Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, August 31, 2012

Murray Chass: FREE STRASBURG FROM CHAINS OF OVERCAUTION

I asked Chuck Armstrong, the Seattle Mariners’ president for 20 years, if the Mariners proceeded carefully with [Felix] Hernandez in his early major league years.

“Actually, we did in his formative years,” Armstrong said, then cited a rule of thumb some people espouse: “No more innings than 10 times a pitcher’s age.”

Whether or not by design, the Mariners have basically followed that formula with Hernandez, with exceptions in 2009 (8 2/3 innings more than 10 times his age) and 2010 (9 2/3 more). Yet Hernandez has carried a full load. In six full seasons he has started, in order, 31, 30, 31, 34, 34 and 33 games (27 so far this season, with 7 more likely to follow). But he has had no need for elbow or shoulder surgery.

“I do worry about it,” Armstrong said in a telephone interview. “I wonder how many pitches he has in his arm. He’s not a maximum effort guy anymore. If he needs to get up to 95, 96, he can, but he doesn’t have to. Early on he often threw a lot of pitches. Now he tells me ‘I’m going to throw 98 pitches tonight’ and he does it.”

On Aug. 15 Hernandez threw 113 pitches in his perfect game against Tampa Bay. He threw 105 pitches in 7 2/3 innings in winning his next start against Cleveland (“Eric took him out at the right time,” Armstrong said of manager Eric Wedge). Six days later Hernandez needed only 100 pitches to gain his league-leading fifth shutout, a 5-hitter against Minnesota.

I had Hernandez in mind recently when I replied to a reader who disagreed with my view that wins for pitchers remain meaningful despite a contrary belief of advocates of new-age statistics. “How does a starting pitcher have ‘control?’” the reader wrote, referring to relievers’ giving up the starter’s lead.

“By pitching nine innings,” I replied. ... Elbows are supposed to be stronger after Tommy John surgery. Using the rule of thumb Armstrong cited, 10 times Strasburg’s age would give him a maximum of 240 innings, well above the number he will have, even accounting for the operation. ... A column in The New York Times two weeks ago said injury experts “have praised the team” for its stance on Strasburg’s injury, but the writer doesn’t name or quote any of his experts. The writer, David Leonhardt, is the Times’ Washington bureau chief. Geography apparently qualifies him to make other questionable statements.

bobm Posted: August 31, 2012 at 11:17 PM | 78 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mr president, nationals

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Walt Davis Posted: September 01, 2012 at 04:28 AM (#4224281)
I can't wait for Felix to turn 32!
   2. God Posted: September 01, 2012 at 05:09 AM (#4224285)
All I know is this rule of thumb means Clemens is going to have one hell of a year next year.
   3. bobm Posted: September 01, 2012 at 07:58 AM (#4224296)
For single seasons, From 1983 to 2012, For age 24, (requiring IP>=240), sorted by greatest Innings Pitched

                                                    
Rk                Player    IP Year Age  Tm Lg  G GS
1          Roger Clemens 281.2 1987  24 BOS AL 36 36
2    Fernando Valenzuela 272.1 1985  24 LAD NL 35 35
3              Dan Petry 266.1 1983  24 DET AL 38 38
4        Bret Saberhagen 260.2 1988  24 KCR AL 35 35
5            Frank Viola 257.2 1984  24 MIN AL 35 35
6              Mike Witt 250.0 1985  24 CAL AL 35 35
7        Felix Hernandez 249.2 2010  24 SEA AL 34 34
8            Ron Darling 248.0 1985  24 NYM NL 36 35
9            Bob Milacki 243.0 1989  24 BAL AL 37 36
10       Bill Gullickson 242.1 1983  24 MON NL 34 34
11          Mark Gubicza 241.2 1987  24 KCR AL 35 35
12        Richard Dotson 240.0 1983  24 CHW AL 35 35


For single seasons, From 1983 to 2012, For age 23, (requiring IP>=230), sorted by greatest Innings Pitched

                                                    
Rk                Player    IP Year Age  Tm Lg  G GS
1    Fernando Valenzuela 261.0 1984  23 LAD NL 34 34
2        Bret Saberhagen 257.0 1987  23 KCR AL 33 33
3          Roger Clemens 254.0 1986  23 BOS AL 33 33
4          Dwight Gooden 248.1 1988  23 NYM NL 34 34
5         Alex Fernandez 247.1 1993  23 CHW AL 34 34
6              Mike Witt 246.2 1984  23 CAL AL 34 34
7             Jim Abbott 243.0 1991  23 CAL AL 34 34
8          Greg Swindell 242.0 1988  23 CLE AL 33 33
9           Mike Mussina 241.0 1992  23 BAL AL 32 32
10          Mark Buehrle 239.0 2002  23 CHW AL 34 34
11       Felix Hernandez 238.2 2009  23 SEA AL 34 34
12           Greg Maddux 238.1 1989  23 CHC NL 35 35
13      Dontrelle Willis 236.1 2005  23 FLA NL 34 34
14       Livan Hernandez 234.1 1998  23 FLA NL 33 33
15       Clayton Kershaw 233.1 2011  23 LAD NL 33 33
16            Brad Radke 232.0 1996  23 MIN AL 35 35
17           John Smoltz 231.1 1990  23 ATL NL 34 34

   4. RollingWave Posted: September 01, 2012 at 08:57 AM (#4224315)
FREE BASEBALL FANS FROM MURRAY CHASE'S ARTICLES
   5. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 01, 2012 at 09:02 AM (#4224318)
You forgot "MR. PRESIDENT"

“By pitching nine innings,”


Tell it to Harvey Haddix.
   6. Spectral Posted: September 01, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4224478)
I have no empirical evidence for it, but it sure seems like Strasburg's been less consistent with his command lately. I don't think it's implausible at all that he's tiring, and my inclination is to give the benefit of the doubt to the Nationals coaches, medical staff, and management with regard to whether that's a result of fatigue. If he's fatigued (big if) allowing him to continue pitching would be an act of spectacular stupidity.
   7. bobm Posted: September 01, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4224486)
[6] 2012 splits:

                                                  
I         Split  ERA G HBP WP  BF  WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
    April/March 1.13 5   3  1 124 0.875  9.6  5.67
            May 4.50 5   0  0 110 1.385 12.5  3.27
           June 3.09 6   1  1 139 1.029 13.4  5.20
           July 4.13 5   0  2 122 1.412 10.2  5.33
         August 2.79 5   0  0 118 1.103  9.9  2.91
   8. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 01, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4224579)
Once again, I see no mention in TFA excerpt about Tommy John surgery, a teeny-tiny minor detail factoring into the Strasburg decision. Comparing him to other pitchers down through history who haven't had T.J. ligament replacement surgery is comparing apples to giraffes.

I actually paid for good seats to his last start (in Miami) to see him stink up the field. His pitches didn't look that bad to me from the 1B side of home plate, but the batters tell you how the pitcher is doing and he looked a bit out of it and kind of distracted or slightly unfocused. Who knows about these things? Maybe his next start will be lights-out?

Bottom line, if Strasburg isn't lights-out then why pitch him anyway? If John Lannan can come close to his recent success in AAA we won't miss Strasburg as the Nats cruise to the NL East pennant. That's all I care about, everything beyond that is gravy.
   9. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: September 01, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4224587)
“No more innings than 10 times a pitcher’s age.”


Jamie Moyer should have a job. A pitcher who can give you 490 innings has to have some value.
   10. lonestarball Posted: September 01, 2012 at 05:22 PM (#4224644)
Too bad he didn't ask Armstrong about Gil Meche.
   11. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 01, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4224656)
A column in The New York Times two weeks ago said injury experts “have praised the team” for its stance on Strasburg’s injury, but the writer doesn’t name or quote any of his experts. The writer, David Leonhardt, is the Times’ Washington bureau chief. Geography apparently qualifies him to make other questionable statements.


Did Murray ever source his "expert" opinion on Piazza's back acne?
   12. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 01, 2012 at 06:23 PM (#4224675)
I see no mention in TFA excerpt about Tommy John surgery


From the excerpt above:

Elbows are supposed to be stronger after Tommy John surgery. Using the rule of thumb Armstrong cited, 10 times Strasburg’s age would give him a maximum of 240 innings, well above the number he will have, even accounting for the operation.


See? Since we know that elbows are "supposed to be stronger" after TJS, it's already "accounted for".
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: September 01, 2012 at 06:41 PM (#4224684)
Elbows are supposed to be stronger after Tommy John surgery. Using the rule of thumb Armstrong cited, 10 times Strasburg’s age would give him a maximum of 240 innings, well above the number he will have, even accounting for the operation.


Funny part is he is supposed to source the experts who think the Strasburg rules are a good idea, but he doesn't need to cite a source for this really silly "10 times age" rule?
   14. Walt Davis Posted: September 01, 2012 at 08:33 PM (#4224738)
he doesn't need to cite a source for this really silly "10 times age" rule?

He sourced it right there in that sentence -- Chuck Armstrong's "rule of thumb." What he didn't source was the claim "elbows are supposed to be stronger after TJS".

Maybe things really have changed but isn't Strasburg in fact having one of the all-time best seasons immediately following TJS? The old rule of thumb I recalled was that you could expect it to take about a half-season before a guy was back to his usual self. Strasburg might not quite qualify given he did have his brief bit of "rehab" pitching at the end of last season.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: September 01, 2012 at 08:43 PM (#4224745)
Maybe things really have changed but isn't Strasburg in fact having one of the all-time best seasons immediately following TJS?


I was going to take a look on baseball reference a couple of guys that I thought...then it made me think, wouldn't it be cool for baseball reference to have a "Tommy John" tag (or a tag feature for players that you can just select---such as a cycle, no hitter, perfect game, 4 homerun, etc.....a lot of that you can do with pi etc..but not all of that, such as researching a tommy john surgery player or even a roid tag, suspended tag :) )
   16. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 02, 2012 at 12:26 AM (#4224900)
If he's fatigued (big if) allowing him to continue pitching would be an act of spectacular stupidity.

Big if? It's been five straight months baseball, everybody is fatigued. If they were in last, shutting him down might make sense. Shutting him down with the best record in baseball is an act of historical stupidity. The stuff that curses are made of.

If they do this maybe the Baseball Gods will finally give the Cubs a break a focus their full wrath on the Nationals as they would deserve.
   17. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 02, 2012 at 01:00 AM (#4224907)
As a Nats fan I want to see Strasburg have a great career. But part of me wants the Nats to let him pitch, and he blows his arm out in the first inning of the NLDS.
   18. Dave Spiwak Posted: September 02, 2012 at 02:11 AM (#4224930)
Are Strasburg's mechanics still the same and if so is he still at risk of another arm injury -- or is the TJ surgery supposed to make the arm more resilient?
   19. toratoratora Posted: September 02, 2012 at 02:12 AM (#4224931)
I'm with you on this. The SABR guy in me understands what and why the Nats are doing this. The fan in me thinks it's an obligation of a team to try their best to win, and that means putting your best players on the field if they can play. To not do so feels like it kinda goes against the grain of sport. I keep hearing Herm Edwards in my head, "You play to win the game."
   20. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 02, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4225100)
I bet that if the Nats lose a postseason series, it won't be decided by only one game.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 02, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4225121)
As a Nats fan I want to see Strasburg have a great career. But part of me wants the Nats to let him pitch, and he blows his arm out in the first inning of the NLDS.

Unfortunately that wouldn't likely shut up the Chasses and his fellow yahoos. Why anyone even pays any attention to people like that is wholly beyond me, and it's a relief that Rizzo isn't among those listening.
   22. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 02, 2012 at 10:51 PM (#4225343)
I bet that if the Nats lose a postseason series, it won't be decided by only one game.

It's always decided by one game, the last one. There is no scenario where using one of the best pitchers in the game couldn't have turned the series.
   23. McCoy Posted: September 03, 2012 at 01:48 AM (#4225386)
And that's why Greg Maddux has more rings than a pimp on a Saturday night does.
   24. God Posted: September 03, 2012 at 05:47 AM (#4225404)
Maddux=1
Ricciardi=0
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: September 03, 2012 at 06:57 AM (#4225409)

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed Stephen Strasburg will make two more starts before being shutdown.
Strasburg picked up a no-decision against the Cardinals on Sunday, and is now at 156-plus innings. If the Nationals stick to their current plan, Strasburg will finish among the league leaders in strikeouts, and look to improve on his 15-6 record and 2.94 ERA in his next two appearances. He remains a contender for the National League Cy Young despite his season being suspended. Source: Dan Kolko on Twitter Sep. 2 - 5:52 pm et
   26. bunyon Posted: September 03, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4225433)
He won't win the Cy Young if he doesn't pitch out the season. No way the writers vote for an uninjured guy who gets shut down. My guess is it costs Davey votes in MoY as well.


I think it's the wrong decision although I get why they're making it and obviously don't think there is zero chance of injury if he keeps pitching. But the writers seem to really, really, really hate it.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:05 AM (#4225437)
He won't win the Cy Young if he doesn't pitch out the season. No way the writers vote for an uninjured guy who gets shut down. My guess is it costs Davey votes in MoY as well.


Yes to the former, but I think it's understood that Davey really has no say in it, so I'm not sure it will hurt him there.

While I think it's probably a mistake in judgment, it's pretty damn obvious that Strasburg is on board with it (occasional comments to the contrary notwithstanding). And if he really is convinced that this is what's best, then you've got to shut him down.
   28. bobm Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4225440)
My guess is it costs Davey votes in MoY as well.

Why? Even if they finish in first?

It's not like he's engineered the situation. From last week's shouting match with Rizzo in his office, I think the writers know who is responsible for Operation Shutdown 2: Electric Boogaloo.
   29. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4225444)
There is no scenario where using one of the best pitchers in the game couldn't have turned the series.


Sure there is -- sweep without using him.
   30. bunyon Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4225446)
I think it's clear from my posts that I don't really consider the writers rational. I think they'll ding Davey a little for not being able to overcome his GM and pitcher. FWIW, "they" here really means it will affect a few of the voters. I suppose a few might give him credit for getting Little Stephen to pitch at all this year.
   31. bunyon Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:28 AM (#4225449)
Sure there is -- sweep without using him.

If you use him and win, the future changes. These games aren't actually coin-flips you realize? I mean, the whole sturm and drang of dramatic narrative that surrounds most series is far, far overdone. That doesn't mean they're just random draws.

Let's say the Nats get swept in the LDS. Three not particularly close games. Now, if they use Strasburg and win game one, what happens next? For one thing, the various pressures shift. The other team knows they might face Strasburg again, etc. They may still lose three in a row. Or, they may not. You don't know, I don't know. Just like we don't know if shutting him down is preventing an injury or not. Just like I don't know if shutting him down is costing them a playoff game or not.

They've made their decision. I hope Strasburg has a long, healthy career in front of him and that he someday gets to pitch in the postseason. I think he will someday regret this decision.
   32. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4225450)
As we all know, only 32 people get NL CYA or MOY votes in any given year. The opinions being loudly expressed by many in the MSM are not necessarily going to represent those of the subset that actually votes.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:35 AM (#4225453)
As we all know, only 32 people get NL CYA or MOY votes in any given year. The opinions being loudly expressed by many in the MSM are not necessarily going to represent those of the subset that actually votes.


That's regularly forgotten (or ignored). I still find it unlikely that a guy who gets voluntarily shelved with two-plus weeks left will get rewarded as his league's best pitcher (and particularly here, where he was just one of the candidates before the shutdown).



   34. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4225457)
If you use him and win, the future changes. These games aren't actually coin-flips you realize?


What does that have to do with the comment I responded to? And even if you think it does have something to do with the comment I responded to, what about the scenario where the Nats go 11-0 in the post-season without using Strassburg to throw a single inning?
   35. JE (Jason) Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:50 AM (#4225458)
As noted elsewhere, I am happy for the fans here in DC, but it would be fun to watch the reaction if in mid or late September Zimmermann or Gio winds up with a season-ending injury.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4225459)
What does that have to do with the comment I responded to? And even if you think it does have something to do with the comment I responded to, what about the scenario where the Nats go 11-0 in the post-season without using Strassburg to throw a single inning?


Robert's comment (the one you were responding to) was following Larry's stipulation that began: "If the Nats lose a series..."

An 11-0 Nats' postseason romp (or any configuration of results that ends in a WS victory) is excluded from the scenario being discussed.

   37. bunyon Posted: September 03, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4225492)
There is no scenario where using one of the best pitchers in the game couldn't have turned the series.


Sure there is -- sweep without using him.




If you use him and win, the future changes. These games aren't actually coin-flips you realize?


What does that have to do with the comment I responded to?


Sorry. I misinterpreted what you meant by sweep - thought you were saying they GOT swept.

Sure, if the Nats go 11-0 through the playoffs using Strasburg wouldn't have helped. Hell, if they win the world series, using Strasburg couldn't have improved things. Of course, in that event, Mr. Strasburg will have to live with the fact that he wasn't really part of that team. I kind of think that would be a fine ending to this; Strasburg sits throughout the playoffs, the Nats win a ring, he goes on to a long, great career....but never again pitches in the world series.
   38. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 12:38 PM (#4225508)
Hell, if they win the world series, using Strasburg couldn't have improved things. Of course, in that event, Mr. Strasburg will have to live with the fact that he wasn't really part of that team.

What are you talking about? I suppose if the Nats win that he'll be expected to turn down his ring, since those 180 or so innings he pitched had nothing to do with their success, just like Reggie Jackson told the '72 A's he didn't feel right about accepting his.

I kind of think that would be a fine ending to this; Strasburg sits throughout the playoffs, the Nats win a ring, he goes on to a long, great career....but never again pitches in the world series.

After comments like this, all we need now is for Rick Reilly to demand that Strasburg whip out his balls to prove that he's really a man.
   39. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 03, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4225520)
After comments like this, all we need now is for Rick Reilly to demand that Strasburg whip out his balls to prove that he's really a man.

There are some Nats fans who'd like proof as well.
   40. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 03, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4225528)
After comments like this, all we need now is for Rick Reilly to demand that Strasburg whip out his balls to prove that he's really a man.


There are some Nats fans who'd like proof as well.

I don't think this at all (and, in fact, I'm kind of impressed), but I am very surprised that Strasburg is on-board with the shutdown. Putting long-term prospects over short-term wants is not a mindset you see in most athletes.

   41. bunyon Posted: September 03, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4225547)
What are you talking about? I suppose if the Nats win that he'll be expected to turn down his ring, since those 180 or so innings he pitched had nothing to do with their success, just like Reggie Jackson told the '72 A's he didn't feel right about accepting his.

Did Reggie feel fine when he didn't play in the 72 series? Could he have played and just decided not to?

I'm not questioning Strasburg's manhood. I'm not questioning his talent, drive or determination. I'm sure he's worked harder at pitching than I've ever worked at anything.

What I'm saying is that the point of the game is to win and the point of the season to win the championship. Bowing out due to long-term concern over his pitching arm and income potential may well be the right decision for Strasburg and, to a lesser extent, the Nats to make. It's just not something I can root for. It really is spreadsheet thinking, wins/$ thinking and the idea that I just find repugnant in sports. Yes, I get it, it's a business and my little rooting interests don't count for much. But, in terms of entertainment, I don't find this kind of thinking to be very entertaining. YMMV, of course.

You're (many of you) arrogant attitude that anyone who thinks he should pitch is a neanderthal who wants to check his nutsack seem awfully defensive to me. I'm simply saying that the ultimate goal of any MLB player should be to play in and win the World Series (or, Andy, shall we agree that the 90s Braves are better than the 90s Yanks?). As a fan, I don't particularly care how much money Stephen Strasburg makes in his life. While I hope he has a long career, I'd rather see a few beautiful years than 15 years of very good. I want players and teams to be trying to win. This move doesn't seem that to me. (At any rate, Andy, you're once again assuming everyone on the other side of an argument from you thinks uniformly. I'm not sure why you think that or why you think I'm questioning Strasburg's manhood. I'm saying voluntarily missing out on playing in the postseason is the kind of decision a 24 year old makes that comes back to haunt him later in life. Of course he gets a ring and he contributed mightily to it. Yay! A RING! But did he get to step on the field in the final moments? Shut a team down in the World Series? Are you telling me that if a guy is voted a playoff share though he was cut in August that that should feel the same as a guy who gets a couple of hits in the Series? Seriously?.)


I also don't like what I see as inconsistency. If he's to be treated gently, why was he started up with spring training. I'd think a couple more months of rest, bring him along slow, to the majors in July or so and let him pitch out the season makes a lot more sense than what they're doing. I'm not stating that so that he can pitch in the playoffs. I'm saying that if he can't do a full season, it doesn't make a lot of sense to start him at the start of the season and then shut him down. It makes a hell of a lot more sense to give a little extra recovery time and then bring him along.

At any rate, I think he's a wonderful pitcher. If he's the kind of guy who can just shut down when he feels fine* and his team is at the brink of doing something incredible and, potentially, once in a lifetime, he's not the kind of player I can root for. That feels very A-Rodish calculating to me.



* All this is predicated on the idea that he feels fine, is pitching well, etc. As I've said, over and over, I'd sit him down a lot sooner than if he hadn't had a recent TJ. If they come out and say, you know, he's having a little discomfort, so we're shutting him down, I'd be 100% for it. But that isn't what they're saying. They're saying, no matter what, he's done. Right or wrong, no one can know. But it isn't the sort of philosophy, on a playing field, I can get behind.
   42. robinred Posted: September 03, 2012 at 02:28 PM (#4225569)
I don't think this at all (and, in fact, I'm kind of impressed), but I am very surprised that Strasburg is on-board with the shutdown.


Well, he may really be, but even if he is not, if made a big fuss about it, it would just ratchet up the controversy. As long as his teammates know that he would to be out there with him and they still respect him (all indications are that they do), going along with it in the media is probably the prudent course. Not saying you are wrong, just saying that there is more than one way to read it.
   43. robinred Posted: September 03, 2012 at 02:28 PM (#4225570)
I don't think this at all (and, in fact, I'm kind of impressed), but I am very surprised that Strasburg is on-board with the shutdown.


Well, he may really be, but even if he is not, if made a big fuss about it, it would just ratchet up the controversy. As long as his teammates know that he would like to be out there with him and they still respect him (all indications are that they do), going along with it in the media is probably the prudent course. Not saying you are wrong, just saying that there is more than one way to read it.
   44. bobm Posted: September 03, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4225577)
Bunyon: Just to clarify: who do you see as making the shutdown decision? Rizzo? Johnson? Boras? Strasburg himself?

It's hard for me to be critical of Strasburg when he seems to me to have very little practical input into the decision. If he instead protested, he would be criticized for being a malcontent, right?
   45. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 03, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4225578)
Well, he may really be, but even if he is not, if made a big fuss about it, it would just ratchet up the controversy. As long as his teammates know that he would to be out there with him and they still respect him (all indications are that they do), going along with it in the media is probably the prudent course. Not saying you are wrong, just saying that there is more than one way to read it.


Because Scott Boras works for him, not the other way around. There's no logical way to interpret Boras's insistence that Strasburg be shut down than to believe that Strasburg is on board with the decision.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4225580)
After comments like this, all we need now is for Rick Reilly to demand that Strasburg whip out his balls to prove that he's really a man.

There are some Nats fans who'd like proof as well.


There's little indication that those Nats fans constitute anything other than a vocal minority. Most of the complaints I'm seeing directed towards Strasburg are from the Dibbles and the Chasses.

------------------------------------------------

There are some Nats fans who'd like proof as well.

I don't think this at all (and, in fact, I'm kind of impressed), but I am very surprised that Strasburg is on-board with the shutdown. Putting long-term prospects over short-term wants is not a mindset you see in most athletes.


So SoSH and Bunyon, you tell me: What exactly is Strasburg supposed to do? He's already said plenty of times that he feels fine and that he wants to keep pitching.

Beyond that, is he supposed to go out there on shutdown day, wrestle the starter for the ball, and then say "Take it from me if you dare?"

Or should he be issuing daily statements to the media, thereby undercutting the organization, implying that his teammates aren't capable of winning without him, and accomplishing absolutely nothing of a positive nature?

Any other suggestions? A demand to be traded? A shit strike? I'm all ears.

Look, obviously I agree with Rizzo's decision, but the point is that if you think that it reeks of paranoia, cowardice, lack of foresight, or just plain old stupidity, your argument should be solely directed at Rizzo and the organization, not at the pitcher who's obviously willing to go out there if given the go-ahead. For better or worse, baseball isn't an individual sport where a player is responsible for nobody but himself, and the players don't make out the lineups. And although some people seem to find it irrelevant, Tommy John surgery is serious business.

EDIT: cokes to robin and bobm
   47. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 03, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4225583)

Any other suggestions? A demand to be traded? A #### strike? I'm all ears.


Have his agent, you know the guy who helped build the Nats organization, make a simple statement that if the Nats don't let him pitch in the postseason, then he won't sign a long-term deal when he becomes eligible for free agency. That would be an indication that they'll have to tear the ball out of his hands, rather than the empty words that you have so clearly eaten up. Do you think the Nats' fanbase would be fully on board with the decision if Boras said that?

But hell, Boras doesn't have to make any threats at all to indicate Strasburg's attitude. If Strasburg truly wanted to pitch, then Boras should be making that claim, rather than defending the shelving. Boras is either not representing his client's wishes, or his client is not being entirely truthful about his wishes. I"m putting my money on the latter.

I refuse to believe that Strasburg has no leverage, that he's merely a pawn to Mike Rizzo's machinations. If he truly wanted to pitch in the postseason, I think the Nats would have done something, anything, to figure out a way to make it happen (stagger his starts, skip a start, limit his innings during starts). That they have done nothing of the sort to deviate from "The Plan," coupled with Strasburg's employee's rather forceful declarations of the need to shut him down, tells me that Strasburg is good with the shutdown.

Now, unlike bunyon, I'm OK with Strasburg choosing this long-term path over the short-term one. Just don't try to convince me that he really, really wants to pitch and the mean ol' Nats just won't let him.
   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4225590)
Any other suggestions? A demand to be traded? A shit strike? I'm all ears.

Have his agent, you know the guy who helped build the Nats organization, make a simple statement that if the Nats don't let him pitch in the postseason, then he won't sign a long-term deal when he becomes eligible for free agency.


Yes, that would do absolute wonders for the organization's morale! Maybe he could get Garry Templeton to help him with the wording.

Or maybe the Nats should just fill the stands with out-of-town commentators, and let them make out the entire starting lineup like Bill Veeck did on Grandstand Manager's Day. Anything to keep the team focused on things that really matter.
   49. nick swisher hygiene Posted: September 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4225591)
41--the thing is, though, surely most ballplayers are gonna suck it up and try to pitch when they're, oh, 75% or whatever, because they've been convinced by the history and culture of the game that it's what you're supposed to do.

suppose you had a magic instant MRI ray you could point at any of your pitchers who'd just had a bad couple of starts but claimed they felt "fine." does anybody doubt that you could prevent a huge ####### number of serious injuries?
   50. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 03, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4225599)
Yes, that would do absolute wonders for the organization's morale! Maybe he could get Garry Templeton to help him with the wording.


Yes, because desperately wanting to play is the exact same thing as not wanting to. But as I said, Boras doesn't have to threaten anything. But if he's defending the decision, it's hard to reach any other conclusion than that his employer is OK with it.

As for your second sentence, frankly, I'm about sick of this line of argument you keep making on this subject. You think it's the right thing, fine. But this bullshit you keep spewing about out-of-town commentators, as if any of us non-Washingtonians can't have an honestly formed opinion on the subject, is thoroughly obnoxious.

   51. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4225608)
Yes, that would do absolute wonders for the organization's morale! Maybe he could get Garry Templeton to help him with the wording.

Yes, because desperately wanting to play is the exact same thing as not wanting to.


Actually your hypothetical is infinitely more self-centered than Templeton's almost comical threat to boycott a meaningless exhibition game. You're saying that Strasburg should threaten (through Scott Boras) to sabotage the Nats' long term interests if they don't cave on this one decision. I can't imagine anything that would be more completely destructive of either his or the Nats' interest. It would be almost breathtakingly counterproductive in every respect.

Honestly, Andy, your arguments in these threads have been awful. You think it's the right thing, fine. But this ######## you keep spewing about out-of-town commentators, as if any of us non-Washingtonians can't have an honestly formed opinion on the subject, is thoroughly obnoxious.

I didn't say that their opinions aren't honest. I don't doubt the sincerity of even Dibble's and Chass's comments. I've said that they have less standing to comment on what's an internal team decision than Nats fans do. If the Red Sox or the Braves were making similar sorts of decisions about one of their pitchers in a similar situation, my first reaction would be not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and the last thing I'd be doing would be putting the blame on the pitcher.
   52. robinred Posted: September 03, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4225638)
Because Scott Boras works for him, not the other way around.


This is a BTF meme, but it has holes. While technically true, it seems pretty logical to assume that a guy in his 20s would be guided by the advice of the biggest name in the sports rep biz, even if the young guy in question disagreed with the advice intuitively. If by "on board" you mean "going along with Rizzo and Boras", yeah. If by "on board" you mean "totally 100% behind the shutdown and would put up a fuss if asked to pitch", I kind of doubt it.
   53. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4225653)
it seems pretty logical to assume that a guy in his 20s would be guided by the advice of the biggest name in the sports rep biz, even if the young guy in question disagreed with the advice intuitively. If by "on board" you mean "going along with Rizzo and Boras", yeah. If by "on board" you mean "totally 100% behind the shutdown and would put up a fuss if asked to pitch", I kind of doubt it.

Is there a shred of direct evidence, as opposed to inferential and conspiratorial conjecture, that Strasburg agrees with the shutdown? The only "case" against Strasburg himself seems to be that he hasn't elevated his oft-stated disagreement with the shutdown into a major disruption, which kind of leaves me wondering exactly whose interests are allegedly being promoted by this vocal peanut gallery of kibbitzers.
   54. bunyon Posted: September 03, 2012 at 06:26 PM (#4225724)
Bunyon: Just to clarify: who do you see as making the shutdown decision? Rizzo? Johnson? Boras? Strasburg himself?

Rizzo for sure. Perhaps with a little Boras thrown in. I'd like to think Boras isn't much involved but that seems naive. Mostly Rizzo. I also assume Strasburg is good with it. I think he's put himself in Boras' hands with the goal to making as much money as he possibly can. A prudent and wise decision that makes him a businessman rather than a ballplayer. As I've said several times, this is probably the best decision for the life of Stephen Strasburg. It isn't much fun to watch or root for, IMO.

It's hard for me to be critical of Strasburg when he seems to me to have very little practical input into the decision. If he instead protested, he would be criticized for being a malcontent, right?

Again, I think people aren't understanding what I'm talking about. Which is fair when I'm on the same side of an argument as millions of idiots. I'm simply putting out who and what I will root for. Sam will kill me, but I quite like the Nats this year...except for this decision. If Strasburg is pitching in the playoffs, I'll probably root for them in the NL (yes, even over my Braves - stupid play in wild card thing). If they shut him down while healthy, I won't. That kind of calculating decision, explicitly putting dollars ahead of winning isn't my cup of tea. Of course, as Andy says, that probably doesn't matter to the principals at all, though I'm not sure how that comes into the calcuation. My guess is no one in MLB gives much of a #### what any of us here say or think.

So, my "objection" is on two levels:

1) the decision from Strasburg's perspective basically states that money is more important than winning. While that is almost certainly true of almost every MLB player, if not all, having it explicitly stated like this rubs me the wrong way. I think there is a good chance, as I've said, that Strasburg comes to regret the decision (whoever actually made it).

2) the decision from the Nats perspective is flawed and assuming many facts not in evidence. That sort of risk-minimizing stance also rubs me the wrong way.


I'm certainly not saying that I know I'm right or that I might not make the same decision in their shoes. But when I sit down to watch a game and pick sides, I'm not picking sides that is looking more to its long-term potential than trying to win the game I'm watching. Intellectually, I love sabrmetrics and rational thought. On the field, I want to see guys fighting to win it all.


And, again, Andy, spare me the "they don't care what you think" mantra. Of course not. Much like I don't care what they think of me. It's a chat board and I stated my position. You can disagree with it but pointing out that I'm not involved in the decision and that those making it don't care about me is both obvious and irrelevant.

suppose you had a magic instant MRI ray you could point at any of your pitchers who'd just had a bad couple of starts but claimed they felt "fine." does anybody doubt that you could prevent a huge ####### number of serious injuries?

I'm on record (well, you'd have to dig through the archives) as thinking every team should MRI their pitchers monthly or more. In the scheme of a MLB budget, a MRI isn't that expensive. Put one in the stadium, hire the staff to run it and cycle your guys through it. The small budget teams would notice but not the large budget. I'm not a pitch them like it's 1910 kind of guy, though I would probably stretch guys a bit more than is done now. I don't think there is a lot of data to support reducing usage reduces injury, with the caveat that we aren't asking guys to go 180 pitches 40 times a season.

Hell, you could extend free MRI service to all employees. Give one free MRI to all season ticket holders. Make it a marketing gimmick. Turn it on while the other team bats to get in their heads...


and the last thing I'd be doing would be putting the blame on the pitcher.

But, ultimately, these guys are grown ups. If Strasburg decides to put his fate in Boras' hands, he doesn't get to shift blame to Boras. I think it is possible Strasburg's bosses have made this decision for him. But he's still the guy shutting down. I don't generally root for GMs so my choice is: is Stephen Strasburg the kind of guy I want to root for? To this point, my answer has been yes. Shutting down in this situation will weigh heavily on the "no" side of the ledger.

Anyway, Andy, I thought you were a Yankee fan. What right do you have to weigh in? ;)




   55. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 03, 2012 at 06:29 PM (#4225725)
Money isn't everything. It's the only thing.
   56. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 07:49 PM (#4225762)
and the last thing I'd be doing would be putting the blame on the pitcher.

But, ultimately, these guys are grown ups. If Strasburg decides to put his fate in Boras' hands, he doesn't get to shift blame to Boras. I think it is possible Strasburg's bosses have made this decision for him. But he's still the guy shutting down. I don't generally root for GMs so my choice is: is Stephen Strasburg the kind of guy I want to root for? To this point, my answer has been yes. Shutting down in this situation will weigh heavily on the "no" side of the ledger.


But neither you or anyone else have shown any concrete evidence (a) that Strasburg agrees with the shutdown; (b) that any player has (or should have) any substantive input when it comes to a decision like this**; or (c) that there's any real alternative for Strasburg's going along that wouldn't cast him in a role of team disrupter. Any open rebellion on his part at this point would do nothing but disrupt the team's focus, which is the last thing that either he or the Nats should want. Sometimes you just have to accept orders and realize that you don't always have complete autonomy. And if he's really that steamed to the point where he wouldn't re-up with the Nats when he reaches free agency, the time to state that would be then, not now, and certainly not now and in public.

Anyway, Andy, I thought you were a Yankee fan. What right do you have to weigh in? ;)

I've got an AL team and an NL team, and I've lived in Washington for longer than 95% of the people posting here have been alive. I've got lots of friends who've been Nats fans since the hapless days of the Griffith years, and that also comes into play. In a Yanks-Nats WS I'd be happy no matter which team won, not that the Yanks have a snowball's chance in Hell of getting there this year.

**Beyond saying in public what Strasburg has, that he feels fine and would like to be able to pitch beyond shutdown day.
   57. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 03, 2012 at 07:52 PM (#4225764)
Actually your hypothetical is infinitely more self-centered than Templeton's almost comical threat to boycott a meaningless exhibition game. You're saying that Strasburg should threaten (through Scott Boras) to sabotage the Nats' long term interests if they don't cave on this one decision. I can't imagine anything that would be more completely destructive of either his or the Nats' interest. It would be almost breathtakingly counterproductive in every respect.


First of all, I'm not saying he should do anything. I'm saying that if he truly wants to pitch as much as he claims he wants to pitch, he'd do something to show it. He hasn't done that.

And Stephen Strasburg has no obligation to the Nats' long-term interests, and never has. That he is putting his own long-term interests ahead of his short-term ones is suprising to me, because it runs counter to how (in my experience) most athletes think. Either way, if Strasburg wanted to pitch, in the "you're going to have to rip the ball out of my hand" sense that he has paid lip service to, I have no doubt that he could pressure the Nats into doing so (or, at the very least, pressure them into making some modifications to the unyielding usage schedule they've come up with). He has done nothing of the sort, which leads me to the conclusion that SS is on board with the decision.


I've said that they have less standing to comment on what's an internal team decision than Nats fans do.


For starters, that's complete bullshit. You've said clearly and often that those on the other side aren't thinking about what's in the best interests of the Nats.

And secondly, bullshit again. This is a major and pretty much unprecedented baseball story. We don't have to be Nats fans (or pretend ones, for the purposes of this discussion) to have an opinion that's worth a listen.


This is a BTF meme, but it has holes. While technically true, it seems pretty logical to assume that a guy in his 20s would be guided by the advice of the biggest name in the sports rep biz, even if the young guy in question disagreed with the advice intuitively. If by "on board" you mean "going along with Rizzo and Boras", yeah. If by "on board" you mean "totally 100% behind the shutdown and would put up a fuss if asked to pitch", I kind of doubt it.


I wouldn't be surprised if Scott Boras and Mike Rizzo have convinced Strasburg of the inevitable doom of pitching beyond his prescribed limits, and that has played the major role in his decision. But whether he's been led there honestly, been snookered to believe it by his elders or came to the conclusion on his own is irrelevant. Stephen Strasburg is on board with this decision. If he wasn't, then both he AND his agent would be making a fuss in the other direction, not in the direction that supports the shutdown. There can be considerable argument about why he came to this decision. I don't think there's reasonable grounds about the fact that he did (other than, I suppose, that Stephen Strasburg is a complete and utter moron and that he has no choice but to go along with whatever his agent tells him, which I have no reason to believe is the truth).
   58. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 09:11 PM (#4225801)
First of all, I'm not saying he should do anything. I'm saying that if he truly wants to pitch as much as he claims he wants to pitch, he'd do something to show it. He hasn't done that.

So he shouldn't necessarily "do anything", but to prove that he means it he has to do "something to show it."

Again, like what? This is getting a bit confusing.

I've said that they have less standing to comment on what's an internal team decision than Nats fans do.

For starters, that's complete ########. You've said clearly and often that those on the other side aren't thinking about what's in the best interests of the Nats.


Those two statements aren't at all contradictory. The non-Nats fans who are trying to tell Harper and the Nats what to do are mostly talking about some sort of unwritten code ("Man up and pitch, girly boy" is pretty much Dibble's line), although they don't use that exact term. By definition they're indifferent to the long range success of the team, which to me signifies that they have less standing to comment than those who aren't indifferent.

I wouldn't be surprised if Scott Boras and Mike Rizzo have convinced Strasburg of the inevitable doom of pitching beyond his prescribed limits, and that has played the major role in his decision. But whether he's been led there honestly, been snookered to believe it by his elders or came to the conclusion on his own is irrelevant. Stephen Strasburg is on board with this decision. If he wasn't, then both he AND his agent would be making a fuss in the other direction, not in the direction that supports the shutdown. There can be considerable argument about why he came to this decision. I don't think there's reasonable grounds about the fact that he did (other than, I suppose, that Stephen Strasburg is a complete and utter moron and that he has no choice but to go along with whatever his agent tells him, which I have no reason to believe is the truth).

Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke, sometimes a player just goes along with a decision he clearly doesn't agree with, and sometimes a player might even reach the radical conclusion that he's not the manager of the team. You can invent all the possible hypotheticals you want, but the bottom line is that Strasburg objected to the shutdown in public, but he's not going to make a federal case out of it for the obvious reason that to do so would be incredibly disruptive to his team at a time when it's getting ready to play its first postseason games.
   59. robinred Posted: September 03, 2012 at 09:39 PM (#4225816)
(other than, I suppose, that Stephen Strasburg is a complete and utter moron and that he has no choice but to go along with whatever his agent tells him, which I have no reason to believe is the truth).


This is what I don't get. You are talking about Boras like he is the guy who takes Strasburg's dog for a walk when the Nats are on the road. Boras is worth millions of dollars, represents many big-time players, and has negotiated some of the biggest contracts in the history of American sports. Listening to Boras' advice on a career/money/longevity issue would not make Strasburg a "complete and utter moron"; on the contrary, I would think it would make him pretty smart. Who has a better track record of helping top-tier MLB stars make big money on long-term deals than Scott Boras?

So, ISTM that if Strasburg's big-time agent AND the team's GM are telling Strasburg that the shutdown is the way to go, well, sure, Strasburg could go all Rob Dibble, fire Boras, and tell ESPN and MASN that he wants the damn ball, but I don't see that doing so would be a particularly good idea. But he's a ballplayer, so I think it is pretty safe to assume that he wants to play ball.

For the record, I have serious doubts about the shutdown and am closer to bunyon's position than Andy's.
   60. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 03, 2012 at 09:57 PM (#4225825)
The bottom line is that the Nats have no real evidence that saving 30-60 innings to his arm (capping him at 160 innings instead of 190-220 that he will end up with this year) will significantly reduce the chance of injury. Now, that's not entirely fair -- there are few data points where healthy starters have been shut down at 160 innings -- but it doesn't change the fact that they are grasping at straws here. And I don't think that's the right way to run an organization. This isn't a science lab.
   61. robinred Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4225830)
BTW, I think people should start calling this situation "Operation Shutdown."
   62. Howie Menckel Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4225843)

I certainly understand those who criticize the Strasburg decision, obviously.

Anyone want to spitball a sentiment of the odds of the Nats winning the World Series with him, and without him?

We start with 1 in 10, which is each postseason team now, to start.
But we can offer lower numbers on the bottom 4, since each has roughly a 50 pct chance of losing in 1 play-in game.

If the Nationals are 1 in 6 with him, what are they without him?
Just curious.

#nodoginthehunt

   63. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4225863)
So, ISTM that if Strasburg's big-time agent AND the team's GM are telling Strasburg that the shutdown is the way to go, well, sure, Strasburg could go all Rob Dibble, fire Boras, and tell ESPN and MASN that he wants the damn ball, but I don't see that doing so would be a particularly good idea.

Especially since they still wouldn't give him the ball, and there wouldn't be a damn thing he could do about it except double down with the pouting, meanwhile starting a civil war within the fledgling Nats Nation on the eve of the postseason.

Yeah, that'd be the greatest career move this side of smoking crack on Baseball Tonight and daring Selig to do anything. It would be about on the strategic level of a suicide bomber. I still haven't seen anyone come up with a single course of action that Strasburg should be taking to "prove" that he really wants to pitch, that would ever be attempted in the real world by any player with an IQ over 60. And at this point I'm seriously wondering whether some of you** even comprehend this.

**Meaning the ones who are criticizing Strasburg, not the ones who understand that Rizzo and the organization are the ones who are calling the shots, not Strasburg and / or Boras.
   64. TerpNats Posted: September 03, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4225864)
If the Nationals are 1 in 6 with him, what are they without him?
Just curious.
Probably 1 in 7.

However, a Tommy John shutdown may boost the Nats' chances in 2013, '14 and '15 to 1 in 5 or even 1 in 4, whereas pitching him now may alter those odds to 1 in 10 or 1 in 12. Potential short-term pain, more than compensated for by potential long-term gain.
   65. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 03, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4225872)
#60 Ray, I've heard it's more like the limit was determined (at least at a rough cut) as a percentage increase from his previous innings pitched. However, he blew out his elbow in August of his first season, which he started in June. When he returned to the MLB field in 2011 he only started 5 games as part of his rehab, I guess. So they really don't have a full season of Major League data on Strasburg from which to extrapolate.

The more I think about this, the more my head hurts.

Mike Rizzo is the Grinch Who Stole Strasmas.
   66. SoSH U at work Posted: September 03, 2012 at 11:23 PM (#4225878)
So he shouldn't necessarily "do anything", but to prove that he means it he has to do "something to show it."

Again, like what? This is getting a bit confusing.


It's not confusing. I'm not telling Stephen Strasburg he has to want to pitch. In fact, I'm a little impressed he's going against the grain here. But I'm not going to buy his sentiment that he desperately wants to pitch when his employer has been saying the exact opposite. It makes no sense.

This is what I don't get. You are talking about Boras like he is the guy who takes Strasburg's dog for a walk when the Nats are on the road. Boras is worth millions of dollars, represents many big-time players, and has negotiated some of the biggest contracts in the history of American sports. Listening to Boras' advice on a career/money/longevity issue would not make Strasburg a "complete and utter moron"; on the contrary, I would think it would make him pretty smart. Who has a better track record of helping top-tier MLB stars make big money on long-term deals than Scott Boras?


I didn't say he'd be a moron for listening to Boras. I said he'd be a moron for thinking he has no choice but to listen to Boras. I don't think he's such a creature.

But if Stephen Strasburg was truly desperate to pitch, as he's claimed on more than one occasion and some people here have bought into, he'd at the very least tell his agent to STFU about how he absolutely, positively must be shut down.

So, ISTM that if Strasburg's big-time agent AND the team's GM are telling Strasburg that the shutdown is the way to go, well, sure, Strasburg could go all Rob Dibble, fire Boras, and tell ESPN and MASN that he wants the damn ball, but I don't see that doing so would be a particularly good idea. But he's a ballplayer, so I think it is pretty safe to assume that he wants to play ball.


Sure, in a perfect world he wants to play ball. But in the world he inhabits, the one where certain arm catastrophe lurks after inning No. 171 1/3, Stephen Strasburg has most certainly chosen not to pitch. I don't believe for a second that if SS was in "damn the arm, we've got a championship to win" mode, the Nats wouldn't have tried to find a way to accomodate their young superstar's desire to, you know, pitch for them.

Now, unlike bunyon I'm OK with Strasburg coming to the conclusion he did. It's his arm, it's his future, and if he is convinced of the dangers of throwing beyond the prescribed limits,* then I've got no problem with him opting to sit this one out. Just don't try to sell me on the idea that he'd be out there tossing the old horsehide if only Mike Rizzo would let him, because I don't buy it. And I find it bizarre that so many here have.

* Now, whether I agree with the dangers is another matter. My feeling is Rizzo has probably oversold the dangers of going beyond the innings limit, has no basis for feeling that the exact plan must be followed, rather than one that adhered to the innings limit but in such a way that allowed Strasburg to pitch in October, and is probably overestimating the Nats chances of ever getting in this position again.


If the Nationals are 1 in 6 with him, what are they without him?
Just curious.


They're not 1 in 6 with (or without) him. They're still about 1 in 8. An individual wild card has had its odds halved by the play-in game, but the chances of a wild card winning the World Series really hasn't moved much at all.
   67. SoSH U at work Posted: September 03, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4225879)

However, a Tommy John shutdown may boost the Nats' chances in 2013, '14 and '15 to 1 in 5 or even 1 in 4,


The Nats will never be better than a 1 in 4 chance (or 1 in 5, for that matter) to win a World Series before the divisional round has been complete.
   68. robinred Posted: September 03, 2012 at 11:50 PM (#4225890)

I said he'd be a moron for thinking he has no choice but to listen to Boras.


OK, but I don't see that as a relevant issue. The issue is whether he respects Boras' input and would take it into account.


I don't believe for a second that if SS was in "damn the arm, we've got a championship to win" mode, the Nats wouldn't have tried to find a way to accomodate their young superstar's desire to, you know, pitch for them.


Well, I was about to say that one key here is that you and Andy differ on what would happen if Strasburg went all nuclear on this. You are assuming that the Nats would cave and let him pitch; Andy seems to be assuming that they would not cave and would not let him pitch.

No one knows, of course, but I will say that if you are going to go with the "Boras works for Strasburg" line, then IMO you need to acknowledge that Strasburg works for Rizzo. It is certainly possible that Rizzo would cave if Strasburg pushed it, but then again, it wouldn't be Strasburg's decision. It would be Rizzo's (assuming ownership gave him autonomy on it)--and Rizzo's job is to act in the best interests of the Nats as he sees them, not to do what Strasburg wants. So Strasburg would be pushing it in that context.

And, of course, we don't know how much, if any, pull Boras has with Rizzo. But I think, as I have said, that it is pretty safe to assume that Boras, employee or no, does have some pull with Strasburg.

To frame the issue another way, how far Strasburg pushes it or doesn't is, like the overarching decision, a risk/reward thing. Is a big showdown with the FO in his interests right now? What are the odds that Rizzo would change his mind, if Strasburg went off in the media? Would it be a wise career move to say "Pitch me or I am going FA when I can?"

he'd at the very least tell his agent to STFU about how he absolutely, positively must be shutdown.


You have no way of knowing this. If Boras is a just a gofer and a flunkie, Strasburg could say, "Scott is good at the negotiating table, and he can say what he wants, but this is my call and I am pitching." One thing you are overlooking is that Boras and Rizzo are middle-aged, big-time executive type guys, and Strasburg is a jock in his 20s. The former is the guy Strasburg chose to represent his professional interests; the latter is the GM of Strasburg's team and in some respects his boss. It would take a lot to tell both of them to stick it. Some jocks would, probably. But a lot wouldn't, and your argument appears to be that if Strasburg REALLY wanted to pitch, he would. My argument is that I think he really wants to be out there, but is going with what his boss and one of his top advisers are telling him.
   69. robinred Posted: September 03, 2012 at 11:57 PM (#4225893)
* Now, whether I agree with the dangers is another matter. My feeling is Rizzo has probably oversold the dangers of going beyond the innings limit, has no basis for feeling that the exact plan must be followed, rather than one that adhered to the innings limit but in such a way that allowed Strasburg to pitch in October, and is probably overestimating the Nats chances of ever getting in this position again.

I mostly agree here.
   70. SoSH U at work Posted: September 04, 2012 at 12:11 AM (#4225897)
Well, I was about to say that one key here is that you and Andy differ on what would happen if Strasburg went all nuclear on this. You are assuming that the Nats would cave and let him pitch; Andy seems to be assuming that they would not cave and would not let him pitch.


The nuclear option isn't the only one, but it's just one of the many things in his arsenal IF HE TRULY WANTS TO PITCH (and by truly wants to pitch, I mean he's willing to say screw the risk, give me the damn ball) this October. Nothing from him or his agent indicates that's where his head is at (in all likelihood because his agent and his boss have convinced him the risk is too great).

Stephen Strasburg is a very, very valuable property to the Washington Nationals and, keeping him happy, not just keeping him healthy, has got to be high on the Nationals' priority list. Keeping his arm healthy but thoroughly alienating him in the process (which I think would be a pretty common reaction if he was being shut down against his will) doesn't do a lot of good for the club. Thus, I find the idea that he simply has no say in a decision that is ultimately being made to protect HIS future to be pretty farfetched.
   71. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 04, 2012 at 12:12 AM (#4225899)
So he shouldn't necessarily "do anything", but to prove that he means it he has to do "something to show it."

Again, like what? This is getting a bit confusing.


It's not confusing. I'm not telling Stephen Strasburg he has to want to pitch. In fact, I'm a little impressed he's going against the grain here. But I'm not going to buy his sentiment that he desperately wants to pitch when his employer has been saying the exact opposite. It makes no sense.


I'm not saying that Strasburg "desperately" wants anything. I've merely noted that he's said several times that he wants to keep pitching. I see no reason not to take him at his word when he says that.

But of course he "accepts" their decision, for the reasons I've stated: He's powerless and has no alternative that wouldn't make him seem like he's picking a pointless fight that he could never win on any level. And of course the management is going to say whatever it will about his mindset.

-----------------------------------------

Well, I was about to say that one key here is that you and Andy differ on what would happen if Strasburg went all nuclear on this. You are assuming that the Nats would cave and let him pitch; Andy seems to be assuming that they would not cave and would not let him pitch.

I may be one dumb motherfucker, but I would literally wager a thousand dollars on my end of that proposition. This isn't Ted Williams and a clown like Tom Yawkey, this is a 24 year old pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery and an organization that knows what it's doing and has the courage of its convictions.
   72. bobm Posted: September 04, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4225908)
What do people expect Strasburg to do? Have MLBPA file a grievance during a pennant race?
   73. robinred Posted: September 04, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4225911)
but it's just one of the many things in his arsenal


I don't see it that way. Strasburg is very valuable, but as you say, he is a "property." The Nats are holding a lot of the structural cards here.

Keeping his arm healthy but thoroughly alienating him in the process (which I think would be a pretty common reaction if he was being shut down against his will) doesn't do a lot of good for the club.


Depends. He might be really alienated now but will come around later. He might be accepting it unhappily now, but will get really alienated if he gets hurt next year. In any case, keeping his arm healthy is priority 1, because it really doesn't matter where his head is if he can't lift his arm. The question is the risk/reward calculus therein.

Thus, I find the idea that he simply has no say in a decision that is ultimately being made to protect HIS future to be pretty farfetched.


Well, technically, he really has no say in whether he is on the roster--Rizzo, not Strasburg, runs the team. In practice, it is a more complex question, but as Andy suggests, even if Strasburg is intensely pissed off, why would the Nats tell the media and the fans that? It is much easier and safer to play it the way they are playing it.
   74. SoSH U at work Posted: September 04, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4225916)
But of course he "accepts" their decision, for the reasons I've stated: He's powerless and has no alternative that wouldn't make him seem like he's picking a pointless fight that he could never win on any level. And of course the management is going to say whatever it will about his mindset


And I don't believe he's powerless, or that he can't win. He may not have the stones of The Kid and the Nats FO may be smarter than the average Yawkey, but he also doesn't have that thorny little reserve clause problem that Ted had to navigate around that gives today's player a wee bit more leverage when dealing with management. And, if he has trouble doing this work on his own, he does have that fiesty little super agent that he hired to do his bidding that has no problems rolling around in the mud to get his client what he wants. You know, if that was what his client really wanted.

Then again, he did say he wanted to pitch. So, there's that ironclad proof that he's not on board with the shutdown.

if Strasburg is intensely pissed off, why would the Nats tell the media and the fans that? It is much easier and safer to play it the way they are playing it.


If Strasburg was intensely pissed off, I'd expect his representative to tell the media and fans that, or at the very least be silent. I wouldn't expect his agent to be toeing the company line.
   75. robinred Posted: September 04, 2012 at 03:25 AM (#4225960)
If Strasburg was intensely pissed off, I'd expect his representative to tell the media and fans that, or at the very least be silent. I wouldn't expect his agent to be toeing the company line.


Well, again, you are projecting your view of Boras--he functions and thinks of himself as Strasburg's subordinate--onto the situation, and extrapolating from there. That may be so, but I think it is more likely that Boras functions more as a trusted adviser with a lot of pull than as a flunkie who does as he's told and keeps his opinions to himself. Or to look at it another way, it is quite possible that Strasburg is intensely pissed off but is doing what Boras has advised him to do and Rizzo has told him to do in spite of that because he trusts Boras' judgment and because Rizzo is the GM. You seem to see this as an impossibility; I don't.

Also, while you are getting as sarcastic as Andy sometimes gets when repeatedly challeged on a point, you haven't really answered the question: what, exactly, is Strasburg supposed to do? So far, you seem to have come up with Strasburg ordering Boras to threaten the Nationals with an early FA escape if he is not allowed to pitch. It seems that your argument is that anything short of a huge public showdown means that Strasburg doesn't really want to pitch. I see the situation as being a little more nuanced than that.
   76. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 04, 2012 at 07:37 AM (#4225985)
Also, while you are getting as sarcastic as Andy sometimes gets when repeatedly challeged on a point, you haven't really answered the question: what, exactly, is Strasburg supposed to do? So far, you seem to have come up with Strasburg ordering Boras to threaten the Nationals with an early FA escape if he is not allowed to pitch. It seems that your argument is that anything short of a huge public showdown means that Strasburg doesn't really want to pitch. I see the situation as being a little more nuanced than that.

It's as if there are only two possibilities:

1. Strasburg really agrees with the shutdown and is just saying he wants to pitch in order to protect his image as a gamer; or

2. Strasburg "desperately" wants to pitch, and therefore should prove it by sabatoging his relationship with the Nats by engaging in a public fight that he couldn't win in a million years.

Whereas in reality....

1. Strasburg has repeatedly said that he wants to pitch; but

2. Not being a petulant juvenile, he recognizes that there are competing interests involved, and that Rizzo is in a better position to balance those interests than he is; and

3. Therefore, as a member of a team that's trying to get focused on the postseason, he realizes the stupidity of pressing the issue in public (either by himself or through Boras) just to "prove" to Dibble and SoSH that he "really" wants to pitch, when such a display of childish behavior would get him nothing but a bad reputation with the people in the game who matter.
   77. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 04, 2012 at 08:39 AM (#4226000)
I see no reason not to take him at his word when he says that.


Well, if people took him at his word, we wouldn't be able to have this stupid and incredibly pointless argument about the motives of everyone involved in the situation.
   78. bunyon Posted: September 04, 2012 at 08:49 AM (#4226009)
Potential short-term pain, more than compensated for by potential long-term gain.

I remember 1988 like it was yesterday. Mets fans convinced they'd be in the World Series hunt every year for the next 10. Good times they were.


I have no idea of Strasburg's role in the decision. My take is probably closer to SoSH. If he were well and truly pissed off, Boras wouldn't be making so much noise. My guess is, "I want to pitch" means "I want to pitch but accept my boss' and agent's advice that I shouldn't." Fair enough. Maybe even wise - that is arguable.

All I've ever said is, that just isn't a very appealing sports philosophy to me. He's obviously free to choose that path. He's free to do a lot of things. Doesn't mean I have to like it or cheer for him.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Dingbat_Charlie
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogExpanded Rosters Exacerbate Baseball’s Biggest Issue
(20 - 5:29pm, Sep 02)
Last: RoyalsRetro (AG#1F)

NewsblogRule change means more players to choose from for postseason roster
(13 - 5:29pm, Sep 02)
Last: JJ1986

NewsblogOT: Politics, September, 2014: ESPN honors Daily Worker sports editor Lester Rodney
(274 - 5:29pm, Sep 02)
Last: You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR)

NewsblogTrevor Hoffman's Hall of Fame induction seems inevitable
(75 - 5:27pm, Sep 02)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogOT: September 2014 College Football thread
(5 - 5:22pm, Sep 02)
Last: Gold Star - just Gold Star

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 9-2-2014
(1 - 5:21pm, Sep 02)
Last: boteman is not here 'til October

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-2-2014
(36 - 5:14pm, Sep 02)
Last: Eric J can SABER all he wants to

NewsblogThe indisputable selfishness of Derek Jeter
(18 - 5:12pm, Sep 02)
Last: villageidiom

NewsblogPassan: 10 Degrees: Cole Hamels' trade value might be Phillies' lone bright spot
(2 - 5:12pm, Sep 02)
Last: RoyalsRetro (AG#1F)

NewsblogSpector: Negative run differential doesn't tell whole story for first-place Cardinals
(4 - 4:56pm, Sep 02)
Last: Baldrick

NewsblogNewsweek: Can Baseball Get More Interesting to Watch With Big Data?
(6 - 4:54pm, Sep 02)
Last: Hank G.

NewsblogBPP: Why do people still think Jack Morris pitched to the score?
(27 - 4:50pm, Sep 02)
Last: Sunday silence

NewsblogYankees To Sign Chris Young
(3 - 4:47pm, Sep 02)
Last: Infinite Joost (Voxter)

NewsblogGleeman: Twins ask fans which brand of luxury car they are
(9 - 4:46pm, Sep 02)
Last: vortex of dissipation

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread August, 2014
(1004 - 4:33pm, Sep 02)
Last: ursus arctos

Page rendered in 0.5797 seconds
52 querie(s) executed