thanks to finishes like this - Sun Sentinel
This year has seen it all. Walk-off walk. Walk-off balk. And now, walk-off wild pitch when trying to throw intentional ball.

Josh Johnson visited Dr. James Andrews and somehow escaped knives - Fish Stripes
Typically, the phrase "Doctor James Andrews" is akin to saying "Your season is over." Amazingly, the MRIs taken for Johnson's shoulder revealed no structural damage, just inflammation and tendinitis. Regardless, the question is still when he will pitch again, and with the Marlins still free-falling, should he even bother this year?

I simply can't think of a single clever headline for this scenario - Deadspin
In short: 80-year old Jack McKeon chides 23-year old Logan Morrison, saying he should spend more time on baseball stuff, and "less on that twitter (stuff)." And like many defiant 23-year olds, LoMo reacts accordingly. You know how a lion jumps into a horde of gazelle, but is so excited and can't focus taking down a single gazelle, and then all the gazelle escape without casualties and the lion is sad emo cat? Yeah, sort of like that.

U2 won't leave the Marlins alone - Fish Bytes
First, Bono and his (crappy) band evicted the Marlins from their (crappy) home field, but then a recent U2 concert at (crappy) Oakland Coliseum has resulted in re-sodding of the playing field, combined with rain, leads to some (crappy) playing conditions.

Glad they caught this stuff now, rather than in 2012 - Marlins Diehards
"Hundreds" of cracks were found in the beams of the parking garages surrounding the new Marlins ballpark. Due to "miscalculations." No such thing as a little mistake?

 

NATIONALS

Davey Johnson signs on as Nationals new manager - The Nats Blog
After an eleven year hiatus from managing an MLB squad, Davey Johnson returns to the dugout. His new deal could feasibly keep in him Washington throughout 2013.

Juuuuusst short - Nats Insider
Despite the fact that Ryan Zimmerman spent two months on the DL, Adam LaRoche missed the rest of the season, and Jayson Werth is pulling a Dan Uggla, the Nationals finish the official first half of 2011, just one game under .500. I'm sure not a whole lot of people saw this coming?

Stephen Strasburg is throwing curveballs - Nationals Journal
Considering the stress such actions puts on an arm, this is a pretty big step for former jesus.

Jim McLaren is the all-time leader in win percentage - The Bog
At a dominant 2-1 career managing the Nationals, Jim McLaren's .667 win percentage is the all-time best for the combined Nationals/Expos franchise.

Ryan Zimmerman apparently changing his throwing mechanics - Nationals Journal
Considering he's already one of the best defensive third-basemen in the game, Zim's apparently unsatisfied with his throwing errors, and is making some changes to rectify it, but the process isn't going as smoothly as he and Nationals fans are hoping.

The one thing that is holding Bryce Harper back - The Nats Blog
And no, it's not the recent thumb injury that he just incurred.

Tyler Clippard sits out of game with 'tired arm' - Nationals Journal
Never a good sign to hear that the bullpen ace's arm is tired.

J.C. Romero signs with Nationals - Nats Insider
He'll be assigned to AAA-Syracuse, and if he can figure out how to pitch again, could prove to be a useful acquisition, considering the only lefty in the Nationals bullpen nowadays is Sean Burnett.

Chien-Ming Wang begins rehabbing - Nationals Journal
For the first time in almost three years, Wang plays in a baseball game other than extended spring training or instructional league. Supposedly, if Wang can find his way to being somewhat serviceable, a starter like Jason Marquis becomes expendable.

U2 screwing things up for the Nationals too - LA Times
U2 had a concert at Angel Stadium prior to the Nationals visiting, and a lot of turf had to be re-sodded as a result. And as a result of the new sod, the turf wasn't as "pristine," which led to a costly error-fest between the Nats and Halos.

 

PHILLIES

Cole Hamels has contusion in non-throwing hand - Phillies Zone
The result of an Adrian Gonzalez comebacker which ripped the glove off his hand. X-rays are negative, and he is scheduled to make his next start, anyway.

And is likely to sit out of the All-Star game - Phillies Nation
There's pretty much no way that Hamels doesn't make the ASG, given how he's performed this year. But given the projected schedule, he probably won't be able to pitch in it, regardless. Does he, or Phillies fans care? They act like it, but probably not.

Roy Oswalt to see spine specialist - MLB
Oswalt would like to earn his money and actually play again this season, so it's off to a spine specialist for a second opinion.

Ryan Madson has contusion in throwing hand, DL'd - Beerleaguer
Closing for the Phillies has been a pretty dangerous job, even if they're not needed on a fairly regular basis with those starters.

Good thing Brad Lidge is almost ready to start rehab games - Phillies Zone
But given his estimated time table, Madson and/or Contreras may as well be back, and then it'll be real interesting to see what happens next once the timeframe in which players are allowed to rehab in the minors gets close to nil.

How does legendary rotation stand to measure? - Crashburn Alley
Currently, the Phillies are on pace to allow 500 total earned runs, which is good enough to tie for 15th on the all-time lowest total ERs in a season. Can they threaten the 1968 Cardinals? Probably not, but it's still some selective company to even be mentioned in the top 30.

Raul Ibanez's anomalous trends - The Good Phight
A truly fascinating observation about Raul Ibanez's "streaks."

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