Around the NL East: Bryce Harper Meets Wall, Terry Collins Doesn't Care What Fans Think, Carlos Zambrano Joins Phillieslol, Marlins GM Clueless About Own Roster

Stephen Dunn

It was a tepid week in the NL East, where every team except for the Nationals posted a sub-.500 record in their last ten games, but even the Nats' successes came with a hard price.

Don't ask me why, but I trying to track down the current whereabouts of lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes earlier this week, and to no success. In the process, I discovered that Rhodes is the all-time leader in holds, and it's really not even close, with Rhodes having 231 credited holds, with the next guy being LaTroy Hawkins with 167. But in the process of finding these numbers, I discovered that Rhodes accumulated his holds in almost 3,000 fewer pitches, which made me realize that is actually logging total pitch counts too.

So out of curiosity, I clicked that as well, and the current all-time leader in net pitches thrown is CC Sabathia, with, at the time I'm writing this, 41,028 pitches thrown. The scary thing about this fact is that the 32-year old Sabathia is younger than just about everyone else beneath him on the list from guys like Derek Lowe, Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle and Livan Hernandez. But one of the more alarming names to show up way, way, way beneath Sabathia is #16 on the list, the 50-year old Jamie Moyer, who in 12 fewerseasons than big CC threw nearly 10,000 fewer pitches, at 31,614.

Obviously, there's a cut-off somewhere in their timelines from pre-modern-era times where pitches weren't recorded, but for the record, guys like Greg Maddux (22,735), Tom Glavine (24,331), Randy Johnson (25,551), Andy Pettitte (30,530) and Roger Clemens (20,138) make this list, and all those guys don't even come close to the workloads that Sabathia has endured already.

Needless to say, either we put Sabathia's arm on death notice, or we simply marvel at quite possibly the most durable arm since the pre-modern-era. Funny how this game works out sometimes.

Stories of the week published a day early, since I'm out of town (again) this weekend. At least I'll get to enjoy a night at my favorite AL ballpark, Camden Yards, in the process. Welcome back to the basement.



In case you live under a rock, Bryce Harper crashed into an outfield wall - Nationals Journal
Doing his best impression of Bump Bailey, Bryce Harper reminded everyone that in spite of the talent and grit he shows for a 20-year old player, he's still got plenty of lessons to learn. Mostly like familiarizing himself with what the warning track is, and how Dodger Stadium's right field plays, and that in a game in which your team is leading 6-0, sometimes it's best to just concede the hit.

Just how bad was the damage? - Nats Insider
Naturally the first scare is fear of concussion; initial tests show that there is no concussion, but Harper has been cited of suffering bouts of nausea, which is apparently one symptom that many believe to be a sign of concussion.

But it was probably due to the disdain of having to shave his beard - Nats Enquirer
The most obvious result of the collision was a pretty nasty cut on his chin that required eleven stitches to close up. But also in order to do that, doctors were apparently forced to shave his beard in the process; naturally Harper is not pleased with a forced shave.

Will this change anything about his play style? - The Bog
According to Bryce Harper himself, no.

Injuries are mounting, yet their record doesn't really reflect it - Nats Insider
Or perhaps it's the underwhelming performance of the Braves is why the NL East lead is under so much duress at the moment. Either way, Wilson Ramos re-aggravated the hamstring that put him on the DL earlier this season, and Ross Detwiler's back has been giving him some problems. This is all on top of Jayson Werth's DL stint, despite the fact that he is back this weekend.

Can the Nationals' attendance increase really count if people are there to do their homework instead of watch baseball? - Deadspin
I mean, it's not like the Nationals are a bad team or anything; I'd understand looking for something else to do if it were like the Marlins or the Astros, but man, I'd never bring my laptop to the ballpark.

MLB greedy policy prevents Adam LaRoche from honoring Mother's Day with pink bats - Nationals Journal
Apparently, MLB has a new policy that gave exclusive rights to pink bats on Mother's Day to Louisville Slugger. The problem is that not every player in baseball uses Louisville Slugger bats, like Adam LaRoche, who uses Max Bats bats. And despite Max Bats providing Roachy with pink bats to use on Mother's Day, the policy in place forbade anyone from using any pink bats that were not Louisville Slugger. Needless to say Roachy was not pleased, as probably were many other players who don't use Louisville Slugger bats.

How much more slack can be given to Danny Espinosa? - Nats Insider
One of the most fervently discussed players on the Nationals is their current second baseman, Danny Espinosa. After making a big splash in his rookie year, he's since been a guy known for a big swing, lots of strikeouts, and being the "reigning" NL strikeouts leader from 2012. Not a whole lot has changed this year, except the unfortunate trending down of his walks; Espinosa has literally three walks versus his 31 strikeouts, and that unfortunate 10.3 K/BB ratio glares in comparison to the major league average of 2.3 K/BB. With Anthony Rendon continuing to shine after his cup of coffee at the major league level, as well as several other infield prospects in the system, just how long will Danny Espinosa last if he doesn't improve?

Nationals bench nowhere near as good as it was a year ago - MASN
You know what this reminds me of? The Braves. After the Braves bench of 2010 lit the world on fire and contributed heavily to all sorts of key performances and comeback rallies, they were pretty bad in 2011. It makes me wonder if when constructing benches, if it should really be done for a year at a time in mind, because off the top of my head, I have a hard time remembering when there was ever a bench roster, brought back for a second consecutive season with similar roles, that did close to as well as they did a year prior.


How to work the LOL into "Jordany Valdespin?" - NY Daily News
Hmm... "VaLOLdespin? Anyway, for a guy that has barely been in the game for a year, Jordany Valdespin's already getting a little too big for his britches, and doesn't really seem to get the message. Whether it's admiring his home runs, wearing self-aggrandizing t-shirts, or trying to boss rookies around in the locker room despite barely even having a full year's service time accrued, Valdespin isn't really making any friends in baseball with his inflated sense of self.

What does Terry Collins have to say about Valdespin controversy? - NY Post

I don’t answer to fans, they don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there, they have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.

Terry Collins also looks like he's taking a page out of Bobby Cox's book of staunchness - NY Daily News
In regards to Ike Davis stinking it up:

Ike’s gotta hit fourth. He’s a big leaguer and he’s a good hitter. He’s gotta get through this. This is the big leagues.

This reminds me of Andruw Jones' walk year in 2007, and Bobby Cox staunchly putting him in at cleanup, despite having like a .169 batting average. Just because a guy is "supposed" to be the clean-up hitter does not mean he should be hitting clean-up, especially if he's stinking it up.

Well, it's a good thing the Mets just signed Rick Ankiel, because he can help reduce Valdespin's role - AA
But the best headline has to have been what the usually tame New York Times wrote:

Ankiel Arrives Without a Bat, and Thus Fits Right in With the Mets


Zack Wheeler arrives in New York - NY Post
To play baseball? Ha, no way. Because he's hurt, and was brought to New York to be examined by team medical personnel, for his sore clavicle.

Speaking of hurt Mets, Jenrry Mejia - again - AA
It seems like it was just yesterday that Jenrry Mejia was shelved due to an elbow problem. It was actually in 2011, when Mejia blew out his elbow and required Tommy John Surgery, and missed just about all of 2012. And just like that, he's placed on the 60-day DL for elbow inflammation, which is never a good thing. The sad thing is about this once-promising pitcher was that it was thought being a reliever would reduce the wear and tear on his arm, and this still happened. Where else can Mejia possibly go from now?

Also, Frank Francisco - NY Post
After gradually making progress into working his way through the minor league system to prepare for an eventual return with the big club, Francisco appears to have suffered a set back, citing "his elbow doesn't feel good." Also mentioned in this article is the fact that another pitcher, Jeurys Familia was also put on the DL with biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm.

Well, at least Tim Byrdak is next on the list of recovering Mets - MetsBlog
One of the better LOOGYs in the game, of course when healthy, Tim Byrdak is down in PSL throwing in bullpen sessions now.

On any other team, Dillon Gee would probably be put on the DL for sucking - MetsBlog
But on a team like the Mets that are frantically starving for any arms that can throw a ball 60'6" at anything over 80 mph, it looks like Gee's job is going to be safe, even with his 6.13 ERA in just 33.1 innings pitched. The worst part is that Gee has no idea why he's performing so badly; to me, that's about as bad as it gets.

Subway Series in Flushing not sold out - The Mets Police
Man, I remember years in which even when the Mets weren't a good team, the series still selling out, for not other reason than for Mets and Yankee fans wanting to have the bragging rights. Yeah, not so much anymore these days.


Phillies sign Carlos Zambrano to minor league deal - Beerleaguer
I like it whenever any team signs a somewhat controversial player, and the fanbases/analysts always proclaim that something is a low-risk deal. Low risk deals are Rodrigo Lopezes and Aaron Cooks who might actually get warm and provide 2-3 good starts before the team wises up and cuts them before they become detrimental. Carlos Zambrano is a like a jug of diesel fuel who sure, might get hot on the mound, but is also volatile enough to get hot in the dugout, in the locker room, or perhaps in the car while dealing with bad traffic, and when that happens, explosions, often in the form of metaphorical feces, go flying.

Phillies brass tries to justify Zambrano signing by making fun of others - High Cheese

It’s a minor league deal. It’s not like we’re signing him to a $90 million deal like the Cubs did.

It's easy to justify this deal when you put it in this perspective, but they're not going to fool anyone, much less Philadelphia fans when he implodes on the mound and gives up 6 runs to the Brewers at home or something.

So much for "clubhouse atmosphere" - Crashburn Alley
For those who believe in the concept of clubhouse atmosphere, think about how the Phillies signed Michael Young, citing that he brings veteran presence and being a good clubhouse guy. But then consider that the exact team signs Delmon Young and now, Carlos Zambrano. Off-set?

Mike Adams is having some back issues - Phillies Nation
Back spasms are causing Mike Adams to have some uncomfortable pain lately. Perhaps it's partially to blame for his uncharacteristic control issues this season, leading to a career-high walk rate?

Roy Halladay unnecessarily apologies to Philly fans for getting hurt - TGP
The man gives a fan-base with almost excessively high expectations two no-hitters and some of the most dominant pitching seasons in their franchise's history, and then he feels the need to apologize to them because he's gotten substantially hurt for just about the first time in his career? Class act... or posturing for free agency when he might possibly be an old and busted pitcher with low velocity and injury history?

Where does Darin Ruf fit into the future? - High Cheese
Apparently, the Phillies are getting a little jealous looking at the early success of Evan Gattis, and wondering what's going to happen with their own version in Darin Ruf. From what the article insinuates, it almost seems like they're waiting for John Mayberry, Jr. to screw up or play himself out of the position, so that they can call Ruf up immediately. In spite of his poor spring numbers, Ruf appears to be destroying Triple-A, so a call-up seems inevitable, for when the Phillies can fit him into the lineup.


Marlins GM pretty much nails it - Marlins Diehards
From the words of Marlins GM, Larry Beinfest himself:

I don't even know who is here anymore

What's the difference between the Marlins and Astros? - Fish Stripes
Although I agree with just about everything said here, from a very superficial, yet oddly not invalid take, it's Jeffrey Loria. Loria is perceived as a bad man, and people who believe themselves to be good do not like bad men, and therefore the Marlins being a product of a bad man, makes them also subject to bad man scrutiny and criticism.

Marlins set a new team record... in futility, of course - Fish Bytes
If you were a kid of the 80s-90s like I was, imagine hearing the digitized voice heard in arcades and eventually Super Nintendos of whenever you played a racing game or like a boxing game that said "NEW RECORD" whenever you broke the previous top time/score. Well, the Marlins set a new franchise record against the Reds earlier in the week, where they had a game where they cranked out eleven hits - but failed to score a single run, in an eventual loss. NEW RECORD!

Don Mattingly thinks Jose Fernandez is reminiscent of Felix Hernandez - Sun Sentinel
That's quite a compliment from the former Yankee great, but let's face it, that's quite a high reach to compare a guy with all of seven major league strikes to one of the best pitchers in the game today. It's probably mostly due to the fact that Fernandez, much like King Felix is a big latin right-handed pitcher, who's an inch and ten pounds different in stature.

All that losing is turning some Marlins bitter it seems - Palm Beach Post
Several Marlins, namely Greg Dobbs appear to have some objection with Major League Baseball's choice to paint the league pink on Mother's Day, and are not shy about vocalizing their scrutiny. But the best part is the loaded comment that kind of bites Dobbs back in the obvious implication that even being on the future worst team in history, he still gets no playing time:

"I’ve never had a ball with pink stitching and pink labeling come at me, so I have no idea (in the different spin between a slider and a splitter)."

Marlins reliever takes on breakfast food challenge; being a Marlin, guess what happens? - Sun Sentinel
Of course he failed, duh. Then again, it is a massive food challenge consisting of over twelve eggs, three potatoes and two biscuits; considering I'm going to San Diego later this summer, I kind of want to see how I'd fare against it myself.

And no week is complete without another Marlins Park attendance fail story - Grantland

"I got four bucks," I said.

Shorty took the money and vanished.

I was sipping a Diet Pepsi and eating a hot dog when I realized I'd forgotten to look at the actual price on my ticket to see what kind of bargain I'd gotten. I looked. It was … one dollar.

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