So...According to the Newark Star-Ledger's Sports writer Jeremy Cothran, New York Mets' center fielder Carlos Beltran had a special message for the rest of the teams in the NL East when he arrived in Port St. Lucie, Florida for the beginning of Spring Training.
In Mr. Cothran's Sunday Star-Ledger Sports sections' top story entitled, "Beltan boasts: Mets the team to beat", Mr. Cothran quotes Carlos Beltran, one of the only Mets who didn't fall apart at the end of last season, collecting 12 doubles, 1 triple, 14 HR's and 50 RBI's over the last 48 games of the Mets' epic collapse, who starts off the '08 Spring Training the same way last year's NL MVP Jimmy Rollins, of the '07 NL East Champions from Philadelphia started last season...with an obnoxious boast. Last season it was Rollins telling reporters:
"I think we are the team to beat in the NL East -- finally."
This year it's Beltran telling reporters, according to Mr. Cothran's article:
"So this year, to Jimmy Rollins. We are the team to beat."
Now of course this is sort of funny coming from Carlos Beltran, the usually soft-spoken outfielder, who rather quietly hit .276 with 33 doubles, 33 HR's, 112 RBI's and 23 steals last season, and is just about the last person you'd expect to offer such bold predictions. Apparently the Mets' have been emoldened by the acquisition of Johan Santana more than they were humbled by the last two seasons' worth of disappointments...
While I was reading the Sunday Star-Ledger, I figured I'd check in to see what Baseball writer Dan Graziano had to say about the Washington Nationals this week...
The Nationals come up twice in Mr. Graziano's three quarters of a page worth of a column, "Dan Graziano on MLB", in which he writes in his, "LOW-EXPECTATION QUOTE OF THE WEEK", that Nationals' Manager Manny Acta said, "I know I have at least five to six guys that went out there and pitched for us last year and didn't embarass themselves. I know I have those guys. We're not searching for them," when asked about the large assortment of free agent arms invited to the Nationals' fourth Spring Training in Viera, Florida.
...One of those free agent arms, Bobby Brownlie, who, like Nationals' righty Jason Bergmann attended New Jersey's finest institution, thee Rutgers University, gets the other mention in Mr. Graziano's column, where Mr. Brownlie is included in a list of "Five Noteworthy Non-Roster Invitees", from around the Majors.
Bobby Brownlie was one of 19 Minor League free agents that the Nationals signed back on 11/27/07. Brownlie was a 1st Round Draft pick by the Chicago Cubs, who chose him 21st overall in 2001 out of Rutgers, where in two seasons he'd gone (12-9) with 152 K's in 23 starts and 84 innings.
Five seasons, a (32-40) record in 84 starts, a 4.06 ERA, with 428 K's in 541.1 innings pitched at four different stops at all three levels of the Cubs' Minor League system, and then one season in the Independent Atlantic League with the Newark Bears, and another season with Cleveland's Double-AA Akron affiliate, and Bobby Brownlie, the former 1st Round pick still hasn't reached the Majors, but as Mr. Graziano writes:
"...if you're a pitcher hoping for a big-league spot...well,
you can do a lot worse than show up at Nats camp and try
...I also picked up the "Beckett Rotoworld.com Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for 2008", which includes among thousands of other things baseball, a list of the Nationals' projected starting lineup and a list of the "Top 10 Prospects", which lists 2007 1st Round selection, pitcher Ross Detwiler and outfielder Justin Maxwell as the only two of the ten prospects who are expected to be with the team at some point this season.
In fact, a Washington Times article by Mark Zuckerman and Thom Loverro entitled, "Acta has infield starters in mind", quotes Washington GM Jim Bowden who says, in reference, to Ross Detwiler:
"I am not opposed at all to developing him out of the
bullpen...Sometimes, especially with a guy [Detwiler] with a
delivery like that, it is best to bring him along in the
bullpen...I am not opposed to a guy like that developing if
he is that close and has that kind of stuff, if he is ready to
do that. But he has to earn it."
Detwiler out of the bullpen. Is that better for his development than 3/4's of a season in Double or Triple-AAA and another September call-up?
One last note of interest..."Beckett Rotoworld.com Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for 2008", lists Felipe Lopez beating out Ronnie Belliard for the job at second with Cristian Guzman starting the double plays from short. I think Mr. Belliard might have something to say about that...
...But I must say...having Belliard, Guzman and Lopez battling it out for the middle of the infield, Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young set to settle the first base ?'s this Spring, Lastings Milledge, Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena, Elijah Dukes, Justin Maxwell, Willie Harris and Ryan Langerhans all expected to fight for time in the outfied, and Paul Lo Duca, Jesus Flores and Johnny Estrada getting a look behind the plate...Spring Training is going to be much more competitive than usual...
*Top 5 Reasons Links*
Bobby Brownlie's career stats at thebaseballcube.com:
Washington Times' writers Mark Zuckerman and Thom Loverro's article, "Acta has infield starters in mind", at washingtontimes.com:
MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Nationals sign 19 to 'Minor' deals", at washington.nationals.mlb.com: