Around the NL East - Victorino and Hamels possibly looking for extensions, Marlins prez hates Miami, Johan Santana getting stronger, all eyes on Bryce Harper

For the last few weeks, in those minutes in the morning where I'm preparing to head out the door and go to work, I've been watching episodes of Boy Meets World on the ABC Family channel. Long-time readers will know of my fascination with old (crap) and nostalgia-inducing things like TGIF, which Boy Meets World was a component of, once upon a time.

I used to love Boy Meets World. The show touched on hard-hitting topics, like drugs, anti-semitism, divorce, love, depression, amidst the wacky daily adventures of the Matthews Family and company. I crushed on Topanga as she and the rest of the cast, close to my age, we all aged together.

But I have to use the words "used to," because upon watching these episodes, I'm reminded that the setting of the show was set in Philadelphia, and all through the early seasons I've been recently viewing, I've seen at least three instances of characters in the show wearing Phillies gear. Keep in mind when the show originally aired, the Braves were still a part of the NL West, and the Phillies weren't as adversarial, not to mention I was living in an area where I was still kind of split to root for Cal Ripken, Jr. and the Orioles. But anyway, Cory can't go to the Phillies game, because he's got detention. Cory and Mr. Feeny switch places, and Mr. Feeny comes to class wearing a Phillies jersey. It all kind of soils fond childhood memories, in a way. Stupid Phillies.

Anyway, I can't quite get into these parodies of exhibition games yet. I haven't been genuinely interested in a Braves spring training since Jason Heward destroyed the windshield of Bruce Manno, to be honest. Maybe as we get closer, the excitement will begin to bubble. Welcome back to the basement.

2012phi_medium

Are the days of exploiting the Phillies with strong left-handed pitching coming to an end? - TGP
I'm kind of ehh on this kind of rationale, considering I'm in the camp of John Mayberry, Jr. needs to do it again to make me a believer, Shane Victorino could very well be gone after 2011, and then there's Hunter Pence, who despite the good career numbers, I can't really ever see as a legitimate threat. Must have been due to all those years as an Astro, but the point is, the Phillies might have some useful bats on the right side, but I still think they can be worked around to take advantage of the lefties.

Apparently Roy Halladay must be some sort of hotshot prospect - Beerleaguer
Because apparently, there are some people calling him Jesus this spring.

How does Andrew McCutchen's deal impact Shane Victorino? - High Cheese
In short, not a lot. The answer is simply in the ages, where McCutchen is 25, and Victorino will be 32 if/when he enters free agency at the end of 2012. But it kind of gives a glimpse at the kind of numbers that Victorino could realistically be seeking to get from the Phillies when the time hits.

Cole Hamels' agent spending a week in Clearwater - Beerleaguer
Whatever happened to the days of crashing holidays, and spending Christmases and Thanksgiving with clientele? Or is that practice reserved for GMs who are courting free agents? No matter, Hamels' agent is hanging out in Florida all week, with repeated meetings with Ruben Amaro, for the obvious intentions of extending Cole Hamels.

Is Jimmy Rollins the Phillies' equivalent to Derek Jeter? - Phillies Nation
I see what the article's trying to point out, but personally, I'd have to say no. If there's anyone in history that I instantly think of when I think of the Phillies, it would probably be Mike Schmidt. I ask myself who's name I'd be more apt to drop when I'm old and shooting the (crap) about baseball with my fellow old guys, and what stands out the most about Jimmy Rollins to me is the constant running of the mouth; granted, he backed one of those years up with his MVP year, but Schmidt was a monster, all the time, won three MVPs, and went bonkers on the Royals in the 1980 Series, and stayed with the club for all 18 years of his career.

So far, no good - Crashburn Alley
I know it's still in the "too early" phase, but so far, Dontrelle Willis has not been good. Expected to be a dominant LOOGY, he's been anything but so far, but the humble lanky pitcher is very well aware of the situation, and is hoping to shape up by the regular season... if he makes the cut.

This sounds familiar - Phillies Zone
Domonic Brown will miss a few games due to a sprained thumb. But his wasn't the result of a head-first slide, but instead a poor read on a fly ball leading to an ill-advised diving grab that didn't quite work out so well. He's okay supposedly, but Ryan Howard needs to wear a boot for a little while, and his timetable is getting pushed back some.

Dropkick Murphys do not want Jonathan Papelbon to use their music anymore - Deadspin
Paps, who came out to Shipping Up To Boston, while closing for the Red Sawks, is obviously no longer pitching for the Red Sawks anymore, so the Boston-local Dropkick Murphys don't want him using their Boston-centric song anymore. That's fine and all, but what about most other players of Irish decent who use it? I've heard both Daniel Murphy and Eric O'Flaherty both come out to it before. Just kidding, apparently Ken Casey (front man) claims it was all sarcasm, but doesn't actually clarify whether or not Paps is still allowed to use it or not.

Lenny Dykstra sentenced to three years in prison - NY Post
For old school wrestling fans, there's some ironic humor in this outcome:

Looking forward to the real top-10 - Phillies Nation
P-N is putting together their own "guys they hate" aka killers of their team list, that many sites tend to do. But before they unveil their top-10, the put together a small list of guys who just missed the cut. Amidst those, are Matt Diaz, and Tom Glavine. I imagine Chipper Jones will show up, since he's hit the Phillies pretty well throughout his career and Bobby Cox and/or John Smoltz for their constant complaints over Citizens Bank Park's dimensions.

To no surprise, second-hand tickets for Phillies at Nationals still readily available - High Cheese
There's no such thing as loyalty when there's a potential buck to be made. Literally over a thousand tickets are available for each of the three games of the Phillies' first visit to Washington this year, in spite of the efforts the Nats made to try and keep Phillies fans out.

2012mia_medium

David Samson reveals his true, ugly, malicious colors - Miami New Times
I'll admit, over the off-season, I was growing to like David Samson. All the charitable events he went to, running in like two marathons for charity purposes; it was interesting for me to see a team with a president so proactive in good deeds while the team is mired with colorful personalities and predictions for a (crap)storm. But apparently the apples weren't falling that far from the tree:

I don't have to hold back now that the stadium is built -- not that I ever have

We're not the smartest people in Miami

We don't care if nobody comes ... We'll play in front of nobody, and we'll have all the money.

So in one appearance, he calls pretty much all residents of Miami stupid, all the politicians crooked, and that it really doesn't matter where the Marlins play, if they have fans, or if people show up to the ballpark. This is some kind of a hat trick. Okay, never mind, there is a degree of arrogance on display sure, but Samson was pretty widely misquoted, in a Frankenstein-like manner.

Anibal Sanchez has tightness in right shoulder - Fish Bytes
He'll take a few days to rest it up before hitting the mound again. This could be something as typical as Spring Training dead arm that many pitchers hit at some point, or it could be hinting at something worse, as Sanchez has had shoulder troubles in the past, as well as having pitched a career high 196.1 innings in 2011.

Are they, or aren't they? - Marlins Diehards
Buster Olney says the Marlins have discussed a blockbuster extension with Mike Stanton. But then Peter Gammonds comes out and says they haven't even reached out. What to think?

Miguel Cabrera predicts Hanley Ramirez will win NL MVP - MLB
Former teammates turned both into converted third basemen out of necessity, Miggy thinks Hanley will bounce back way beyond normalcy, and into MVP caliber.

Lots of spring aches and pains for several key Fish - Palm Beach Post
Chris Coghlan has a sore back. Greg Dobbs (who?) has a balky hamstring, and Logan Morrison's knee is being cranky.

If you're afraid/reluctant/intimidated by sabermetrics, read this - Fish Stripes
The internet has brought baseball analysis great strides throughout the last few years alone, but there are still people out there who have been reluctant to acknowledge let alone take a gander at all this "new-age thinking" sabermetric crap. Michael Jong starts it off with an easy-to-read, not-condescending primer of what kind of encompassing analysis is being done these days instead of just looking at a few cherry picked columns.

LOLMarlins - Marlins Diehards
Yeah.. the sculpture. Guess what - it might be in violation of MLB rules, that it might be interfering for batters being able to see the baseball! That is, specifically lefty-hitters facing righty-pitchers, namely side-armers or submariners.

David Samson pulls groin trying to prove it isn't - Fish Bytes
Along with John Buck and Triple-A manager Ron Hassey get on top of the sculpture and parade around, trying to distract hitters. When nobody seemed distracted, Samson went as far over to the right as he could to try more, and apparently hurt himself.

So the players are trying to destroy it themselves - Fish Bytes
During a BP session at the new park, while the team tries varying combinations of opening the windows/roof, several players were trying their hardest to hit homers and nail the sculpture - pretty much deliberately.

Matt Dominguez's face meets ball - Palm Beach Post
First, it's pretty much getting news that he has literally no shot at making the major league roster, and now, he gets a ball to the face. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to be any more severe than wounded pride, for the reputably slick fielder.

Marlins eyeing 2015 All-Star Game - Marlin Maniac
My first thought is, man, can't the Nationals get a break? They broke before both the Mets and the Marlins, and yet the two latter ballparks are seemingly targeted for an All-Star hosting before the nation's capital.

2012nym_medium

Johan Santana pitches two-inning, scoreless innings - NY Times
Normally, I don't make a point to link to recaps to individual Grapefruit League games, but this holds some relevance since it's literally the first time in almost two full years that Johan Santana has actually faced live batters. It took him 29 pitches, 17 for strikes, to work two innings, where he gave up just one walk and one single, but essentially looked good, and came off the hill without any pain.

Jose Reyes chased money, nothing else mattered - Amazin' Avenue
According to the oft-misunderstood David Samson, Marlins president:

"He said, ‘I really want to play in Miami as long as you pay me $1 more than anyone else," Samson said. "'I really want to make the most money I can.'"

Well, at least he was being honest.

Of course sources say he would have stayed in New York for less - NY Daily News
You know how the internet has turned the word "anonymous" into a singular entity, often used to describe as the one driving force behind everything that is trendy, viral, and/or just plain obnoxious? That's kind of how I feel when I see the word "sources." Mr/Ms. Sources believes Jose Reyes would have stayed in New York for less money/years ... if they just offered.

Frank Francisco doesn't like to throw to first - SBNation
The Mets' free agent acquisition reliever apparently doesn't like to first. So what does that mean? People run on him all the time, and nobody's afraid to bunt.

David Wright has soreness in his ribs, is not playing - NY Daily News
Just soreness is the diagnosis, nothing more specific than such. Regardless, it is preventing him from playing any Grapefruit League games in the meantime.

Ike Davis can't catch a break, catches Valley Fever instead - Metstradamus
The good news is that it's such a low degree that Ike didn't even know he had it. It goes away on its own without treatment. Metstradamus points out an interesting observation:

The best aspect of all this is the groups of people that this usually afflicts: "Farmers, archaeologists, Military personnel, and construction workers." How the hell did Ike Davis get an infection that farmers get?

Conor Jackson is living proof of what the Mets should be careful of - NY Daily News
Because Jackson also caught Valley Fever, in 2009, while playing for the Diamondbacks, and hasn't been the same... since.

Jon Niese has added a changeup to his arsenal - NY Post
As if it weren't bad enough that Mr. Nibbles on the Outside corner does what he does all day long with his fastball and curveball, now there's a changeup to worry about now, too.

That's one heck of an endorsement - MetsBlog
Sandy Koufax, yes that Sandy Koufax, believes in Bobby Parnell. It's almost a little sad to think that despite his stellar playing career, his probable poor judgment in today's pitchers.

Looks like Terry Collins' example is starting to pay off - NY Times
Despite the fact that first stretch isn't scheduled until 10 a.m., numerous Mets pitchers and position players are rolling into Digital Domain Park as early as 6 a.m. with 36 pieces of flair, plates of eggs and bacon, with great smiles on their faces. What, too many weeks in a row with Office Space jokes?

Tim Byrdak flirts with a perfect game - The Mets Police
In bowling, that is, at the Mets' annual Spring Training bowling night. Byrdakmania owns pretty much the entire establishment with his freakish 279 score.

LOLBleacher Report - (h/t AA)

So far, Pelfrey has had success in even-numbered seasons and has struggled in odd-numbered seasons. History thus states that Pelfrey will pitch well in 2012

How scientific.

2012was_medium

Mike Morse will not play any first base this spring - Nats Insider
This is an interesting decision, considering that Adam LaRoche's health is still a little up in the air, and the likely heir to the position, Chris Marrero is still shelved with a hamstring injury. Not to mention that Morse's production magically went up when playing first over the position he's slated to be in 2012, left field. Would any team prefer to have a guy like Chad Tracy taking at-bats instead of their outfield backups?

He also strained his lat - Nationals Journal
Maybe he was doing one too many of his Heisman poses during BP. And resultingly, Chad Tracy batted cleanup in the game he was scratched from.

Same struggle, different circumstances - Nationals Journal
Fighting for a spot in the rotation is nothing new for John Lannan. The crafty lefty has had to earn his spot pretty much every year of his career now. However, the difference is that currently, he's the only logical one to be starting the season in AAA, for no other reason than that he's actually got options left. He'll make his $5M~ no matter what, but the slightly diminished big league exposure could cut into his future earnings.

The wheels are in motion, Jayson Werth gets some time in center - Nats Insider
"Don't put much into it," says the talking heads. With Bryce Harper starting the Grapefruit League kind of strong, it's hard not to think he doesn't have a chance, Super-Two status be damned.

The Shark's last chance to hunt - The Nats Blog
Maybe it's residual favoritism of outfielders from Curacao, but I've always thought that Roger Bernadina could turn into something special. Drafted at the age of 17 out of Curacao, I'm sure the measuring stick of Andruw Jones always loomed in the background for him, and I figured he'd be at least a starting outfielder caliber player by now. But at 27 years old now, with no more options left, and the Nationals pretty much looking beyond him, Roger Bernadina's got one last chance to stick, either as a default starting CF or the fourth outfielder, otherwise, he'll eventually be traded/claimed for when the time comes for Bryce Harper to take his place.

Speaking of Bryce Harper, he's capitalizing on crafty pitchers - MASN
Apparently junkball pitchers are all thinking Bryce Harper is going to be all amped up and over-aggressive, swinging for the fences. But in the case of soft-tossing Danny Ray Herrera, Harper decided to "channel Ichiro," and goofy-slap a pitch down the other way and beat the throw to first.

Oh, youth hazing - The Bog
Man, some Nats veterans don't sugar coat it, or even remotely try to be passive-aggressive about their hazing. Last year's Spring, Bryce Harper's name plate said nothing but "(euphemism for female canine)-Boy." This year, it's a little friendlier, simply calling him "Namath."

DC Radio host appears in Philly, calls Harper a Dbag again - Nats Enquirer
Is the guy begging to get terminated or something?

But honestly, Drew Storen is getting it way worse - Nats Enquirer
Davey Johnson for whatever reason, has decided that Drew Storen's nickname this year is "Tinker Bell."

Apparently hitting a spring training home run off of Jonny Venters is newsworthy - Nationals Journal
Regardless of the season, he should probably pay to get that ball back, because such happenstance does not occur often. But whatever, if Mark DeRosa feels that hitting a dinger off of the world's greatest reliever, then so be it.

One bad outing is all it took - Nats Insider
One bad outing against the Padres, and Jonny Venters lost his footing in the myriad of relief stat standings to Tyler Clippard, who is instead on the receiving end of all this praise and accolade for being statistically one of the most valuable relievers in baseball all of last year. But as Braves fans muse over the longevity of Venters, such could be thought of Nats fans and their concern for the even heavier workloads that Clippard has undertaken over a similar stretch of time.

Livan Hernandez muses about facing his old club - Nats Insider
It kind of figures that the first team Livan Hernandez faced this Spring was none other than his previous team, the team he apparently loved so much he did irrational things for. Also it kind of comes as no surprise that he held them scoreless in his brief two-inning stint, but it's all in good fun, and he's still in great relations with the org. Racquetball joke.

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