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Around the NL East - Nationals still courting Prince Fielder, Phillies musing on Cole Hamels, Marlins pitchers stories, R. A. Dickey still climbing Kilimanjaro

So I was looking at the Braves Caravan destination list, and it occurred to me that as of right now, there's not actually any stops remotely actually in Atlanta. I mean, Atlanta gets a lot of flack for being unsupportive and fairweathered, but come on now. The closest stop remotely close to Atlanta would be Snellville, but even that's still 25 miles outside of the city. Cumming and McDonough, with the latter being Jason Heyward's childhood home, are both 30+ miles out.

They're all Academy Sports + Outdoors, and two Taco Macs; there are no Academy Sports + Outdoors within Atlanta city limits, but there are quite a few Taco Macs in town, where's the love?

This time of year, I take great pleasure in filling out a nice big calendar. I fill in all the Braves' home games, and then I eventually comb through the calendars of both Gwinnett and Rome's schedules to look for any appealing weekends where either is home while Atlanta is on the road. Eventually, I get to the schedules of the other MLB teams I'm interested in seeing in 2012 (SFG, OAK, CLE, DET, BAL), and start adding in potential weekends to travel to go see other ballparks.

Last but not least, I expand my horizons a little bit to see if there's anything intriguing, and I did find one thing kind of immediately: April 22, the M-Braves head to Birmingham to play the Barons, a Sunday afternoon game. I haven't visited Birmingham in ages, but if there's ever a good reason to go there, seeing the Double-A (oddly, a rarity) squad seems like it. I know there are a bunch of you nerds who live out in Alabama, it might be a pleasant afternoon to conglomerate.

Welcome back to the basement.


Nationals still apparently pursuing Prince Fielder, meet with Scott Boras again - Nationals Journal
Sure, the Nationals are interested in Fielder, but I still think he's going to end up on the Rangers. Here's my rationale: Darvish or no Darvish, the Rangers have the financial flexibility to acquire both players; they have the means (television deal) to up payroll a little bit, or they wouldn't have to if they follow in the practice pretty much ever free-agent contract goes by, which is having a fairly low-amount first year or two, before it escalates into gigantic numbers on the back end. The Rangers are legitimate contenders whether or not Darvish and/or Fielder is acquired (nullifying Dodgers/Mariners). Being in the AL, Fielder could DH when he no longer can field period. Finally, the Rangers need Fielder more than the Nationals do; Mitch Moreland didn't actually set the world on fire, and Adam LaRoche is more than a capable everyday first baseman.

Nationals beat reporter seems to agree that team has no shot at landing Fielder - The Nats Blog
Bill Ladson thinks there's a 99% chance the Nationals don't sign Fielder. With so few potential suitors left out there, Fielder's kind of almost up (crap) creek, and it seems like the Nationals are kind of being used to fabricate a market, while the Rangers wait until Darvish negotiations end before making a legitimate play.

How does Jayson Werth fare in center? - Nats Insider
The more there are talks about Werth playing CF, the more it leans to the notion that there's legitimate belief that Bryce Harper will make the squad out of Spring Training to be the starting RF. In the old adage that power in the corners, defense in the middle, it makes more sense to not yet discount the potential combination of Roger Bernadina/Mike Cameron just yet, while retaining Werth in RF while the team keeps Harper in the minors to hold back the clock, or if he simply isn't ready yet.

More shady Livan Hernandez stories - Nats NQ
Apparently, a million-dollar property Livo had in Miami had to be auctioned off, and it ended up going for the peanuts cost of $40,000. Ahh, the Cuban dream is coming true for someone down there. Bottom line is, the NQ is suggesting that fans of Mr. Racquetball National strip him of such a prestigious name, before the predicted ultimate crash and burn drags the team's name into the fire.

Stephen Strasburg believed to be on Jordan Zimmermann's program - MLB
In other words, an innings limit, which for Zimmermann, was roughly 160 innings. Thus, bringing up the whole "what if they're in contention" debate.

Meanwhile, Strasburg is lobbying for the NHL Winter Classic to come to Washington - Nats Enquirer
You know, the annual, outdoor hockey game. Personally, I never saw the appeal of Winter Classics, seeing as how tickets are absurdly priced, and even "front row" seating involves being practically anywhere from 25-35 yards away from the glass in the first place. But then again, I'm not really a hockey fan at all, either.

Which brings us to odd stories of what some players are doing over the off-season - Nats NQ
Bryce Harper schilling some Oakleys that would make justin swoon, Ryan Zimmerman filming commercials for window companies. Man, wouldn't it be ironic if Ryan Zimmerman were doing sponsorships for a company that Chuck James worked for? Imagine that conversation during the install. "Hey, don't I know you from somewhere? Oh yeah, I hit a home run off of you!"

I guess there really is nothing to do in the area - Nationals Enquirer
I wonder if this is the same D&B where I once met Chad Cordero and Gary Majewski at a long time ago. But the more I think about it, the more I think about how little there actually is to do in the DC area sometimes, and I guess Dave & Busters isn't so bad.

Nationals minor leaguer suspended for drugs - Nationals Journal
It wasn't a PED, so that means it was probably pot.


Should Brad Lidge's number be retired? - TGP
(Note: This was not written by a TGPer, but they deserve the credit for providing the link to this ball of laughs)


But seriously, the Phillies may consider bringing Brad Lidge back - Beerleaguer
When I think about Brad Lidge's career, one word comes to mind: Inconsistent. But hardly is it because of purely having stuff one day, or not having it the other day, it's really is health. When he's really truly healthy, which really has been like 2004, 2005 and 2008, he's absolutely dirty dominant, and the slider is from another planet. Unfortunately, the other seven seasons of his career, he's always marred by injuries or hampered performance as the result of injury, and he's not that great.

Uh, I don't think that's a very good idea - Phillies Nation
The Phillies are kicking around the notion of simply letting Hamels go through 2012 on a one-year arbitration 4 deal and risk letting him approach free agency. Baseball players have frail egos, and this could possibly come off as "you're letting me get to free agency = you don't want me = fine, i'll go elsewhere." It's not like the Phillies have feared bumping payroll before, why not with Hamels?

A list of reasons why securing Hamels might not be a bad idea - Crashburn Alley
Mostly concerning the competition he would have on the free agent market, as well as the fact that two particular AL East teams with gigantic wallets will be salivating at the idea of getting a very not-sucky starting LHP.

Don't expect Ryan Howard on opening day - CSN Philly
Um, duh? He had ankle problems since like 2009, and this isn't going to make anything easier. Wait, and let him get healthy, before a $125M investment goes the route of Johan Santana.

Ouch for Ryan Madson - one year, $8.5M - TGP
To think he was on the cusp of a 4/$44M, only to be screwed by the team and the acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon, and now he's back in limbo for the foreseeable future, and having to go balls-to-the-wall again for 2012, with a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds.

Well, at least he sort of gets a tail-end laugh - Beerleaguer
Being a Type-A free agent, the Phillies would have gotten whichever team that signed him's first round draft pick. But since the Reds weren't that good, and were slated to pick 14th in the draft next year, and the first 15 picks are protected, the Phillies are instead relegated to the less glamorous sandwich pick (70~) and the Reds' second round pick instead.

Oh, we're all glad that J.C. ROMERO can validate the 2008 championship now - Phillies Nation
Fear not Phillies fans, who were patiently awaiting validation of the 2008 championship season - Now that J.C. Romero, he of two vulture WINz in the 2008 World Series, has vilified himself from the evil pharmaceutical company whose products put him under PED suspicion.. over two years ago, the 2008 championship is now clean and untainted, and should now be rightfully celebrated.


It's not saying much, but the Marlins pitchers are probably the best hitting rotation - Fish Stripes
It's heavily anchored by Carlos Zambrano, whom most already know can hit very well, but Josh Johnson has some ridiculous power if he can ever get a hold of the ball, and despite being an AL pitcher, Mark Buerhle has sampled well in many years of interleague games too.

Even the Marlins themselves kind of expect Zambrano to explode - Palm Beach Post

"You know, it may happen. It may happen that he has a blow-up or two. We don’t know and given the history, there is a chance that will happen. But again, going back to Ozzie – and I hate to put it all on him – he just feels really comfortable that the kid is going to do well here.’’

But there's still a softer size of Z that we should acknowledge - Sun Sentinel
As of right now, Carlos Zambrano is down in Guatemala, where he has been doing some humanitarian work with his church group, to finalize the adoption of an orphan he met during a humanitarian tour.

Mark Buerhle forced to live almost 50 miles from ballpark due to ban on pitbulls - Palm Beach Post
Fact: I love dogs. For no other reason than that Mark Buerhle is an avid dog lover, and he and his wife are active dog rescuers/supporters, I will always have a soft spot for him, no matter how well or poor he plays against the Braves. Fact: dogs are often as crooked as they're raised to be. Unfortunately, so many crooked people have raised crooked pitbulls, that the entire breed has a negative reputation. A reputation so negative that Miami-Dade county has a ban on pitbulls, forcing pitbull owner Mark Buerhle, to live in Broward, which is roughly 45-50 miles from Little Havana, where the new ballpark is going to be.

Oh, they're so goofy - Fish Bytes
It's funny that it's claiming the Marlins are goofy, but the individuals in question aren't even any players or coaches, but the team's president, GM, and equipment manager, who ran the Disney's Goofy marathon. Which is actually pretty hardcore, because it's a half marathon (13.1mi) on day one, followed by a full marathon the next day (26.2mi), which all three of them actually completed.

Marlins hitting coach concerned about Hanley's bat post-rehab - Sun Sentinel
Mostly due to the one-handed follow through Hanley Ramirez has with his swing, but also little things, like being able to suppress a check swing, and other all-shoulder baseball activities which will be put to the test in 2012.

Obscure fact, and Chad Gaudin has a hot wife - Fish Bytes
Carlos Zambrano, Anibal Sanchez and Mark Buerhle make the Marlins the first team in history to start a season with three starting pitchers with a no-hitter on their resume. There have been a few others, but some have had guys join the rotation, and some weren't starters during those years.


R.A. Dickey's climb stories - NY Times
Several days in, so far, so good. It's easy to root for a good guy, and there's an earnest pleasure in reading about his experiences. Hopefully he can stave off the altitude sickness of the climbing, and keep feeding us more stories from his climb.

Welp, I was wrong -
Sandy Alderson only promises that Johan Santana will be at Spring Training, but that's about it. Temper your expectations!

But Ike Davis says that he is ready to play - Newsday
And that's coming right from the source. Some good news for Mets fans to look forward to going into 2012.

Take Ronny Cedeno off the board - Amazin' Avenue
The Mets signed the veteran infielder, to a one-year, $1.2M deal, where he'll primarily back up short and second. Not a bad deal at all, I believe.

Mister Iowa returns to New York - NY Post
The funny thing is that he gets a WS for being a member of the Cardinals last year, and finishing out the season in New York. Funny how things work out, but regardless, a minor league deal keeps the ageless 41-year old in New York for 2012.

Anonymous Mets employee blasts ownership - NY Mag
This is the kind of piece that you'd expect from a passionate fan, who is typically level-headed, but faced a moment of weakness, and let some well-written words fly. But coming from an actual alleged employee? Yeesh.

lol, Barry Larkin could've been second place if he didn't nix a trade - NY Daily News
Sure, there's something good about being on a pennant winning team, but when you hear "pennant-winner," my inclination is "why not World Series winner, because they lost." But it's funny to see the what-if game, and how Larkin is somewhat chastised for not being on a NL championship/WS losing team. He already has a ring, he had nothing to prove, and staying in Cincinnati for four years and being one of the rare breed who plays his whole career with one squad probably helped cement his HOF resume.

Once top prospect in division's worst team, now waiver pickup for the worst team in baseball - NY Times
The unfortunate story behind once highly-touted prospect for the Mets, Fernando Martinez, and his unfortunate ability to not remain healthy, and now he's put on waivers, and ended up with the worst team in baseball.

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