Around the NL East: Halladay Facing Mortality, Bryce Bulks Up, No Bourn to New York

My velocity is falling, and it can't get up! - Rich Schultz

The week of pitchers and catchers reporting, with most all the position players hoping to show off their 38 pieces of flair and great smiles for a new season is almost upon us.

Welcome back to the basement.


Roy Halladay sounds like he's having trouble coming to grips that even he ages too - TGP
During a press conference, Roy Halladay admits to lower back issues that resulted in shoulder woes upon attempts to compensate for it throughout the 2012 season. Trying to make people feel better, he then goes on to explain that he's not really concerned about his velocity dropping as much as he is about locating his pitches. That's a good try and all, but most Braves fans remember Maddux's last year as a Brave, and then his eventual retirement tour through Chicago, San Diego and LA, where he could always put a pitch wherever he wanted, but hurling 85-86 mph fastballs just didn't yield the same results.

He's also willing to pitch 320 innings if it means winning a World Series - High Cheese
I couldn't even tell you when the last time any pitcher hit the 300 innings mark, even when combining regular and post-seasons. Off the top of my head, CC Sabathia hit something around 260+ in 2009 when the Yankees won it all, but to get to 300 innings? But it's probably one of those situations, where he gives an outrageously high number so the team can talk him off the edge to something "more reasonable," like say 259 innings...

Because if he wants to stay with the Phillies and get paid, he needs to pitch 259 innings - Beerleaguer
Actually 258.2 innings to be precise, but that's exactly what he needs to pitch in 2013 to trigger an option year for 2014 that would net him another $20M.

Carlos Ruiz talks about his suspension - High Cheese
Nothing out of the ordinary. He's sorry he did it, and he (supposedly) won't do it again. And then he cried a bunch when Charlie Manuel grilled him about it too.

Speaking of drugs, Jonathan Papelbon took some pretty extreme stuff in Boston before joining the Phillies - Phillies Nation
Toradol, to be specific. It's an anti-inflammatory that's barely legal in the United States, but has actually been banned in England outright. Taken out of moderation, it has led to gastrointestinal bleeding, which can, be fatal.

Ryan Howard doesn't believe the Phillies are old - High Cheese
His cited example? Jamie Moyer. lol. Velociraptors are young compared to Jamie Moyer, try again Ryan.

Of all the guys to arrive early, I'm guessing none of these are the ones people want to hear - Phillies Zone
It sets a great example to the younger players, but if I'm a Phillies fan, I want to hear about Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins getting the absolute maximum amount of rest and recovery as their ancient bodies can get.

Apparently this was some kind of big news, but Juan Cruz was cut - Phillies Nation
Given the number of outlets reporting this exact story about how Juan Cruz was the only guy to not report early, it was because he was cut. As if Juan Cruz was going to make a notable difference to their team, or something.

Will Cole Hamels finally get his Opening Day start? - Beerleaguer
For the sake of the Braves, whom the Phillies open their season with in Atlanta, I hope it isn't Cole Hamels. But for the pitchers that buy into the hype that Opening Day starts mean something, can anyone argue against the case for Cole Hamels?


Playing left field for the Nationals, Bryce Harpcoeur - Nats Insider
Where have we heard this before:

And physically ... well, Harper doesn't just look like he belongs in a big-league clubhouse. He looks like he belongs in an NFL locker room, having bulked up over the winter to 230 pounds to fill out his 6-foot, 3-inch frame.

And we all remember just how that turned out? Also notice the lack of the us of ITBSOHL anywhere in regards to this kind of bulking.

Gio Gonzalez is confident he'll be cleared of any wrong doing - MASN

At the end of the day, I've never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and I never will.

Tell that to all the baseball fans across the country who have already made their conclusions that you have, and hope you don't get booed like Ryan Braun all year long.

In an attempt to build up some good fan equity, he joins Team USA for the WBC - Nationals Journal
This move, I like. Kris Medlen withdraws from the squad due to the birth of his first child, so instead an effective division rival in Gio Gonzalez gets to waste bullets instead. The sad thing is that even if Gio represents the United States team well, it's not going to matter much because so few people actually care about the World Baseball Classic.

Danny Espinosa also withdraws, from commitment to Team Mexico - MASN
Citing the shoulder injuries that he chose to rehab instead of surgery, he's pulling his name from the provisional roster for Team Mexico.

Not that the Nats are concerned that Gio could get suspended or anything... - Nationals Journal
But the Nationals have sort of been keeping tabs on the still-available Kyle Lohse, whom if you recall, had a solid year for the Cardinals last year, despite his poor ratio numbers because he's a contact guy. And since the Nats have already lost their first round pick to the Yankees, there's zero concern of forfeiting that pick to get Lohse.

Rafael Soriano has not reported in on time - MASN
Sure, it's fun to laugh at all the players who get scolded and reprimanded for not showing up voluntarily early, but for pitchers and catchers, they should all be in their respective camps by now. One guy who no-showed for his first day of work on a new job was none other than Rafael Soriano, whom has been cited as having visa issues. Considering the guy has made close to $40M in his career pitching one inning at a time, you would think he would have just a little bit more foresight and respect to be well, responsible for his time.

Speaking of former Braves - Nationals Journal
Despite the fact that the Nationals claimed that they didn't need any lefties or any LOOGYs, they go out and sign LHP Will Ohman. At 35-years old, he's still good for LOOGY duty, and has held 754 lefties in his career to a respectable .210 batting average.

But that's it, promise - Nats Insider
GM Mike Rizzo has claimed that they will make no more notable acquisitions. So hear that, all other players the Nationals pick up on random minor league deals and Spring Training invites. You are not notable. You are not special, or your (expletive) khakis.

Stephen Strasburg eager to go into 2013 with no (known) constraints - MASN
Supposedly there will be no absurd innings limit, or shutdown for Strasburg in 2013, but I still think there is a lot to learn. Look no further tha Jordan Zimmermann, whom Strasburg is essentially in the footsteps of, in terms of rehabilitation program. After Zimmermann passed the 160 mark, he was a completely hittable and different pitcher down the stretch. I'm almost expecting Strasburg to hit a similar wall, simply by virtue of never having experienced the full-season haul before.

Wilson Ramos catches bullpen, feeling great - Nats Insider
Nine months after a torn ACL, Wilson Ramos caught his first bullpen sessions and says he felt great. Initially a question mark to start the season, if this pace keeps up, Ramos should be starting catcher come opening day.

Drew Storen decides to re-live his meltdown - Nats Insider
The funny thing is that he doesn't really go into detail of how he felt while watching it. There was one pitch that was practically right down the middle that was called for a ball, and not being a baseball player whom umpires could remember "for later," I can say that it was a B.S. call, but Storen probably has to be a little bit more cordial to those quoting him.

Birds throwing fish at Denard Span - The Bog
What better way to begin your career with a new team when the birds in Florida are dropping fish down onto you? Definitely one of the more interesting and unique ST stories we'll probably hear of this year.

Davey Johnson is 70 years old. I wonder if TGP will make all the same age jokes they did about Bobby Cox at 69 towards Johnson? Or are they going to realize that Charlie Manuel is also 69 now and warrants the comparisons to Methuselah himself? But Johnson is pretty candid and willing to make fun of himself:

"I’m not even going to tell you (what's in his inbox), but you can guess at my age what I might be getting."


No Michael Bourn for the Mets - AA
Despite their efforts to court and sign Michael Bourn, Bourno goes to the American League, namely the Cleveland Indians, who opened their wallets to the tune of four-years, $48M, with an option that could tack it all the way to $60M over five years. In the end, I don't think this is that bad for the Mets, because it improves cash flow for the future when they might be able to contend again.

Because, the Mets no longer (supposedly) have payroll limitations - AA
According to Fred Wilpon, the shackles are coming off of the Mets, and they'll be able to spend like a New York team again in the future. Now the bigger question is if Sandy Alderson can actually pull triggers, or if his stingy ways will make spending money difficult still?

Shaun Marcum wants to assume 200 of R.A. Dickey's innings - NY Post
It's generally regarded that the $4M one-year deal that the Mets paid to sign Shaum Marcum could be one of the best sleeper deals in all of baseball going into 2013. The mentality and the sentiment behind Marcum's desire to pitch 200 innings in the absence of R.A. Dickey is respectable and all, but 200 innings is something that Marcum has only accomplished once, and barely, with 200.2 IP in 2011. And even that was considered to be a factor to his shortened 2012 season, where he missed two months with nagging injuries.

And speaking of injuries, looks like Frank Francisco won't be closer in spite of his claims - AA
Barely 24 hours into pitchers and catchers reporting, Frank Francisco the self-declared closer of the Mets has been shut down due to elbow inflammation. As always, the clever folks at AA don't necessarily see this as a bad thing.

But will a full season of Bobby Parnell closing inspire much more confidence? - NY Post
Look, I know Parnell enjoyed probably the best season of his career as a reliever in 2012, notching 1.0 fWAR, but still; he blew five save situations, and he's still Bobby Parnell, and has a career BB/9 of 3.62. Going into the season with Bobby Parnell as the closer can't be a good thing.

Jenrry Mejia being investigated for the usual suspicion of age and identity fraud - NY Daily News
Although the Mets believe it to be a random investigation, Jenrry Mejia is being checked out, to make sure that he's not really 26 instead of 23 and his name isn't something like Pedro Jorge Aparicio or something like that.

Mike Piazza thought about this way more than people might have thought - The Apple
In Mike Piazza's new autobiography, he goes into pretty good detail about what was running through his head after Roger Clemens threw a shard of bat at him during the 2000 World Series. Bonus points on the article for all of the entertaining Bloodsport references.


Ricky Nolasco's big year ahead - Fish Bytes
The funny thing is that given the state of the Marlins, Ricky Nolasco's idea of a big year probably doesn't include trying to impress the Marlins, but pretty much every single club that isn't the Marlins, with hopes that he can get the heck out of the Marlins for decent money starting in 2014.

Marlins sign Chone Figgins to minor league deal - Palm Beach Post
If you really want to know how funny this is, just go over to Lookout Landing, and just search for "chone."

Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez headed to play for Venezuela in WBC - Sun Sentinel
This is the kind of attitude I like to see from players not on the Braves.

Naturally, the Marlins don't want him to go - Fish Bytes
Which pretty much means that he's bound to get injured during the WBC or put undue stress on his arm that results in him getting injured during the season.

Speaking of injuries, Logan Morrison doesn't plan on rushing in the least bit - Sun Sentinel
Sometimes you have players so excited to just be on a contending team, that they'll rush rehab, take cortisone shots, or outright hide their pain and suffering, just so they can say they contributed to a good baseball team. And then, there are the Marlins, where playing baseball could possibly interfere with LoMo's Twitter attention.

Hmm, should we take bets that one or both of these guys return to active duty? - Fish Bytes
Luis Castillo and Mike Lowell are present in Jupiter, but as mostly ambassadors, and veteran figures for the dearth of 74, mostly young unproven players to chat with, look up to, and pick brains of. But given the expected level of talent from the Marlins this year, what are the chances that it starts with one or both of them taking some cuts in the cage "just for the hell of it," to one or both of them being offered minor league deals?

Giancarlo and Nolasco talk about how nobody in Europe knew who they were - Fish Bytes
I hate to break it to you guys, Nolasco way more than Giancarlo, but... maybe outside of Miami, the same could be said about you guys in the United States... too easy?

Racking up early victories, of the moral kind - Palm Beach Post
New manager, Mike Redmond, is extremely proud of himself for getting to the Spring Training facilities before notorious workhorse, Juan Pierre.

Did I say 74 players earlier? Now it's 73 - Fish Bytes
There's something to be said about the Marlins when a 29-year old career minor leaguer decides to declare retirement after one day at Marlins camp, rather than try and compete for a roster spot with what may likely be the worst team in the National League. Craig Tatum, who has hit .248/.315/.375 in nine minor league seasons, did just that.

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