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Around the NL East: d'Arnaud Won't Block Home, Nationals are Boring, Dom Brown Starting Hot, Loria being Loria

The first week of the Grapefruit League has come and gone, hope springs eternal for every team, and now the WBC is going to water most everyone down for the next two weeks.

So wait, if I perform bad, it's bad, but if I perform good, it's also bad?
So wait, if I perform bad, it's bad, but if I perform good, it's also bad?
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know about you guys, but I actually like the World Baseball Classic. If all goes according to plan, I'm going to make a brief trip down to Miami next weekend, and catch a game or two. It's the perfect scenario of where I can get to see the new Marlins Park, but not have to watch the Marlins. I've made that joke before, haven't I?

Welcome back to the basement.


Why Mets "fans" shouldn't want Johan Santana to be at his best - AA
The nerd in me understands every word about "putting the team first," by way of having the most available money in the future to get the best available talent with that money, and every fanbase of every team sees this on a yearly basis; the financial chess with guys in their last years, but with options available with buyouts attached, etc, etc. But the purist in me is wondering how the nerds have taken over so fervently that it's becoming taboo to simply root for our own players to do their best and be their best, because if they do too well, then our team might be on the hook for having to give them more money, which is a negative.

Pitching prospect Zack Wheeler hurts oblique while batting; introduced to Prevention and Recovery - NY Post
Drafted by the Giants, acquired by the Mets, and now acclimated by the Mets by doing a very Mets kind of thing; hurting his oblique while taking batting practice and having to miss a Spring Training start as a result. Fortunately, it's not serious, and he should be throwing by next week, if all goes according to non-Mets-like plans.

Catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud instructed to not block home plate - NY Times
Despite being young, Travis d'Arnaud has already had some substantial knee troubles. The last thing the Mets want is for d'Arnaud to be the next Buster Posey in the sense that he'll miss substantial time from getting run over at home plate, so the strategy is out; as long as d'Arnaud is in the game, they're not going to challenge anyone at the plate.

This is not how you win a starting job - NY Post
Once-heralded pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia is trying to win a starting job with the Mets. He may have a big fastball, but it's apparent that he is a terrible fielding pitcher. After giving up a bunt to the leadoff batter, mistakes snowball, and the next thing he knows, he's giving up a grand slam to a journeyman first baseman (Casey Kotchman) with no power and a bum hand. This is now how you impress your management into landing a spot on the 25-man.

Pedro Feliciano diagnosed with obscure heart ailment, still determined to pitch - NY Daily News
Left ventricular noncompaction is the diagnosis, which I can't really explain much other than the symptoms result in mostly fatigue on account of reduced pumping of the heart, but Feliciano was never expected to be anything more than a LOOGY if he even makes the Mets roster in the first place, so it is possible that he would still be able to pitch.

Marlon Byrd feels like this is last chance - NY Post
After somewhat of a fairly decent major league career, things have been rough for Byrd over the last two seasons. He was drilled in the face in 2011, and in 2012, he was busted for taking drugs related to male breast enhancement (no, really), before getting cut by the 100-loss Red Sox. After a moment of clarity in realizing that he isn't a very hot commodity, he realizes that it really could be do or die with the Mets this season.

Mets embrace everyone's obsession with funky hair and beards - WSJ
After David Price proclaimed he couldn't ever play for the Yankees due to their moratorium on wild hair or beards, the Mets are quick to separate themselves from the other guys across town to declare their acceptance and understanding that professional athletes are often some weird guys, which includes their fascination with beards and wild hair.


The Nationals are boring this spring - Citizens of Natstown
Gone are the days of where there were 58 non-roster invitees on the major league fields in Viera, and guys like Anderson Hernandez and Cristian Guzman end up making the cut. This season, the defending NL East champions have pretty much every single roster spot on the 25-man locked up, save for maybe a single spot in the bullpen, so for the most part, there's really nothing to talk about with the Nationals, except for relative fluff, like who's their biggest competition between the Phillies and Braves?

Ryan Zimmerman still working out his throwing motion - Nationals Journal
Considering there's a story about this every single week, I'm having a hard time believing that "it's just nothing" in regards to Zimmerman's throwing. He's still possibly the best fielding third baseman in the game, but the fact that he's more or less had inconsistency throwing over the last two years, with a lot of it being attributed to shoulder woes, but the simple fact that he can't simply get back to it says more between the lines than what is being revealed.

And is happier to not be the sole face of the franchise - The Bog
Zim's a really quiet guy, so it's no surprise that he would feel a little awkward about being labeled as the face of the franchise by himself. But with the influx of talented guys on the team on today's Nationals, it looks like he doesn't have to hold that title solely on his own anymore, which is probably for the best.

Dan Haren surprised that his fresh arm is capable of 90+ mph - Nationals Journal
It's just spring, Dan. You've had an off-season of rest, and your arm isn't close to being the tired arm it will be in September. Even Tom Glavine was capable of throwing 92 mph when he had too much rest.

Bryce Harper picking up where he left off - Nats Insider
You don't have to like the guy, but it's hard to not admire his enthusiastic approach to the game in general. He's playing as if the NLDS were still going on, clubbing the ball with authority, still looking to take the extra base, and putting all the gas behind his throws. I have to imagine he's also extra amped up with all the criticism Mike Trout is getting for showing up looking a little hefty.

Ryan Mattheus looking to tweak his arsenal - MASN
One of the few guys currently that is on the bubble, Mattheus is hoping that utilizing his sinker on the left side of the plate will give him something for opposing hitters to think about as well as a possible leg up on anyone who is hoping to usurp his spot in the bullpen.

Like Henry Rodriguez - Nats Insider
You know what Henry Rodriguez is to me? He's like Blaine Boyer. Every team seems to have this guy on their team, someone who has a massive fastball, but no confidence and walks too many guys. But nobody seems capable to look beyond the massive fastball, and always thinks he's a year away from figuring it all out. If I'm a Nats fan, there is no future reality that has Henry Rodriguez involved in it.

Kristina Akra sick of impromptu wet-shirt contests, leaving MASN - The Bog
After having about 20 Gatorade buckets dumped on her under the guise of a celebration, Erin Andrews' former Gator dancing teammate Kristina Akra has decided to leave MASN. I bet she ends up back in Atlanta on some show about SEC football again.


Phillies trade RP Michael Schwimer to Blue Jays - TGP
Schwimer probably sealed his own fate back in 2012 when he threatened to file a grievance against the Phillies over an injury matter, but retracted later on. In return for Schwimer, the Phillies get first base prospect, Art Charles. 22-years old, hasn't made it past Low-A, and so far looks like a good power/high strikeout kind of guy.

Mike Adams studies the numbers, knows just how important he is - Phillies Zone
Recent acquisition, Mike Adams knows the numbers and trends, and realizes how important he is to the Phillies' fortunes. He's pretty much been making his mark as a professional set-up man, having pitched in countless eighth innings for the Padres and Rangers over the last three years, and understands that statistically, he's faced the top-half of opposing lineups more than his teams' closers have.

Domonic Brown is off to a strong start - Beerleaguer
It's amazing how much hope springs from one monstrous home run:

Jayson Werth believes Phillies are bigger threat to Nationals than Braves - Phillies Zone
And I'm fine with that, because I'd rather people focus on the Nats/Phillies budding rivalry, while the Braves can just do their thing in the shadows until it's October.

David Murphy thinks Spring Training game is justification to why Cole Hamels will strike out 20 Braves on Opening Day - High Cheese
By that logic, that means Clayton Kershaw will have 27 strikeouts and a no-hitter the first time he faces the Angels in 2013...

But then claims Spring Training is not justification to why Darin Ruf will actually be a perfectly normal left fielder despite horrid start - High Cheese
A Phillies beat writer showing some homerism? Not possible.

But he's referring to Darin Ruf's misadventures in left field - Phillies Zone
The picture really says it all.

And to make matters worse, his arm's already nagging him - Phillies Zone
By virtue of long-toss that he's not used to, he's already feeling soreness in his bicep, and claims he's not used to it yet.

Bobby Cox makes a comparison between Darin Ruf and Evan Gattis -
When told who Darin Ruf was, Bobby's response was:

We have one of them, too.

In all fairness, both are 26-years old, have prodigious power, and left a legion of smoking baseballs down in Venezuela this past winter. The difference is that the Braves probably don't have anywhere to play Gattis on the Major league roster, while Ruf is expected to start in LF in the abscence of Steak Delmonico Young.

Speaking of Fatty - Phillies Zone
The progress is slow. What could you expect, he's fat. He has not played long toss, or even run (too easy). But he has been hitting side tosses, and probably played some pepper (on his food).

If spring is any indication, then the Phillies will commit somewhere around a thousand errors - Beerleaguer
Charlie Manuel insists that if the Phillies want to legitimately compete again, that they need to improve their D. So they old Michael Young, old and fat Delmon Young, and Yunesky Betancourt? And are surprised when they're leading the Grapefruit League in errors already?


Jeffrey Loria writes a letter to people who watch the Marlins - Fish Bytes
It's hard to really say that there are any fans left. Yeah, there's some hyperbole in that phrase, but honestly is it really that far from the truth? It's actually kind of funny, as long as you start reading it with expectations of nothing but the ironic.

Naturally, bloggers all around think the letter is full of **** -
Fish Stripes * Marlins Diehards * and even the Miami Herald itself, one of the papers it was published in

Jose Reyes chimes in again to claim he's lying - Palm Beach Post
At this point, Jeffrey Loria could come out and say that 1+1 = 2 and Jose Reyes would probably react with accusations that it's lying.

Jose Fernandez secures his place outside of the Marlins by signing with Scott Boras - Marlin Maniac
It's actually more of a surprise that a guy considered to be the top pitching prospect in an organization went this long without an agent in the first place, but whatever, with Scott Boras in tow, it's safe to say that Fernandez won't have to be a Marlin when his free agency comes, if he hasn't already been milked and traded off by then.

Jeffrey Loria rebuffs accusations that Marlins are Triple-A team - Palm Beach Post
This is news to me, but apparently, people have been calling the Marlins a triple-A team. He can deny it all he wants, but if the Marlins have to be very, very careful come March 30th, when the Marlins actually play against their own Triple-A squad, the New Orleans Zephyrs.

More obvious: Marlins may have to ease up on no no-trade clauses - Sun Sentinel
The Marlins won't have to ease up, they're going to have to outright eliminate the no no-trade clause stance they have. After the way Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle were shipped off after a year, no free agent in their right mind will want to sign any long-term commitment with the Marlins in the future.

Justin Ruggiano is looking for a pilates instructor - Fish Bytes
It sounds funnier than it actually is. But in reality, this is one of those things that only makes an athlete stronger. It's like the kids that laugh when a wrestling coach tells them to take gymnastics or ballet, don't do it, but then get obliterated by the kids that do, because in spite of their sissyish perception, gymnastics and ballet are hardcore sports that really develop full-body strength, stamina and balance.

The Marlins are this close to seeking Henry Rowengartner - Sun Sentinel
Just look at the photo in the link. Not only does it have that sepia tint that only old photographs have, it also has Sammy Sosa, as a Chicago Cub in it. Josh Booty was drafted in 1994, and spend three seasons with the Marlins in the late 90s (did I really type "late 90s" with an old connotation?), and vanished for over a decade to play football. But apparently, he can throw a knuckleball, and thanks to R.A. Dickey, fairweather fans think it's the Jesuspitch, and if anything at all, the Marlins are always looking for any sort of cheap publicity like this.

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