Around the NL East: Gio Gonzalez Linked to PEDs, Phillies Make World Beating Moves, Mets Scraping, Fish Floundering

Gio Gonzalez got some 'splainin to do - Scott Cunningham

It's that time of the year where minor league deals are doled out like playing cards, and potential arbitration cases are sniffed and analyzed like bad scratch and sniff stickers. How many more days until pitchers and catchers report? Less than two weeks now. Thank goodness.

This week's column will be short by a day, as I'm out of town this weekend. If anything happened on Friday, I unfortunately haven't been near a computer to include it.

Welcome back to the basement.

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Gio Gonzalez's name, among others found in extensive reports from clinic linked to PED distribution - Miami New Times
Among the other names to appear in years of handwritten notes and documentation are Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Manny Ramirez and Nelson Cruz, but Gio being the only divisional rival gets the coup for this intent. But before we all implicate him of juicing, Gio's own dad was also found in the books, and promptly claims that all records involving him or his son all pertain to simply himself, "for weight loss" purposes, but then again A-Rod had a Miami-resident cousin essentially mule all of his drugs at one point. Long story short, Gio will probably get no punishment because there's no hard evidence, but everyone's going to point their fingers at him anyway.

No pressure or anything - The Bog
Nationals owner Mark Lerner boasts that the Nationals are going to the World Series this year. Considering the last time a D.C. sports team even made it to a championship was the Capitals in 1998, where they got swept out of the Stanley Cup finals, there's much more than expectations to fight, but also simply history.

Jordan Zimmermann playing hardball with Nats, not fearful of arbitration - Nationals Journal
The rule of thumb is that an arbitration raise is typically around 40% of the prior year's salary. Zimmermann who made $2.3M in 2012 has asked for $5.8M, was offered $4.6M from the Nats, which isn't just a 40% raise, but a 100% raise. Considering that in terms of fWAR, Zimmermann improved by just 0.1 WAR not to mention in more appearances and more innings thrown, I would venture a guess that the Nationals have been more than generous with their raise offer. Even if Zimmermann's offer was deliberately high in hopes of attempting to get the Nats to split the difference and round to say, an even $5M, I'd have to believe that a staunch negotiatior like Mike Rizzo can't be thrilled to have to go through it.

Dan Haren feels good, claims no health blocks for 2013 - Nats Insider
Haren, who will be making $13M for the one year in 2013 is certainly no Shaun Marcum-like steal, but for a guy who had seven straight 4.0+ fWAR seasons prior to one injury-addled 2012 season, stands to easily make the Nats their money back with some interest if he bounces back to those kinds of norms.

Danny Espinosa has a torn rotator cuff but plans to play through it - Nationals Journal
I guess since I'm not a professional athlete, I will never understand why guys insist on playing through pain so often. I know it's about keeping themselves in the public eye, so they can have more chances to try and be great and try and get paid, and make as much as they can in the relative shortness of their professional careers, but he doesn't have to look very far, in fact, right next to him at first base, at Adam LaRoche, to see what a torn rotator cuff can do to a guy. He missed the better part of two seasons with lingering pain from a torn rotator cuff that he insisted on playing through until he simply couldn't.

Nationals really glad to see Martin Prado out of the division now - Nats Insider
This really could be said by most other teams in the NL East, but no more people are happier to see Prado leaving the division than the Nats' Ross Detwiler. (.522, 6 XBH)

William Taft named the fifth Racing President - The Bog
Naturally the initial complains were that his form wasn't fat enough, like the real William Taft, but consider the poor guy underneath the suit that has to run in them, for crying out loud.

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Phillies sign Yuniesky Betancourt to minor league deal, hearty LOLs ensue globally across internet baseball nerdosphere - TGP
Now longtime readers might believe that when I simply use nothing but "lol" as a description, it's a cop-out because I can't think of anything to say, but seriously; it's not that I want to laugh at the Phillies, but this off-season hasn't been anything short of legendary for them, and most certainly not in the good way. If there are any injuries to the Phillies infield, the team is pretty much screwed because Freddy Galvis can't play two positions at once, and Betancourt has minus 75 defensive runs saved in just seven seasons.

lol

Because his shoulder is fine, Cole Hamels needs to let everyone know it's fine - Phillies Nation
Consider me one of the least surprised if Hamels happens to get hurt this year. After all, he's only pitched 1,200+ innings over the last six seasons...

Phillies possibly looking to add another scrub catcher - Beerleaguer
In case you forgot, Carlos Ruiz was busted for substance abuse, and is going to miss 25 games to start the season, so the Phillies are going to be shorthanded at the catcher position for then. So, what better way to equalize the loss of what was arguably their most reliable player in 2012 than with names like Brian Schneider, Rod Barajas or Miguel Olivo? Nevermind, Brian Schneider retired.

Charlie Manuel eager to see Darin Ruf in Spring - Phillies Zone
Considering the dearth of "good news" this off-season, if I were in Cholly's shoes, I'd feel the same way too, eagerly gravitating towards the brightest beacon amidst the crap.

Phillies re-acquire reliever Chad Durbin - TGP
lol

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Mets have clandestine meeting with Michael Bourn in Houston - NY Post
Despite the fact that the Mets are aware that they don't stand much chance in possibly retaining their first-round draft pick if they sign Michael Bourn, they're still interested in him if they can get him to sign a fairly reasonable multi-year deal. No better way to start than to at least open up a good negotiating relationship by going to visit him in his home in Houston, along with Scott Boras.

Mets sign reliever Scott Atchison to minor league deal - AA
Another barrel scraper here, Atchison was seen last year pitching for the woeful Red Sox, and actually suffered a partial UCL tear in his throwing elbow; he opted for rest and rehab over possibly Tommy John, so the Mets are getting themselves involved with damaged goods here.

Also sign LaTroy Hawkins to minor league deal - AA
I'm always baffled that somehow, LaTroy Hawkins ends up on a major league 25-man roster, every single year. Seriously, he's played at the big league level in every single one of his 18 professional seasons, and if you look at his number and team history on B-R, it looks more like a Pog collection than a history chronicle.

Mets are (still) interested in possibly Roy Oswalt - MetsBlog
I think the most important thing the Mets could do, is at least let someone know that they were interested in Roy Oswalt, first:

Oswalt’s agent recently told Newsday he was not aware of the team’s interest.

That would surely help in at least opening up the channels of communication.

Ike Davis claims that he's "fully" healthy - NY Post
It's funny, because prior to the start of last year, it was well known that Ike Davis had contracted Valley Fever, but whereas some media outlets played it off like it was nothing but regional hocus pocus, guys like Conor Jackson came out of the woodwork to explain how it essentially derailed his career. I guess Davis has stayed out of the desert this off-season, and he's claiming to be fully healthy, and of course, anticipating the start of the season now.

Lucas Duda's wrist feels good despite off-season surgery - MetsBlog
Don't look now, around the greater Orlando and Phoenix areas, there are guys who have already begun working out at or near their respective Spring Training facilities. Lucas Duda is facing live pitching down in Port St. Lucie, trying to work through kinks with his game as well as a surgically repaired wrist, as result of a fracture incurred while moving furniture.

Would Mets fans have to resort to dog costumes to get around egregious ticket prices? - The Apple
It's funny to me, because I'd recently been watching Wilfred on Netflix, and it made me think of the show.

Mets media director wins Twitter bet for charitable cause - NY Daily News
Mets COO Jeff Wilpon bet that the Mets' media director, 67-year old Jay Horwitz couldn't break 10,000 followers in his first day on Twitter. Well, with the help of actual baseball players spreading the word, he broke 10,000 in his first day, and the the Wilpons forked over $10,000 which would be donated to Horwitz's charity of his choosing, which was Hope Shines for Shannon, a charity for a fellow media relations member Shannon Forde, suffering from breast cancer.

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Surprise of the century: players do not trust Jeffrey Loria - Fish Stripes
Considering that Loria pretty much told Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle that they wouldn't be traded before they eventually were, there's very little reason why anyone should trust Loria and see the Marlins as nothing but a place to make a quick buck or as an easy route to the major leagues.

Denial of 2015 All-Star game perceived as punishment for doing Marlins things - Fish Stripes
The funny thing is that I would have imagined that the Nationals would have gotten a crack at the All-Star Game before the Marlins did, considering they opened up in 2008, but the 2015 bid went to the Cincinnati Reds and the Great American Ball Park instead of Miami, which had officially made a play for it.

Seriously, how close are the Marlins to holding an open tryout? - Sun Sentinel
Former Dolphins football quarterback Pat White was offered a minor league deal by the Marlins. To his credit, White did play baseball in high school and was talented enough to have been drafted by the Angels twice, Reds and Yankees, and even had a stint in the Royals organization, but has technically never played an actual game in any of these tenures. But it says something when the failed football player would still rather give football another shot than actually accept the minor league deal from the Marlins.

Chad Qualls signs minor league deal with Marlins - Fish Bytes
Well, at least he's an arm and people kind of know who he is. Last time he was spotted, he was on the Phillies in 2012 where he blew five save situations, and ended up having a cumulative ERA of 5.33 after bouncing around to two more times throughout the season.

Marlins to have eight times more players on Spring roster than fans in Jupiter - Fish Bytes
71 players. The Marlins have a slightly larger spring facility than some other teams, but mostly because they also share with the St. Louis Cardinals. With 71 guys, the Marlins alone could fill at least four fields of scrimmages essentially, and this is also not including minor league camp.

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