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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Morosi: Nats mishandled Strasburg situation

Everything is screwy when it comes to Strousburg!

It didn’t have to be this way. That is the fault of the Nationals, not the media, even though Johnson pointed the finger squarely at us. “I’m a firm believer that this game is 99 percent mental,” Johnson said, according to MLB.com. “He is only human. I don’t how anybody can be . . . mentally concentrating on the job at hand with the media hype to this thing.”

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo could have mitigated the controversy by being more flexible in his planning and less strident in his public remarks. Why not start Strasburg’s season in May or June, or back him off at different times during the year, so he could contribute down the stretch? Why not recalibrate the innings limit when it became clear that the Nationals had a legitimate chance to win the World Series sooner than expected?

Instead, Rizzo and the Nationals stuck to a plan rooted in dogma, not hard science. No one knows if capping Strasburg’s season at 159 1/3 innings will save his arm, just as no one knows if the shutdown will affect Strasburg’s confidence or psyche by the time he throws his next meaningful pitch seven months from now.

Johnson said it himself: Baseball is “99 percent mental.” Yet the Nationals are handling Strasburg based on a physical/statistical metric. Seems incongruous, doesn’t it? Did the Nationals calculate the injury risk associated with the mental stress and lack of sleep that we now know resulted from the innings limit?

Repoz Posted: September 08, 2012 at 04:52 PM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats

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   1. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 08, 2012 at 05:57 PM (#4230412)
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo could have mitigated the controversy by being more flexible in his planning and less strident in his public remarks. Why not start Strasburg’s season in May or June, or back him off at different times during the year, so he could contribute down the stretch? Why not recalibrate the innings limit when it became clear that the Nationals had a legitimate chance to win the World Series sooner than expected?


Why not have a plan written with the input of the leading medical professionals, and follow that, even if it says that starting/restarting is riskier than just letting him continue on a set schedule, and that cutting innings back isn't going to change the wear/workload much because of all the warmup tosses and between start throwing?

Oh, yea, I guess they did.
   2. McCoy Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4230428)
That doesn't actually dispute this
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo could have mitigated the controversy by being more flexible in his planning and less strident in his public remarks. Why not start Strasburg’s season in May or June, or back him off at different times during the year, so he could contribute down the stretch? Why not recalibrate the innings limit when it became clear that the Nationals had a legitimate chance to win the World Series sooner than expected?
.

Strasburg has options. They could have shelved him from ST through May and then started him up in June while Lannan pitched in April and May. Doing that would have removed all of the early season controversy about sending Lannan down as well.

The Nationals picked an option that had only one narrow path and because of that they have some controversy on their hands and might just cost themselves a WS title. If they are willing to pay the price then good for them but they still have to pay the price which is taking shvt from reporters and fans.
   3. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4230435)
What Orel Hershiser said today makes sense. It was a mistake to announce this prior to the season. Once they did that they were locked into a position and it would make Rizzo look weak to back off of it, even if it made sense to do so. And it created a media feeding frenzy that distracted Strasburg, although the rest of the team has dealt with it well, along with the killer tornado we got today.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:25 PM (#4230440)
They could have shelved him from ST through May and then started him up in June while Lannan pitched in April and May. Doing that would have removed all of the early season controversy about sending Lannan down as well.

The problem is that if you hold Strasberg back so he can pitch 30 innings in the playoffs, and then the Nationals didn't make the playoffs, you're creating the same problem for 2013, assuming you don't want to boost Strasberg's yearly innings by more than ~40 per year.
   5. Mayor Blomberg Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4230443)
Why would it make sense to do so? I'm waiting for one of these pieces to begin by taking into account the research that went into the decision and opinions of the orthopedists consulted.

"Well, you don't know it's going to hurt his arm." No, and I've accidentally dropped my laptop a time or two w/o damage. But that has never led me to decide that the "experts" are only covering their ass by telling me to baby the unit so I should just let it fall.


ETA: #4 - good point!
   6. McCoy Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4230445)
I'm not saying they should have set Strasburg up for playoff games but they definitely could have set him up to start later in the season and given themselves wiggle room in case something good did happen.
   7. McCoy Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4230446)
Why would it make sense to do so? I'm waiting for one of these pieces to begin by taking into account the research that went into the decision and opinions of the orthopedists consulted.

The research didn't say have him throw 160 innings from the start of the season to until he hits 160 then shut him down. The "experts" told them he shouldn't pitched when fatigued or in discomfort and that shutting him down would be a good thing. They did not say that once you shut Strasburg down you can't start him back up again until February of 2013.

It's simply a myth that Strasburg defenders keep perpetuating that the doctors designed this usage pattern. They didn't.
   8. Mayor Blomberg Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4230447)
Richard Justice weighs in.
   9. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: September 08, 2012 at 07:09 PM (#4230464)
159 1/3 innings

No ERA-title-qualifying season for you!
   10. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 07:36 PM (#4230470)
Why not have a plan written with the input of the leading medical professionals,


This is misleading, because its premise is that "leading medical professionals" have the answer. They don't. They have no clue whether this decision will have any significant increase on Strasburg's health/effectiveness in the future.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: September 08, 2012 at 07:46 PM (#4230477)
There's an important tip for all of you aspiring reporters out there: nothing is ever the media's fault. And on those occasions when something is obviously the media's fault, your final out is that it's somebody else's fault because they should have done a better job of handling the media.

There was no "right" way to do this for the Nats. Start Strasburg in late May? Fine, but what if the Nats win fewer games in April/May and are in a fight for the division rather than running away with it and then the media simply shifts their focus to why wasn't he being pitched in April and May. Hershiser's idea of not saying anything may be the most moronic of all -- does anybody really think the shitstorm would be smaller if Rizzo announced 2 weeks go that Strasburg would be shut down? Of course what Hershiser really means is that management should never publicly commit to a plan so management can weasel out of this later.

And what's the evidence that this is wearing on Strasburg "mentally"? His last bad start? That he's had 2 bad starts in his last 3? How is that better evidence of mental wear and tear than physical wear and tear?

And Morosi plays the favorite dodge -- we don't know if this is helping Strasburg physically, we don't know that it's not hurting him mentally therefore clearly the Nats should do what I want (which, conveniently, he's not making public until now).
   12. Bob Tufts Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:21 PM (#4230508)
Why not have a plan written with the input of the leading medical professionals...

This is misleading, because its premise is that "leading medical professionals" have the answer. They don't. They have no clue whether this decision will have any significant increase on Strasburg's health/effectiveness in the future.


If I want advice on the need for surgery, the surgery and post-operative care, I'd trust Dr. Lewis Yocum - and the years of experience with baseball surgeries from people such as Dr. James Andrews who have a documented record of success.

Otherwise we are forced to rely on phrenology. leeches and dunk him in water to see if he sinks and is therefore healthy enough to pitch.
   13. OsunaSakata Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:23 PM (#4230511)
There's a lot of hyperbole in this debate. Jayson Stark may be the only measured voice I've heard. Even though I agree with the Nats' decision, Justice is overstating by concluding,"This decision will forever be one of their finest hours."
   14. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:27 PM (#4230515)

If I want advice on the need for surgery, the surgery and post-operative care, I'd trust Dr. Lewis Yocum - and the years of experience with baseball surgeries from people such as Dr. James Andrews who have a documented record of success.


Yocum can perform surgery, and diagnose injuries or conditions. He is not a soothsayer. He can't tell you how to prevent injuries, aside from "don't pitch." Nobody can. Why not limit Strasburg to 12 innings per season?

Otherwise we are forced to rely on phrenology. leeches and dunk him in water to see if he sinks and is therefore healthy enough to pitch.

That is, in effect, what the Nats are relying on.
   15. McCoy Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:33 PM (#4230519)
Just felt like sharing this. Ozzie Guillen is at the next table over. Should i ask him his opinion on this?
   16. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:42 PM (#4230524)
Just felt like sharing this. Ozzie Guillen is at the next table over. Should i ask him his opinion on this?

Depends whether or not he suspects that Strasburg is gay.
   17. Bob Tufts Posted: September 08, 2012 at 09:17 PM (#4230538)
Ray:

Oh dear!

Do you ever visit a doctor? If so, do you follow their advice and take the medication prescribed knowing as you seem to do that it is hokum?

Yes, a doctor cannot predict the future - the peer reviewed mathematical models based on their studies give percentages as to recovery - or not.

Each individual case is different, and speaking as a pitcher whose arm was abused by those who just said "rub some dirt on it", I am very happy for Strasburg that the organization apeears to have his well-being in mind. I don't want him to be this generation's Mark Fidrych.
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 09:57 PM (#4230546)
Everyone is acting as if shutting Strasburg down is etched in stone. But it isn't. There is a simple way out of this: Overrule Rizzo, or fire him. He has made a history-altering move for the franchise based on no evidence. Flags fly forever, and missed opportunities can never be taken again.
   19. Morty Causa Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4230551)
That, I think, is a good point. You know, the organization, Strasburg, and the associated medicos just might know something we don't, both as to the possibility of injury and way to keep that injury from happening. Not only that, but it is a matter of probabilities. Everything is a matter of probabilities. Nothing is certain. People might have assessed the costs and benefits as best as they can. You don't have to have the absolute best regimen to succeed in something like this, but you need regimen, and you should give it a chance to do it stuff.

Moreover, they may have left themselves room for change. All this seems like Barcalounge Quarterbacking Gone Wild.
   20. Esoteric Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4230556)
Everyone is acting as if shutting Strasburg down is etched in stone. But it isn't. There is a simple way out of this: Overrule Rizzo, or fire him. He has made a history-altering move for the franchise based on no evidence. Flags fly forever, and missed opportunities can never be taken again.


Seriously, Ray? Fire Mike Rizzo? "Flags fly forever?" You're just trolling now, admit it.

Also, I love your contention that, because certain outcomes cannot be predicted with 100% certainty, that means we have to throw out best practices and pretend as if nobody knows anything whatsoever about the health of young pitching arms. As it turns out, James Andrews and Lewis Yocum aren't just surgeons, they're top researchers (and published ones) in this field -- they actually know a little bit more of what they're talking about than Some Dude On The Internet Who Thinks He's Really Smart.
   21. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:17 PM (#4230564)
Also, I love your contention that, because certain outcomes cannot be predicted with 100% certainty, that means we have to throw out best practices and pretend as if nobody knows anything whatsoever about the health of young pitching arms. As it turns out, James Andrews and Lewis Yocum aren't just surgeons, they're top researchers (and published ones) in this field -- they actually know a little bit more of what they're talking about than Some Dude On The Internet Who Thinks He's Really Smart.


They can't know what is not knowable.

And "100% certainty?" No.
   22. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:18 PM (#4230565)
Ray, I thought you were in favor of this move because it suggested a front office who cares less about the postseason than everyone else.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:18 PM (#4230566)
Everyone is acting as if shutting Strasburg down is etched in stone. But it isn't. There is a simple way out of this: Overrule Rizzo, or fire him. He has made a history-altering move for the franchise based on no evidence. Flags fly forever, and missed opportunities can never be taken again.


Yep fire the guy who has put you in the place you are in now, in an attempt to change your odds of winning a world series from 12.5% to 12.6%.
   24. Bob Tufts Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4230572)
Flags fly forever


My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

I met a pitching coach from another team
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless ligaments
Stand in the elbow. Near them on the arm,
Half sunk, a shattered shoulder, whose corpse
And wrinkled skin and bones lost all command
Tell that the surgeon well his passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless rings,
The fans that loved him and the press that did.
And on the outfield walls these words appear:
`My name is Stephen Strasburg, Ace of Aces:
Look on my season, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside matters. Round the decay
Of that physical wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level fields stretch far away".

   25. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4230582)
Everyone is acting as if shutting Strasburg down is etched in stone. But it isn't. There is a simple way out of this: Overrule Rizzo, or fire him. He has made a history-altering move for the franchise based on no evidence. Flags fly forever, and missed opportunities can never be taken again.

Ray and Ozzie need to get together. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
   26. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4230588)
There is a simple way out of this: Overrule Rizzo, or fire him.

Ownership has backed Rizzo all season on Strasberg, and has every reason to be very happy with his performance. Check the standings, attendance & TV ratings. Rizzo may be the Executive of the Year, if it's not Duquette.
   27. vivaelpujols Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4230646)
Except baseball isn't 99% mental because that's retarded. Obviously the fewer pitches someone throws the less likely he is to be injured - so I have no problem with a hard cap. I do that the Nats could have been much more flexible and it's depressing that they didn't even try to break the standard 5 man rotation for a little while.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: September 09, 2012 at 04:49 AM (#4230808)
Why not limit Strasburg to 12 innings per season?

Boy that's a tough question.
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: September 09, 2012 at 09:18 AM (#4230832)
"No ERA-title-qualifying season for you!"

He was only in 11th place in the NL as of today anyway. I doubt he has a bonus clause for that.



   30. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4231097)
The research didn't say have him throw 160 innings from the start of the season to until he hits 160 then shut him down. The "experts" told them he shouldn't pitched when fatigued or in discomfort and that shutting him down would be a good thing. They did not say that once you shut Strasburg down you can't start him back up again until February of 2013.

It's simply a myth that Strasburg defenders keep perpetuating that the doctors designed this usage pattern. They didn't.


Thanks for establishing why starting him late didn't make sense. Their plan wasn't a specific set of innings, it was to pitch him until they saw signs of risk, fatigue, poor mechanics, whatever. What if he had been able to pitch 180 innings but didn't get enough starts because he started the season late?

What If they missed the playoffs by 1 game and could have gotten 3 or 4 more starts from him? NL East championships fly forever too.
   31. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4231103)
Everyone is acting as if shutting Strasburg down is etched in stone. But it isn't. There is a simple way out of this: Overrule Rizzo, or fire him. He has made a history-altering move for the franchise based on no evidence. Flags fly forever, and missed opportunities can never be taken again.


Liability risks don't go away when you fire the GM. The Nats were told how to rehab Strasburg by leading medical professionals, throwing out that plan without good reasons leaves the Nats as sitting ducks in the courtroom with Boras asking for $100m, and losing $30m in WAR ever year to boot.

And those costs can also linger virtually forever when it's harder to sign FA pitchers to replace the injured Strasburg, since agents should never again trust how the Nats will treat their clients.
   32. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: September 09, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4231107)
Props to Bob Tufts for 24. I feel that should be enshrined in the death of jeter thread.
   33. PerroX Posted: September 09, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4231157)
I'm sick and tired of reading things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
   34. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 09, 2012 at 09:11 PM (#4231213)
They could have shelved him from ST through May and then started him up in June while Lannan pitched in April and May. Doing that would have removed all of the early season controversy about sending Lannan down as well.

The problem is that if you hold Strasberg back so he can pitch 30 innings in the playoffs, and then the Nationals didn't make the playoffs, you're creating the same problem for 2013, assuming you don't want to boost Strasberg's yearly innings by more than ~40 per year.


I wonder if wanting him to have a longer off-season was part of their thinking too.

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