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NL East Update: Ruben Tejada waits, and Chipper looks to bounce back

Brooklyn Mets Fan gives us his input on the race between 12-year veteran Alex Cora and 20-year-old Ruben Tejada for who will be the Opening Day shortstop as they vie for the temporarily vacant position until the return of Jose Reyes.

Personally, having just seen Tejada play in an exhibition last week I am still uncertain as to what type of player Tejada really is. Although he has been swinging a hot bat all spring with a .349 average, I am being careful not to fall into the Lastings Milledge, Anderson Hernandez, and (possibly) Fernando Martinez trap. Cora may be the smarter decision but having Tejada promoted gives the Mets much needed excitement as they will begin the season without two of their stars in Reyes and Carlos Beltran. While the other more highly touted prospects, first baseman Ike Davis, pitcher Jenrry Mejia, and outfielder Fernando Martinez will probably start the year in the minors, don’t be surprised to see the young shortstop at Citi Field in April trying to make an impact with the big ballclub.

Crashburn Alley questions if the recent rumors of a Ryan Howard trade make sense. His reasoning is that it allows Philadelphia to clear payroll space, retain Jayson Werth, replenish their farm system, and allow them to be competitive in 2012 and beyond.

These talks of a Ryan Howard trade are ridiculous and can only be a distraction if the rumors persist throughout the season. How can you even think about getting rid of the greatest thing that has happened to your franchise since Mike Schmidt, who already has an MVP, and has led the Phillies to two consecutive World Series appearances where in 2008 they received their long awaited championship that the city of Philadelphia hadn’t seen since 1980. Howard is without question the closest thing to Albert Pujols in the league and still has many good years ahead of him.

As for the “replenishing farm system” idea, the last time I checked the Phillies had one of the strongest crop of young players in the league, having produced names like Howard, Utley, Hamels, Happ, and up and coming phenom Domonic Brown, so why mess with a good thing? The Phillies have established themselves as one of the premier organizations top to bottom with their fantastic drafting, development of players, and the ability to bring in an effective supporting group.

Atlanta Braves blog “Chop-N-Change” questions how much Chipper Jones has left in the tank. The 38 year old is coming off of his worst season since his rookie year in 1995. Using charts and graphs, we can see where Jones has been statistically throughout his career and possibly where he could be going.

Love him or hate him, as a baseball fan you have to respect the fact that Chipper has done it all in a Braves uniform. The lone bridge between the organizations large generational gap that has seen Maddox, Glavine, Smoltz all the way to Jurjains, Hanson, Heyward. These days seeing a player spend his entire career with one team is rare not just in baseball but in all professional sports. Chippers consistency has what has been most impressive; having batted at least .300 or better in 10 of his 15 seasons established him as one of the greatest switch hitters of all time.

In 2008, he hit a career high .364, only to watch that number drop to a career low .264 in 2009, but the beauty of Jones as a hitter is that he has the ability to quietly hit well over .300 in 2010, that’s how good of a hitter he is.

Down in Florida, FishStripes begins the breakdown of the Marlins 2010 starting rotation. With Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez as the only locks on the staff, Florida is now left to try and fill up the last two spots. Clay Hensley and Chris Volstad will likely fill those voids but question marks still surround both of them.

I never know what to make of the Marlins and quite honestly I would like to meet someone who does. Traditionally, the Marlins are a team that starts out hot in April only to fade out of the race by the All-Star Break, but in 2010 they had the talent to take them further into the season. Although some of Florida’s young pitching has already established themselves as legitimate major league pitchers, even the pitchers clouded with uncertainty all have the ability to become stars in the league.

One of these mysteries is Anibal Sanchez, who a few years ago threw a no-hitter and has shown flashes of brilliance in his time with the club, but has yet to establish himself as a mainstay within the rotation. Another mystery is left hander Andrew Miller, coming out of the University of North Carolina, this flamethrower was said to make a quick impact on the league. Being drafted 6th overall in 2006 by the Tigers, Miller came to Florida in the Miguel Cabrera deal but, like Sanchez, has not shown the consistency and growth that the team had expected.

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