Tag:NL East
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:24 pm
 

Harper wants to start the season in D.C.



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Bryce Harper showed up at the Nationals' training camp on Tuesday morning and said he's hoping to start the season with the big-league team.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can, keep my mouth shut and play," Harper told reporters, including Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. "I'm going to make their decision hard as much as I can. I want to be up here. I want to play, and I want to play in D.C."

Harper said something similar last season -- even though there was no shot he'd break camp with the team. This year's different. Manager Davey Johnson has asked Rizzo to keep an open mind in the decision about Harper.

Nobody expects Harper to say any less, but the fact he used those words is probably a good sign for Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo who recently said he wanted Harper to mature before bringing him up.

Harper said he's not too worried about the reaction to his Twitter ramblings or the reaction to his aspiration of being a modern-day Joe Namath man-about-town.

"I'm going to get blown up either way, whether I say something right or say something wrong," Harper told Kilgore. "That's just how it's going to be. There's nothing I can really do about that. Maybe there's sometimes I should keep my mouth shut. I need to grow up in that aspect, I guess. But I feel good about what I say, and I'm not going to back down from anything."

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:41 pm
 

Video: Halladay on his anaconda encounter

By C. Trent Rosecrans

A no-hitter in the playoffs? Nothing compared to Roy Halladay's anaconda story. And to be fair, his anaconda story is much better than the move Anaconda, too.

This offseason Halladay, the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter (not the Red Sox Chris Carpenter) and former big-league closer B.J. Ryan were in Brazil and helped rescue a man who had been attacked by an anaconda.

On Tuesday, Halladay talked to reporters and told the story -- and for the record, he didn't wrestle the snake or anything, the trio just helped the man flip his boat back over and get him going. David Hale of DelawareOnline.com has the video:



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Posted on: February 21, 2012 11:11 am
 

Phillies' Brown: 'I'm fighting to win a job'

Domonic Brown

By C. Trent Rosecrans

A year ago, the Phillies' right fielder's job was Domonic Brown's to lose. And, well, he did.

A broken hamate bone in spring training followed by a thumb sprain slowed Brown at the beginning of the season and then his lack of production led the Phillies to go out and get Hunter Pence at the trading deadline. Brown hit .245/.333/.391 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 210 plate appearances as a 23-year-old last season. He was sent to the minors after Pence joined the team on July 30 and called up in September. He struck out in his only plate appearance in September.

This season the expectations aren't as high for Brown, the team's former top prospect. He's among those in contention for the left field job, along with John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix, but it appears the deck is stacked against him.

Mayberry was the surprise breakout in 2011, hitting .273/.341/.513 with 15 homers and 49 RBI in 296 plate appearances. Nix is a veteran backup, who like Brown, is a left-handed hitter.

In October, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he wanted Brown to get another year of Triple-A under his belt in 2012.

That, unsurprisingly, isn't how Brown sees things.

"I don't know if I need at-bats in Triple-A or if I need to get used to it up here," He told reporters, including David Hale of DelawareOnline.com on Tuesday. "I just know I need to play somewhere."

Triple-A hasn't been much of a challenge for Brown, who has played 69 games over two seasons for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, hitting .298/.390/.453 with eight home runs and 17 stolen bases. Still, he's not played more than 41 games in one season at that level, so there could be some benefit to a full season at Triple-A and seeing teams and pitchers more than once.

The lack of power last season -- seven home runs in the minors and five in the big leagues -- isn't much of a surprise due to the broken hamate bone. Brown said Tuesday his hand is "100 percent" and it took months for him to get there.

As for this spring, Brown trained with Gary Sheffield in the offseason and is excited about his chances to make the team out of spring.

"I'm not at peach if I start at Triple-A. … I'm coming to win a job," Brown said. "I'm fighting to win a job here. That's the big goal."

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:45 am
 

Braves' Hanson suffered 'mild' concussion

Tommy HansonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Doctors diagnosed Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson with a Grade 1 concussion -- the lowest grade -- after a Monday morning car accident, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. The concussion will keep Hanson out a few more days.

He will be re-evaluated after resting for 48 hours and if he no longer feels dizzy or shows any other concussion symptoms then, he will be allowed to start working out, but he'll still gradually move toward a full workout. The 25-year-old could be back to full workouts by this weekend or early of next week, according to the team.

"If everything progresses like we think it will, he'll be fine," Gonzalez told reporters (including Bowman). "The thing [trainers] do not want to do is bring him back too early and then he gets dizzy because of the concussion. It's just a natural progression."

Hanson blew a tire and went off the road while driving to the Braves' spring training complex on Monday morning.

As our own Jon Heyman noted on Twitter, the only "mild" concussion is one suffered by someone else. As we've come to see in baseball recently with the likes of Justin Morneau, concussions are nothing to take lightly.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 7:37 pm
 

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet



By Matt Snyder


Much of the attention in Nationals camp this spring will focus on the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez. There will surely be talk of Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos and Mike Morse for varying reasons as well. But a major storyline that's lying in the weeds and could be an issue as soon as 2013 is Ryan Zimmerman vs. 2011 first-round pick Anthony Rendon at third base.

Rendon, 21, is a third baseman by trade, though he had played second base some in college, too. Speculation from many of the scouting websites (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, etc.) have him being big-league ready very soon, as early as the start of the 2013 season. And they also say he's best suited for third base, even a plus defender there, while he'd be below average at second or short.

Of course, in Zimmerman, the Nationals have a 27-year-old third baseman who has won a Gold Glove. The issue, however, is that Zimmerman regressed on defense in 2011. Injuries hampered his range (Fangraphs.com's UZR/150 score for Zimmerman was 17.8 in 2010 and -4.4 in 2011) and he had to develop a new throwing motion to try and protect himself from further injury. That new throwing motion caused accuracy issues, too. The Nats Blog made a good case a few weeks ago that Zimmerman could easily be the Nationals' first baseman of the future, with Rendon sliding right in at third.

For now, Zimmerman is saying all the right things.

“I think I want to play third base until someone is better than me at it,” Zimmerman said (Nationals Journal). “I think there’s teams that move people. I’ve said it all along — I want to be here as long as I can. I want to play my whole career here. If that means me playing third base for five more years and then moving somewhere because someone is better than me at third and it’ll help us win, then I’ll do it. If that means me playing third base for 10 years and then going to first base or wherever, then I’ll do it. I don’t care."

Rendon will be getting reps at third base, shortstop and second base in camp, and he gave the requisite due to Zimmerman.

“Oh, yeah, sure, he’s going to be here a long time, I’m pretty sure,” Rendon said (Nationals Journal). “He’s an all-star. He’s a great player. I’m not coming here to take anything away from him. He’s set in stone. I’m not trying to ruin that.”

It's very interesting to think about all the options moving forward, depending upon how things shake out. If Rendon pans out at second, Danny Espinosa could shift to shortstop and take out Ian Desmond. If Rendon needs to be at third and Zimmerman's health issues at third continue, Zimmerman could shift across the diamond. Of course, then the Nationals have nowhere to move Mike Morse when they acquire an upgrade in center field and have Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper at the corners.

This is all just something to think about, with no immediate urgency. Regardless, if Rendon develops into an All-Star-caliber bat -- as many believe he will -- Washington has a very nice problem on its hands.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:01 pm
 

Braves' Hanson examined after car accident

Tommy HansonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson went to the hospital on Monday after being involved in a car accident in the morning, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman (via Twitter).

According to Bowman, Hanson blew a tire and bumped his head and is being checked for a possible concussion. The Braves have yet to receive word on his condition.

Hanson, 25, came into the team's spring training home after the accident, but then chose to go to the hospital to get checked out.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 11:07 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 11:22 pm
 

K-Rod contemplates lawsuit against former agents

By Matt Snyder

Brewers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez may file a lawsuit against his former agents, Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

K-Rod and his attorneys allege that he was led to believe he had a no-trade clause that included 10 teams -- the Brewers being one of them -- by his agents when he initially signed a three-year contract with the Mets before the 2009 season. Instead, the former closer found out there was no such clause in July of last season. After realizing the omission, Rodriguez fired the agents and hired Scott Boras.

"They did something atrocious,'' Rodriguez's attorney Richard Johnson said (USAToday.com). "Their utter arrogance makes this so evil. It's like rear-ending somebody, but instead of stopping your car and trading insurance information, these guys blew up the car, took off, and ran away. They committed negligence, and turned it into a fraud case.''

Boras negotiated a $500,000 buyout out of K-Rod's vesting option for 2012, which was worth $17.5 million. He would have pretty easily finished enough games to make the option vest had he stayed with the Mets or been traded to a team that would use him as the closer. Instead, he accepted the buyout and was traded, eyeing a big free agent this deal in the offseason.

As the closer market dried up this past offseason, however -- not to mention the fact that Rodriguez had zero saves with the Brewers -- Rodriguez decided to accept arbitration from the Brewers instead of hitting the open market and ended up with a one-year, $8 million contract.

"He's going to lose a lot of money, the question is whether it's seven figures or eight figures,'' said Johnson(USAToday.com). "There's long-term damage to his career. He wasn't even in position to be marketed as a closer last winter. They really [messed] with his career in a monumental way.''

Had Rodriguez's contract contained the no-trade clause, he could have made sure he was in a closing situation -- perhaps having a great second half and setting himself up for a free agency offer from a team seeking a closer. Instead he'll remain in the setup role at least one more season.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 7:56 pm
 

Tim Hudson to miss first month of '12 season



By Matt Snyder


Late in November, Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson had surgery on his back that fused his L5/S1 disk. Not much was made of it at the time because it was believed he'd be ready to go at the start of the season. Instead, he's going to miss the first month.

"Me getting back for the start of the season was never really a possibility, just from a timeline standpoint," Hudson said (MLB.com). "The kind of surgery I had is a three-to-sixth-month deal. Five months puts me at May 1."

Hudson could have certainly been ready for the start of the 2012 season had he undergone the procedure immediately when the 2011 season ended, but the initial plan was to avoid the surgery until after the 2012 season. By late November, though, he was forced to have the surgery.

Hudson, 36, was 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 158 strikeouts in 215 innings last season. He was pitching through the pain in his back, though.

With Hudson down, the Braves' need a fifth starter behind Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor in April. Top prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado are logical choices to battle it out, while Kris Medlan would work as well.

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