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Around the NL East - Old Fish clean up in arbitration, Nats bolstering bench, Mets boasting expensive replacement-level team, Phillies musing over Roy Oswalt

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Recently, I went to a Chinese restaurant, and as is the norm at most of these establishment, fortune cookies are handed out with the bill:

Don't let statistics do a number on you.

Now that's quite an odd fortune to receive inside of a slightly vanilla flavored, folded up wafer. Not only does it not pertain to some can of corn advice on my love life or career, the whole "in bed" postface game does not work with this fortune (seriously, keeping any sort of statistic involving sexual exploits is kind of creepy, unless you're Wilt Chamberlain), but it seemed ironically humorous that a baseball nerd like me is the one who ends up with a fortune like this.

Obviously, my grasp of advanced statistics and Sabermetrics isn't as sharp compared some of you other nerds, but I can't help but feel that it's not so much of advice as much as it is a reminder; that stats are great tools and fascinating numbers sometimes, but they certainly don't dictate the future. It's interesting and sometimes fun to examine and pore over the numbers, but sometimes it's interesting to simply watch and enjoy the sights and sounds of the game, too.

This time next week, every catcher and pitcher, and some hard-working position players in the NL East will be in Florida. Almost there. Welcome back to the basement.


Can't win at everything; Anibal Sanchez defeats Marlins in arbitration - Fish Stripes
In his victory over the team, Anibal Sanchez will make $8M instead of $6.9M the Marlins had offered. This also pretty much ensures that the Marlins are content to let him test the free agent waters going into 2013. Fish Stripes examines the scenario with the two other times that the Marlins let promising pitchers walk, and maybe it's something to consider with Sanchez's future health, and the fact that the Marlins have ridden him pretty hard over the last two seasons, making Verducci-theory-believers cringe.

Emilio Bonifacio too - Miami Herald
It's funny how the Marlins were easily generous with the free agents, but stingy enough with their existing assets to take them all to arbitration hearings. Along with Anibal Sanchez, Emilio Bonifacio joins the winner's circle, defeating the club for his 2012 salary, which will be $2.2M which is essentially $205,000 more than what the Marlins were offering. Off the top of my head, the Marlins haven't done so well in arbitration over the last few years, have they...

Should he have gotten an extension? - Marlin Maniac
A part of me says yes; considering Sanchez has already thrown a no-hitter in his career, and thrown like four one-hitters, there's not many guys that are as untouchable as he is when he's on. On the flip side, Sanchez has had his share of injuries throughout the years, and over the last two, have suddenly thrown up some barely sub-200IP seasons. I have to imagine the Marlins brass probably thinks "it's time" for another injury, and feel that he's somewhat a risk to extend long-term, which I can somewhat understand. But also take into consideration the free agent starters that will be available next season for the now-fearlessly spending Marlins; Matt Cain, Zack Grienke and Cole Hamels.

Marlins believed to be front-runners for Cuban CF Yoenis Cespedes - Sun Sentinel
Well the Marlins still need a real CF, and they're still no limit to how much they'll spend. Cespedes is currently in Miami, listening to the Marlins' sales pitch, but the supposed 26-year old will command a supposed $60M for several years. Personally, I'd be against spending so much money against a fairly unknown commodity; just on the surface, I'm having a difficult time thinking of any Cuban player, let alone Cuban non-pitcher that's been worth at least warranting a $10M salary for a year let alone multiple years. Considering he's pretty much leaving the United States after Miami, it's pretty safe to assume he's going to sign with them.

The reliever formerly known as Leo Nunez expected to join squad "some time" during Spring Training - FOXSports
TRFKALN is still on the restricted list, and nobody really knows how long he's going to be tied up in immigration, but who really cares, anyway. He's expected to join the Marlins at some point, and they're hoping it's during Spring Training.

Gross - Marlins Diehards
There's a joke here about comparisons to Borat and using particular forms of hair as a form of currency, but all you need to hear is the word "Borat," and you'll probably get it. To think the cost for Jose Reyes's hair has already exceeded five figures at this time...

Marlins Park, a potential traffic nightmare? - Marlin Maniac
You don't say!

The ballpark provides for 5,700 spots divided among four parking garages which are limited to season ticket holders. To reach maximum capacity about 11,000 spots are needed.

There doesn't appear to be a whole lot of foul territory - Fish Bytes
Now that the grass is down, the outfield monstrosity doesn't look that prevalent. Overall, at its current state, there's something cold looking about the appearance of the park, which I'd normally say is fine, since filled seats will colorize things up, but who are we really kidding here?

LoMo-ing is a lot like Tebowing, Planking, Owling - Marlin Maniac
In other words, lame. Although, it would be pretty awesome if like Dan Uggla scores a game-ending run against the Marlins and after sliding across home plate, seamlessly goes right into a LoMo.


Edwin Jackson could have had multi-year deal, but it would have been with the Pirates - The Nats Blog
I mean how much does it have to suck to be the Pirates? Really, it's a safe and educated bet that the Nationals will better than the Pirates, but the thing is, they still haven't proven anything yet. Yet Edwin Jackson turned down three years with the Pirates for one year with the Nationals. Re-establishing value for next year is one way to look at it, but truthfully, the Nationals do appear to be the superior chance at enjoying some success. But as far as we know, 2012 could be one of those fluky times when the Pirates hover around the upper-tier of the fairly-open NL Central, while Jackson finally blows out his arm, musing why he didn't take three years of collecting a check while he rehabs.

Rick Ankiel re-joins Nationals on minor league deal - MASN
Interesting renewal for the Nats here. I would have to venture a guess that this all but guarantees that Bryce Harper doesn't see the majors until June, because now the Nationals now have three CF options in the left-handed Ankiel, right-handed Mike Cameron, and the left-handed Roger Bernadina. Jayson Werth goes back to right, and Harper goes to Syracuse. Roger Bernadina's job might be in jeopardy as well, considering he's out of options too.

Nationals also sign Mark Teahan to minor league deal - Nationals Journal
It's funny, because for a while, Teahan was one of those guys that people assumed would blossom while in the obscurity of Kansas City. After his second year with the Royals at age 24, he put together a solid season where he clubbed out 18 dingerz while compiling an .800+ OPS. Now 29, since he was traded to the White Sox, and subsequently the Blue Jays, his career has become quite sidetracked. Although it's speculated he could bolster the Nats' AAA squad if he doesn't make the major league roster as a utility guy (1B/3B/RF), I'd venture a guess and say he'd turn down his assignment and become a free agent where someone would want to give him a flyer.

PSA to the rest of the league: Don't want to face Strasburg? Take pitches - MASN
It's a pretty forgone conclusion that Stephen Strasburg will be taking the field this season with some sort of shackles. Whether it's a cumulative innings limit, or a pitch limit, the bottom line is that he'll be gone sooner, the harder everyone makes him work. Thought to be the same 160 innings limit placed on Jordan Zimmermann in 2011, Strasburg's propensity to get the quick outs leads some speculation that he might have more leeway, so pretty much, don't let him have quick innings and drive up the pitch counts, and then we won't have to worry about him in September.

Just $84 million? - Nats Insider
In spite of all the moves and acquisitions made by the Nationals this off-season, their payroll is only estimated to reach $84M. To put it in perspective, this is considering the absorption of another potentially bad Jayson Werth salary, the extension of Gio Gonzalez, acquisition of Brad Lidge and Adam LaRoche's $8M. Their top three pitchers combined will make as much as Edwin Jackson alone. To put it in perspective, there's a wealth of talent encompassed in the Nationals' $84M that likely greatly eclipses the talent the Mets will field for closer to $90M.

Seems kind of tame compared to Strasburg and Harper - MASN
But Anthony Rendon, the 2011 first round draft pick (#6 overall) by the Nationals is sort of lumped up there with draft booms by the organization. Initially a third-baseman, he's being touted for his strength and quickness, and often the reason people seem to think Ryan Zimmerman should be moved to first in the near future. Regardless of 2012 being his first professional season, he's believed to likely start at High-A, playing third.

Broadway Bryce - The Bog
Despite proclaiming that he wants to be his own professional athlete, Bryce Harper ends up name-dropping Joe Namath and insinuates that he's the kind of guy he'd like to see himself becoming like one day.

But it doesn't really matter who he cheers for - The Nats Blog
I didn't think of it in this way, but it's fair and valid. So few players really do get to play for who they root for as kids.. err, well in Harper's case, pre-pubescent, and coming from Nevada, the closest thing he had to professional baseball was a revolving door of PCL affiliate Las Vegas 51s, but whatever. It doesn't matter who he cheers for as long as he gives his all for his current team.

Scott Boras fishes away Nationals public relations guy - Nationals Journal
This kind of reminds of Kitchen Nightmares, when Gordon Ramsay sees a chef at a floundering restaurant he likes so much, that at the end of the episode, the viewer is informed that despite the restaurant dying, he ends up hiring the chef for his own restaurants. But anyway, considering just how many Boras clients the Nationals have, Boras gets one step closer into becoming the shadow owner of the team, by luring away the organization's PR guy, to work for him.

As big of a dork that Mike Morse is, it seemed to work - The Bog
As many of you are quite aware of Mike Morse's "move," here he is in his own words to explain it, and clarify. Personally, I always called it the bastard Heisman, because to me it kind of looked like he was doing a little Heisman, but regardless, too often I'd see him do it, before clubbing a monstrous home run or piercing XBH against the Braves all last year. Also, notice he's listed as a 1B in the clip, hmm...

It's the thought that counted, right? - The Nats Enquirer
Despite the efforts to keep Phillies fans out of Nationals Park, it turns out that lots of DMVers (note: I hate that acronym) would rather make a buck, and sell their early-purchase Nationals tickets, knowing fully well that this would include availability to Philadelphians. As a result, for the heavy-drinking May 5th weekend series, there are supposedly over 9,000 tickets available. Which will probably end up going to Phillies fans, who are already planning trips and expecting to own the outfield seats again.

Great, now a congressman is involved - Nats NQ
Senator Bob Casey, obviously from Pennsylvania, decides to verify that he doesn't actually do any work and spends his time tweeting about how unfair it is that there are efforts to minimize Phillies fans at Nationals Park. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be so defiant if the Eagles tried to box out Giants fans from getting tickets. QQ moar, noob


Mike Pelfrey really wants his sinker back - NY Daily News
Somewhere in 2011, he lost it. But as of this off-season, Pelf has been back at his old college pretty much doing nothing but throwing sinkers all day and night.

Josh Thole is working hard on his defense - Newsday (ht AA)
I can't help but admire a guy like Thole after reading this. Despite having almost no competition within the organization, he works out with the urgency of someone on the bubble of losing their job. I kind of think he's being a little too hard on himself, but if it works, can't really object. But there's much made of his passed balls count; another player with a similar issue is Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but both catchers have to occasionally catch a knuckleballer.

Life as the worst $90M budget team in the world - NY Times
It's funny when you read the plight that is Sandy Alderson's job at GM of the Mets, and all these obscure names of no-names and has-beens and how it reads as if the Mets were running on a budget that rivaled the 2006 Marlins ($14M), but the truth of the matter is that the team is going to be operating with a payroll at around $90M at the start of the 2012 season. And the worst part is, the biggest anchor to that payroll hasn't pitched in almost two entire years now.

Mets ready to embrace the role of underdogs - NY Daily News
This is the kind of headline that you read really no earlier than August, when even the most abysmal teams are mathematically eliminated from any sort of post-season contention. But here we have it before a pitch has even been thrown, strategically replacing "spoiler" with "underdog." For what it's worth I actually dislike the notion of the Braves playing and getting ready all through Spring Training, and then the very first pitcher they see out of the gate is a knuckleballer. :-(

Somewhere, John Smoltz scoffs - Business Insider
For the low-low cost of $6.75M, David Wright has sold his Upper East Side penthouse. While somewhere up in the northern tip of Metro Atlanta, John Smoltz is still struggling to find someone to shell out $7M to buy his more or less golf course of a property. The differences between Atlanta and New York.

Karim Garcia lookin' good - Amazin' Avenue
Some of you might remember my fascination with Karim Garcia. Did you know back in 2006, he was ranked as a propsect on the level of Derek Jeter and Vladimir Guerrero?

Two Mets minor leaguers busted for drugs - WaPo
Charlie Doyle, 25 years old in High-A, and Jon Rauch #2, AKA Scott Moviel, a 6'11 23 year old last seen in AA, were both busted for a drug that went unnamed in the reports. Both are suspended for 50 games.


Jim Bowden inexplicably insinuates Matt Cain's superiority over Cole Hamels; naturally doesn't elaborate - High Cheese
I don't care for the Phillies, but I do recognize that Cole Hamels is an elite pitcher. That being said, it's hard to believe that even an old-school buffoon like Jim Bowden doesn't even acknowledge the old-school adage of "at least he's a lefty," to give some degree of favorism to Cole Hamels, but proceeds to hypothesize 2012 salaries, and gives Matt Cain an extra year and $40M more than he would to Cole Hamels, with no explanation. C'mon Jim, this is the internet, no proof, no validity!

Possibility of Roy Oswalt returning to Philadelphia exists - Phillies Nation
The lines of communication between Oswalt and the Phillies remains open in light of the fact that Oswalt's preferred destinations, St. Louis and Texas are believed to be cash-strapped. I don't really believe it, considering the money the Cards were willing to dole out for Pujols, and all the hypothetical scenarios I thought of with the Rangers getting Prince Fielder regardless of the Yu Darvish sweepstakes. I'm thinking it's more of a power-play for the teams to try to get Oswalt's salary down before sniping him like an ebay auction, and that he's really not going to come back to Philadelphia.

But the Phillies did put their feelers out to see if anyone wanted Joe Blanton to make room for Oswalt - Phillies Nation
Obviously, nobody is going to want a pitcher coming off of elbow injuries and due $8M, especially when they all know what the Phillies intentions are. But it's interesting to see that the Phillies were at least trying.

If used correctly, Dontrelle Willis will be no laughing matter - Beerleaguer
Obviously, we're talking about D-Train the LOOGY, whom over the last two years, in spite of his anxiety and collapse, still managed to more or less eat left-handed batters alive. If Willis becomes the lefty stopper out of the pen, this leaves Antonio Bastardo to pitch more crucial later innings, which could become problematic.

Wrestling blogger muses about paying for relief - Crashburn Alley
It's funny, because the more I got into baseball and my disdain for Philadelphia grew, I seemed to have forgotten the fondness I had when I was younger when I was big into professional wrestling and original ECW, and how Philadelphia was kinda cool. Now the bingo hall is dead, ECW doesn't exist anymore, and a wrestling blogger is now writing about relief pitching, and how Jonathan Papelbon kind of isn't worth it. And then I look at the tandem of Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel and smile knowing that the two of them together aren't even making $1M let alone $11M.

Brad Lidge's Stockholm Syndrome - Phillies Nation
Welp, those in NatsTown can look forward to a guy not giving his best when facing his old team; apparently, he's still hung up on the Phillies, and really wanted to come back, but they simply did not offer him anything.

Kind of slim pickins' if it's got to be Curt Schilling - Phillies Zone
Nothing says being worthy of organizational HOF than bitching and demanding out, and then going on to win three World Series rings with two other teams.