Around the NL East - Chipper chimes in on Strasburg Shutdown, Johan Santana gets shutdown, Giancarlo's ridiculous home run pace, Charlie Manuel shares secret to success

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 20: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals breaks his bat after striking out to end the eleventh inning during the Nationals 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on August 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

I like to read a lot in my spare time. One of my favorite authors is Chuck Palahniuk, most notable as the guy who wrote the book which turned into the film Fight Club. Anyway, he wrote a book called Diary, where in short, it's about a woman who thinks she has control of her life and that all her choices and decisions are her own, in spite of the whacked-out family she married into, but it turns out that just about every single thing in her life is predictable to some capacity because the diaries of all the women who married into the family before her all had the same tendencies, defiance and patterns, and despite their best efforts, manages to repeat history, over and over again.

Today's baseball is always on the quest to to anoint the historic, the record-breaking, the unusual. In no other sport will you hear of milestones such as "most failed first-to-third pickoff moves in Wednesday day games with starting game temperature of 87F." And even when things that seem pretty legitimately interesting do happen, a la Matt Diaz's ten consecutive hits in ten consecutive at-bats, it's almost always "just a tie," because someone as early as 14 years to 102 years ago had already done it. History denies attempts to break the mold, become unique.

I bring this up, because I have an absurd theory about how this season is going to turn out. And I'll get it out of the way now, it will have absolutely no logic or statistical evidence to back it up, just history, and in small samples, no less.

Currently, the Nationals are following a script reminiscent to the 2005 Chicago White Sox. As we're all aware, the 2005 White Sox ended up winning the whole shebang. Both teams had a starting rotation that pretty much made every start throughout the season, and both were coming off of low-80 win totals. Although the Nats had some scuffles with the Braves early on, they've pretty much taken a firm grasp of first place in the division, much like the White Sox took first and never looked back. Despite some gallant charges by the Cleveland Indians in 2005, the lead never shrunk to under 1.5 games, and when it really mattered, the Sox put their feet down and swept the last head-to-heads with their biggest division rivals, en route to storming through the playoffs. Guess how many games remain between the Nationals and the Braves?

Obviously, this absurd hypothesis has a pessimistic outlook for a Braves fan, but hey, I'm just spewing nonsense. The Braves could always 2006 Twins the Nationals and somehow wrest the division away on the last day of the season, but that also still means that the Nats would be the 2006 Tigers, who ultimately made it to the World Series that year. But with the whole divisional series can't be from the same division rule out the window this year, who knows what will happen?

And that's why we'll still watch the games, no matter how much history tries to put everything back in its place. Welcome back to the basement.

2012was_medium

Stephen Strasburg has maybe four or five starts left - Nats Insider
This intel coming straight from Davey Johnson himself; and if this is genuinely the case, then Strasburg would miss about two or three of his remaining expected starts if going by the every fifth-day routine. Does this mean John Lannan will actually get to see the majors again? And his status for the playoffs, still kinda unknown.

With the Braves in town, of course, Chipper Jones has something to say about the Strasburg shutdown - Nationals Journal
When Chipper speaks, people listen. And Chipper Jones who has probably played in more playoff games than everyone mentioned last week combined, understands the concerns of injury and the rationale behind the shutdown, but frankly, as a competitor, naturally does not agree with it. But honestly, if it makes the Nationals weaker going into September, good for the Braves.

He also gets very emotional and a little lovey-dovey - Nationals Journal
Out of the divisional rivals, Washington is the first of the cities where Chipper has seen for the last time, with New York, Philadelphia and Miami having their last visits sometime in September. Along with the gifts of a third base and the bat that Chipper used to hit the first-ever home run in Nats Park, his close friends and hunting buddy, Mark DeRosa and Adam LaRoche had some nice things to say, prompting Chipper to dole out all the love he had for his friends, and his additional man-crush on Ryan Zimmerman.

Logistics FAIL - The Bog
Sure, it's rainy and it's a Monday night, but it's also one of the biggest games of the years for both the Nationals and the Braves, and the game is exciting, and the teams are headed for extra innings after a hard-fought regulation. So what happens? Metro informs the park that the last train is at 11:20 p.m., and unless they want to get stranded in Southeast D.C. after the game, they need to GTFO. Looks like one entity didn't exactly foresee success in the future for the Nationals prior to the start of this season?

Ted Lerner wanted someone to pick up the tab, Washington D.C. says to stop being so stingy - Nats Enquirer
Well, I'm sure not every other professional team is paying $29k an hour to keep Metro open, but I think the bigger problem is that the Metro actually has such senior citizens' hours in the first place. It's not like Washington D.C. isn't one of the heaviest foot traffic and rail reliant cities in the country or something.

Dr. Doom also supports the Nationals' decision - The Bog
Interestingly enough, the guy that does more Tommy John Surgeries than anyone else, but actually didn't perform the one on Stephen Strasburg, is in support of the Nationals' decision. Business, just might be a little too good down in Birmingham, perhaps?

Now that Jayson Werth wants to bat leadoff, he's doing well there - Nats Insider
Werth batted leadoff a few times prior to the departure of Jim Riggleman, but he wasn't really sold on the idea. While he was injured earlier this year, the thought got back into his head, and he voluntarily wanted to give it a go again. Naturally, behind it this time, he's thriving in the short sample of batting atop the order now.

Bryce Harper will probably need some anger management - Nats Enquirer
Between telling kids that losing is not okay, and to go out and be sexy and the repeated home plate tantrums and smashing bats, I'm really not liking what I'm seeing out of Bryce Harper lately. Maybe it's because he's not hitting as hot as he was back in June or something, but I can't imagine many other people enjoying seeing these childish regressions.

In the midst of a typical league-adjusting slump, Bryce Harper's job now in question - Nats Insider
Since he's no longer matching Mike Trout hit for hit, highlight for highlight anymore, many are wondering if Bryce Harper should even have a job anymore. As if a hotshot rookie doesn't get blindsided when the book on his habits and tendencies is created and the entire league adjusts to it and he slumps every year?

Tyler Clippard explains his choice of entrance music - The Bog
I remember when I was at Nats Park a few years ago, Tyler Clippard used to come into the game to the Presidents of the United States' "Peaches." But since he rose to dominance, he's beeing coming out to Lauryn Hill and the Fugees' "Ready or Not."

the song is about robberies, death and life in the ghetto. It’s all very Tyler Clippard.

Evolution of a closer? - Nats Insider
More like why saves are a silly stat.

Think about that: 28 saves in three months. That's one-half of the season. Over a full 162-game slate, he would finish with 56 saves. That would rank third all-time behind only Francisco Rodriguez (62 saves in 2008) and Bobby Thigpen (57 saves in 1990).

I am pretty sure Clippard, as good as he has been this year, and as much "arms and legs coming at'cha" action is said about him, will never come close to matching K-Rod or Thigpen, or even Smoltz in his entire career.

Dmitri Young to cameo in blatant Bad News Bears ripoff - Nats NQ
The former Nationals all-star's playing days might be over, but he's still out in the world working somewhere, showing up in a movie about disgruntled kids and baseball. I wonder if his name was spelled "Dimitri" by accident, or if it were his idea to add the "I" to sound more Romanian or something?

Braves TV analysts claim Nats won't win until Teddy does - The Bog
Basically the same thing as the Home Depot tool race at Turner Field, Nationals Park has the Presidents' Race. And (almost) much like the drill in Atlanta, Teddy Roosevelt never wins. The difference is that the drill has one before, that I can recall - and that being on the final game of the 2010 season where the Braves beat the Phillies and then later clinched the Wild Card. I can't remember if the same thing happened last season, but the point is, it's pretty safe to assume that when the time is right, Teddy's going to win his race, and I suspect it would be the night the Nationals clinch something, whether it's a playoff spot or the division.

2012nym_medium

The Mets need to shut down Johan Santana. NOW - NY Daily News
Oddly, this isn't a reprint of last week's article. But essentially, it's the same article (re)written by a different author. But the point remains that the Daily News is firmly in the camp that due to a season declared dead where it stands, and constantly going back to the no-hitter rationale, that Johan Santana needs to be shut down and saved for next year.

Mets DO shutdown Johan Santana now - AA
A precautionary MRI on Johan revealed some lower-back inflammation, so for all intents and purposes, Johan's going to be officially shut down for the remainder of the year.

And won't throw a baseball until January - MetsBlog
Rest and rehabilitation is really the only safe course for back problems, among all the other nagging pains and aches associated with Santana, so basically, the Mets don't want him anywhere near a baseball until January.

One of the guys brought up to take Santana's place is also a blogger - Deadspin
I have to admit that Collin McHugh's blog is probably one of the more well-kept pro athlete blogs I've seen in recent years. It's like every young player wants to pick up blogging, but it's almost a sure-fire bet that they'll give up on it after the first week, or 2-3 posts. But McHugh, in spite of reducing his posting as he's escalated up the ladder, has churned out 98 posts since 2009. It's also amazing that he's remembered his Blogspot user name and password throughout that time, too, because I can think of at least three of my own failed attempts to start blogs in that route going down the toilet in way less time.

Another one of the guys is going to get his cup of coffee in September - MetsBlog
Jenrry Mejia, he of the blazing fastball, and also victim of a blown out elbow two years ago, will likely get a cup of coffee this September, and whom Terry Collins expects to make a start or two in the vacancy left by Johan Santana.

Now that he's no longer on the Red Sox, Kelly Shoppach being blamed for all their problems - NY Daily News
Giving the Red Sox a scapegoat might be a sufficient enough PTBNL for the Mets, as recent acquisition from Boston, Kelly Shoppach is being hung out to dry as one of the leaders of the Red Sox player mutiny. The allegations are that he was the voice of the players, but in order to make a statement, was allowed to use the phone of Adrian Gonzalez, the highest-paid player on the team, to send the inflammatory text message to upper-management. When asked about it, Shoppach claims that "he doesn't know what anyone is talking about."

Regardless, Shoppach could be a little more permanent since the Mets seem to really not like Josh Thole - LoHud Mets Blog
To think the year hasn't been going so great for Josh Thole, being on the fading Mets, getting called out by scrub relievers and coaches on a weekly basis, and now the 26-year old on the cusp of entering arbitration is being analyzed to whether or not he is worth retaining beyond 2012. All this kind of makes me envision Charlie Brown going "good grief!"

I guess this constitutes as Mets souvenir fail - The Mets Police
Re-prints of tickets from June 1st's game between the Mets and Cardinals, AKA Johan Santana and the Mets' first no-hitter, well, look just like the originals. So, it's okay if you didn't actually go, and actually weren't there, because it's very possible to simply prove that you were, with one of these original bad boys.

Buffalo Bison supposedly ditching the Mets as AAA affiliates after this season - Buffalo News
The rationale is that the Bison will affiliate themselves with the Toronto Blue Jays, who end their affiliation with the Las Vegas 51s. The Mets ideally wanted to link with the Rochester Red Wings, but they just re-upped with the Minnesota Twins, so where does that lead the Mets' future AAA-squad? Unless they pull something out of their hats, then it's the Mets that might be sent to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League to play in vacated Las Vegas; where Mets minor leaguers could really fall into some LOL but at least enjoy Holly Madison throwing out the first pitch every year.

MLB to test replay technology in New York ballparks - NY Daily News
None of it will come into play this year, but it's essentially the same technology that tracks the contact locations like in tennis, retrofitted for baseball. Terry Collins is in support of integrating replay technology:

"It would take a lot less time to go look at a replay than to go out and argue a call," he said. "So why not get it right?"

Interesting question - The Mets Police
With the Mets seemingly pretty much done, some fans have to ponder, would it just have been better to have sucked all year long, than to have been really good, only to watch it all collapse? If I were a Mets fan, I'd probably say that the glimmer of hope might be one of the few reasons why David Wright might actually consider re-upping with the Mets, and that an entire year of sucking might have made it easier for him to decide to dude-bail come 2014.

Did the Mets botch the ASG logo? - The 7 Line
Now that I've seen it, I can't unsee it anymore. I too, do art for a living, and have to admit that this kind of irks me as well.

I would wear this Mets jersey - The Mets Police

2012mia_medium

Marlins in 2013: Nowhere to really go but try again - Fish Stripes
Try again, that is in trying to win now, because frankly, they simply don't have much left in the minor leagues to even consider seriously trying to retool the team with assets from the farm. At this point, their only legitimate option is to simply try again next year, and hope things pan out better.

Emilio Bonifacio back on the DL again - Fish Stripes
Barely removed from his last DL stint, Bonifacio lands on it again, this time with a knee sprain. He was put in the outfield to avoid collisions on the basepaths which led to his thumb injury previously, but now all that running out in the outfield has led to sprained knee. Can't win for trying.

To no surprise, Giancarlo has the longest homer hit this year - Fish Bytes
According to ESPN's hit tracker, Giancarlo's homer, in Colorado (of course), went 494 feet, and probably peaked at about two miles above sea level along the way.

Can Giancarlo possibly catch up to the HR crown? - Palm Beach Post
He has played in nearly 20 games fewer than both Carlos Beltran and Ryan Braun, but Giancarlo is right up in the midst of the homer crown, trailing Beltran by two, and Braun by seven. Give his propensity to have multi-homer games, and the ratio in which he's sending them out, does he have a chance to surpass both?

Giancarlo fist bumps so hard, shoulders become dislocated - Sun Sentinel
Or so it feels, according to Marlins third-base coach Joe Espada, who will no longer be giving fist bumps to Giancarlo after he hits a home run, who claims after one mighty hammer being dropped on his poor fist by Giancarlo after a blast, he almost couldn't throw BP the next day.

Marlins obviously considering long-term extension with Giancarlo - Fish Stripes
It's funny, because it's like while he was injured, they didn't want him anymore, but now that he's come back, and been on a torrid homer stretch, the team's once again thinking about extending him, as if they didn't stop in the first place.

Miami Marlins nix the remainder of Showtime's The Franchise - Sun Sentinel
Clearly, things haven't gone the way the Marlins had hoped, and with the team's hopes swirling in the toilet, they've decided to not only cancel the remaining episodes of what would essentially be free advertising on Showtime, they're even doing it one episode early.

Heath Bell is apparently kind of relieved - Marlins Diehards
Heath Bell won't be one of the guys who won't be losing any sleep over the cancellation of The Franchise, because he always felt that the show pointed its finger at him more often than not, when it came to reasons why the Marlins underachieved throughout the year. Hard to imagine stuff like this happening in lax, low-key, discreet San Diego, huh?

2012phi_medium

Kyle Kendrick's Flashes of Greatness - Crashburn Alley
Despite being Philadelphia's new favorite whipping boy now that Joe Blanton is gone, Kyle Kendrick hasn't always been as bad as people think he is because he's not in the same caliber as Halladay, Hamels or Lee.

Checking in all the trade guys - Beerleaguer
As condemned by those who looked at Josh Lindblom's splits, pitching in a vastly more hitter-favorable home versus Dodger Stadium, Lindblom hasn't been doing so hot, allowing home runs and inherited runners to score at a pretty alarming rate. And in the always-fun game of "how are our former players doing versus the guys we're trotting out now in their place," according to the numbers, Victorino and Pence haven't been doing as well as John Mayberry, Jr., and Domonic Brown.

Dom Brown's Monty Hall Paradox - Phillies Nation
I've often enjoyed the analogy of the Monty Hall Paradox, and it's an interesting read to see how it relates to Domonic Brown and his trends as of this season. I don't agree with the end result, but I'm also not a Phillies fan with reason to be optimistic about any Phillies player.

Phillippe Aumont called up and joins guy Phillies traded to get him - Beerleaguer
In 2009, Cliff Lee was traded to the Mariners for minor leaguers Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gilles and J.C. Ramirez. Circa 2011, Cliff Lee returns to the Phillies, and now in the tail end of 2012, Phillippe Aumont becomes the first of the prospects to arrive at the show and joins a pitching staff with Cliff Lee, the guy the Phillies used to get him.

Oddly, Lindblom gets to stay while Michael Schwimer gets optioned - Phillies Nation
Conspiracy theory alert - in light of Aumont's call-up, someone had to be moved down. Josh Lindblom, as mentioned above has not been pitching well at all was allowed to stay, while Michael Schwimer, who has actually been one of the more reliable Phillies relievers as of late, was optioned back. Part of the skepticism is that a Lindblom demotion would have burned an option, since he hadn't been back to the minors at all this year, unlike Schwimer, but some are looking at the idea that the Phillies are tinkering with Schwimer's service clock, and his paycheck, and trying to suppress both by sending him back to the minor leagues.

Charlie Manuel tells John Mayberry, Jr. the obvious, to get more playing time - Phillies Zone

"He has to hit right-handed pitching and has to be more consistent," Manuel said.

The secret to successful baseball, ladies and gentlemen.

Phillies Hunter Pence Bobblehead night - Crossing Broad
Y'know, it makes me wonder if the Phillies, or any other team with any potentially tradeable assets, should start scheduling their bobblehead nights to dates before the trade deadline in the future. At least in 2008 when the Braves unloaded Mark Teixeira, they had his bobblehead night before July 31.

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