Around the NL East: Adam LaRoche Starting Slow, Ike Davis Starting Slow, Giancarlo Starting Slow, Ryan Howard Starting Slow


This week, everyone in the NL East cites underperformances from key contributors to the oft-cliched "slow starts."

Last weekend, I went out to Colorado and visited Coors Field. I didn't stick around for any of the Braves games, because all of those games were during the week, and I have a day job to attend to. For the most part, I liked Coors a lot, and I really can't say anything bad about the place at all. Typically, I'd schill my own experiences and perspectives about another team's park and city, but there was no interest from the folks at Purple Row, so I didn't bother writing one up.

Call me crazy, but I was actually kind of disappointed that I missed some catastrophic weather while I was out there. Apparently, Denver got a bunch of snow during the week before I got there, and as we all know, it snowed hard enough to snow the first scheduled game against the Braves. The coldest it got while I was sitting up in the purple row watching Martin Prado and the Dbacks at Coors was 42F; considering the 116F days we had in Atlanta last summer, I was hoping to legitimately be able to claim watching a game NINETY DEGREES LOWER.

Anyway, by the time you're reading this, if everything went according to plan, I'm up in Detroit. Try not to hate me, but I'm bringing my 0-8 record when watching the Braves play somewhere else for the first time with me, and hoping that Kris Medlen, EL OSO BLANCO and the Uptons can break my unfortunate streak. Welcome back to the basement.


Ryan Zimmerman to DL, top-prospect Anthony Rendon called up - Nats Insider
Well, that's one way to solve a logjam, temporarily. All through spring, it was clear that Anthony Rendon's bat was ready for the big leagues, but with the glut of infielders already on the squad, there was simply no place for Rendon. Naturally a third baseman, Rendon started the season in AA, playing 2B, 3B and SS, trying to get used to all positions, so that he could come up when needed. With Ryan Zimmerman hitting the DL with a hamstring injury, Rendon was ready to go.

Rendon going back down when Zimmerman comes back "no matter what" - Nationals Journal
Well it's a good thing that Rendon is showing that he's subject to the jitters, hitting a woeful .133 after delivering a RBI double in his first game, because according to Mike Rizzo, hitting .900 wouldn't keep him in the big leagues once Zimmerman comes off the DL.

Guess which former Brave is having yet another slow start? - Nationals Journal
Yup, our old friend Adam LaRoche is having one of his traditional slow Aprils. This is really nothing out of the ordinary, as far as I'm concerned.

GM Mike Rizzo's option picked up for 2014 - MASN
This really was kind of a no-brainer, because since Mike Rizzo's been the de facto general manager of the Nationals, they've improved their win total every single year. Granted, a lot of it had to do with the fact that the Nationals got their hands on Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, but still.

Henry Rodriguez cites calmness for early season success - Nationals Journal
Oh, just wait until it's a nice tense, tight game, and Davey Johnson calls for Henry Rodriguez to face a tough righty like Justin Upton or Matt Kemp with the bases loaded and one out. I'd bet money that "calmness" isn't what a wild pitcher like Henry Rodriguez will be thinking.

Stephen Strasburg's first inning woes - Nats Insider
Long story short: Strasburg's ERA in all innings not the first is nine runs lower than his first inning ERA throughout this season.

Nationals' minor league first baseman goes Roy Hobbs - The Bog
Only in the sense that he hit a home run that smashed the lights, because otherwise Potomac Nationals Kevin Keyes is still young at 24, and aside from the occasional home run, he's really not that good of a player. But still, one of those holy (crap) moments, that I would've loved to have been privy to see in person.


Jon Niese takes comebacker off foot, leaves game - AA
X-rays were negative, and it was diagnosed "just" a contusion, so that's good news for Niese. He'll make his next scheduled start, but I can't imagine pitching on a bad leg is going to be that good.

Matt Harvey: "I sucked" - MetsBlog
Matt Harvey's definition of sucking: 6.0 IP, 4H, 3ER, HR, BB, 7K. The rest of Major League Baseball considers that a "quality start." Regardless, it's nice to see a young pitcher not complacent with mediocrity and only wanting to be better. No matter, the Mets won this game in extra innings on Jordany Valdespin's walk-off grand slam.

Is Ike Davis starting slow, or is he just not good? - NY Post
See, that's the problem with putting too much value into home runs. Because right now, Ike Davis his hitting like .174, but has four home runs, which means he's on pace to still hit around 30+ by the season's end. Regardless of what he says he can do, what he's not doing, this really is a case of wonder, because this is kind of the thing he's done almost every year, save for his rookie debut.

Could John Buck be a trade candidate this season? - MetsBlog
Convention says yes, because John Buck is killing the ball, producing a lot at the plate, and is a free agent next year. But with the injury to Travis d'Arnaud likely to prevent the precise June debut from happening and with managers really liking rookie pitchers with veteran catchers, the likelihood looks to be in jeopardy.

Shaun Marcum to debut on Saturday - NY Post
With boatloads of milestone and performance-based incentives waiting for Marcum should he be capable of being successful, it's no surprise that he's eager to come off the disabled list and get back to work, debuting against the Phillies on Saturday.

Daniel Murphy quietly having a strong start - MetsBlog
Don't look now, but the oft-criticized Daniel Murphy's years and years of hard work appear to be paying off. Instead of everyone criticizing him for not hitting with enough power, not hitting enough, sucking at fielding, etc, etc, he's quietly having a very strong April, in which he's batting a robust .346/.388/.538 at the time I'm writing this with 10 XBH.

The Mets' bullpen apparently is not good; again - AA
Throughout the last decade or so, I've always noticed that even the lesser teams always seemed to put together decent bullpens. It was always the lack of starting pitching, or the offense that made particular teams losing teams, but they were almost always teams that you never wanted to see your particular team against in late innings, and behind. Like there were years when the Nationals or Padres or Royals were bad, but man did they have decent bullpens. And the same things happened every year, where everyone else would ransack them for usable parts, and give to them prospects.


It only took 19 games, but Giancarlo Stanton finally has an RBI - Marlins Maniac
I can't say I'd blame anyone for not paying any attention to the Marlins, but Giancarlo Stanton is having a pretty lame start to the season. Aside from taking 19 games to notch his first RBI, he's leading the Fish in both walks, but strikeouts as well, and is batting a woeful .200/.324/.250, with that's right, zero home runs.

Which can only mean that Giancarlo is a notorious slow starter - Fish Stripes
See also, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira.

But he's still probably the only Marlins with any chance at garnering any votes - Fish Stripes
Seriously, Rob Brantly, Donovan Solano and Chris Coghlin are actually going to be printed on All-Star Game ballots? I mean I know they're submitted way back in Spring Training, but man oh man, can we say pity reliever Marlin will make it on technicality?

Jeffrey Loria meddles some more, switches starting pitchers for doubleheader at the last minute - Yahoo Sports
Is there anyone out there in Major League Baseball more transparent than Jeffrey Loria? Serious question. I don't even think Bud Selig is as transparent as Loria is, especially when it comes to showing blatant favoritism. Which in the case of Loria was switching Ricky Nolasco's and prized, team-controlled for years rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez's pitching assignments for a double-header, just hours before the start of the first game. The rationale? Loria believed that it would be warmer and less detrimental during the day game, so he switched assignments so that Fernandez would pitch during the day, while Nolasco had to pitch during a cold Minnesota night game. Ironically, it was 38F when Fernanez pitched, and the temps rose to balmy 45F for the night cap. LOLoria

Ricky Nolasco grits teeth and deals with it like a pro - Sun Sentinel
It should be worth mentioning that the Marlins lost the first game to the Twins, while Nolasco led the Marlins to a win in the second game. During the the post-game, Nolasco calmly redirected all focus onto his teammates who actually scored some runs, instead of using the press to vent out his frustrations with the day's events.

Is Father Time finally catching up to Juan Pierre? - Marlin Maniac
Yes. And no. Because he's been on him for over the last few years, and not just now.

Marlins catchers have a foot race; naturally because this is the Marlins the ending to this story is not what is expected - Palm Beach Post
34-year old, 200 lb. Miguel Olivo was a little jilted when manager Mike Redmond sent 23-year old, 195 lb. Rob Brantly to pinch-run for him in a recent game. Eager to find out who truly was faster, Olivo put up $1,000 that said he could out-sprint the younger catcher, where Brantly would have to be the personal bellhop for the team for a few nights if he lost. Guess what happened?

If it's no surprise, the Marlins can't really even give tickets away - Miami Herald
At some point, it's going to be sad to continue laughing at the Marlins, but for the time being, I have to admit that it's sadistically entertaining just how futile the Marlins are on just about all accounts. This week's crap attendance story is about how numerous local businesses and media outlets are essentially giving tickets away, or selling them for peanuts, and how even that can't seem to help the Marlins attendance woes.


Why attendance matters in Philadelphia - Phillies Zone
At first, I want to laugh at the Phillies since with their struggling, fairweather fans are starting to dwindle, but when you look at the averages, the Phillies are still one of the highest-drawing teams in baseball. Regardless, the Phillies sound like they make financial decisions with projected attendance income in advance, as opposed to many other teams that cope with middle-of-the-pack attendance, so it leads to the concern that a season full of dwindled attendance income could legitimately impact the futures of particular players.

Jonathan Pettitbone debuted, only bright spot all week - Phillies Nation
22-year old Jonathan Pettibone debuted for the Phillies in place of the injured John Lannan, and it turned out to be pretty much the only good thing that happened for the Phillies as they won his debut game, but then proceeded to lose three of four to the Pirates. Notable is the fact that Pettibone issued zero walks in his debut game.

Ben Revere has a sissy arm - Crashburn Alley
I say that as if I had a Jeff Francoeur cannon of my own, but in reality Revere could throw further than I could with his off hand and falling backwards. But in context, let's just laugh at these well-made gifs of Ben Revere throwing, while baserunners parade from first to third without a second thought.

Ryan Howard is starting slow - Phillies Zone
The funny thing is that the article suggests that he always starts off slow, but then shows a list of the last several years' Aprils for Howard, and it's a pretty dynamic change from year to year, and often shows where Howard sacrifices power for average, and vice versa.

Don't worry though Phillies fans, Delmon Young is almost back! - High Cheese
Despite the fact that he has hardly played a position over the last few years, and is more filled out like Dmitri Young, as well as trying to haul that much mass on a reconstructed ankle. Yeah, no worries at all.

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