Around the NL East - Gio Gonzalez a long-term Nat, Cole Hamels future with the Phillies, R.A. Dickey scales Kilimanjaro, LOLMarlins

Could 2012 be the Cole Hamels farewell tour to the NL East?

By the time you read this, I could very well be waking up with a very nasty hangover, as I am in Las Vegas this weekend. Sadly, there are no MLB odds available at this time of year, so I have no chance at getting my opportunity to be like this Cardinals fan who probably pocketed somewhere close to $200K in winnings for his Hail Mary bets that the Cardinals would win the NLCS as well as the World Series, a month before the regular season even ended. Regardless if there were baseball odds to bet on, it really wouldn't matter; when it comes to sports, me betting on anything is like the kiss of death.

I actually remember the last time I made a Vegas bet: it was on game 5 of the 2008 ALCS. I knew Scott Kazmir was a legitimate Red Sox destroyer of worlds, so I made a bet on the straight up game, that Tampa Bay would beat Boston. I couldn't help but notice that when I was placing a bet, that there was an option for "official game," meaning betting on the score after five innings. The payout was a little bit better on the full game, so I decided to go with that. Going into the bottom of the 7th, things felt great - I was nicely buzzed and the Rays were up 7-0 on the Red Sox.

And then the (crap) hit the fan epically, and a combination of Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and J.P. Howell choked up eight runs, and the Red Sox won the game, and I lost my bet. If only I had bet on the official game, I'd have walked away with money, instead of a worthless bet ticket. No more sports betting.

Anyway, that means this was written up a night early, and if anything happened on Friday or Saturday morning, it's not mentioned. Welcome back to the basement.

2012was_medium

Gio Gonzalez signs four-year extension with Nationals - Nationals Journal
Despite not having thrown a single pitch yet, the Nationals went on to secure the services of Gio Gonzalez for the next four years. The base salary is roughly $42M, but there are two options which could bump the deal to a total of six years and almost $65M.

Uh, it's about time? - MLB
The Nationals are supposedly beginning talks with Ryan Zimmerman's agent in regards to extending Zim to a long-term extension.

With Yu Darvish settled, the Nationals look like favorites for Prince Fielder - Nationals Journal
Adam Kilgore says what I think too:

I still believe the Rangers have gobs of television money and people who are smart and creative enough in their front office to dance around budget constraints.

Just because Yu Darvish signed 6/$60M, it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be $10M exactly, every year. Contracts are always backloaded, so there's a great chance Darvish will be making something less than $10M in year one. Although it would necessitate increasing payroll by a little bit, there's still possibility that two lower-cost front-end years between Darvish and Fielder could fit into the Rangers' payroll.

Quiet is good - MASN
Lost amidst the arb cases, the Gio acquisition/extension, Fielder rumors, the ace of the pitching staff, Stephen Strasburg has been having a quiet off-season. Quiet is good, meaning no complications, no set backs, just normal, quiet, preparation for 2012. And how he's had his first bullpen session of the winter.

The benefits of tenure: Tom Gorzelanny receives more than Jordan Zimmermann - The Nats Blog
Obviously, there's no question that Jordan Zimmermann was leaps and bounds the superior pitcher over exiled starter-turned-reliever, Tom Gorzelanny. But due to the nature of service time, Sloth will be making $2.7M in 2012, while Zimmermann receives $2.3M.

Mike Morse and John Lannan do not agree on deals, likely to go to arbitration - Nats Insider
There's a good chance that Lannan will get settled ($5.7M requested vs. $5.0M offered) before, but Mike Morse ($5.0M requested vs. $3.5 offered) is probably going to arbitration, where Morse will use his monstrous 2011 as justification, while the team tells him nicely that they think it was a flash in the pan. If the Nats are smart, they go somewhere like $3.8M with a few incentive clauses that take it closer to $5M, if attained. But better yet, I want the Nats to have unhappy (read: unmotivated) players, especially against the Braves, so take that (crap) to arb.

Tyler Clippard agrees to one-year deal - MASN
At the time of me writing this, it's undisclosed, but it's believed to be between $1.5M and $2M, for the reliever who topped the NL in innings and accumulated WPA in 2012.

Jesus Flores avoids arbitration with one-year, $815,000 contract - Nats Insider
The importance of Flores has grown exponential this off-season with the trading of catching prospect Derek Norris. Now there is nobody except for Flores to be the backup to Wilson Ramos going into 2012.

Davey Johnson managed partially blind last season - Nats NQ
And in spite of that, the Nationals were still a game removed from a .500 record!

Nationals to go national twice on ESPN - Nats Insider
Two times, ESPN will hope that the Nationals trot out Stephen Strasburg for Sunday Night Baseball, as they're given the nod in games against the Phillies, as well as hey, the Braves. When I was still living in the area, I have to imagine this is kind of like the one time the NBA finally recognized Washington, and actually gave the Bullets the NBA on NBC game of the week once.

2012phi_medium

Cole Hamels avoids arbitration, signs one-year, $15M deal - TGP
Continuing on from the thought train from last week, the more I think about it, the more I think it's really bad if the Phillies don't extend Cole Hamels ASAP. He really has nothing left to prove in Philadelphia, having already won a World Series and being the WS MVP. A native southern Californian, I could see a scenario where he goes into free agency after 2012, and allows himself to get won over by a team like the Dodgers (if they have new ownership by then), while the Phillies muse at why they didn't extend him while Halladay and Lee could feasibly begin declining. Nevermind. They'll apparently begin talking about extension during Spring Training.

Talking heads think waiting is a bad idea, though - Phillies Nation
Apparently, may of us here are not the only ones who thinks that waiting to extend Hamels is a not a good idea.

Hunter Pence: World Series or bust in 2012 - High Cheese
Hunter Pence reminds me of a more talented Jeff Francoeur. Like Francoeur was for the Rangers, Pence was merely but a blip on the radar in the grand spectrum of the Phillies in 2011, but now the tourist is already blabbing about how nothing short of the World Series should be accepted, as if anyone with half a brain thought otherwise. Such a lofty goal will be hard to attain if he continues to hit and slug .211 in the playoffs next year too.

Kyle Kendrick signs one-year deal, $3.5M - Crashburn Alley
Personally, I don't think this was at all that surprising. As big of a whipping boy he seems to be, most of the time it's in comparison to the ridiculous peripherals that guys like Halladay, Hamels and Lee are putting up. If you're looking for back end rotation depth, you really could do worse than Kendrick, and possibly for more money.

Phillies sign Joel Pinero to minor league deal - Beerleaguer
Hm. Think Rodrigo Lopez for the Braves in 2011. Just contingency, who will make the bulk of his work in AAA likely.

Jamie Moyer resumes career with Colorado - High Cheese
The ageless wonder will be 49 when he steps into Spring Training this year, having accepted a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies. The idea of Moyer in Coors is kind of frightening, but in all reality he probably won't make the squad and will get cut, but at least the Rockies can allow their young pitchers to soak up his wisdom while he's around.

2012nym_medium

R.A. Dickey successfully reaches peak of Mount Kilimanjaro - NY Times
I didn't have much doubt in my mind that he was going to not succeed at this. But it's still fascinating to hear first-hand of the adversities of altitude sickness, as well as the methodical thinking of why night climbing is done.

David Wright is supposedly optimistic about 2012 - MetsBlog
Citing the unpredictability that a youth movement sometimes brings (Diamondbacks or Astros), 2012 could be an interesting year for the Mets nonetheless.

Adam Rubin tells all about the Mets and doctors - Amazin' Avenue
If anything at all, just go through the litany of twitter grabs of Rubin talking about Mets players of the present and past, injuries, and the ineptitude at diagnosing, acknowledging, or even ignoring them. It's kind of sad, and almost makes me feel as if the Jordan Schafer wristgate was nothing in comparison.

Regardless, Ike Davis isn't upset about it - MetsBlog
Still in good spirits, Ike understands that mistakes happen, even if they're as frequent as the past Mets. Nice to see him keep a good attitude about it, instead of getting all resentful.

Four Mets avoid arbitration with one-year deals - NY Daily News
I like how the Daily News takes a dig at the finances by pointing out the salary space that these four players are occupying with their one-year deals, but for the record, Mike Pelfrey ($5.7M), Andres Torres ($2.7M), Ramon Ramirez ($2.7M) as well as Manny Acosta ($875k) all avoided arbitration with one-year contracts.

Your weekly Johan Santana status: Unsure - NY Post

Mets likely to have payroll around $90M going into 2012 - MetsBlog
Let that soak in for a second. Despite being substantially lower than the previous year, compare the Mets' supposed $90M roster to the Braves' just about $90M roster. Now, the lack of moves doesn't seem so horrendous, in comparison.

Mets however, do not get any Sunday Night Baseball love - ESPN
Wow, not even a Subway Series game makes it onto ESPN. But look at the bright side, it's often said that SNB games are hell for the players, logistically. And then 8:05 pm starts don't help matters either.

And just because he'll always be known first as a Met failure - CBS (h/t Amazin Avenue)
Oliver Perez signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. But seeing as how there's no remaining $12M deficit hitch for them to pay, if he's at least remotely capable of getting lefties out, he might actually see some Major League time again.

2012mia_medium

Is signing Mike Stanton to an extension now a good idea? - Fish Stripes
An interesting read on locking up young talent. In short, power, which Stanton brings to the table in boatloads, is very favorable to a player once they hit arbitration. Would it be worth the gamble to lock up Stanton, and hope that he slugs his way into years where he's hitting more dingers than what he's been paid? Or would it be a mistake if he falls of a cliff, and the team is left with a hamstrung contract, or he does well and commands big bucks through arb?

Anibal Sanchez and Emilio Bonifacio fail to agree to deals, going to arbitration - Sun Sentinel
Bonifacio wants a quarter-mil more than what the Marlins are offering him ($2.2M vs. $1.95M), but Anibal Sanchez is looking for a much more substantial raise ($8M vs. $6.9M). Sometimes it's nice to think about how infrequently we hear of Braves players being discontent with their arbitration offers, and rarely necessitating hearings to resolve.

Despite a criminal off-season, Leo Nunez will make $6M in 2012 - Fish Bytes
As much as people say that professional sports are unforgiving, apparently if you get your foot in the door, it's pretty forgiving. Despite deportation, suspension, identity fraud and some jail time, Leo Nunez will be entitled to roughly $6M in his arb-3 year.

But he just wants to pitch with his real name on his jersey, even if he thinks he'll be traded - Sun Sentinel
Regardless of the fact that he's now a $6M set-up man, a luxury that not many teams can really afford, nor want to.

Chris Coghlan, odd man out - Marlin Maniac
As much as I took a self-satisfactory sense of "I told you so," at the failures of Chris Coghlan Centerfielder, I still feel really bad for the guy overall. Here was a kid with so much talent, illogically thrust into the outfield, months removed from knee surgery into the one defensive position that required the most amount of running, and the Marlins were surprised when he re-injured himself. And now he's at the point where he's competing with career fourth-outfielders and Aaron Rowand, for the off-chance that he could become a fourth outfielder.

Marlins Mermaids are dead, replaced with "Energy Team" - Palm Beach Post
Uh, dudes don't want to see other dudes performing cheerleader duties at the ballpark. Most women don't even want to see dudes performing cheerleader duties at the ballpark. Co-ed "gymnastics, break dancing, modern jazz and flags." But the fact that they're going to be called an Energy Team only makes me think of this:

LOLMarlins?

No wait, this is LOLMarlins - Miami okays plan for free trolleys to new ballpark - Miami Herald
In the past, there were drive-by shootings. Now, all the criminals have to do is wait for the trolleys filled with people since it's free, to drive by, and they'll just open fire from the comfort of their own seats in Little Havana.

But wait, "free" is detrimental to profits! - Miami Herald
As quick as it was at generating excitement, it's quickly to be stalled and held up by bureaucratic nonsense, this time by the county commission's transportation committee, who balk at the idea of free alternative transportation, because then nobody would want to take other means of transportation. Oh noes!

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