Wow, it's already March! Can't believe how quickly 2010 is flying by. At this rate, it'll be mid-season and we'll be bitching about Jo-Jo Reyes, Manny Acosta, and how we need to trade Nate McLouth since Jordan Schafer and Jason Heyward are owning the outfield.
This week's Things Read in Other Moms' Basements, which is your look at links and stories from around the rest of the National League East is brought to you by MLB - Major League Bling. Well, not really, but it's because of the guy that runs the company that I found the images of Hanley Ramirez in his lame t-shirt. Because seriously, this guy, obviously through MLB has met a lot of MLB greats - from Albert Pujols to Mariano Rivera, apparently peddling gaudy excessive watches is the key to meeting greatness. I say that, but the only Brave represented on his list is Manny Acosta. But the theme of the week is shortstops, and the proprietor of MLB has met and photographed with ALL of our NL East rivals' shortstops.
This week, I'm going to give the lead-off honors to none other than the Florida Marlins. I've been riding them for being so stale and boring, and their SBN site, Fish Stripes hasn't shown much activity or community, but almost as if they knew the jig, they responded big this past week, and props to craig over there, for dishing the news, even if his community isn't very active.
CEO of MLBling, with Marlins shortstop, Hanley Ramirez
Marlins fans don't exist? - Fish Stripes
You know what bugs me? When all you non-Atlanta based Braves fans accuse those of us who live in town for being lameduck because Turner Field can't sell out. I might be 578 lbs, and fill up three seats, but that's still 3 out of 57,000. But anyway, apparently, repeated comments like mine, and now Will Leitch of Deadspin's comments about how the Marlins don't have any fans have actually prompted some activity at Fish Stripes. It's also prompted Marlins blog Fish @ Bat to post something substantial for the first time in over a month.
Marlins pitchers to take at-bats at home during Grapefruit League - Fish Stripes
Interesting. I remember back in like 2007, when Chien-Ming Wang pulled a hamstring during an interleague game while running down the first base line, and George Steinbrenner went ballistic about how he hated pitchers having to hit in NL parks. Apparently, Jeffrey Loria, whom I've heard referred to as the opposite of George Steinbrenner, is okay with the idea of his pitchers taking their at-bats during the Grapefruit League, which if I'm not mistaken, is more of an optional thing, declared by the home team whether or not they're going to use the DH. I know Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco aren't bad hitting-pitchers, but is it worth the risk?
Prospect Watch: Mike Stanton - MLB.com
I'm not going to lie - it's hard for me to hear the name "Mike Stanton," and not think about the mediocre journeyman pitcher who once pitched for the Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Reds, Nationals, Giants and Mets. But this young stud Mike Stanton was an outstanding high school baseball star, as well as football star. Sound familiar yet? He's lauded with praise for his ability to hit home runs, and his massive 6'5, 230 lb. frame, but he could still improve his walks, cut down on his strikeouts, and improve his average, and he's always seemingly needing to "figure it all out" ... But insinuations aside, Stanton comes out on Friday, and hits an extra-inning go-ahead, opposite-field home run to defeat the Mets.
The voices, they say "swing" - MLB.com
I guess if there's anyone who needs to come out to the Ultimate Warrior's music, it's reigning NL rookie of the year, Chris Coughlan, whom according to him, the voices in his head tell him when to swing. So far, it's worked great for him, but hey, the Ultimate Warrior was supposed to be the successor to Hulk Hogan, and look what happened to him after just two years?
No fastballs for these guys - Fish Stripes
Dan Uggla joins four others as players in the NL who saw over 900 breaking balls pitched to them in 2009. He's second, with Ryan Howard being first and Mark Reynolds being third. Combined, they hit 120 homers in 2009, but they also combined for 559 strikeouts. Don't blame the pitchers for throwing them balls that they can blast.
Anibal Sanchez is in, you guessed it, the best shape of his life - MLB.com
It's never too late to be in the best shape of your life, as proven by Anibal Sanchez. He didn't use P90X, or take up running, but in a new discovered way of off-season weight loss, Sanchez adopted the Salley Diet - as in former NBA player, John Salley, who somehow has found a way to get mentioned in my column here. On this diet, Sanchez is reportedly eating six small meals a day, mostly consisting of chicken, fish, and lots of salad. Sounds healthy to me, and it's supposedly being noticed by Sanchez who feels less sluggish and more energetic. Plagued with injuries so much the last two years, I forgot about the no-hitter he threw in 2006.
Emilio Bonifacio taking bunting lessons from Luis Castillo - Miami Herald
If Bonifacio learns well, we can expect to see him slapping the ball hard onto the plate resulting in an insane bounce that nobody could recover until he's already on first base. Castillo's technique with Bonifacio's young legs could result in a lot of cheapie-singles in 2010.
The Marlins and HBPs - Marlins Maniac
An interesting glance at the small, but noticable effects of getting plunked. In 2009, the Marlins were tied for second best in team total of plunkings, and overall, it doesn't equate to as much as maybe half a win, but it's still an interesting read. Spoilers - Cody Ross led the team in HBPs in 2009. Am I the only one not surprised by this?
What did the Marlins get out of the 1997 firesale? - Marlins Maniac
If you like the WAR statistic, then this is for you. Post-1997, the Marlins dealt nine players, and subsequently acquired 20 players in return. Now it doesn't literally mean 21 wins better than their 1997 record, but the Marlins essentially got 21.6 WAR out of that cast, with 20.4 of it coming from solely Derrek Lee and A.J. Burnett.
Marlins come to terms with the following players - Fish Stripes
Fish Stripes points out the funny thing, that all the mentioned players are all already under team control, and that they can be paid whatever the team wants to pay them as long as it's the league minimum. News must be really hurting when the obvious is "announced."
CEO of MLBling, with Phillies shortstop, Jimmy Rollins
Cole Hamels adding cutter, curveball into repotoire - MLB.com
I know there's been a lot of debate over who's the best pitchers in the NL East lately, but regardless of the numbers, Cole Hamels is still a force to be reckoned with, and I still feel a sense of dread whenever the Braves have to face him. I did notice he seemed to abandon the curveball last year, but the cutter is new; the better he gets with it, and the more strikes he's able to toss with the curve, will make Hamels into a scary pitcher.
Doc owns Yankees in 24 pitches, Yankees sigh in relief that it's ST - MLB.com
I'm trying to keep meaningless ST game recaps to a minimal in TRIOMB, but this one just kind of stood out. Roy Halladay in 24 pitches, works two perfect innings against the defending champions, allowing no hits and striking out three. Sure, it's only ST, but that's still impressive. What's more impressive is Doc's work ethic - afterward, he recorded his own data into his own personal binders, threw 12 more pitches in the bullpen to reach his complete "session," went to the back, did thirty minutes of cardio, and then worked out for another hour, before coming back out to watch the rest of the game. I bet the Yankees are relieved that they won't have to face Roy Halladay anymore.
Phillies payroll has almost quintupled in the last 10 years - Philly.com
(Hat tip: The Good Phight)
Man, I remember reading financial power rankings back in like 2002, and the Yankees were obliterating the rest of the MLB in payroll at like $125M. The Braves, financed by Uncle Ted were right up there, at like $105M, behind the Red Sox, but the numbers these days just don't seem real. The hardest part I have about reading older baseball books, is how laughable the salaries used to be compared to how they are now. I remember when Cal Ripken signed like a four-year deal for like $8M back in like 1989 or something, and that was a blockbuster. Carlos Ruiz signed a three-year deal for like $9M just a few weeks ago.
Ryan Howard, halfway to the HOF - Fightin Phillies Blog
This assertation is based on the loose formatting of baseball-reference.com. He probably won't get to 500 HR A-Rod quick, but he'll still reach that lofty milestone pretty young if he keeps up doing what he's doing for five more years. But by then, who knows if the sports media will start questioning whether or not 500 HR is such a milestone anymore.
J.A. Happ doesn't like stat geek criticism - Philly.com
(Hat tip: The Good Phight)
First Raul Ibanez and UZR, and now J.A. Happ and how he feels about what all the stat geeks have to say about him, despite the fact that the bottom line was that when he pitched, the Phillies won.
I mean, it's a little bit disrespectful to assume everything was luck last year. I think it's very hard to have a full year in the big leagues and be lucky. But I guess it's on me to show.
I can't help but feel for him and other players when people analyze the numbers, the defense around them, and other uncontrollable factors and deduce that a guy was lucky, because I'd imagine getting annoyed by it too. I remember back when I was at Aladdin's Castle, and here I was this 13-year old driven by mom to the arcade, mowing down all comers at Street Fighter II. So often times, the sorest losers would angrily protest before walking away, and say I was lucky. Yes, Street Fighter II and playing baseball are two different beasts, but in the end, success is still success. Maybe J.A. Happ should've just retired after 2008, just to let the stat geeks that all their nitpicking and micro-examining of his game is null and void, because as a retired player, there is no value or worth to be accessing, and he wouldn't have this beef today. And the stat geeks' rebuttals, courtesy of FanGraphs.
Chase Utley doesn't smile - MLB.com
When speculating whether or not Chase Utley loves the game or not, he doesn't actually give a definitive answer that he does. He loves the competition, and the battling, but he doesn't actually say he loves the game. Now I'm not suggesting he doesn't, but the rest of the article is a little bit of enlightening to the greatness that is indeed, Chase Utley. Phillie or not, he's still probably the best second basemen in the game today.
Shane Victorino sitting out due to shoulder - Phillies Nation
Suffering from soreness in his right shoulder, he's not taking any outfield drills or likely anything requiring him to really expend effort from that side.
Phillies sign well-traveled Rick Guttormson - Beerleaguer
This guy's Asian credentials are pretty crazy - once threw a no-hitter in NPB back in 2006, and in 2009, was the ace of the Korean League champion KIA Tigers, and now he's back in the United States to try and find some US success.
Stating the obvious - players want to play where winning occurs at more than a .585 clip - MLB.com
A fluff piece about how players all want to come to Philadelphia, because of all the success they've had in recent years.
CEO of MLBling, with Mets shortstop, Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes meeting with FBI agents - New York Daily News
Long story short - Dr. Tony Galea, a doctor out in Toronto has treated guys like Jose Reyes and Tiger Woods among other professional athletes was arrested for conspiring to smuggle HGH into the United States. Naturally, this causes suspicion towards his clients, so Reyes has been facing some questioning. Interestingly, guys like Reyes and Woods went to Galea for a treatment known as "blood-spinning," a procedure in which blood is extracted, spun, and re-injected back into the body. But as Reyes claims, it felt good, but didn't work, resulting in his season-ending surgery last season. Oh, and Carlos Beltran has also been in contact with the feds for being in contact with Galea at some point in his career.
Jose Reyes, back in New York for hyperactive thyroid testing - MLB.com
Talk about a rough break. Just when he was getting all geared up to take back the crown of most electrifying player in baseball, first federal investigation, and now a potential thyroid problem. He's been shut down until he's been tested on Monday about his condition, to which if it is indeed a thyroid problem, here are the potential symptoms that could come with it: weight loss, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, heat intolerance, diarrhea, and anxiety, among other symptoms. As said many times here, as much as we hate them as opposing players, we should never wish for anything other than good health and strong competition, because it's human and respectful.
Kelvim Escobar likely to start season on DL - Amazin Avenue
Subsequently, this means the Mets save $125,000 because there was a clause on his contract that stated a bonus of that amount for making the Opening Day squad, which the DL does not count.
Setup role, wide open - MLB.com
Bobby Parnell, SWALLOWSMAN, and Sean Green will be duking it out to see who gets the 8th inning job to bridge the gap to K-Rod, now that Escobar's been shelved. And now, throw Kiko Calero into that mix, because...
Mets sign Kiko Calero to minor league deal - MLB.com
Interesting, consider how much their were looking for more LHP bullpen depth, since Pedro Feliciano had pitched about 500 games in the last three seasons. But the reality is that Calero put together a quietly efficient season in the majors last year, striking out 69 batters in 60 innings, while walking 30.
And they're still putting an offer in for Joe Beimel - MLB Trade Rumors
They still want LHP depth in the bullpen, and are seeing if Beimel will accept a minor league deal. Surely and steadily, the Mets are fortifying their bullpen to respectability, and if Green, Igarashi, Takahashi, Calero, Feliciano, along with Beimel would make a potentially strong 'pen. And if Beimel doesn't work out, the Mets will likely pursue former Brave and Royal, Ron Mahay.
Jerry Manuel wants his players to talk, talk, talk - Mets Blog
At first, I asked myself, if David Wright, Jason Bay, Jeff Francoeur, and Daniel Murphy/Mike Jacobs would have to take Spanish classes, but since Manuel wants Wright "to be Peyton Manning out there," I guess ALL players are going to have to learn a new language.
Only one year old, the "C" in Citi Field has already fallen off - Mets Police
A year or two ago, when a rare tornado hit and ripped through Atlanta, two things were left unharmed - the Coca-Cola billboard, and Turner Field. Oh yeah, iti Field also has the problem of having obstruced views in many places, despite the fact that the newest park in the Majors didn't consider such inequities when designing and then executing it.
Chipper Jones, talks talks talks about the Mets - New York Post
(hat tip: Amazin Avenue)
Aside from stating of the obvious that the Mets pitching is the key to their success, our living legend shares some thoughts about Jose Reyes, #12, and hitting in iti Field.
Other Japanese guy, delayed due to work visa - Mets Blog
Hisanori Takahashi, not to be last year's Ken Takahashi, is stuck in Japan until his papers get cleared.
Former Met Billy Wagner holds no-ill feelings - MLB.com
For all the years he was a Phillie, Astro, or a Met, I never really didn't not secretly like the guy - he was always a hard-nosed, no-nonsense redneck kind of guy that spoke his mind and he is from Virginia. I like the part where he talks about meeting Braves brass in his poop and mud-covered truck; I imagine Bobby is fine, but Schuerholz and worse off, Wren probably had some objection.
Tony Bernazard's opposite-field approach scrapped, #12 sighs in great relief - New York Daily News
Howard Johnson abandons what Bernazard preached repeatedly in the minors, to take the ball the other way. Some insinuate that approach is what led to such poor HR totals, and not necessarily iti Field's doing. Either way, the obvious result of this decision is confirmed in the link, along with more country optimism.
Okay, I'm trying, but this is absurd - Mets Police
I figured I'd try to lay off the bashing of #12, or at least not use his actual name, but this is absurd. The guy gives them 75 games worth of slightly above-average play, and he gets a premium parking space, and now he's being allowed to design a jersey? No wonder players want to go to New York, not only do you get paid a lot, but you also get to do loads of cool (crap) too.
CEO of MLBling, with Nationals shortstop, Cristian Guzman
Ryan Zimmerman: "I can do better." - AP
(hat tip: Federal Baseball)
Kind of scary the drive behind Zim, considering he's coming off his 2009 All-Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove year, and he wants better. And if he succeeds to do what he says, the Nationals won't lose 100, and he'll put up some ridiculous numbers that should garner him some actual MVP consideration.
Elijah Dukes hoping for career year - Nats320
Fan bloggers manage to catch up with Elijah Dukes, and get a brief interview out of him. As I've mentioned several times, I forsee a huge year out of Dukes this year, and apparently, so does he. More than anything, he wants to clobber 30, and drive in 100, to make his mom feel good. What a softy.
John Lannan named Opening Day starter - MLB.com
It will be a tough task, against the defending National League champions, whom he is a career 0-6 against in eight starts. But if anyone has earned the right to take the supposed honors of the Opening Day start, it would be John Lannan, whom despite the numbers, has pretty much been the only stable pitcher in the Nationals rotation. Since arriving in late 2007, Lannan has contributed 41 quality starts out of almost 70 total starts for the Nationals; sure they're not winning all of these games, but no starting pitcher has given the Nationals more of a chance than Lannan has.
"Jesus" could be sent to minors camp - MLB.com
Despite the hype that he's going to be on the opening day starter, the Nationals are still considering sending him temporarily down to Minors camp. Speculation arises that the Nationals are avoiding allowing Strasburg to be on the Opening Day roster in order to avoid a bonus clause in his contract. Deadspin chimes in on the subject as well, but seems to forget that he's already under contract, so that the arb clock is a null argument, but it does however pertain to the conundrum the Braves are facing with Jason Heyward:
...but one unfortunate aspect of baseball's Age of Enlightenment is that clubs know the value of gaming a top prospect's service time. A player's arrival in the majors is no longer a matter of his abilities or his team's needs; today, it's almost entirely a function of his arb clock. This is why, for instance, a sure thing like Ryan Braun had to spend a month picking grass in the PCL before his call-up...
OPS guy taking the mound - Washington Post
I know there are a ton of whimsy ST videos floating around, due to YouTube, Twitter, and the relative ease in which video can be taken, but I can assure many of you that none of them, even Jason Heyward's BP, is as interesting as OPS guy pitching. I mean, look at all the teammates that suddenly start coming over to watch the spectacle themselves.
With a moustache like that, you're automatically a closer - Yahoo Sports
Pitcher Collin Balester wins a bet with a friend out in the minors of Twins country for who can grow out a 'stache the longest. And stache-tastic is Balester now. Totally rocking some Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, or Dennis Eckersley. Facial hair like that means you're slated to be a closer, no questions asked.
Opening Day at Nats park limited to single seats and season-tickets - Nationals Pride
I get the feeling that this is a very skewed perspective. No, I truly believe that the statement is true, that only single seats and packages are available, but not necessarily because of DC having fans, but two factors - seating software generally attempts first and foremost to spread people out, and avoid side-by-side, unless requested by the purchaser to have multiple seats in a row. And secondly, Opening Day is against none other than the Phillies. As in the Phillies from Philadelphia which is about an easy three-hour drive away from Washington D.C. Eagles fans back in the late 90s traveled real when their team sucked to watch the equally sucky Redskins, imagine what Phillies fans of a good team are willing to do?
Congratulations, Josh Willingham - MLB.com
He's missing a little bit of Spring Training, but for good reason - birth to a newborn son, after dealing with some unnamed complications. But he's seemingly okay, so congrats to the new dad.
Pete Orr, proud hockey-loving Canadian - Washington Post
The former Atlanta Braves Connect Four champion, Pete Orr gets the last laugh after being heckled by sore-losing patriots after the United States fell to Canada in the epic gold medal hockey game, by doffing his sweatshirt after morning stretching and revealing his Canadian hockey jersey.
Now to finish this week's TRIOMB, is a special story, that I deliberately saved the best for last. It does not pertain to the NL East other than the fact that he once played for the Mets, and once played for the Braves, but Chris Woodward embodies what it means to be a good person and good father. Long story short - Woodward is playing for the Boston Red Sox in 2009, and makes it onto the post-season roster. He's ecstatic, because despite being in MLB for a while, has only seen limited post-season action (2006, with the Mets). But out of nowhere, his two-year old son is diagnosed with swine flu. Instead of letting the wife deal with it, Woodward drops everything, and joins his family. Red Sox doctors tell him that he's allowed to re-join the team if he avoids contact with his own kid and he tells them that that's not going to happen. Red Sox get bounced by the Angels. Woodward gets swine flu. Wife gets swine flu. Newborn baby gets swine flu. Thankfully, everyone is okay now, and Chris Woodward is currently trying to get work again, for the Seattle Mariners. If the old adage that "what goes around, comes around," Woodward will earn a spot with the M's, and maybe enjoy some highlights this season. I'm pulling for it.