By Josh Flagner
Bits and Pieces is your weekly More Than a Fan source for all the interesting stories out of the National League East. Whether you want pictures, videos, or just the half news/half bad jokes column you’ve come to expect from me, this is the place to be.
Chipper Jones to Hang ‘Em Up
MLB.com’s Pete McCarthy and Jeff Nelson talk about Chipper Jones’ retirement decision and where he ranks among his generation’s greats.
I won’t retype the Braves press release, but you can be sure that I’ll be writing a column about Chipper belonging in the Hall of Fame sometime this fall.
Stephen Strasburg Named Nationals Opening Day Starter
Washington didn’t waste any time this spring naming Strasburg the Nationals opening day starter. Strasburg has said that his goal is to pitch 200 innings and win 20 games. That’s pretty lofty stuff considering he’s coming off of Tommy John surgery.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that he can handle the pressure of being a staff ace, but I wonder about Nats fans being able to handle the pressure of keeping their expectations in check with reality. Because of the surgery, Strasburg isn’t likely to pitch more than 160 innings this season, and some of those innings might not be exactly as effective as his final outing last season. In his fifth start after his return, Strasburg struck out 10 Marlins in six innings. He’ll have games like that in 2012, to be sure, but he’ll also have games like his second to last start last season. That was a 5 hit, 2 run, 4 inning affair that ended up being a 7-4 loss to the Braves.
I’m not down on Stephen Strasburg, I’m just suggesting we don’t assume he’s going to live up to his potential consistently this season.
Carlos Zambrano Speaks… Calmly
Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano got into great shape during this offseason. The interview cuts out just before he says he spent months working out in hopes to be able to throw full Gatorade coolers from the dugout all the way to the mound during his signature meltdowns.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said something about Zambrano’s great shape, but his interview was half in Spanish and I was slightly drunk. I have no idea what he said.