Around the NL East - Ryan Zimmerman signs extension, Greg Dobbs (Who?) declares Fish team to beat, Ryan Howard has setback, Byrdakmania runs wild in PSL

Braves fans should get used to seeing Ryan Zimmerman blocking off the hot corner for at least the next seven years when playing against the pesky Nationals.

I have to imagine that one of the most grueling activities in the world would be keeping score at a Spring Training game, namely one of the first ones of the exhibition leagues. You start off with a nice clean scorecard, all the names and positions cleanly organized; a black pen for normal marking, and a red pen to emphasize runs and RBI. And when the first pitch of the game is thrown, it's like it's already April again.

But then by the third inning, the starting pitcher has come out of the game, the veteran position players are removed, and all suddenly have pinch-hitters and position changes are all checking in at once. For whatever reason, the likely closer for the regular season has checked into the game, but he's going to be lifted for a pinch-hitter at the top of the next inning when some convoluted double-switch occurs in order to get the utility guy a solitary at-bat, to prepare him for what to expect in the regular season.

By the seventh inning, every starter is gone, all the veteran bench guys are mostly gone, and the team has already used up eight different pitchers to get just one or two outs. Your scorecard is now a disaster, with names crossed out, arrows directing to their pinch-hitters, more arrows pointing to their replacements. It turns out you have to flip the card over to accommodate for the names of the onslaught of pitchers who keep coming in and leaving after throwing fewer pitches than it took for them to get loose. The paper is beginning to warp and curl from the combination of all the ink bearing down, and the twinges of sweat elicited by the warm Arizona or Florida sun. Kids are running into you when they're not tripping over your legs trying to scream and beg for autographs and discarded baseballs, and you think to yourself "Why the bleep am I even taking score at a bleeping Spring Training game?"

But believe it or not, there are people, lots of them, who do. Me, I'll be doing something else that's rather grueling in its own right today - running from zombies. Again. Welcome back to the basement.

2012was_medium

Ryan Zimmerman signs extention through at least 2019 - Nats Insider
Sometimes it's hard to look at year numbers, and think that they're really? Nationals 2019 sounds like a bad spin-off comic series. Eventually one day, it will be 2099, and all those crappy Marvel Comic spinoffs will look so dumb. But anyway, the deal secures Ryan Zimmerman will essentially play his whole career for the Nationals, as he has tacked on an extra six years at $100M, with an option for a seventh year. This deal initiates on top of the two remaining years he has on his current deal, so in total, he's essentially going to be making 8/$126, with the full no-trade clause; more, if they pick up the option when he's 36 years old.

Jayson Werth misses some workouts due to back spasms - Nationals Journal
To answer the age old question, this is what his wife looks like:

Jordan Zimmermann quietly preparing for the season - Nats Insider
Sure, there's a ton of hype surrounding pretty much every pitcher on the Nationals not named Jordan Zimmermann, but it shouldn't go ignored that he was pretty much the best pitcher on the squad last year before being removed due to an innings limit. Despite the Halladays, Kershaws and Lincecums the Braves faced last year, I can't remember anyone carving up the Braves as bad as Zimmermann did on May 12, where he fanned 11 Braves and breezed through 6.1 innings, carving up lefties with a repeated, perfectly placed slider on the outside corner, when he wasn't striking everyone out. Granted, the bullpen blew it and the Braves won, but it shouldn't go unrecognized. Well, he's got no shackles this year, and won't have an innings limit, either.

Supposedly, Bryce Harper quit Twitter - Nats Enquirer
Much like a teenage girl, don't bet on this lasting long. Oh, that means you too, Kris Medlen.

Danny Espinosa needs to relax sometimes - Nats Insider
Apparently, nobody is more competitive and demanding of instant rectification than Danny Espinosa, who has been known to study film and take practice swings, after a bad game. Such overworking is what was led to Espinosa's miserable second half to what could have been a Rookie of the Year campaign. Davey Johnson's solution? Go home.

The differences in personalities - Nationals Journal
Early this spring, there was an instance where Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper ended up on the practice field. They never got a chance to face each other. Here's what they thought:

"Oh, absolutely, I wanted to face him so bad," Harper said.

"Was I looking forward to it? No, I’m just trying to get my work in," Strasburg said.

Mike Morse explains beast mode - The Bog
Instead of admitting that he probably heard it from other players and fans and that it originated as video game vernacular, he ends up sounding like a cross between the Ultimate Warrior and Derek Zoolander with his convoluted, new-age definition of "beast mode," complete with overpriced and trying-too-hard merchandising.

Sean Burnett making adjustments this year. Just like last year. - Nationals Journal
Someone get Sean Burnett a medal or something, because apparently he's just figured out that baseball is a game of adjustments, and that things actually need to be changed up periodically in order to maintain optimal effectiveness!

Pitching depth in the minors gets worse with another loss - The Nats Blog
Acquiring Gio Gonzalez cost the Nationals three highly-rated pitchers. One of the guys who stayed however, will miss all of 2012 with an injury. LHP Sammy Solis, who's AFL stint was cut early due to tightness will undergo Tommy John Surgery, and pretty much not be capable of pitching until 2013 now.

And I thought the Braves had some campy slogans before - Nats NQ
"Natitude." lol.

Nationals still working on keeping Phillies fans out, doesn't care how they feel - Nationals Journal
Part of the Take Back the Park campaign involves limiting the number and availability of group packages, especially to those in Philadelphia. From a fan standpoint, I understand what's happening, but from a sheer business-commerce standpoint, this is a terrible idea, the more they resist. It's essentially free money that Washington D.C. is disallowing. Regardless, Jayson Werth claims to reveal a little hypocrisy from Philadelphia, as he believed the Phillies tried similar tactics to prevent New Yorkers from invading Citizens Bank Park whenever the Mets were in town. Nevermind the fact that Mets numbers dwindled on its own, and in their own park with the rise of the LOLMets.

Nationals COO responds to whiny Pennsylvania senator - The Bog
The best part is the actual addressed part is really generic and doesn't really address the issue, but then it goes into sales pitch jargon immediately.

Good for the players, at least - MASN
Pfitzner Stadium, home of the High-A Potomac Nationals got some upgrades this winter; to the field. Sure, that's great for the players who won't have to play in a swamp or on sand any more, since the field is now MLB-caliber, with proper drainage and an actual groundskeeper now. But the rest of the park, for the fans' perspective, is still a reason to get up-to-date on your tetanus shots.

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Jose Reyes Hanley Ramirez Ozzie Guillen Greg Dobbs says Marlins are the team to beat. Who? - Fish Bytes
Man, talk about bad habits picked up in Philadelphia. Ever since Jimmy Rollins said the Phillies were the team to beat in 2007, seemingly every year, someone else blabs out about how their team is the team to beat. Have any of those teams actually ever won a World Series? Will Greg Dobbs even make the 25-man roster?

Leo Nunez, Logan Morrison and the Florida Marlins aren't the only things changing - Palm Beach Post
Probably because he's so easily confused for the mediocre LOOGY Mike Statnton, Mike Stanton joins the change club, and is now going to go by his real, given first name, instead of his second of hyphenated middle names. Batting clean-up for the Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton. Whatever, he's still Mike.

I love it when people debate the stats-based-on-position stance - Marlins Diehards
Since Hanley Ramirez is no longer a shortstop, there's a little more pressure for him to really rebound offensively, since third base has expectations of more offense than defense.

Looks like Hanley Ramirez will have something else to grow angst over - Fish Stripes
Now that he's a third baseman, Hanley Ramirez is probably looking at well-paid third basemen for him to measure his stick against now. None more currently prevalent than the freshly-extended Ryan Zimmerman, whom Hanley narrowly beat (also Dan Uggla), for the 2006 Rookie of the Year award - so obviously he's better and therefore must be paid more, right?

Jeffrey Loria feels that the 2012 squad is better than 2003's World Series champion team - Palm Beach Post
What I really enjoyed was the forced art analogy; I'm an artist myself, and I can tell you that "kind of make it fit" has more in common with the years where Loria tried to shoe-horn a Major League roster for just $14M, and has pretty much nothing to do with constructing a contending-caliber roster with several blockbuster free agent deals.

Subsequently, Loria has no intention of selling the team . . . yet - Sun Sentinel
The decision is simple, and there's the luxury of time here. If the Marlins play to their expected success, Loria will gladly profit from it. But if the team implodes and makes a mockery of baseball, 2014 is the earliest Loria could unload the team, and perhaps venture up the coast to say, like New York, where the Mets kind of need new owners, and Loria lives there.

Ozzie Guillen tries to quell notions that the Marlins are bat(crap) crazy - Sun Sentinel
It's no secret that most people think the Marlins are full of a bunch of head cases and loons, and stand a better chance of going all Lord of the Flies or Hunger Games on each other rather than finish with a playoff spot. Ozzie Guillen, who is probably more expected to be a catalyst to this behavior does his best to try to hush critics before they start.

Heath Bell will start by hugging it out - Fish Stripes
It's reasons like this that will make me a Heath Bell supported, no matter where he goes. No matter the temperament of the moody Carlos Zambrano, Bell will make a point of ensuring that he gets a hug, every single day. Gotta keep the mood light and relaxed.

Or, you could be like Ozzie and shop at Bed, Bath and Beyond for relaxation - Palm Beach Post
In spite of all the inflammatory tweets, arguments with upper management, I can't say I'm at all surprised. In an Ozzie kind of way, this kind of just works.

But no matter what, don't miss the f*%$ing National Anthem - Sun Sentinel
This shouldn't just be Ozzie's rule, this should be the rule of every single manager in baseball; professional, amateur, recreational; any league that has the National Anthem played at.

However, it's okay to berate your expensive free-agent acquisition - Palm Beach Post
Ozzie thinks he was a better shortstop than Jose Reyes was:

"I was a better shortstop than Reyes," Guillen said. "It’s hard to play 16 years in the big league’s hitting .220 and I did it. You have to catch a lot of ground balls."

Lost in the shuffle - Fish Bytes
Matt Dominguez, once revered as a future cornerstone of the Marlins to be the third-baseman of the future, now becomes a sure-fire lock into Triple-A for the 2012 season. Now, he's not even in contention, and might possibly be better off being used as a trade chip.

2012phi_medium

Ryan Howard's recovery ahead of schedule. Pros and cons? - Phillies Nation
Naturally, the easy pros and cons are if he's healthy, he's producing earlier than expected, or he's rushed in and re-injures himself. But as this list pertains to, it only involves those who would be playing first in Howard's absence, or not playing in his presence.

Nevermind, he's been sidelined indefinitely - Phillies Zone
An infection at the point of surgery has put Ryan Howard on the sidelines indefinitely. Whereas there have been time tables that have put him back in the game in May, and some as early as not even missing Opening Day, this definitely puts a hamper on all timetables.

Shane Victorino's impending free agency complicates things further with Cole Hamels - High Cheese
Love him or hate him, Shane Victorino's has been as integral to the Phillies' success as much as Cole Hamels. He's also entering his walk-year this year as well, so it raises some questions where the Phillies are going to get the funds necessary to secure both talents, if they want to keep both. He may not be in Kemp/Ellsbury territory in terms of what to expect, but Torii Hunter, who also entered free agency at 32, is a good barometer for what Shane Victorino might aspire to get.

Domonic Brown does his best impression of Jason Heyward - Phillies Zone
And smashes a home run into the parking lot, hitting a car. But not the car of some front office guy, but the truck of Jose Contreras, setting off his alarm in the process.

Jose Contreras could be in the bullpen for Opening Day - Phillies Zone
He's a little behind the rest of the pitchers, and on a work schedule that has more rest than anyone else, but considering the fact that he's anywhere from 39-42 years old and coming off of injury, such considerations are necessary.

Guess which manager decides his team should bunt more as well??? - Crashburn Alley
With swift runners on the team such as Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Juan Pierre and Michael Martinez, Charlie Manuel thinks that maybe his team should drop a few bunts from time to time, just to let the defense know it's an option. lol.

And he wants the Phillies to stop being complacent - Phillies Nation
At the root of this, insinuates that as the leader of the team, Jimmy Rollins' attitude and behavior rubs off on his teammates, leading to a sense of complacency and laziness in terms of performance and behavior in the locker room. He wishes for this to stop, although I couldn't care less if it didn't.

Nobody wants Danys Baez anymore, so he retires - Crashburn Alley
Phillies fans will always remember him for that crazy game where he pitched five innings of relief while Roy Oswalt played in the outfield, but Braves fans will (or probably won't) remember his cameo in Atlanta in 2006, where he pitched all of ten innings, gave up six earned runs, and missed the remainder of the season with an appendectomy. He came to the Braves with an alcoholic Willy Aybar, all for the cost of personal favorite, Wilson Betemit. Somehow despite having a career 4.38 FIP and 4.30 SIERA, he's managed to usurp $43M out of six combined teams.

Schmiddy skeptical about Ryan Braun's innocence - Phillies Zone

I surely hope that everything he says about it not being true is the truth. But just the fact that he was exonerated does not mean that they’ve gotten to the truth, unfortunately.

Forever linked, seemingly - Phillies Flow
It seems like at no point when there is egregious boasting and toasting in regards to the Philadelphia starting rotation, can they escape the inevitable comparison to pretty much either the 1992, 1993, 1997 or 1998 Atlanta rotations. Case in point, the 2011 Phillies starters hurled 1,064.2 innings, but still fell short in comparison to the 1998 Braves (1,074.2).

2012nym_medium

Tim Byrdak is my favorite player in the world now - Big League Stew
Hey, I never claimed to be at all a complex person. Appeal to my core interests, and you've got a fan 4 LIFE. /nWo4L

Sandy Alderson quickly puts a damp blanket over the fun times - Newsday
It's like having that one teacher that's a total square, and tries to be all hip and understanding of fun things, but then incorporates a whole lot of grown-up, responsible jargon and vernacular into the whole scenario, and just kind of slowly kills it by sucking all the life out of it.

Fred Wilpon claims the family will own the Mets for a very, very long time in spite of financial troubles - NY Daily News
All I can imagine, is many Mets fans giving that pained, exasperated cringe, like Tim Meadows' impression of O.J. Simpson while doing SNL skits from way back when:

Mets to honor The Kid with #8 patch throughout 2012 - Amazin' Avenue
Not that this isn't an honorable gesture of respect, it would be a relief to see a season where no teams had to suffer any loss necessary to have to wear a commemorative patch, but it's naive to think that it would ever really happen.

Johan Santana is now pitching simulated innings - NY Daily News
He pitched two innings of simulated work, a total of 73 pitches. The arm is showing to be holding up, and Terry Collins is impressed with what he's seeing. He'll be the second starter when Grapefruit League games begin on the sixth.

Owner Jeff Wilpon misses the point of being underdogs by publicly announcing their status as underdogs, complete with novelty t-shirt - MetsBlog
To no surprise, lots of Mets fans hate it. So imagine what the players, who have to wear these things, feel about them? Well, if you ask David Wright, he's not impressed.

What lies ahead for David Wright - NY Daily News
Fresh on the heels of watching his childhood friend, Ryan Zimmerman, sign a blockbuster extension which all but guarantees his future, it's pretty safe to assume that thoughts of his own future are swirling around in David Wright's own head. The Mets say they want to keep him, but the organization is in disarray, and they've already let Jose Reyes walk, and it would take some pretty creative and discounted numbers to secure Wright as a Met for life. Maybe he can work out a deal to somehow bank on ending up like Bobby Bonilla?

TRAID is probably the best plan for the Mets - NY Post
If I may borrow some AA vernacular there, but all sentiments aside, it's hard to believe that there's any better idea than TRAIDing David Wright, for the sake of both his financial future as well as the rebuilding of the Mets.

Ruben Tejada shows up on time to camp, but to Terry Collins, he's late - NY Times
See what I said about early reporting? It's practically mandatory without being mandatory. It's almost like my mortgage statements: Due by X. Late fees incur after Y. Tejada got to camp before he was charged any late fees.

This analogy seems oddly familiar - Amazin' Avenue
Man, what clever and sharp fellows could find a way to liken the Ruben Tejada/Terry Collins scenario to the Jennifer Aniston/Mike Judge dialogue from Office Space?

Regardless, Terry Collins isn't mad, he's disappointed - NY Post
I have to imagine that as the result of his actions, Ruben Tejada's going to be getting a little bit more critical attention than some other Mets players during Spring Training this year.

Andres Torres, ADHD, why does this all seem so familiar - NY Post
Maybe it's because Braves fans witnessed this story with Adam LaRoche, long before it turned out that pretty much every MLB squad has someone with ADD or ADHD, that this isn't that big of a deal anymore?

Josh Thole needs to stop fidgeting behind the plate - TC Palm
Thole's inconsistent performance behind the plate has a lot to do with the fact that his body's positioning was inconsistent, on a consistent basis:

The video showed Thole constantly switching his stance behind the plate, as much as four different stances over a two-inning period. And every time Thole's stance changed, his glove placement would change with it.

Ivan Rodriguez inquires with Mets for backup catcher job, Mets say no - NY Daily News
It's not that the Mets probably couldn't use a backup a little more competent than Mike Nickeas, but this has me better that 'ol Pudge, despite the fact that he could really help a Josh Thole, probably asked for a few bucks higher than the league minimum, raised as it may have been.

Pitcher with a 100 mph fastball will probably be starting in the minor leagues - NY Times
Bobby Parnell, despite having stupid velocity on his fastball, will probably start 2012 in Triple-A. After failing to impress as his anointed role as closer after the jettisoning of Francisco Rodriguez, the Mets essentially built a bullpen right on top of him in the depth chart. With two minor league options left, it's kind of a no-brainer that he'll be sent to the minors in 2012.

Never saw THIS at Turner Field before - Amazin' Avenue
This truly pimp ride belongs to, of all the people in MLB, former Braves scapegoat, neutralizer of wins, Manny Acosta.

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