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Around the NL East: Matt Diaz Back in NL East. Also, Mets on DL, Nationals Favored by SI/ESPN and Roy Halladay's Transitional Year

Well boys and girls, this is the moment we've all been waiting for. Spring Training is over, and the regular season is now just days away. A fresh new season of the sounds of bats cracking, gloves popping, complaining about strikeouts, failing with RISP.

MATT. DIAZ. Joins the team that he punished more than anyone else.
MATT. DIAZ. Joins the team that he punished more than anyone else.

The smell of hot dogs, the cool wet condensation on beverage cups, the April chills soon dissipating into July heat. Popular music blaring as our favorite players step to the plate in elaborate walk-ups.

Gauged parking fees, concerns over the car next to you opening their door too fervently into yours. Extrapolating the numbers in humorously impossibly ways when Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are on pace for 364 home runs and 648 RBI.

Bobbleheads, foam tomahawks, breaking in a new NewEra fitted cap, for it to become permeated with sweat, road dust and pollen by August. Talking about WAR, UZR, wOBA, SIERA and OPS+ on the internet, but then talking about the chick in section 205 row 17 with the amazing makeup and attributes while at the ballpark.

But my favorite part is where after April 1st, there is always something to do, every day.

Have a neat summer.

Welcome back to the basement.


Marlins sign Matt Diaz to minor league deal - Palm Beach Post

Marlins resorting to Groupon to try and fill seats for home opener - Marlins Diehards
The Marlins aren't the first team to try and make a promotion through a third-party company to try and sell tickets, but when it comes to giving people close to 50% off of the face value, plus merch and food credit included, then it's kind of funny. Ironically $42 will get you good seats at a pretty nice park in Miami, but isn't even close to enough to get nosebleeds at Citi Field for their home opener.

This headline would actually be encouraging - if it were 2007 - Sun Sentinel

Roster about set after Kotchman, Kearns, Qualls informed they made team

3.5, 2.4, 2.4 are the respective bWAR totals that each of these players had in 2007. As for their most recent seasons, the numbers were -1.1, 0.3, -0.3. The Marlins are a MLB team, remember.

Placido Polanco as a cleanup hitter would be encouraging - if it were... well, never - Fish Bytes
For some reason, the Marlins have experimented with the 37-year old singles hitter to bat fourth in recent Spring Training games. His career high slugging is .447, and that was ten years ago. Honestly, Matt Diaz would probably make a cleanup hitter, especially if the opposing pitcher is a lefty.

Wilson Valdez signed to minor league deal - Palm Beach Post
At this point, it looks like the Marlins game plan is to sign any warm bodies they possibly can to field a Double-A caliber team until they can start the service clocks of the kids.

Koyie Hill acquired, Gorkys Hernandez possibly traded - Sun Sentinel
Or maybe the plan is to bring in marginal talent while trading away anyone with the hot hand? Who really knows. Koyie Hill is a career -2.2 bWAR backup catcher type that is a completely inconsequential, leaning towards detrimental acquisition. As for Gorkys, it's hard to imagine that he was once thought to be a viable OF of the future for the Braves, often brought up when Andruw left. Either way, he's hitting .282 this spring, and the Marlins are hoping to unload him for anything, before someone notices that he has no options left and could be claimed for next to nothing.

Jacob Turner sent to minor league camp - Fish Bytes
Has promise for tomorrow? Send him to the minor leagues today. Don't dare let any more of that service clock tick away unless needed.

Ain't that some s*** - Palm Beach Post
John Kruk and Orel Hershiser, the guys everyone makes fun of for their enlightening ESPN commentary, is now making fun of the Marlins.


Johan Santana re-injures shoulder, out for 2013, maybe forever - AA
Earlier this week, I typed out a link about how there was no time table for Johan Santana's return; although that much hasn't changed, it was more insinuating that he would be back at some point in 2013, which is not the case anymore. Johan has re-torn his anterior capsule in his left shoulder, and is likely going to need surgery, which will shelf him for all of 2013. Considering this is the last year of his lucrative $137M deal, it's pretty probable that he's done with the Mets, and the nature of this surgery could be the end of his career, outright. I also wrote about how Santana's tenure with the Mets had to have felt like Mike Hampton's injury-plagued tenure with the Braves; but Hampton still missed way more seasons, and in one glaring difference, the Mets didn't have the forsight to insure Johan's contract, so the Mets are 100% responsible for 100% of Johan's salary despite the fact that he won't throw a single pitch.

Convenient headline: Shaun Marcum, pain in the neck - NY Daily News
And it works both ways too. He literally, has pain in his neck, and when this was written is actually being considered questionable to what his status will be come Opening Day. Which is obviously a pain in the neck for the Mets, who were aware of the health risks that came with Marcum, but still took the dive and it's not paying off.

Jenrry Mejia has inflammation in elbow, to sit for six weeks - AA
Guess how many links after this one are injury related? Go on, I dare you to guess. After this episode, there's probably no way that Mejia would ever be considered a possible starter ever again.

Justin Turner pulled out of game with cramps and a strained left calf - NY Times
A week removed from a twisted ankle, Justin Turner is hurt again, this time straining his calf.

Matt den Dekker breaks wrist after landing poorly on diving catch - NY Post
The 24-year old outfield prospect is what you would call "hard-nosed," or "Phillies Aaron Rowand," who has been known to show little regard for his body when playing the field. Unfortunately for den Dekker his latest escapades have resulted in a broken wrist, and we all know the nightmares that can come with that kind of injury.

Jeremy Hefner knocked out of game by batted ball to pitching elbow - NY Daily News
With Santana out , Mejia shelved, and Marcum's neck problems, it goes to say that there would be some expectations put on Jeremy Hefner. So what happens? A batted ball drills him in his pitching elbow, and he has to be promptly removed from the game. He thinks he'll be fine come the start of the season, but Mark Prior never recovered after getting drilled by a comebacker to the elbow.

Mets prospects reprimanded for in-fighting - MetsBlog
"Ethnic tensions" implies that there were some unflattering racial slurs probably flung between top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler and infield prospect Aderlin Rodriguez, which seems to have spawned from an intersquad scrimmage where Rodriguez hit a home run off of Wheeler, with Wheeler wasting little time at retaliating in their next encounter. I'm having difficulty at remember the last time there was a fight between teammates in baseball... actually I do, because it involved Carlos Zambrano, but where I really wanted to go was blaming New York, since I remember when Patrick Ewing and Charles Smith fought each other while both on the Knicks.

Mets trade reliever Elvin Ramirez to Angels for cash - AA
Why doesn't baseball just use the term "sell?" I don't go into the store and trade my money for goods, they're selling them to me. Is it because people are the goods in this transaction? Is it too close to implying slavery? I don't really understand. Yet, when talking about Babe Ruth, it's always "sold to the Yankees," when it's pretty much the same circumstances.

Travis d'Arnaud to start the season in minors - NY Post
Sky is blue.

Ruben Tejada really better hope nobody pays attention to Spring stats - NY Post
Because a batting line of .085/.189/.189 over 47 at-bats is pretty frightening.

Mets fans ranked #26 in loyalty index - The Mets Police
Oddly, the Forbes article only cites the top five and bottom five. I have to question the validity of this list, because somehow the Marlins are not #30 or bottom five, but I guess I can't be surprised that perpetual bottom feeders like the Astros, Pirates and Mariners are bottom five. The funny thing to me is that the Mets though, are the team with the most recent contending season at all, feeding into the notion of New Yorkers and their "what have you done for me lately" mentality.


Bleacher Report and NFL Network Sports Illustrated and ESPN pick Nationals to win World Series - The Bog
How so typical of the mainstream outlets to simply just pick the team that looks the best on paper as choices to win the World Series. SI has the Nationals beating the Rays in the World Series, while the four-letter has picked the Nationals beating the Tigers. Man, does anyone think that Jim Leyland is capable of winning a single game in the World Series anymore?

Bleacher Report Sports Illustrated also put Stephen Strasburg on the cover JINX - Nats Enquirer
They also call him "Mr. October," despite the fact that he hasn't thrown a single pitch in October, like ever in his career. What I was really hoping to see this year was a cover of the Upton Brothers in their Braves uniforms with the original headline "A BRAVE NEW WORLD."

Bryce Harper hobbled by sore left thumb - Nats Insider
The initial book this season appears to be "bust him inside, and try to jam him" because so far it seems like the only thing capable of slowing Bryce Harper down is to jam him, and hope he hurts himself in the process. Thumb injuries don't sound like much, but I remember Chipper Jones missing considerable time for what seemed like "just" a bruised thumb.

Dan Haren talks about perceptions - Nationals Journal
Haren is one of the only guys now who has been a teammate of both super-phenoms Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Haren talks about what he thinks about both players, what others seem to think about both players, and how he feels that both players actually are like.

Regardless, Bryce Harper's music selection kind of sucks - The Bog
Not that I'm the authority on what's good or not, but Harper's choices for walk-up music this season are kind of perplexing. It really does seem like the 20-year old doesn't want to get pigeon-holed with all other 20-year olds, so instead of picking something like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis or the Harlem Shake, he cherry picked songs that were popular in their respective eras, and is trying to use one of them. Sadly, I think Run DMC should win by default here.

Ryan Zimmerman's throwing appears to be improving - Nationals Journal
One of the biggest criticisms on Ryan Zimmerman over the last few years has been his throwing to first base. Shoulder injuries over the last two years have forced him to reconfigure, abandon, and lose confidence in lots of his throwing, and he's been going through a rough period of, normal under pressure, mediocre on the routine. After finally getting shoulder surgery, he feels like he's in a better place going into 2013.

Nationals bullpen has stunk all spring. No worries? - MASN
I know there is a large camp of people that feel that Spring Training numbers don't matter. To a degree, I fall into that camp, but when I'm not watching any games, I can't determine for myself if they're tinkering, working out the kinks, or actually trying. That being said, I just remember Jair Jurrjens getting rocked all spring last year, him shrugging it off, and then going into the regular season stinking it up, and bam, now he's on the Orioles. Many of the Nationals key relievers have been having some dreadful springs, with some unsightly earned-run numbers. No worries?

Henry Rodriguez has sore elbow, risks losing job to J.C. Romero - Nats Insider
I was chatting with my friend earlier this week, and he said to me that he still had faith in Henry Rodriguez. I then told him that Braves fans like me said for years, the same thing about Blaine Boyer. And them he ended up on the Cardinals and Diamondbacks and we never heard from him again. Guess where Blaine Boyer is now? Where else: Kansas City! And no, his BB/9 and K/9 are not reversed accidentally...

Wilson Ramos and Kurt Suzuki will split time evenly - Nationals Journal
Despite the fact that Ramos is easily the more talented catcher, Suzuki is a tireless student of the game. Davey Johnson has decided that they will split time evenly until Ramos is 100% fully healthy, despite the fact that he has been recently catching full games and has demonstrated that he's just about there.

Chris Young granted release from Nationals - Nats Insider
If I gave a crap about winning, I can't say that I would have done the same. Being a Princeton grad, I would have imagined Young would be smart enough to realize this as well. Unless he's playing for money at this point, then sure, being stashed away at AAA probably isn't the most financially fruitful move there would be, but honestly I just don't think he's good enough to be a Major League starter anywhere outside of maybe Houston or Miami.

Tim Hudson debuts new pitch against Adam LaRoche - The Bog
In case you missed it, Huddy plopped a 44 mph knuckleball against his long-time good friend Adam LaRoche. The expression on Roachy's face is priceless, and major kudos to Tim Hudson for not batting an eye and trying to really sell it as a new pitch.

Denard Span forgot his jersey, has to wear minor league number - Nats Enquirer
And to finish off the Spring for the Nationals is their newest member, forgetting to bring his jersey to the game. How is that even possible? Regardless, he still had to play, wearing a Dennis Rodman-like #91.


Roy Halladay entering a transitional phase of his career - Beerleaguer
Already one of the more talented of the thinking-man pitchers in the league, Halladay seems to be the first to admit that he may be entering a transitional point in his career where that 92-mph fastball is no more, and that he's going to have to rely on a little bit more brains and guile to gut through innings. He also cites the ageless Jamie Moyer as the kind of role model for pitchers who want to keep pitching forever.

But history shows that Halladay definitely has an uphill climb - Beerleaguer
Roy Halladay is currently 35-years old, which is the magic number for this article that cites a number of quality, HOF or HOF-caliber pitchers who all seemed to hit walls at the age of 35, to where they never could overcome. Father Time is the cruelest master of them all, which is kind of obvious.

Aaron Cook released by Phillies - High Cheese
Given the fact that Roy Halladay is facing a lot of health scrutiny this season, I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to hold onto some starting pitching depth, even if they weren't doing so hot throughout the Spring. You never know when you could use that veteran arm to eat a few innings here and there. But the Phillies didn't want to possibly pay Aaron Cook a $100K roster bonus, so they let him go. Good thing they still have Rodrigo Lopez

Wait, scratch that, Lopez released as well - TGP
The other veteran starter that was there as a contingency plan was given the boot as well. To Lopez's credit, he was actually worse than Cook, so this really isn't a surprise.

Darin Ruf hits walk-off homer, rewarded with free trip to Lehigh Valley - Phillies Zone
After breaking out of his poor-hitting Spring, culminating with a walk-off home run against the Braves, the Phillies reward Darin Ruf by optioning him to the minor leagues, where he will start the season playing 1B/LF for the AAA-Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

But Delmon Young will stay in Florida - Phillies Zone
I haven't felt like there's been someone more resentful to be playing a kids game for money than Delmon Young has been this spring. It really feels like Delmon Young is more than content to milk his rehabilitation, and take his sweet time getting back to the big leagues, to which he will amazingly receive a bonus upon insertion to the 25-man roster.

Yuniesky Betancourt released by the Phillies - TGP
See, this kind of upsets me. I was really hoping for a day when the Braves were playing the Phillies, and the starting lineup would have had both Betancourt, and the 36-year old Michael Young starting at SS and 3B respectively. But now the fantasy is but a dream to be unrequited, and the Benny Hill music is fading from my ears. The Brewers were quick to swoop up Betancourt, much to the chagrin of Beer Town.

Freddy Galvis attempting to fill void left by Martin Prado and Emilio Bonifacio - Phillies Zone
Over the last week, the athletic Freddy Galvis has been playing the outfield. This means is attempting to be a viable option for all infield positions minus catcher, plus the outfield, filling the role of the super-utility guy from the NL East that has been made vacant with the trades of Prado and Bonifacio.

Get ready for more of those lame "You got P on your hat" jokes again - Phillies Nation
It's kind of fitting that it would be a Phillies affiliate to be the first major venue to have the urine stream-controlled game. Just what the world needed; a small incentive for already drunk and unruly Phillies fans to drink more, so that they can hope to have 55 seconds worth of peeing to do, so they can hope to get on the ballpark's high-score board. Imagine little Jimmy bragging to his friends that "there's my daddy" on the scoreboard, for the guy who can urinate the longest.

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