Around the NL East - Strasburg shutdown, Phillies surging for wild card, R.A. Dickey wins Branch Rickey, Heath Bell already nearing the trading block

Stephen Strasburg might be done for the year, but the Nationals have shown zero glimpse of slowing down without him.

Welp, this weekend really is the season, for those of us who are clinging to hope that the Braves can still compete for the division. I fall into that category because I am not one that is impressed with Wild Cards, unless you go all the way with them. That being said, I really dislike the fact that Turner Field has the one 2010 banner with white text to commemorate the Wild Card berth that year. I would have been happier with a banner with red text for the pennant, or another red banner with blue text to represent a World Series. But not a Wild Card.

I wonder if the team that wins the second Wild Card, or the team that loses the play-in game, will still celebrate their Wild Card game with any sort of banners? I would expect teams like the Brewers or Mets, two teams that have written-out banners to commemorate their Wild Card berths, to do such, but I really hope that the Braves simply don't do such if they get to the Wild Card game but don't win it. That would be embarrassing.

Welcome back to the basement.


Stephen Strasburg shut down one start early, thinks it sucks - Nats Enquirer
After getting owned by the Marlins, it was announced that Stephen Strasburg's 2012 season would end right then and there instead of getting his last start against the Mets. Naturally, Stephen Strasburg was not happy about it, and finally voices some somber and telling opinions about the matter.

Clarification on doctor not having any say in the matter - Nationals Journal
Deadspin wrote a story claiming that Dr. Lewis Yocum, the man responsible for Stephen Strasburg's Tommy John Surgery, had no participation or say in the planning process of the Shutdown. Well, he really did. And all TCers call us lazy journalists.

It's all good, because John Lannan is assuming direct control - MASN
Instead of Stephen Strasburg, John Lannan has assumed control of his spot in the rotation, and after a tumultuous year of angst, Syracuse bus trips, and 26th man-ning, John Lannan gets what he always wanted and instantly delivers.

And that Gio Gonzalez guy is really turning out to be worth it - The Nats Blog
I'll be the first to admit that I initially thought that the Nationals gave up too much for Gio, and haphazardly extended him. But seeing the results, and comparing it to what Cole Hamels just signed for, and the comparison between he and Gio, pretty much all signs are pointing to a stat-geek's worst-case scenario - a trade where both parties ended up happy.

Stephen Strasburg being instructed to continue taking BP - Nationals Journal
.277/.333/.426 in 53 plate appearances doesn't sound that amazing, but for a pitcher, it's darn impressive. You know what would be ironic? If Strasburg blew out his shoulder or tore a pectoral muscle taking swings.

What do the fans think about the Shutdown? - Nationals Journal
I think some fans watch too much ESPN. I like the part where someone brings up Kris Medlen, and the laughable story ESPN did where they actually believed the Braves had a perfectly intricate plan for him, since essentially Meds and Strasburg both went down and had TJS at the same time. Truth? Kris Medlen was never in the plans to be a starter because the Braves had more than enough starters prior to the season. But Tim Hudson began showing his age, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens drove off cliffs, Brandon Beachy blew out his elbow, Mike Minor is still young and inconsistent and Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado still weren't ready. Kris Medlen emerged from no other options, and has fortunately flourished.

Mike Morse has a torn tendon and a bone bruise - Nats Insider
Sounds a little worse than it is. Rest, anti-inflammatories and taking a few days off, and Morse will be back in the lineup, probably against the Braves.

Adam LaRoche would obviously like to stay with the best team in the NL - Nationals Journal
'Ol Roachy has certainly been a huge contributor to the Nationals this year, but the harsh reality is despite his lobbying to stay after this season, is that the Nationals might not need him. With numerous options, from Mike Morse, Tyler Moore, to Chris Marrero and the hilarious proposition of Ryan Zimmerman at first, Roachy might not be pleased with what the Nationals would offer him, if they make an offer at all.

Nats' third-base coach Bo Porter interviewing for Astros' managerial position - Nats Insider
Many of his peers believe that Bo Porter has the knowledge to become a big league manager one day, and he's once again going for it. After failed attempts to become manager of the Pirates and Marlins, Porter has recently interviewed with the Houston Astros.

R.A. Dickey tries to save face from public beatdown by extoling Nationals lineup - MASN

"That is the best lineup I have faced," Dickey told reporters.

Nationals rookie hazing turns into Women's Olympic Team - Nats Enquirer
With Bryce Harper looking the most effeminate of them all.


Don't look now, but the Phillies are surging in September - Beerleaguer
Really, I just wanted to link this for the classic Jurassic Park movie reference. But seriously, I've been saying for years that the Phillies are a completely different team in September, and have been for the better part of the last decade. Am I the only one not surprised by this?

Maybe, because TGP is asking how is it happening? You have to ask? - TGP
The pitching was always, always there, it's just the lineups were putrid at the start of the season. And now that Utley and Howard are back and in a groove, some semblance of stability has been maintained, and naturally, the rest takes care of itself.

But if there's one other thing has maintained pace, it's the Phillies' inability to beat the Astros - Phillies Nation
A TGP'er brought it to our attention a few years ago, and I've noticed it since, but sure, no matter the records or the actual results, it really does seem like the Astros exist to screw around with the Phillies in second-halves, also, for almost the better part of the last decade.

Carlos Ruiz activated, and set to resume playing again -
I guess this isn't a surprise at all, considering the Phillies are back in contention, but Chooch is going to be playing again, now that there's something to be playing for now.

Phillies' 2013 home opener against the American League - Phillies Zone
The Kansas City Royals will be traveling to hostile grounds in their first road trip of the season, and their pitchers will be having to bat for those three days as well. Fascinating how next season will pan out with Interleague happening somewhere, every day.


A nice Chipper Jones farewell piece from the Daily News - NY Daily News
Yet another good read about New York's farewell to Chipper Jones that broke a little later than the rest of the publications did.

And in person, Chipper Jones got a warm farewell - NY Post
Despite wanting to start in his final game in Flushing, Chipper Jones was limited to a pinch-hit appearance, where he took a walk against Frank Francisco. While being lifted for a pinch-runner, Jones was greeted with lots of cheers and boos, but everyone on their feet in a sign of respect.

R.A. Dickey named winner of 2012 Branch Rickey Award - MetsBlog
And frankly, nobody should be surprised that a charitable fantastic human being is honored for being himself.

David Wright stands by his agents despite drug scandal probe - NY Daily News
Something unfortunate and scandalous? Of course it's Melky Cabrera's fault! But really, Melky's agents, the Levinson Brothers, are also David Wright's agents. Wright, whom will be entering the most pivotal year of his career next year, from a financial standpoint, is choosing to stand by his agents despite the fact that they probably will have difficulty giving him their utmost importance while they're being investigated for assisting players getting PEDs.

Josh Thole is likely due for a raise in 2013 - AA
If the facts are correct, then Josh Thole becomes arbitration eligible by just three days. And if this is the case, he's not going to be due the league minimum for another year, but somewhat of a raise.

But Terry Collins would like to keep Kelly Shoppach for another year - MetsBlog
He hasn't been bad for the Mets, and Collins appears to have already fallen in love with his ability to call a game. Having two catchers for under $3M is a reality, but who knows what is going to happen with the Mets' financial situation.

Oh noes, reality of shortened Subway Series to come true - NY Post
As if people outside of New York cared, the annual Mets vs. Yankees fracas is now reduced to just four games, two in each park. And the best part is that it's over instantaneously, because the two, two-game series are consecutive, and are played over four straight days.

Dillon Gee says he will be 100% next year - MetsBlog
And admits that he is a little concerned that his job is in jeopardy because of young talents like Matt Harvey potentially taking his spot.

Punishment for overzealous Mets fans? Watching more Mets - The Apple
Rafael Diaz was arrested for hopping the fence and celebrating with the Mets after Johan Santana's no-hitter earlier this year. Typically, Citi Field perpetrators are punished with lifetime bans from the ballpark, but Diaz is such a superfan, he's going to get a much worse punishment - he will be forced to watch every single inning of Mets baseball.

Mets renew Low-A affiliation with Savannah Sand Gnats, but still have no home for Triple-A, looking more likely they're going to have to assume the Las Vegas 51s - MetsBlog/Mets Minor Leagues
Kind of LOLMets for the AAA squad. Cashman Field in Las Vegas is kind of a dump, and there's a reason why no team really ever stays beyond 1-2 agreements at a time.


Marlins already deciding to try and unload Heath Bell - Marlins Diehards
Apparently the team brass is tired of all the poor performances and what they feel are a bunch of excuses coming from their free agent closer. It goes without saying, the Marlins will have to eat some of the remaining $18M he is due.

Marlins President David Samson muses and discusses a disappointing 2012 season - Fish Stripes
A lot of interesting quotes and things said from the team president. My favorite was:

Samson: We just realized we couldn't win with him [Hanley Ramirez]. It was that simple. Was there any particular reason?

Samson: Hah. I could write a book.

Jeffrey Loria probably also thinks ending poverty and curing cancer are around the corner too - Marlins Diehards

When asked Monday about the process to fix what ails the Marlins, Loria told the Miami Herald, "I don't think it’s going to take a long time at all."

Giancarlo joining some very elite company - Fish Stripes
In short, whenever Giancarlo puts the ball into the air, there's an almost-historically high percentage that it's going to leave the ballpark. Now if you take the names of everyone who did PEDs out of this list, then it's pretty much Ryan Howard, Ryan Howard, Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Jim Thome, Adam Dunn and Jack Cust ahead of Giancarlo.

Guess what Leo Nunez won't be doing next year either? - Sun Sentinel
After undergoing Tommy John Surgery, you can pretty much cross out the idea that Leo Nunez Oviedo Juan, will be pitching for the big-league Marlins next year either!

Ozzie Guillen: The Nationals don't need Strasburg - Palm Beach Post
This was like some kind of headgame or something, because after Ozzie made these kinds of remarks, the Marlins went on to obliterate Strasburg, and then the Nationals ended his season shortly afterward.

Donnie Murphy done for year after sustaining concussion from Chase Utley - Fish Bytes
Off the top of my head, I'm curious: how many players have sustained concussions from being bowled over by Chase Utley? I know he's all "hard-nosed" and "plays right," but Chase Utley's given at least three guys concussions that I can recall.

Marlins will end 2013 at the hands of Miguel Cabrera - Sun Sentinel
Whereas the Phillies will begin their season against the American League, the Marlins will end their season against the AL. And not just any game, but against the Detroit Tigers, where their former franchise cornerstone Miguel Cabrera will be making his first appearance against his old team since being shipped away in 2008.

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