Around the NL East: Stephen Strasburg Injured, Nats Shaken Up, Domonic Brown NL's Best Player of May, Mets Stink Again, Giancarlo Making Rehab Starts

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals fall to third place, joining the Mets, Marlins and Phillies all beating each other up into a pile of mediocrity within the division. This is good news for the Braves and us fans.

My fellow TCers, this weekend's NL East round up from the basement will be the last one, as I'm also ending my tenure as one of the privileged writers for Talking Chop. I had decided this a week ago, but I can also be a maniacal drama queen sometimes, so I wanted to formally bid adieu, as well as one last column since I actually felt some impending separation anxiety with something I've done consistently over the last four years.

I'll do my best to keep it short, as those of you who have been around as long as I have might know me to be somewhat verbose. But my reasons for leaving partially echo the sentiment of gondeee, but also the fact that I just don't feel like doing it anymore. Yeah I know I had a cush position, posting once a week, so who am I to speak on dwindling motivation? But I have a general rule that I try to adhere to, which is when things feel like obligations and a chore, that it's time to walk away; admittedly, I probably broke my own rule for a bit longer than I should have, but I guess the choices to depart from my fellow former writers put things in perspective for me that perhaps I should hang it up as well. After all, I'm at the age where I would be considered entering my decline phase, and that I should be so lucky to get a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite next season; so why not free up the roster spot for someone who's better and actually wants to do it?

But for those of you I haven't gotten to know as well over the short term, here's my history in "brief:" I first came to TC in 2006 after Wilson Betemit was traded for Danys Baez and Willy Aybar, shortly before the Mets formally broke the streak of NL East division titles. I officially joined in 2007, where my biggest contributions were asking if anyone could hear me screaming "Parkview Panthers" at Jeff Francoeur in the 13th inning of a rain-mired game at RFK between two non-contenders. I was officially made a writer for TC in 2009 where I tried and failed to channel my inner Joe Posnanski on a regular basis, and started the NL East link roundup in 2010, and have done at least that, since.

I like baseball statistics, I understand baseball statistics and I know how to use baseball statistics. I'm just not that great applying baseball statistics to all of my writing, so I've always tried to lean towards the lighter side of the game to write about. Whether it's been comparing classic Braves pitchers to TGIF sitcoms, creating the theoretical iPhone app that Bobby Cox used to manage the bullpen, or extrapolating all of the numbers of Tommy Hanson starts where he had long hair versus short hair, I've always strived to attempt to apply humor into most of the things I've written, because let's face it, we can get baseball news and analysis in various other places. But there've been other times where I put it upon myself to be the voice of something authoritative, like when I tried to teach the community how to use FanShots, that losses do indeed happen, and defending Atlanta from all the people who don't live here and accuse us of being crappy fans.

Anyway, because this is getting longer than even I had anticipated, let's wrap it up and get to the links. I'd like to thank gondeee for being the fearless leader in all the time I've written for Talking Chop, for having faith in me, my writing, and my opinions to allow me to post without feeling the need to micromanage. He may have stepped down, but I assured him that I might not have as many Braves-themed bobbleheads by season's end, but I'll definitely have more overall. Thanks to the other writers past and present, because without guys like Foreman and CBtits, I'd never have gotten as into minor league baseball as I am today, and Jacob's Dr. Manhattan-like analysis of statistical anomalies big and small often has me on the lookout for any oddities in my own viewing. And with Ben and the guys from CAC coming aboard, I know TC's in good hands when it comes to talented writers who are passionate about the Braves, because like a lot of us here, I also read CAC on a fairly regular basis too.

But last, and most certainly not least, thanks to all Talking Chop readers past and present, for tolerating my presence and my posts. If I ever made you chuckle, laugh or anything positive, then I've done my job. Obviously I know I haven't seen eye-to-eye with every single member over six years, but people that are critical of you tend to carefully read your words; mostly it's to see if they can argue with you, but hey, as long as you're reading, I'm happy with that, so thanks there too. But really, with no Talking Chop audience, there was never any reason for guys like me to ever want to write or have a presence on a baseball website. Collectively, you guys were a great audience to have; as quick as things could get OT here and everyone could somewhat hang, it could snap back into a passionate debate over something like Dan Uggla's UZR or like when Brandon Hicks had more runs scored than plate appearances. And every time someone dropped a "Vidro" in a game thread, it made me smile, even though it's been debunked a hundred times over that Jose Vidro wasn't even close to Cal, Jr. in GIDPs.

And this is where I want my ending to a simple fade to black, with no music track, like a "very special" episode of a family sitcom that usually dealt with something serious like abuse, drugs, or death. Baseball blogging is serious business, yo.

As my man Robin Leach said it best: champagne wishes, and caviar dreams. Kind regards for everyone here. Melky Cabrera sucks. So long from the basement.


Stephen Strasburg put on DL with lat strain - Nationals Journal
After a short appearance in Atlanta (hmm, very common), Stephen Strasburg was put on the 15-day DL. The good news is that it's not his arm, but instead it was a strain in his right lat muscle (lower back). The bad news is that not only does this remove Strasburg from the rotation for at least three starts, or however long GM Mike Rizzo wants to baby this out, but also the fact that taking his spot in the rotation will be Ross Ohlendorf coming up from Syracuse, who was last seen as a Padre, whose last two seasons had an average ERA of about eight, and an average WHIP closer to two than one.

Danny Espinosa "finally" put on DL for wrist, shoulder, sucking - Nationals Journal
My best friend is a Nationals fan, and there's no player we spend more time talking about than Danny Espinosa lately. Personally, the bottom line is that I think he's selfish, immature and insecure, and this whole debacle has no one to blame but himself. Playing with a strained wrist while already playing through with a partial rotator cuff tear, and insisting that he's fine, while posting like .100/.100/.200, because it's no secret that he's afraid of losing his job. His choices have all but assured that happening, but also with all the injuries and reckless behavior, probably impact his future as well, because he has zero trade value, and will have to prove everything all over again and re-establish any faith before the Nationals bring him back, or trade him to somewhere he can play.

Anthony Rendon called up to assume control of second base - Citizens of Natstown
Naturally a third baseman, and his position at Rice and most of his time in the minors, Anthony Rendon has been called back up to the big leagues to take Danny Espinosa's place at second instead. And to those who question whether or not he can get the job done at second base, it always goes back to what's stated here; if Daniel Murphy, who has two left feet, can eventually handle second base, then Anthony Rendon will probably be fine.

Zach Duke, Henry Rodriguez, designated for assignment - MASN
Duke was an easy call in this regard, because he's been absolutely dreadful all season long, and at this point it's not a small sample size; in 12 appearances over 20.2 innings out of the bullpen, he's given up 20 earned runs, with an ERA of 8.71. As for Henry Rodriguez, well, I'm pretty sure that I could have struck out B.J. Upton during his rough stretch, so when he gives up a walk-off hit and restores some of his confidence, then yeah that's grounds for DFA'ing.

Probably nobody will miss Henry though - The Bog
I hate to boast about how I called this but... screw it, I think I nailed this on the head when I said that Henry Rodriguez was essentially the Nationals' version of Blaine Boyer, and this was several years ago now. Guy with the huge fastball, but always hampered by the giant ball and chain of "IF," as in if, he could get it under control, if, he could trust his stuff, and well, if, he could stop sucking.

Gio Gonzalez likely to be among those "safe" in PED scandal - Nats Insider
I have nothing against Gio Gonzalez, and for all intents and purposes am glad to hear that he's kind of on the safe side of things in regards to this recent PED scandal with the Miami clinic, Biogenesis. Everything he ever acquired from them, or his father did, appears to have all been legal and not performance-enhancing, so Gio's name might appear frequently, but not necessarily linked to the PEDs. Melky Cabrera on the other hand, I hope he gets iced again.

Bryce Harper admits he should have been put on the DL a month ago - MASN
As much as people will look at Harper's embarrassing smash into the wall at Dodger Stadium as a major turning point for the worse in his season, it should be noted that his less embarrassing, less impactful banging against the right field wall at Turner Field appears to have been the start of his regression to the mean. To those that remember, Harper kind of helped Tim Hudson homer in Huddy's 200th win game on April 30th, when he crashed into the wall trying to make a robbery grab; he slammed his knee in the process, and hasn't been the same since, well before the debacle at Dodger Stadium. And you know it's never good news when the name "Dr. James Andrews" is thrown into the equation.

Regardless, Bryce Harper is still a leading vote-getter in the All-Star ballots - MASN
Man, 20-years old, and already pretty much on his way to his second all-star game. He's third overall in the NL, trailing Buster Posey, and second amongst the outfielders behind, yep, the Braves' Justin Upton.

J.C. Romero opts out of contract with Nationals - Nats Insider
Romero, who was hoping to eventually get a call up to the big leagues with a team that was known to have needed some lefty help in the bullpen, saw the writing on the wall with the call ups of journeyman lefty Fernando Abad, as well as pitching prospect Erik Davis. Along with his own shoulder aches, Romero clearly saw little chance for him to get to the bigs, and opted out; reportedly, he's near a deal with the Cleveland Indians.

Nationals will have to be creative and thrifty in this year's draft - Nationals Journal
After the Nationals broke the draft system in 2011 when they blew the bank on signing bonuses, things are a bit different now with spending limits in place for all teams. Especially with the Nationals not having a pick in the draft until #68, the challenge is there to not only find talent, but also manage to secure the talent without going over-limit.

Adam LaRoche: We deserve to be where we're at - MASN
Good ol' Roachy tells it like it is. The Nationals are playing like crap. And he speaks some truth; in spite of just how bad the Nationals have been playing, they're still in manageable shape currently, and it only takes a few decent winning streaks to get back into the thick of things. And let's face it, the Braves are one or two trademark skids away from helping them out.

And speaking of crap... - The Bog
Let's just say, there's a long history involving the prank war between Adam LaRoche and the Braves. Read this at your own discretion, and tell me with a straight face if you can look at Tim Hudson the same way again afterward.


Domonic Brown named NL Player of the Month for May - TGP
Hmm, this is one of those scenarios where those outside of Philadelphia have to be skeptical. Was this a fluke month, or is Dom Brown actually tapping into the wells of potential that he's been touted to have over the last three years now? .303/.991OPS, 12 HR, BUT NO WALKSRABBLE. For the record, apparently HR has to be the only critieria in which this award is given to, because Joey Votto hit .388/.492/.631 (1.123OPS) and almost doubled Brown's fWAR in May...

Imagine the Phillies' record if the Marlins didn't exist - Crashburn Alley
Sure, the Phillies have clawed their way back to .500, but what would their record look like if the Marlins didn't exist? At the time I'm writing this, the Phillies have gone 9-6 against the Marlins, but have been a far less effective 21-24 against the rest of baseball. Deceptive record?

Marlins considered, how impressive is John Mayberry Jr's night? - Phillies Nation
John Mayberry, Jr. joins a pretty small club of baseball players who have hit two home runs in extra innings, when he hit home runs in the 10th and 11th innings in a game against the woeful Marlins. But again, it's the Marlins, so is it really that impressive, or should it just get an asterisk next to it stating that it was against a Double-A squad?

Again, consider the Marlins before jumping to any conclusions - TGP
An interesting situation here between John Mayberry, Jr, the Phillies and Delmon Young's intriguing elevator contract situation. In one hand, you have John Mayberry Jr, who people think might be coming around, but I think is just capitalizing on having good performances against the Marlins, but in the other hand you have Delmon Young who is simply getting paid to exist on superficial weight and plate-appearance milestones, and the Phillies possibly wanting to shed those cheap (as in lame) financial obligations. But if the Phillies dump Delmon in favor of a possibly mirage of Mayberry, who then goes back to being much-maligned, are they really any better off? Eh, it's the Phillies, so honestly, who cares?

Roy Halladay optimistic that he'll pitch again this season - Phillies Zone
Phillies' athletic trainers determine that Halladay's range of motion in his surgically cleaned up shoulder is better than expected. Subsequently, Halladay feels that he will be back on the mound later on this season. The recovery and rehab period is estimated to be between 6-8 weeks, to which Halladay might have a little bit of time to get some rehab starts in, in the minor leagues, and possibly be back come September. He certainly needs the time to establish some value back if he's going to be hitting the free agent market this winter.

A week removed from sweeping the Yankees, the Mets get swept by the Marlins - NY Daily News
Baseball's funny like that. The Yankees can't beat the Mets, the Mets can't beat the Marlins, and then the Marlins can't beat the Phillies. It's just like this oroborous of mediocrity all up in this biz. The worst part is that in the final game of the series, the Fish did one thing very few in baseball have been able to do, which is get to Matt Harvey.

Marlon Byrd predicts hitting two home runs, and then hits two home runs - NY Post
It's kind of impressive, more fluky than anything else, but considering the fact that the Nats' Dan Haren has given up a career-worst 2.0 HR/9, and current NL worst 15 HR this season, that was the night if any to make such a bold prediction.

Ike Davis goes from "putrid" to "below-replacement" and impresses - NY Times
After getting threatened that he would be sent down to Triple-A, naturally Ike Davis snaps out of it, delivering a game-winning hit against the Braves in the process no less. But since then, there are some who think he's snapping out of his slump, but in reality, sure, he's hitting better than the .150 hitter he was, but he's still hitting just .250/.294/.375 with just one home run. But I guess compared to what he was hitting prior to that, it's gold.

Jeurys Familia probably to miss out the rest of the season with elbow surgery - AA
The good news is that it's not Tommy John, but the ol' clean-up and remove loose bodies procedure that isn't that of an uncommon procedure among pitchers. The bad news is that it's still an elbow surgery, and none of them have remotely predictable or reliable time tables for returns, and the Mets could use any relief help they can get.

And if he's not careful, Scott Rice could be next - NY Times
"Mets lefty relief pitcher leading league in appearances" - does this sound familiar? Because it's often been the case with the Mets, who used to run Pedro Feliciano out to the mound 459 times until his arm exploded, and then they ran Tim Byrdak out 128 times until his arm exploded. Currently, Scott Rice has made an NL-leading 32 appearances at the time I'm writing this, and despite Terry Collins' proclamations of how he felt he ran Byrdak too hard, he's clearly unafraid of doing the same thing to the 31-year old Rice.

Dan Warthen thinks Bobby Parnell should be in the All-Star Game - NY Post
Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 5-6 relievers that would be more worthy of an All-Star selection than Bobby Parnell. And the best part about the whole article is that just after this was published, Parnell went out and blew a save and took a loss against the Nationals.

But the All-Star Game is a joke anyway - MetsBlog
From letting the fans vote the starting Giants, and how every team must have a representative, it's no secret that the All-Star Game is pretty much a joke in all regards, especially the home field advantage. Like seriously, David Wright is vastly the superior player over Pablo Sandoval, but as long as its a popularity contest, it really doesn't matter.

Travis d'Arnaud cleared to begin rehabilitation - AA
It's going to be a little bit longer before he's actually capable of playing in games again, but it should set things up in a timely fashion for the trade deadline if everything goes swimmingly. John Buck treads water and is dealt away to a contender for possibly a decent prospect and d'Arnaud takes right over without encroaching on the Super-2 cutoff.

Collins: Zack Wheeler is not going to be the savior - MetsBlog
Good move on Terry Collins' part, because frankly it's a little bit true. Too many people have been expecting Zack Wheeler to show up once the Super-2 cutoff passes, and then team up with Matt Harvey to make this unbeatable 1-2 punch at the top of the Mets rotation, but Wheeler hasn't even thrown a single pitch at the major league level.


Overall attendance is down in MLB. Guess who's to blame for that? - Miami Herald

Enduring what may be the roughest sophomore season ever in a new ballpark, the Marlins account for about one in every five unsold tickets throughout Major League Baseball when compared to last year’s sales. That gives the Marlins the highest share of the blame in baseball...

Sure, the Marlins are the easy ones to blame, but let's face it, ticket costs have kind of gone up across the spectrum. I used to consider getting the very cheapest season ticket plan with the Braves, just to have guaranteed tickets to any game I wanted to go to, and not be a total wash to the ones I didn't go to, and that used to be like $280. Now, that exact same package this year encroached to almost double that. No bueno!

Giancarlo Stanton playing in rehab games now - Sun Sentinel
That's certainly some good news for the Fish who can now actually look forward to something coming back to the team in the near future. Sure, he's still got to prove that he can hit major league pitching again, but man, those home runs, when he hits them, still awe-inspiring.

Casey Kotchman activated from the disabled list - Palm Beach Post
Yeah, I know ol' Kotch doesn't sound like much, but compared to what the Marlins have been trotting out at first base throughout the rest of the year, it should be a welcome return. That is, if he can stay healthy, and not have his hamstring get strained again running to first base.

Chris Coghlan to be working out at third base - Fish Bytes
For the fifth time in Cogs' career, the Marlins are moving him around the field. He came up playing second, and has played in every spot in the outfield since. But the good news is that Coghlin's natural position is where he's finally being moved to - third base. But he's never played it at the major league level, so I imagine that there's still going to be somewhat of a learning curve again.

The sad case of Justin Ruggiano - Fish Stripes
Gee, what happened to the guy that boasted about how he was going to be Giancarlo's protection in the lineup? Well, he's slumping lately, and his platoon partner in the outfield, Chris Coghlan has been easily outshining him lately, leaving Ruggiano to be emo on the bench. Naturally with Cogs being moved to third, you'd think Ruggiano would get some more time, but rookie Marcell Ozuna appears to be taking the vacated spot instead.

The other side of history - Sun Sentinel
Earlier in Phillies news, I mentioned that John Mayberry, Jr's two homers in extra innings was something of history, but on the other side of the plate, was a little bit of local Marlins history in the making too. Reliever Edgar Olmos became the fifth Marlins pitcher to ever give up four or more runs in an inning or less of work, when he gave up the game-losing slam to John Mayberry, Jr. And then he learned that there is most certainly crying in baseball afterward.

Well, at least it preserves his service clock - Fish Bytes
Among many of the minor league prospects that were eventually expected to be called up to the "Major League" Marlins, outfield prospect Christian Yelich was one of the more highly touted ones. Well, a bad play in the outfield down at Double-A has put a damper on things, as Yelich strained his abdomen, and was put on the disabled list.

Wade LeBlanc DFA'd - Palm Beach Post
It's gotta be a tough break for LeBlanc, who played the role of swingman, both starting and relieving for a horrible team, and was still deemed expendable enough to be demoted. I have to imagine that he'll get picked up by someone given that he's still 28-years old, or he'll be on the train to someone's Triple-A squad to bolster a minor league rotation.

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