Around the NL East - Lots of Marlins and Mets getting healthy, lots of Nationals and Phillies getting hurt

giancarloA lot of people still don't know this, but Ichiro's last name isn't Ichiro - it's Suzuki. Ichiro Suzuki. One of his managers back in Japan introduced the idea for him to use his first name on his jersey instead of his last name, because Suzuki is one of the most common names in Japan, and he felt the then-weak team could use the notoriety of their young rising star to boost the recognition and brand of the team. Ichiro didn't like it at first, but by the end of the year, he became a household name to all baseball fans. And the rest is history - he's worn "Ichiro" throughout his whole career for the Mariners, and "Ichiro" on his Team Japan jersey during the two World Baseball Classics.

Earlier this off-season, the monster we knew as Mike Stanton decided to change his name; apparently going by Mike, or Michael, the second in a hyphenated middle name, drew too many similarities or familiarity to the left-handed relief pitcher Mike Stanton. In spite of the mammoth disparity in talent and contribution between the two Mike Stantons, in all fairness, the LOOGY did come first. Or maybe 2nd Mike felt inspired by the transformation of the Marlins, and decided to make a splash in his own right? Who really knows. But the end result is that his second middle name was ditched in favor of his actual first name: Giancarlo.

Say it with me now - Giancarlo. Gian. Carlo. Saying it a few times, and it seems kind of suave. Almost swashbuckler-ish. But the fact is, Giancarlo Stanton is the only Giancarlo to ever play at the major league level. According to Baseball-Reference, there were two other Giancarlos in history, fairly recently, no less, that had brief stints in the minor leagues before vanishing outright. Giancarlo is unique. Giancarlo is memorable. And as far as the Marlins are concerned, not to take anything away from Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, but Giancarlo is the future. Whatever I'm getting to, to cut to the chase, I'm suggesting the Marlins go with "GIANCARLO" on the jersey instead of boring old "STANTON."

And on that note, I suggest that if the Giants' reliever, Javier Lopez doesn't want to get any more of Javy Lopez's fanmail and baseball cards in the mail anymore, maybe he should switch to his middle name, Alfonso. Then he could fit in with the bullpen of weirdos out there, and go by Fonzi Lopez, to set up for the black beards, Sergio Romo and Brian Wilson. But then again, considering the fact that Javy Lopez is still an object of feminine lust, I can't imagine all the fanmail mistakenly being sent to Fonzi is really all that bad. Nevermind then.

FOAR MOAR DAYS. Welcome back to the basement.


Chipper Jones and the Negative Spotlight - Amazin' Avenue
I enjoy the opposing team views about Chipper Jones. But I wouldn't really delve this deep into Chipper's torture of the Mets throughout his career, I think it's on a simpler level than this. Reggie Miller, the '96 Heat, the '96 Jaguars, any team versus the Yankees in a WS or LCS - athletes, nay, people just like to see New York (upstate, city, doesn't matter) get beat, in well, anything. It's not so much anything personal, as much as the world seems to perceive New York as the center of the universe sometimes, and in the case of pro-athletes like Chipper Jones, it seems like the best place to save the best performances for.

David Wright and Johan Santana are now playing without pain - NY Times
Good news for the Mets. There are still just five days left until Opening Day, so anything's possible, but it appears that the two key players will be ready come the start of the regular season. Maybe a little rusty here and there, but ready nonetheless.

Ryan Zimmerman thinks the Mets should lock up David Wright - MetsBlog
Childhood friends and fellow third basemen, Ryan Zimmerman voiced his opinion that the Mets should probably lock up David Wright. MetsBlog points out that he's currently low right now in perceived cost, with the injuries, statistics and the flux of the Mets in general, and locking him up low could potentially pay big dividends if he recovers.

R.A. Dickey's haunting past - NY Daily News
I guess it shouldn't be too hard to believe that a man that's been seen as such a saint and a humble, hard-working man over the last few years has had an abusive past; in a jaded, ironic way, it seems like so many professional athletes have to overcome such hardships to have the drive to make it at the highest level. Regardless, it's no laughing matter, but clearly huge obstacles overcome, for R.A. Dickey to become the man he is today.

Carlos Beltran finally comes through and pays for Jon Niese's nose job - NY Post
After weeks of speculation that the new Cardinal outfielder might renege on his offer to pay for Jon Niese's rhinoplasty, he finally comes through, and shells out $10,000 for the procedure. It's not like it's going to really hurt him, after he's done with the Cardinals he'd be close to have made around $145M throughout his career.

Cutting it close for a center fielder - NY Daily News
Andres Torres' calf is going to make it likely that he misses Opening Day. Scott Hairston, has begun hitting off a tee recently, and is being hoped to be the Opening Day starter in center, so that they don't have to use minor leaguers from day one.

Mets sign Chris Young the pitcher again, hope for the best again - NY Post
Like last year, the Mets are hoping to get a decent return for a minor league flyer on Chris Young the pitcher. He made just four starts last year before having shoulder surgery, along the same procedure that has plagued Johan Santana over the last two years.

Miguel Batista makes Mets while Chris Schwinden gets sent down - MetsBlog
The Braves weren't the only team to sign an old fart to block a young pitcher; Miguel Batista finds himself employed for yet another year, signing on with the Mets for 2012.

Sandy Koufax, Jason Isringhausen have given Bobby Parnell hope - NY Post
Some tutelage from one of the all-time greatest and an accomplished closer has given Bobby Parnell some hope, as advice to integrate a curveball to compliment his 100mph fastball, and elevating said fastball has given him some solid spring production, and a good chance to make the squad.

Amazin' Avenue's open letter to Sports Illustrated - Amazin' Avenue
Well, it's true.


Chase Utley conference reveals absolutely nothing new - TGP
Although he does state that his knee is in worse pain this year than it was last year. And like last year, he is not considering surgery.

Despite all the statistical breakdown, GM Ruben Amaro regrets trading Wilson Valdez - Phillies Nation
This looks way worse with the injury to Michael Martinez, but still, infield depth is what the Phillies might need a lot of this year, and the guys that they already have will be stretched pretty thin from the start.

But here's one thing to not regret: Ryan Madson blows out elbow, needs Tommy John Surgery - Beerleaguer
Purely coincidental, but the Phillies have to be absolutely thrilled that they didn't sign Ryan Madson to that 4/$44M deal that fell off the table now.

How to lock up Cole Hamels - Phillies Nation
PN goes through a good scenario where the Phillies could feasibly afford and secure Cole Hamels before he hits free agency after 2012. However, as anomalous and unfortunate as the Barry Zito and Johan Santana contracts have turned out thus far, I'm hard pressed to believe that the astronomically more talented Cole Hamels would believe not being able to get a comparable deal, regardless of who it's for.

Jose Contreras to start season on the DL - Philles Zone
He's not actually hurt, but since he got such a late start to Spring Training, the Phillies would rather retroactively put him on the disabled list so that he can continue to build up some arm strength facing minor leaguers before bringing him back up.

The epic battle for the last spot on the bench - High Cheese
This time of the year is always notorious for such battles; it's akin to the play-in game for the NCAA tournament. It's a great win for the winner, but it's ultimately inconsequential. But Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre are both in the trenches over the 25th roster spot; they're both speed guys with no power and bat left, so it's really difficult to who makes the roster. My take? Podsednik's wife is ridiculous.

Juan Pierre makes the team in the end - Phillies Zone
But it's also implied that Scotty Pods isn't out of the running just yet. After all, why not just take ALL the at-bats away from John Maybarry, Jr?

Appeal to my interests, get linked - TGP
Spoiler - it's all in reference to the idea of the Phillies bringing back Aaron Rowand lol.

Cody Ross still pissing off Phillies fans - Crashburn Alley
Homer, bat flip, cap tip, hop. So glad it's against the Phillies and not the Braves.


Not Impressive: Jayson Werth home run hits a truck. Impressive: His own - Nats NQ
At first, I was like "whatever," when story came out that Jayson Werth hit a homer that hit a truck. Big deal! But then it turns out that the truck he hit was his own truck? Impressive! Well, not so much impressive as it was funny, but enough for me to bother mentioning it. Good thing he didn't hit his other ride, as painfully gaudy as it is..

Mike Morse and Drew Storen to start the season on the DL - Nats Insider
How's that for a turn of luck - starting the season without a first baseman, first baseman's backup/left-fielder, and closer. They won't be out long, as the DL stints will likely be retroactive, but the fact of the matter is that neither is going to be active on Opening Day, likely.

Adam LaRoche declares self ready to play - Nats Insider
Good news for the Nationals and those of us who are still fond of Roachy, his whatever's ailing him leg problems now have subsided and healed to the point where Roachy feels confident and capable of starting on Opening Day. Which is great, because otherwise the Nationals would have been forced to start a guy like Xavier Nady or Chad Tracy at first.

John Lannan officially named fifth starter - Nats Insider
It was kind of a forgone conclusion with Chien-Ming Wang going on the DL for his hamstring injury that Lannan is the fifth starter, because for whatever reason Ross Detweiler has been slated to be the team's long-reliever instead of a starting option.

For some reason, Nationals add Zach Duke - The Nats Blog
I can't see this being for absolutely anything other than minor league depth. It's almost as if the Syracuse Chiefs were promised a crafty-type lefty starter, and when John Lannan made the team on technicality, they still wanted their pitcher. So Zach Duke, despite being cut by of all teams, the Houston Astros, kind of fills that need.

Roger Bernadina is finally heating up, but is it too late? - Nationals Journal
Now the question I have is, is it too late for him to make the squad, or is too late for the team to cut him and not have him snapped up in waivers? I have him pegged to be a backup outfielder, and with the Morse injury lingering, he could very well start out of necessity, but if the Nats decide to cut him, I'd imagine someone looking for outfield depth (Mets) would be quick to jump on the claim, essentially forfeiting a chance for the Nats to get something back for him. Unfortunately, Bernadina is returning to Curacao for a few days to attend the funeral of his own father. Condolences to Roger.

Anyone but Tyler Clippard apparently - Nats Insider
And the question is, who closes when Drew Storen can't? The Nats bullpen is dominating the Spring, and it leads to a lot of optimistic hopes going into the year. But in the event of a closer injury, most typically go to the eighth inning guy to start closing; but in the case of Tyler Clippard who can pretty much pitch anywhere but save situations, that doesn't seem to be the case. Davey Johnson cites Brad Lidge getting likely first nod, followed by the flame-throwing Henry Rodriguez.

Stan Kasten back in another front office - MASN
The former Braves and Nationals president made sports headlines again this week, being part of the group notably being helmed by NBA living legend, Magic Johnson, which purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 BILLION dollars. In the introductory press conference, Magic deferred all baseball operations to his "baseball guy," Kasten, and that he'll mostly be involved as an ambassador, brand reinforcer, and the guy that will be capable of relating to while speaking to potential free agents.

Bag of balls received for Nyjer Morgan bagged Meadow Soprano - Nats Enquirer
Cutter Dykstra, son of former Met/Phillie/current inmate, Lenny "Nails" Dykstra is a Nationals farmhand by way of unloading trade for Nyjer Morgan. He's too old for High-A, but still isn't that great of a player on the field, but clearly he's a better player off of it - he's apparently been dating actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, most notably known as Tony Soprano's daughter, Meadow.


Despite nagging injuries, Giancarlo, LoMo and Dobbs all expect to play Opening Day - Palm Beach Post
Two knees and a hamstring, the injuries between the three players. Playing in a few minor league games, all three expect they will take the field come Opening Day on Wednesday.

The Home Run Sculpture comes to life - Fish Stripes
As opposition, I have to say that naturally, I don't like this. But I'm not supposed to - the only times it's going to go off and I'll likely be seeing it, is when the Marlins are hitting home runs against the Braves. Nine times out of 10, it's going to be a source of angst, frustration, and disappointment. The other time is going to be an instance when the Braves are up by nine runs and Mike Stanton hits a meaningless solo home run off of Cory Gearrin in the ninth, and the things goes off, almost to mock the home fans.

Mark Buehrle tries to punk Miami press - Palm Beach Post
A long time ago, Mark Buehrle tricked a White Sox reporter into thinking he had a disease known as "Dutch Elm," to explain why he sat out of a game once. This prompted the reporter to feverishly go online and look it up, only to find out that the symptoms included bouts of being gullible. Well, he tried it again in Miami, but this time, nobody bit.

At least one guy happy to know that Leo Nunez is still not in the country - Fish Bytes
And that would be Marlins reliever Edward Mujica, who will pretty much be the eighth inning guy for the Marlins, since Leo Oviedo still hasn't managed to get into the country, therefore hasn't reported for Spring Training, and who knows how long it will be before he even makes it to the states, let alone be ready to pitch.

Jose Ceda strains elbow, Marlins bullpen thinning out further - Sun Sentinel
Poor Jose Ceda can't really seem to put it all together. First, he's still way too heavy. Then he had shoulder problems. And now he's strained his elbow, and the team's not entirely certain if Tommy John Surgery will be in order.

Ozzie Guillen says he will bat Carlos Zambrano ninth no matter what - Palm Beach Post
This isn't news typically, but the fact of the matter is that Zambrano can actually hit - not just "for a pitcher," but he can flat out hit, having batted .318 while OPSing .848 last year. But as a pitcher, Ozzie wants him ninth, no matter what.

Aaron Rowand released, considering retirement, also Bryan Petersen optioned - Fish Bytes
The funny thing is that regardless of what Aaron Rowand does, he'll still make $12M in 2012 - from the Giants. And despite Bryan Petersen's attempts to latch onto the more successful Logan Morrison it didn't really work, as he's being optioned to Minor League camp and will start in AAA. This move all but assures that Chris Coghlan gets a spot on the Marlins' bench.

Man, and people say minor league ball is meaningless in the big picture? - Sun Sentinel
Pictured in the link are the Sally League championship rings, that the Marlins' Low-A Greensboro Grasshoppers all got. I'm pretty sure there are Super Bowl and NBA championship rings that stack up to these in terms of visual appeal and bling.

Jose Reyes and Wesley Snipes Hanley Ramirez Simon Phoenix - Marlins Diehards
This odd sudden bromance out of nowhere between two guys who should probably be bitter rivals is kind of perplexing. It reminds of when the NBA's Phoenix Suns got Penny Hardaway, a talented point guard, when they already had a wildly talented point guard in Jason Kidd. Instead of some awkward position controversy, the two of them acted like BFFs, and like Reyes and Phoenix, got matching tattoos and acted like the world was fabulous. In the end, the two played maybe five total games together, and both were plagued by injuries throughout the duration of the teaming, and both were eventually shipped out.

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