Picks of the Pen

Look at Jim Thome, playing in the field for the first time since 2007!  What a great story, especially for a guy so beloved throughout baseball.  Hope he’s okay out there.

Then there’s Manny Ramirez in Oakland, playing in the field for the first time since retiring in shame after a failed drug test.  What an uninteresting story, especially for a guy so contested throughout baseball.  Hope he’s drug free out there.


Blaine Blontz

There figures to be much hubbub and hoopla surrounding the Miami Marlins this season. With the club opening its checkbook and adding to their cast of personalities, 2012 could feature a mix of good baseball and even better quotes.

One of the more significant storylines involving the Marlins this year will be the presence of Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez’s move to the hot corner. While many are watching for Hanley’s tantrums to begin, Dedrick Hendrix of MLB Reports gave his thoughts on which of Reyes or Ramirez will the better 2012 season.

With all of the extensions being handed out this time of year, Kansas City Royals fans would like their front office exec’s to get in on the action. Paul Thompson of Kings of Kauffman would like to see Kansas City follow up their long-term deal with Salvador Perez with a similar agreement with Eric Hosmer.

Justin Klugh

There are three or four umpire calls a season that spin me into a rage and send me to the internet, where I write incredibly foul and usually off-target and definitely biased posts blasting particular umpires whom I’ve looked up on Wikipedia.  Who knows what they’ll be!  They’ll be met by supportive cries of brethren or disgusted comments from ump sympathizers or alarmed voicemails from my parents.

Last season, I threw a cat at my boss after going into work the morning following Jerry Meals’ blown call in Atlanta.  Why?  I guess its because if the umps can’t get it right, then we all have the capacity to have our dreams shattered, even if our team does everything right.  And with MLB’s endless wagon-circling of its blue gentlemen, no amount of protest or blog posts can change it.

So that’s probably why I took such an interest in this chart, chronicling the percentage of correct pitch calls depending on the situation.  Check out that “dead center of the plate” column for an 0-2 count and a 3-0 count.

Let us depart from this controversial waters and head over to some far more innocent, charming waters:  Justin Hunter has a baby.  Yes, THE Justin Hunter, the one just below me here, talking about designated hitters.  Justin recently sat on the lawn with the child and took in a baseball game.  It was a beautiful day, the grass was soft, and nobody said any awful, irreversible things to the umpire.

Chris Carelli

Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com wrote an article about San Diego Padres’ prospects Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal being inseparable. From Cuba to college at the Univeristy of Miami, the Cincinnati Reds organization and now with the Padres, where one goes so does the other.

I liked Lew Freedman’s piece on Jonathan Papelbon sounding off on the fans of his former team, comparing them to the his new flock of followers in Philadelphia. Papelbon suggested Phillies’ fans are smarter than Red Sox fans and Lew suggested that Papelbon should have kept his mouth shut. Not possible Lew, not possible.

Matt Musico

I saw even more bad news for Mets fans with David Wright being out for at least another week with that pesky rib cage injury, and now he ha to be flown to NYC for more exams.

I really liked Lew’s article about Roy Oswalt still looking for a home even though he has been the best free agent pitcher left on the market for months now.

Justin Hunter

Joe Posnanski covers sports like no one else. And as he always does, he wrote a brilliant piece about the designated hitter. He explains why it’s not the designated hitter in the AL or the lack thereof in the NL, but rather the differences in the leagues that makes baseball great.

You’re Bobby Valentine…well maybe not. But Earl Nash of BoSox Injection has a nice take on Bobby Valentine’s journey from the majors to Japan and back. The stars all aligned and Bobby V got the perfect opportunity.

Kyle Davis

Ehsan Kassim of Marlin Maniac takes a thorough look at how the enigmatic Hanley Ramirez might fare this season, both at the plate and in the field.

If you’re looking for some of the most hilariously awful words ever committed to the sport of baseball, Dan Schroeder of LakesAreaSports.com has you covered with his “season preview” of the Minnesota Twins. Do you think that post took Dan five minutes to write, or six? Hat tip to Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk for his interneting diligence.

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