Bryce Harper still hopes to be a Washington National for life

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Per Mark Zuckerman over at Nats Insider, Bryce Harper would like to play his entire career in Washington. In other words, he’s standing by his words for now.

“If the Nationals let it happen, I’m all for it,” Harper said in a 1-on-1 interview with CSN. “I’ve always said that. I’ve said it since Day 1. Right when I was drafted I said, ‘If you look at the guys like Cal Ripken, [Derek] Jeter, Chipper Jones … you look at these guys who stayed with their franchise forever, they’ve been so good with their fans, they’ve been so good with their organization. I would love to do that. That’s something I would love to pride myself on and know that this team wants me here, I’ve been here since the beginning. I want to be here for 20 years.”

We would love to see this happen down the line. In regards to the Nationals ‘letting it happen’, there is no reason to believe that they won’t. They’re the new Yankees. I think Harper and Scott Boras are starting to realize that the Nationals can throw dollars around with the best of them. He’s just got to be worth that type of coin at some point.

Here’s the entire interview so you know the context:

A poorly-lit Bryce Harper jersey makes an appearance on House of Cards

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Hat tip to my buddy @Mike_hllywa on this one.

So apparently I need to get into this show. The last time I had multiple friends telling me to get into a show, it was Breaking Bad; and it was life-changing television.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about House of Cards on Netflix. Adding Bryce Harper to the equation (and Kevin Spacey doesn’t hurt things) can only help. I’ve got to give this show a chance before baseball season starts.

Can we just sit this guy until the season begins, please?

I say this only half in jest, but seriously. For those that have serious fantasy ownership stock in Stanton (like we do), the absolute WORST thing that could happen is any injury that would cause him to miss the opener in April.

He’s fine by the way, but I hate hearing stuff like this. Makes me cringe just a little.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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Happy Saturday to all in the baseball world. Today is not just extra special because Spring Training is in full swing, but it’s the last day of February. We’ve survived it. The most dreadful, empty, bad weather, grey month on the calendar and after today it’s over.

In a few weeks it will be March Madness, and not long after that Wrestlemania, and then the main event; Major League Opening Day.

In between to keep our appetites wet will be some fantasy baseball draft and spring training games, names in box scores we don’t recognize, and a few key storylines that let us know what early direction the 2015 will be headed.

For now, enjoy your Saturday. We’ve almost made it! Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

Here’s another classic song from the 80’s, I’ve actually heard these guys perform after a Reds game. The don’t make them like they used to folks.

Bryce Harper says he’s going to bring a title to D.C.

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You can never roll your eyes at the brash optimism of a young player in the spring. In one breath, the WaPo is calling Bryce Harper the next Dwight Evans. In another story, they’re interviewing him and he’s talking championships right now. Washington doesn’t know how the hell to handle a superstar in their town.

Bryce Harper, on Max Scherzer coming to Washington:

“Well the thing is, he’s a Boras client. So sitting there and I’m talking to Scott and I’m thinking, I’m asking him, ‘Hey, are we going to get Scherzer or what?’ Because I mean we had a great staff. … So to be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in? I just started laughing. I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is. I mean, to add a Cy Young, to add a guy that’s unbelievable in the postseason — if you have to go into a five-game set in the postseason, looking ahead like I told you I wouldn’t, but if you have to go into a five-game set against a team, you’re going to have to face Zimmermann, Fister, Scherzer and Stras. I mean, good luck. Because that’s insane. Going into that, it’s just, I’m crying because it’s hilarious having to go in there and face them. It’s absolutely stupid. We have the best staff in all of baseball, I don’t care what nobody says, and the thing about our guys, they work. It’s not like it’s just ‘hey okay let’s just go out and play.’ They work, and they work hard. And to add a guy like Scherzer who’s a bulldog out there, who’s unbelievable in the postseason, who shows that fire and that emotion, it’s something that I’m going to enjoy watching this year. And I think our team in the outfield is going to do a lot of watch, because they’re going to be carving it up.”

Wow, where’s his ring? The Giants are wearing both of them. The one from 2012, and 2014.

But no seriously, we love Bryce Harper. Good to see him back in camp and bashing baseballs and saying the hopeful things that young players say.

On another note – we don’t really know what happened with his darling fiance. But Bryce man, this girl was a keeper. Whatever happened, we don’t care; but you better get her back and you better marry her. This sweet girl who happens to be an Ohio State University Alum like my wife favorited the sweetest tweet in the history of tweets coming from a baseball account tonight.

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The tweet was really designed to get my wife going. She says our daughter is NOT named after who we think will be the best young player of her generation. She says she thought of the name driving one night. This is not a true reflection of events. I thought of the name, for the obvious reasons; because of the outfielder for the Nationals who I have followed since he was about 14. My wife can re-write history however she wants. Our daughter has her name because of a baseball player.

And in closing, Kayla Varner is a sweetheart. No matter what Bryce hits this season he would be a tad better with her by his side off the field. Seems like a sweet girl and is every bit as pretty. Do the right thing Bryce! As Matt Damon says in Good Will Hunting, go see about a girl. Whatever is going on, fix it like a hitch in your swing, kid.

Pirates Owner wants to lock up Andrew McCutchen with a monster extension

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An article today by Rob Biertempfel appears optimistic that the Pittsburgh Pirates will do an early contract extension with Andrew McCutchen that will keep him in a Pirates uniform for the remainder of his career. A quote from the Pirates owner, Bob Nutting:

“Andrew’s been a critical part of the team,” owner Bob Nutting said Wednesday. “I love having him in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, and I hope he (wears it) for a long, long time.”

McCutchen is currently under contract until 2018 technically, with that year representing a club option that the Pirates would most certainly exercise.

But as a show of good faith and in what is quickly becoming a new trend in baseball, teams are keeping their homegrown stars in one uniform for the duration of their careers again. It’s neat to see, and one of the best current aspects of the sport.

There are no active talks at this time. However, industry sources said that if the Pirates decide to open talks, they are willing to go to great lengths to keep McCutchen in Pittsburgh, even if the numbers approach the current salary stratosphere of $25 million-plus per year.

“If that happens, that will be something we’ll talk about,” McCutchen said. “Right now, I’m not too worried about it. It’s nothing that I’m thinking about, really. If it happens, that would be great. I look forward to it if they do that.”

If the Pirates are prepared to offer McCutchen something that resembles a 10-year, $250 million dollar contract extension; there’s going to be more than just talking going on. That’s a deal that gets done and gets done quickly.

Of course, McCutchen is 28 years old, so the Pirates would be paying for a player that plays a good part of the contract in his age 30 years. McCutchen figures to be a guy who ages well and is productive into his late 30’s, much like Torii Hunter was.

He’s just a helluva player to build your franchise around. A generational talent, a sure thing. He might have won back to back Most Valuable Player awards last season if not for an injury. His last four years he’s been worth a bWAR of 27.1, an average of 6.8 per season. Andrew McCutchen has played at an MVP level for the last four seasons on average, in layman’s terms.

We really love the guy, and we’re proud of the Pirates for even thinking along these lines. Our buddy who loves the Pirates – we’ve mentioned Matty before – always said that McCutchen would jump ship after that first contract when he got too expensive and join the Yankees or a big market club. It’s looking like Matt was being a worry-wort over nothing.

The baseball purist can only hope. Get this done, Buccos.

Marty Brennaman is ready for another grumpy season as the voice of the Reds!

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God I can’t wait for the Reds to be a couple games under .500 in early April and to have to climb in my car and find Marty Brennaman calling the Reds game. You flip the dial to 700 WLW and without knowing the score, you know the score just by listening to Marty’s voice.

When the Reds are losing, Marty is Mister Miserable in every way, shape, form. Marty hates everyone, and everything in his surroundings and must feel like he’s wasting valuable time in his life when he could be out at Maketewah Country Club having a cigar and playing 18. Or sitting in a sauna. Or doing things that old men do when they’re financially secure and successful and at retirement age.

It wouldn’t be Reds season without Marty B. being angry. And you know what? I’ve got something for you Saberheads who think that Joey Votto is the perfect player: he’s not. Marty might voice frustration over the walks, which is really Marty voicing frustration over Votto having plate appearances in which he didn’t make an out. But I’ve watched enough Joey Votto the last few seasons to know this:

He’s too damn submissive in the batter’s box. I, myself; am sick of Votto choking halfway up the bat on a 2-0 count and getting too cute with a damn fastball, trying to place-hit the damn thing into left field because it’s ‘a beautiful piece of hitting’. Drive the damn thing into the seats. You’re a middle of the order hitter, you are being paid to mash like you did in 2010, you certainly aren’t going to lead with your voice in the clubhouse and that’s fine. Swing the bat like a leader. Stop being content to give up an at-bat and spoil pitches and take fastballs thrown right down the heart of the plate while you bend over and look at it because the full count offering isn’t going to be as good.

Votto is a completely different hitter than he was when he was the MVP – his approach has changed and entire philosophy on hitting – it doesn’t mean he isn’t a good hitter. Of course his stats support that he is productive. But the choking up the bat and being so passive has to stop or the Reds will continue to struggle because the guys behind Votto simply don’t have the ability to win an MVP as he once did. I get what Marty is trying to say, he’s just gone about it in the wrong way.

Giancarlo Stanton lands (body painted) on the Sports Illustrated Cover

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Two Giancarlo Stanton posts in a row! The guy is everywhere right now, and for good reason. The highest paid athlete in sports – just entering his prime years – set to attack home run records down in South Beach. Not too sure how we feel about the body paint cover, but it’s unique. And we can’t turn away from a guy we like so much making the cover.

Stanton’s cover story is written by Ben Reiter, and he actually talks about being angered by the initial record offering by the Marlins.

“I think they were thinking I was going to be like, ‘Oh, well, sign me up!'” Stanton says. He wasn’t.

“I put the paper down, and I was like, ‘I’ll tell you right now that numbers don’t mean anything,'” Stanton recalls. “‘If you think you’re just going to pay me a bunch of money, and I’m going to go live my lavish lifestyle, come to the park and get my ass kicked every day, and go back to my lavish lifestyle, you got another thing coming.’ I said that straight to their faces. I was angered

You’ve got to respect the guy and believe him when he says that. While the money probably didn’t hurt their chances at getting this done, three main reasons for Stanton signing for 13 years were as follows:

1. Stanton loves Miami
— “I could go anywhere … but if we win here, I’d rather be here over any place, any other city.”

2. Stanton believes in the Marlins’ young core of players — “Never are we going to be the biggest market, have the highest payroll, none of that … And the players that we have, they’re still not the biggest names, most people aren’t going to know who they are. But in terms of pure talent, they’re there.”

3. Stanton believes the team’s days of gutting the roster of talent are over — “Why would you give me so much money and not try to win? … What on earth is the point of that? They have to be serious about winning going forward. There’s no other logical explanation.”

The Marlins are going to turn things around and prove to be a viable baseball organization yet. We like them, we believe in them. There’s already talk on Sirius XM radio that Stanton could receive ‘Barry Bonds treatment’ in not getting pitched to by opposing teams if guys like Mike Morse and Marcel Ozuna don’t do their jobs, but don’t worry about that. Some poor sucker on the mound will make a mistake they don’t live to tell about some 40 or so times this season and Stanton will cement himself as the game’s premiere player. That’s our prediction.

Here’s the ugly protective face cage device Giancarlo Stanton will wear

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This is…… well this is weird.

You know Giancarlo collaborated with the manufacturer Schutt Sports to be as stylish as possible on this – the first thing I noticed was the scripted ‘G’ in the middle of the mask – but it’s still just a strange looking thing to see worn on a baseball batting helmet.

But this is the new look of baseball’s most feared slugger.

“All season I’ll wear it, given it is comfortable vision-wise,” Stanton said. “Just to rule out any type of doubt. We’ll see after the first year.”

For some reason, we’re kind of hoping he gains his comfort back in the box enough to drop it at some point. Michael Jordan just wouldn’t have looked right sporting a Rip Hamilton mask his entire career. As hard as Stanton may try to make this thing a thing, we hope it doesn’t stick. Safety first, and all but still.

Because he’s the perfect boy, 2014 playoff exit still eats away at Mike Trout

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Ready to assume Derek Jeter’s place as the face of the sport (guy can hit like Jeter never could), Mike Trout outlined his 2015 season goals today. Headlining the talk was not only making the playoffs again but avoiding a quick exit that bothered him all off-season.

“It was a terrible feeling,” Trout said Wednesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium. “A lot of the guys who were here last year know they don’t want to have that same feeling. To have that be my first [postseason] experience, it was definitely tough. You see your friends over the winter, and they sometimes bring it up. The first thing that comes to your mind is ‘We lost.'”

That really did suck beyond all belief, and we could see the Angels going into that opening round and getting rolled from a mile away. Predictably they went in after winning the most games in the American League last season and got swept by the Royals who went to the World Series.

It seemed hard to believe for some but so often in the sport – in a short best of five series especially – you can just get your legs taken out from you pretty quickly. It felt like the Angels were never really in it and it certainly didn’t feel like much more than an experience of them getting their feet wet.

We would absolutely love to see Mike Trout get another shot at the postseason in 2015. We’re betting he gets more than one hit the next time around.

Diamond Hoggers Turns ‘8’ at Midnight

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Blowing out the candles a bit early here, this blog has officially been going for eight years as of tomorrow.

It’s kind of wild. I’ve never stuck to anything for eight years in my life other than the girl I’m married to, but writing about baseball every few days for the past eight years seems like it’s been only a few months.

Here’s to another eight years and then some of having fun with the game we love, reacting to the big story of the day, recapping the great games from the night before, and enjoying the great talent this game has to offer.

And realistically, as long as we’re alive this site will be standing. Long after blogs are no longer a thing and there are higher-tech fads out there and glossier looking sites to visit; you can come here for some good old fashioned talk from people who shoot it straight and love the game with all they have.

The mission statement remains the same for this site – saluting the greatest game on earth and enjoying it’s intricacies as much as we can for the time we have to enjoy it.

You just knew Jay Bruce and Mat Latos didn’t get along

Jay Bruce is back at Spring Training camp, and he’s doing some talking. For a quiet guy, he actually said quite a bit.

In summation, he said the knee feels 100 percent and he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. He’s not interested in being the Jay Bruce of 2011 or 2012, he wants to be better than that. We’ll never fully know exactly what he meant with the Latos quote, but it probably stems from the dugout incident last season and some other dust ups behind the scenes.

It’s a lot of the same talk from Bruce. He still seems to say the same things we’ve always heard him say – that talk is one thing and going out and putting up the numbers between the white lines are another. I think the biggest question that remains unanswered and the most important; is whether or not Bruce truly believes that he’s capable of still peaking and being close to a superstar in this game. Only Jay Bruce knows the answer to this in his own mind, and if it’s not a resounding ‘yes’, if there’s any self doubt, it’s unlikely to ever happen at this stage.

Time is ticking, and if the Reds are going to be better than ever, they need Jay Bruce in the worst way to go off and stay hot one full season.

Obviously, we’ll be living and dying with every Bruce at-bat of 2014. Naturally.

Addiction Sucks

Josh Hamilton had a relapse recently, bringing the ugly truth to life that sometimes our superhuman superstars are actually very human.

Plenty of people will write about this – which has to play out as a nightmarish scene for both Hamilton and his family members who have been battling these demon as a group for many years. We just want to say that our prayers are with Hamilton and we hope he gets past it and rises to a final triumph at some point.

We read his entire book on vacation a few years back in a couple days on the beach. It was a pretty good account of the mind of a junkie. Once you’re a junkie, you’re one every day for the rest of your life. It’s like when someone you love passes away. The pain never really goes away, you battle it every day and put it in the back of your mind. Anyone who tells you anything different is lying.

Rob Manfred better not take away my 162 game schedule

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Just when I’m starting to really take to the guy, he goes and addresses the one thing that I would like to remain sacred forever.

Baseball’s new commissioner is already mentioning the idea of shortening the regular season – to some it’s not the end of the world – but to some it is that particular person’s world.

“I don’t think length of season is a topic that can’t ever be discussed,” Manfred told ESPN.com. “I don’t think it would be impossible to go back to 154 [games] . . . We already have some of our record books which reflect a 154-game season and obviously some of it reflects a 162-game season,” Manfred said. “So there’s some natural flexibility there. But if anyone suggests to go to something like 110 games, then there’s a real problem. That will throw all our numbers out of whack.”

You leave my damn 162 game season alone, you sadistic son of a bitch! If anything, make it 190 games. Baseball season doesn’t start soon enough to begin with. Does this guy get how damn dreadful February and March are? And when the season ends it’s just a disgusting feeling knowing I’ve got to stomach six months without a nine inning meaningful game with counting stats. Who is this guy to think about shaving more than a week off my beautiful, long, marathon of a season?

If this goes down, I’ll never forgive Manfred.

Baseball