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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg, effective immediately

Declinin’ numbers at an even rate
Tech it up, tech it up
Buddy gonna shut you down

The Stephen Strasburg shutdown was previously believed to be after one more start, but plans seem to have changed. Davey Johnson announced to reporters (such as Byron Kerr) Saturday morning that Strasburg is done for the season, effective immediately.

Strasburg, 24, ends the season 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings pitched.

The Nationals have been put in a tenuous position. At 85-53, they sport the best record in the majors and Strasburg is among the most dominant pitchers in the league. He is also, of course, in his first full season since recovering from Tommy John surgery. So Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo have been forced to balance success in 2012 with the future of the franchise’s ace. Their decision now is to protect the future of Strasburg and move forward with a still-solid rotation of Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, Ross Detwiler and either Chien-Ming Wang or John Lannan.

Repoz Posted: September 08, 2012 at 12:18 PM | 234 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nats

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   101. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM (#4230492)
If the Nationals hadn't discussed this previously, and just came out today and announced that an injury-free Strasburg was being shut down not just for the rest of the regular season but for the postseason as well, would anyone think it was a good idea? My guess is that people would say it was a fine idea to have him skip the regular season, but idiocy to hold him out of the playoffs as well.


Yes, that would be stupid.

The reason this isn't stupid is that these aren't special rules for Stephen Strasburg.

They are specific rules for how the Nats are going to approach pitchers.

These rules are just as much about Jordan Zimmerman and Lucas Giolito and even CHien Ming Wang as they are about Stephen Strasburg, and that's why they make glad to be a fan of this squad.
   102. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4230494)
#97, Snapper, I have an ongoing experience with a family member who had a scare that doctors initially thought was colon cancer, before for the most part settling on just an infection.

I can tell you that the team of doctors simply wouldn't operate before they were able to confirm what the problem was and understand just what they were dealing with.


Oh they know the problem. They're just not interested in speculating on the cause. Most of the time the treatment doesn't depend on the cause.

If you have clogged heart arteries, they're going to do a bypass. It doesn't matter if the cause is genetic, or poor diet, or lack of exercise.
   103. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4230498)
The reason this isn't stupid is that these aren't special rules for Stephen Strasburg.

They are specific rules for how the Nats are going to approach pitchers.


These "specific rules" are as random as the Joba Rules.

   104. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4230499)
These "specific rules" are as random as the Joba Rules.


You haven't noticed they are handling Strasburg exactly the way they handled Zimmerman? Which they've been saying for the past year they would do?
   105. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:12 PM (#4230503)
You haven't noticed they are handling Strasburg exactly the way they handled Zimmerman? Which they've been saying for the past year they would do?

He's saying the rules are random. There's no evidence at all that 160 IP is the "right" number. They could have picked 100, 130, or 180. It's a guess. They're applying a random standard, consistently.
   106. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:16 PM (#4230504)
There's no evidence at all that 160 IP is the "right" number. They could have picked 100, 130, or 180. It's a guess. They're applying a random standard, consistently.


It continually amazes me that people on BBTF believe they have access to the same information that MLB general managers do, it really does. They didn't throw darts at a wall until they got 160, they thought through it, they paid money to doctors and, yes, consultants, who gave them information that they aren't sharing with the likes of us.

Now, they may well be wrong, but the beauty of this approach is at the very least after a few years of it we'll have a substantially more solid data point than we've ever had before.
   107. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:16 PM (#4230505)
The 1987 Twins, 2006 Cardinals, and every team that beat the Braves from 1992 till 1999 say that the Nationals have no less chance of winning the World Series without Strasburg than they do with him, as long as they're in the playoffs. That's what's really being overlooked here.

The post-season is a spin of the wheel-of-fortune, and the Nationals appear to understand that. Fans and media want them to pretend not to.
   108. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4230506)
He's saying the rules are random. There's no evidence at all that 160 IP is the "right" number. They could have picked 100, 130, or 180. It's a guess. They're applying a random standard, consistently.


And? They are applying a standard that they feel is appropriate. I don't see why anyone has an issue with it. Intuitively 160 ip seems a little high in my opinion, I think 130 or so would have been better... 160 seems to be pushing the envelope some but it's what they thought.

What I don't get is why people are having problems with saying "we are going to cap his innings in his first year back from surgery".....
   109. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:21 PM (#4230507)
Look: At one point statheads thought they had a handle on why pitchers got injured. Craight Wright did a fairly decent, if primitive, examination of the issue in The Diamond Appraised, focusing on Batters Faced. This came out in the 80s. In the subsequent years statheads started noting Dwight Gooden's huge workload, and that of Isringhausen and Pulsipher/Wilson (though Ron J can tell you that one of the two was actually handled quite gently).

By the late 1990s, the stathead wails about pitcher workloads had reached a fever pitch, culminating in the Kerry Wood injury. Rany Jazayerli was closely looking at pitcher workload in a Pitcher Abuse Points system.

And then there was a sea change in the industry in how pitchers and young pitchers were handled. Young pitchers were watched much more carefully over the next 10-15 years, as were all pitchers. Huge workloads disappeared, whether measured by total innings or IP/start. 160 and 150 and 140 pitch outings disappeared. 130-pitch outings all but disappeared (Verlander is about as close as it gets now). 250-IP seasons disappeared.

And what has this sea change accomplished? Nothing. Are pitchers getting injured less frequently? No. Are young pitchers being saved? No, as Strasburg himself shows as he blew out his elbow. The pendulum has swung completely the other way, with no better results, and teams are over-compensating, with no better results. It's time to say that we don't have much of a clue how to keep pitchers healthy, other than the obvious fact that a pitcher who doesn't pitch won't get injured. Perhaps there is some evidence that restricting workloads of pre-24 pitchers has some benefit; I don't know. But there is no evidence that having them go 160 IP instead of 200 IP, or not allowing them to have an innings increase by 50 innings from one season to the next, matters one bit aside from the simple fact that any 40 innings can injure a pitcher.

That's what this decision should be viewed in the face of, and that's what makes the decision silly. Pretty much nobody knows anything. And I am the guy who says that the players are a crapshoot, and even I think this is silly, because there's no question that a top pitcher helps you more than a mediocre pitcher, even if it only moves your chances by a few percentage points. There is no sense in sacrificing those few percentage points for pure, blind, random decisions.
   110. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:22 PM (#4230509)
What I don't get is why people are having problems with saying "we are going to cap his innings in his first year back from surgery".....

They're having a problem with not using one of the best starters in the game in the playoffs. If they had held him out until May, no one would say boo.
   111. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:23 PM (#4230510)
It continually amazes me that people on BBTF believe they have access to the same information that MLB general managers do, it really does. They didn't throw darts at a wall until they got 160, they thought through it, they paid money to doctors and, yes, consultants, who gave them information that they aren't sharing with the likes of us.


It's like paying a "consultant" to tell you what's going to happen next Tuesday. These doctors and consultants are the equivalent of astrologers.

   112. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4230513)
There is absolutely no evidence for the status quo, therefore they are buffoons if they don't start doing something else.

There is absolutely no evidence that this new thing would be an improvement, therefore they are buffoons if they don't stick to the status quo.

Like so many other issues.
   113. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4230514)
And what has this sea change accomplished? Nothing. Are pitchers getting injured less frequently? No. Are young pitchers being saved? No, as Strasburg himself shows as he blew out his elbow. The pendulum has swung completely the other way, with no better results

Exactly. Might as well just let them pitch. Guys will still get hurt, but at least you'll get 250 IP out of the guys that can handle it.

Now, you've got the worst of both worlds. The injury prone guys still get hurt, and you get less IP out of the workhorses.
   114. cardsfanboy Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:30 PM (#4230517)
They're having a problem with not using one of the best starters in the game in the playoffs. If they had held him out until May, no one would say boo.


He's not even one of the best starters on his own team. (I guess technically if you expand it to top five he's on that list) but so what? They made a decision prior to the season starting based upon a reasonable belief that they weren't quite playoff ready yet and wanted Strasburg for a full season if possible for next year. Once that decision was made, it wasn't possible to change their plan if they wanted to stick to it. If they honestly believe that their plan is correct, then it would be stupid of them to change their plans, regardless of the 2.5% improvement in post season success that Strasburg might give them pitching the third game of the playoffs.
   115. Bourbon Samurai Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:40 PM (#4230522)
But Ray, they aren't limiting all of their pitchers. They are letting Gonzalez and Zimmerman throw their brains out. They are specifically limiting guys that had their elbows ripped out the year before.

Lucas Giolito is an important data point here. He was talked about as a #1 overall, got hurt, and then signed with the Nats at #18* after lots of buzz he'd go back to get more cash, and I can't help but think part of the reason he did was he trusted the Nats to make a rehabilitation plan for him and then follow it through.

This isn't all about Strasburg. It's about the Nats trying to build their org for years to come.

*I am not going to look the actual slot up
   116. rfloh Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:54 PM (#4230529)
" Not BTF. The world"
No, not the world. Sites like BTF tend to attract debate club / debate team types, ie people who like arguing and debating, and how think that being able to argue well means that they are qualified to speak knowledgeably on everything.

BTF is basically a debate club with a baseball hobby.
   117. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4230530)
I admire the hell out of Rizzo and the Nats for making this decision.

I also think it is based on flimsy evidence and unlikely to meaningfully reduce the likelihood of future injury for Stradburg.


This. Rizzo is basically Ned Stark - honorable, but quite possibly tragically incorrect.
   118. rfloh Posted: September 08, 2012 at 09:03 PM (#4230533)
'

Unfortunately, I have a lot of personal experience with surgeons; 6th surgery in 4 years coming up in Oct.

Surgeons study one thing, surgery. Most won't even voice a firm opinion on what caused the problem.

You don't get to be the best surgeon by dabbling in bio-mechanics, or the theory of pitching. You get there by focusing singlemindedly, and operating. All. The. Time."

You continue to demonstrate your ignorance.

Is Andrews the foremost biomechanists in the world? No., not least because biomechanists tend to specialise on specific areas of the body, or specific sports, so a biomechanists who is an expert on the lower back, or the foot, might not be an expert on the shoulder,such as how Andrews specialises on pitching. (if you held a gun to my head and made me pick one biomechanists as the best in the world, I'd pick Vladimir Zatsiorsky, not that I expect any of the geniuses, the experts on this thread to know who he is)

And yes, Andrews specialising on pitching means that he isn't simply a surgeon. He has and does conduct research on the biomechanics of pitching, research that is published.

But, then as I've said, this is BTF. People who are entirely clueless, who are unaware that Andrews conducts and publishes research, think that as long as they can bullshit and argue well, they are qualified to make any kind of claims about anything under the sun.
   119. rfloh Posted: September 08, 2012 at 09:10 PM (#4230536)
"
109. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 08:21 PM (#4230507)
Look: At one point statheads thought they had a handle on why pitchers got injured. Craight Wright did a fairly decent, if primitive, examination of the issue in The Diamond Appraised, focusing on Batters Faced. This came out in the 80s. In the subsequent years statheads started noting Dwight Gooden's huge workload, and that of Isringhausen and Pulsipher/Wilson (though Ron J can tell you that one of the two was actually handled quite gentl"

Look. The statheads who believed that they understood why pitchers got injured were to put it plainly, idiots. Arrogant dumbasses who think that a knowledge of basic stats qualifies them to be experts on everything. Despite what some stathead types think, a knowledge of stats does not qualify you to talk as an expert on everything, that is the grandiose hubris of statheads.

That statheads don't know anything does not mean nobody knows anything. That is just more grandiose hubris from statheads.
   120. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:40 PM (#4230592)
Now, you've got the worst of both worlds. The injury prone guys still get hurt, and you get less IP out of the workhorses.


Yes. That's exactly what you've got.
   121. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4230596)
He's not even one of the best starters on his own team


That's a significant overstatement. The differences between him, Gonzalez and Zimmermann is 4 runs over the course of their first 28 starts, about one a month and pretty much everything else about his performance is right in line with them. Both are a bit better at getting deeper into games but again, the difference is relatively low though not so low as to be dismissed out of hand. He is certainly every bit as good as those guys (and Detwiler if you're inclined to include him) and pretending otherwise is mistaken.

That the Nats have other starters that can give them some cover for this move is not something to be ignored but pretending Strasburg isn't one of the top pitchers in the game and of course on his own staff is untrue.
   122. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 10:54 PM (#4230604)
And I am the guy who says that the players are a crapshoot, and even I think this is silly,


Clearly I meant to say "playoffs" there.

What teams tried over the past 10-15 years was reasonable. It was even called for by statheads. It didn't work. Statheads were wrong - and I include myself in that, as I was on the wrong side of the issue as well. And it's time to acknowledge that we have no idea - and neither do the Nats. The Nats ought not turn their playoff run into a lab experiment.
   123. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: September 08, 2012 at 11:33 PM (#4230635)
83. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 08, 2012 at 06:16 PM (#4230433)
I think we need to remember the developing young players is a means, not an end.

This post wins the thread. If you're holding one of the game's best pitchers out of the postseason, you have lost your way.

Wait? What happened to "the post-season is a meaningless exhibition that nobody should care about"?
   124. shoewizard Posted: September 09, 2012 at 02:54 AM (#4230793)
What would have been the downside to having him skip a turn in the rotation once a month, thereby limiting his starts for the the year to about 27 or 28 ?

Wouldn't that have accomplished the same thing without having to have him sit out either April or October ?
   125. zachtoma Posted: September 09, 2012 at 03:51 AM (#4230802)
Look: At one point statheads thought they had a handle on why pitchers got injured. Craight Wright did a fairly decent, if primitive, examination of the issue in The Diamond Appraised, focusing on Batters Faced. This came out in the 80s. In the subsequent years statheads started noting Dwight Gooden's huge workload, and that of Isringhausen and Pulsipher/Wilson (though Ron J can tell you that one of the two was actually handled quite gently).

By the late 1990s, the stathead wails about pitcher workloads had reached a fever pitch, culminating in the Kerry Wood injury. Rany Jazayerli was closely looking at pitcher workload in a Pitcher Abuse Points system.

And then there was a sea change in the industry in how pitchers and young pitchers were handled. Young pitchers were watched much more carefully over the next 10-15 years, as were all pitchers. Huge workloads disappeared, whether measured by total innings or IP/start. 160 and 150 and 140 pitch outings disappeared. 130-pitch outings all but disappeared (Verlander is about as close as it gets now). 250-IP seasons disappeared.

And what has this sea change accomplished? Nothing. Are pitchers getting injured less frequently? No. Are young pitchers being saved? No, as Strasburg himself shows as he blew out his elbow. The pendulum has swung completely the other way, with no better results, and teams are over-compensating, with no better results. It's time to say that we don't have much of a clue how to keep pitchers healthy, other than the obvious fact that a pitcher who doesn't pitch won't get injured. Perhaps there is some evidence that restricting workloads of pre-24 pitchers has some benefit; I don't know. But there is no evidence that having them go 160 IP instead of 200 IP, or not allowing them to have an innings increase by 50 innings from one season to the next, matters one bit aside from the simple fact that any 40 innings can injure a pitcher.

That's what this decision should be viewed in the face of, and that's what makes the decision silly. Pretty much nobody knows anything. And I am the guy who says that the players are a crapshoot, and even I think this is silly, because there's no question that a top pitcher helps you more than a mediocre pitcher, even if it only moves your chances by a few percentage points. There is no sense in sacrificing those few percentage points for pure, blind, random decisions.


Cosign, 100%. Ray is killing this thread.

Although I would say that I think the Rangers may have hit on something with Allan Jaeger's long-toss program. For years, organizations have tried to limit pitcher injuries by limiting their pitching, but to me it makes a lot more sense to surmise that an arm that is used to throwing regularly would be more resistant to injuries, it's an interesting lead.
   126. Nats-Homer-in-DC Posted: September 09, 2012 at 09:17 AM (#4230831)
109. Ray,
Failing isn't the absence of an answer. It's the absence of success. Human history tells of many failed efforts before answers are discovered.
Also human history reveals that those who claim there are no answers generally have an answer they wish people to convince people of. Or at least distract, if but temporarily for momentary gain, people from considering competing ideas.
   127. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 10:31 AM (#4230854)
The funny thing about this issue is that we'll never know.

Which means that we armchair folks are full of #### and just yapping because we're bored and our lives suck.
   128. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 10:39 AM (#4230858)
Which means that we armchair folks are full of #### and just yapping because we're bored and our lives suck.

Yup, and the professionals are full of ####, and just yapping b/c they want to escape blame when pitchers inevitably get hurt.

109. Ray,
Failing isn't the absence of an answer. It's the absence of success. Human history tells of many failed efforts before answers are discovered.
Also human history reveals that those who claim there are no answers generally have an answer they wish people to convince people of. Or at least distract, if but temporarily for momentary gain, people from considering competing ideas.


You've caught him. Ray secretly wants the Nats to win the World Series.
   129. GuyM Posted: September 09, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4230865)
And then there was a sea change in the industry in how pitchers and young pitchers were handled. Young pitchers were watched much more carefully over the next 10-15 years, as were all pitchers. Huge workloads disappeared, whether measured by total innings or IP/start. 160 and 150 and 140 pitch outings disappeared. 130-pitch outings all but disappeared (Verlander is about as close as it gets now). 250-IP seasons disappeared. And what has this sea change accomplished? Nothing. Are pitchers getting injured less frequently? No. Are young pitchers being saved? No, as Strasburg himself shows as he blew out his elbow.

People tell this story all the time. But I'm curious: is there any evidence to support any part of it? I don't know of any. Pitcher workloads have almost certainly been reduced mainly because it improves performance, so teams would have done this regardless of any impact on injuries. It does seems likely that the disappearance of 150-pitch games is about injury concerns, but probably 95% of the reduction in pitcher workload can be explained by the impact on performance.

And how do you know pitchers are getting injured less frequently? What is the evidence for that? And even if pitchers are getting injured at the same rate as in the past, that isn't the important question. What we want to know is whether injuries would rise with increased usage in today's game. When Gooden broke in, MLB pitchers struck out 5.34 hitters per 9 innings. Now it's 7.45 -- more than two extra Ks per game. Today's pitchers are playing a different game, and throwing much harder. It's more than plausible that pitching that hard for extended periods raises the injury risk for young pitchers. How many starters have averaged even a strikeout per inning in a season before age 23, and then gone on to have a good career? I'm guessing the number is very small....
   130. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:03 AM (#4230871)
He's saying the rules are random. There's no evidence at all that 160 IP is the "right" number. They could have picked 100, 130, or 180. It's a guess. They're applying a random standard, consistently.


they never had a 160 inning limit on Strasburg. Get your facts right.
   131. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4230876)
How many starters have averaged even a strikeout per inning in a season before age 23, and then gone on to have a good career? I'm guessing the number is very small....

A K per inning is really high, especially historical. Here's all the pitcher 23 or younger with 8K/9, and >150 IP.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/season_finder.cgi?type=p#ajax_result_table::6
   132. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4230877)
That's what this decision should be viewed in the face of, and that's what makes the decision silly. Pretty much nobody knows anything


Ray, are you willing to be a defense witness for Rizzo when Boras sues the Nats for injuring Strasburg?

Mr. Rizzo, you had a team of medical experts tell you to limit Strasburgs innings, but you did not..Why?

Rizzo: Ray told me no one knew anything.

Judge: $100M for Mr. Strasburg, insurance voided.
   133. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:09 AM (#4230878)
they never had a 160 inning limit on Strasburg. Get your facts right.

So, stopping him at 159.1 was just a weird coincidence?
   134. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4230880)
Ray, are you willing to be a defense witness for Rizzo when Boras sues the Nats for injuring Strasburg?

Mr. Rizzo, you had a team of medical experts tell you to limit Strasburgs innings, but you did not..Why?

Rizzo: Ray told me no one knew anything.

Judge: $100M for Mr. Strasburg, insurance voided.


Not one chance in hell that happens. Strasburg's job is to pitch. If he is unable to do his job, then he has to raise his hand and say "I can't pitch".

No employer, anywhere, has liability for his worker showing up sick, voluntarily, and then having a bad outcome.

The medical advice for every pitcher in the world is to pitch less. If a court enforced this, teams would have to forego any medical evaluation of their players to avoid liability.

The only way he could sue is if the Nationals somehow coerced him to pitch while injured. e.g. we'll bury you in the minors for two seasons if you don't pitch.
   135. GuyM Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4230883)
A K per inning is really high, especially historical. Here's all the pitcher 23 or younger with 8K/9, and >150 IP

Yes it is high. But that's what Strasburg does, and what he did at age 21. I can't get your table to fully load, but I'm sure at age 23 the number of seasons begins to increase. On the other hand, just among the few names I can see are Score, Kazmir, Wood, Perez and Valenzuela -- not exactly advertisements for a work-em-hard-and-see-how-it-turns-out philosophy. And of course Strasburg is coming off TJ surgery, so it's not clear he should be treated like a typical 23-yr-old.

   136. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4230887)
Yes it is high. But that's what Strasburg does, and what he did at age 21. I can't get your table to fully load, but I'm sure at age 23 the number of seasons begins to increase. On the other hand, just among the few names I can see are Score, Kazmir, Wood, Perez and Valenzuela -- not exactly advertisements for a work-em-hard-and-see-how-it-turns-out philosophy. And of course Strasburg is coming off TJ surgery, so it's not clear he should be treated like a typical 23-yr-old.

Right, but K-ing 9/G is not the same difficulty level today as it was 50 years ago.

Batters are much more willing to strike out; the stigma is gone. They swing hard at every pitch, and don't change approach with 2 strikes.

At 19, you've got Gooden, and Gary Nolan
At 20 Ankiel, Gooden, Ed Correia (?), Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia and Fernando Valenzuela (almost certainly older)
At 21 Vida Blue, Bonderman, Dave Boswell, Bumgarner, Cain, Eckersley, Tom Gordon, Tom Griffin, Kazmir, Kershaw, Sam McDowell, Bob Moose, Jose Rijo, Sutton, Tanana and Kerry Wood

Lot's of guys at 22 and 23.

Frankly, the list is so heavily weighted to recent players, I don't know what's it's worth.

We really need K/9+, adjusted for league.
   137. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4230891)
A K per inning is really high, especially historical. Here's all the pitcher 23 or younger with 8K/9, and >150 IP.


Adjust for era please. How many years had multiple reluef pitchers in the 15k/9 range?

The Nats two best starters have been 24 and 20 runs above replacement this year.

Strasburg has been 14 runs above replacement. That is no where near historic.

Edwin Jackson has been 11 runs above replacement. The dropoff is exceedingly minor.
   138. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:38 AM (#4230897)
Not one chance in hell that happens. Strasburg's job is to pitch. If he is unable to do his job, then he has to raise his hand and say "I can't pitch".

No employer, anywhere, has liability for his worker showing up sick, voluntarily, and then having a bad outcome.

The medical advice for every pitcher in the world is to pitch less. If a court enforced this, teams would have to forego any medical evaluation of their players to avoid liability.

The only way he could sue is if the Nationals somehow coerced him to pitch while injured. e.g. we'll bury you in the minors for two seasons if you don't pitch.


Again woefully ignorant. The Nationals consulted medical experts. ignoring their advice opens the team up to real liability.

Teams know this, thats why they dont violate medical advise. Teams have been sued before and lost.
   139. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4230900)
Adjust for era please. How many years had multiple reluef pitchers in the 15k/9 range?

I said the same thing myself.

The Nats two best starters have been 24 and 20 runs above replacement this year.

Strasburg has been 14 runs above replacement. That is no where near historic.

Edwin Jackson has been 11 runs above replacement. The dropoff is exceedingly minor.


Yeah, but a good bit of the is extra IP. Zimmerman and Gonzalez have pitched 12 ang 16 more innings.

On a per game basis, Strasburg's just as good, and has the best peripherals.

Jackson is pitching in the playoffs in any case. Strasburg's being replaced by Ross Detweiler, with his gaudy 5.5K/9.

   140. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4230901)
Again woefully ignorant. The Nationals consulted medical experts. ignoring their advice opens the team up to real liability.

Teams know this, thats why they dont violate medical advise. Teams have been sued before and lost.


Great. Then we've got a system where teams won't seek medical advice.

In any case, the medical advice is bull ####. "He's more likely to get hurt if he pitches than if he doesn't". C'mon! That's true for every pitcher at all times.
   141. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4230925)
#132 I won't be able to be a defense witness for rizzo. I will be too busy being his lawyer to happiLy defend him and the Nats from a frivolous lawsuit.
   142. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4230927)
Great. Then we've got a system where teams won't seek medical advice.

In any case, the medical advice is bull ####. "He's more likely to get hurt if he pitches than if he doesn't". C'mon! That's true for every pitcher at all times.


Firstly, stop mis-representing what the medical advice was. It's a 50 page report that includes analysis of pitchers who have had the same surgery/injury. It's going to carry a lot of weight in court.

But no matter how accurate the advice turns out to be, teams can't ask for medical advice, and then violate that medical advice. Whether that makes you happy is irrelevant.

And teams will continue to seek medical advice because it also protects them, and ensures their insurance policies stay in place defending them against suits.
   143. DA Baracus Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4230935)
If he is unable to do his job, then he has to raise his hand and say "I can't pitch".


Fat chance. Players in all sports routinely play through pain, especially when it comes to the playoffs.
   144. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4230942)
I said the same thing myself.


You think I can keep up with your blizzard of posts on my iPhone? You had me outgunned man!


Yeah, but a good bit of the is extra IP. Zimmerman and Gonzalez have pitched 12 ang 16 more innings.

On a per game basis, Strasburg's just as good, and has the best peripherals.

Jackson is pitching in the playoffs in any case. Strasburg's being replaced by Ross Detweiler, with his gaudy 5.5K/9.


Strasburg has the best peripherals, but the fewest IP/start. Jackson averages almost 2/3's of an inning more per start. With Strasburg the Nats will likely have to use their bullpen sooner, which is why Jackson has been nearly as valuable this season. That's still going to be important in the playoffs, though not as important.

The Nats 4th starter is unlikely to start in the playoffs, so Jackson is replacing Strasburg. The direct difference between the two starting a game cannot be more than a 2% higher win expectation.

Where Strasburg's impact might be felt more than that is that you can make Jackson be the long man out of the pen, with Strasburg out, now that role is filled by Detweiler or Hannan? But even so, it's hard to make the case that it's more than a single percentage point difference in win expectation in that game.

   145. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4230966)
What would have been the downside to having him skip a turn in the rotation once a month, thereby limiting his starts for the the year to about 27 or 28 ?

Wouldn't that have accomplished the same thing without having to have him sit out either April or October ?


Again, the advice the Nats were given was that this wouldn't work, so it wasn't an option for them. It was felt that the start/stop approach was extra stressful, and it's also my guess that the advice was related to the amount of throwing pitchers do between starts and even when skipping starts to try to stay in synch.

Also, the Nats approach worked really well. They got 159 innings of high quality work out of Strasburg in rhythm, it would have been very possible for him to come back from any break out of synch and have a few crappy starts.


And what has this sea change accomplished? Nothing. Are pitchers getting injured less frequently? No. Are young pitchers being saved? No, as Strasburg himself shows as he blew out his elbow. The pendulum has swung completely the other way, with no better results, and teams are over-compensating, with no better results. It's time to say that we don't have much of a clue how to keep pitchers healthy, other than the obvious fact that a pitcher who doesn't pitch won't get injured. Perhaps there is some evidence that restricting workloads of pre-24 pitchers has some benefit; I don't know. But there is no evidence that having them go 160 IP instead of 200 IP, or not allowing them to have an innings increase by 50 innings from one season to the next, matters one bit aside from the simple fact that any 40 innings can injure a pitcher.

That's what this decision should be viewed in the face of, and that's what makes the decision silly. Pretty much nobody knows anything. And I am the guy who says that the players are a crapshoot, and even I think this is silly, because there's no question that a top pitcher helps you more than a mediocre pitcher, even if it only moves your chances by a few percentage points. There is no sense in sacrificing those few percentage points for pure, blind, random decisions.



Cosign, 100%. Ray is killing this thread.


If Ray is killing this thread, then it proves that the best debating approach is the straw man argument.

Ray is making a pretty strong point that general studies of pitchers usage haven't been super predictive.

Ray is ignoring the fact that the Nats 50 page report is a specific report on re-injury rates on pitchers who under-went tommy john surgery, and it's study found a pretty strong correlation in a high re-injury rate among those pitchers who pitched a lot of innings their first and second years back.

Now, you can argue that the study isn't a big enough sample size to be predictive enough, or that there are outliers to it, but these are difficult arguments to make. Obviously sample size is less meaningful when the results are very strongly weighted in one direction, and also when you don't have a better study/sample size to rely on and MUST make a very important decision.

So Ray doesn't even try to rebut the 50 page report he's never read, he just dismisses it and the team's massive liability risk should they not heed it's recommendations, and goes back to his "pitchers just get injured no matter what we do" dead horse.

And of course he fails math along the way. A healthy Stephen Strasburg is likely to be worth between $60M and $120M to the Nats over the next 3 regular seasons. Playoff games are extremely lucrative and valuable as well, but increasing their win expectation 1% in roughly a quarter of them (3rd starters pitch twice in a 7 game series, or once in a 5 games or less ) is a small, almost immeasurable amount, vs. the direct and tangible risk of losing between 2 to 6 wins per season (depending upon how good Strasburg becomes and how bad the Nats other options become) the next three years.
   146. GuyM Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4230967)
At 19, you've got Gooden, and Gary Nolan
At 20 Ankiel, Gooden, Ed Correia (?), Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia and Fernando Valenzuela (almost certainly older)
At 21 Vida Blue, Bonderman, Dave Boswell, Bumgarner, Cain, Eckersley, Tom Gordon, Tom Griffin, Kazmir, Kershaw, Sam McDowell, Bob Moose, Jose Rijo, Sutton, Tanana and Kerry Wood

So that gives us what, 4 pre-22 guys with successful careers as starters in the entirety of MLB history? (Sabathia, Rijo, Sutton, Tanana)? Obviously, we hope Felix, Cain and Kershaw manage to stay healthy. Still, doesn't seem like a great formula for long-term success.

We really need K/9+, adjusted for league.

Not at all. Today's pitchers are facing as good or better hitters, with a similar strikezone. And half of them don't get to face opposing pitchers. The default assumption has to be that most of the gain in K-rate is that today's pitchers are throwing harder/better.
   147. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4230972)
So, stopping him at 159.1 was just a weird coincidence?


Yep, just as him having a bad outing that ended at 159.1 was. Do you really think he decided to tank that last inning because he thought his season was over?

Rizzo was quoted specifically saying that the Nats had no innings limit on Strasburg, they were going to "monitor him", and cut his season short when the indicators (presumably fatigue/mechanics) told them his risk was elevating. I'm pretty sure when he fell apart in that game the indicators went off the charts.

Johnson may have started the specific innings kerfuffle when he started estimating when Stephen's last start would be based on their thought process, but I'm pretty sure Rizzo never gave him a specific innings limit. Though I wouldn't be surprised if they had a "hard ceiling", say 180 innings, just to protect them from unknowns/mistaken evaluations not catching bad mechanics, but not 160.

But again, Johnson said before the game that Strasburg had 2 more starts, so that in itself proves there was no 160 inning limit.
   148. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 09, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4230982)
Virtually any study of pitchers is going to find that pitchers get hurt. I'd be more interested in a study that finds a result of healthier pitchers. I have no doubt that the Nats got advice that reducing Strasburgs workload would limit the likelihood of injury bu the reality is that that is going to be true of any pitcher, Tommy John recoverer or not.
   149. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4231001)
Again woefully ignorant. The Nationals consulted medical experts. ignoring their advice opens the team up to real liability.


Please stop playing lawyer. You're very bad at it.

   150. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4231010)
Ray is ignoring the fact that the Nats 50 page report is a specific report


Why do you keep repeating "50 pages," as if that is some sort of clincher? A 50-page report on whether god exists would be as useless. The evidence supporting this move doesn't exist, because pitchers for the most part haven't been shut down like this before. Or, less narrowly, there is nothing to tell you that 200 innings is very risky, but 160 innings is much less so. We've gone through this in the past 15 years, dropping IPs from 250 to 200 and it did nothing. I mean, eventually if you drop it to 0 you'll find that pitchers don't get injured, but there is nothing magical about 160 or whatever.

Or, to quote a scene from Hawaii Five-0:

Mondrago: "And as for my wife, at the risk of upsetting your hateful theory, it was not her skeleton you found; she was buried right here on these grounds, with more than 200 people attending her funeral."

McGarrett: "There could have been two thousand people attending her funeral and they wouldn't have known what was in that coffin!"
   151. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4231025)
Please stop playing lawyer. You're very bad at it.


Judge, please enter this as an admission counsel is unable to rebut the very real liability risk the Nationals face, and precedents set by other player lawsuits.

Why do you keep repeating "50 pages," as if that is some sort of clincher....We've gone through this in the past 15 years, dropping IPs from 250 to 200 and it did nothing


Again, the Nats have a specific report by medical experts on the reinjury risk of pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery, and it says the reinjury rate is extremely high for returnees subject to a high workload in the first 1-2 years post surgery.

You cant rebut that, so you again go back to trying to argue the immaterial, ie how workload affects healthy pitchers.
   152. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: September 09, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4231028)
Why do you keep repeating "50 pages," as if that is some sort of clincher? A 50-page report on whether god exists would be as useless. The evidence supporting this move doesn't exist, because pitchers for the most part haven't been shut down like this before.


Actually, there's been some really good work on that in the last decade or so, lots of discussion over the fine-tuning argument.
   153. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4231036)
Judge, please enter this as an admission counsel is unable to rebut the very real liability risk the Nationals face, and precedents set by other player lawsuits.


Re this alleged liability issue, I'll bite: What is the cause of action? Negligence? Breach of contract? Something else?

And what is the argument for Boras/Strasburg that could potentially win on that cause of action?

If you want to answer those we can have a legal discussion. Otherwise, please stop repeating "liability, liability, precedent, precedent, 50 page study." That is not a legal argument.

I'd also be interested in what precedent you are referring to, specifically.

Again, the Nats have a specific report by medical experts on the reinjury risk of pitchers returning from Tommy John surgery, and it says the reinjury rate is extremely high for returnees subject to a high workload in the first 1-2 years post surgery.

You cant rebut that, so you again go back to trying to argue the immaterial, ie how workload affects healthy pitchers.


The rebuttal is that in order to make a judgment that A is better than B, you need data and sufficient samples for both A and B. The Nats don't have it, and it is really weak of you to cite black box work when (a) you haven't seen it yourself (have you?) so you can't tell us what it is, and (b) the data for such black box work doesn't exist.
   154. Monty Posted: September 09, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4231040)
The rebuttal is that in order to make a judgment that A is better than B, you need data and sufficient samples for both A and B. The Nats don't have it, and it is really weak of you to cite black box work when (a) you haven't seen it yourself (have you?) so you can't tell us what it is, and (b) the data for such black box work doesn't exist.


If A is "Shut him down" and B is "Don't shut him down," aren't you saying that B is better than A without sufficient data?
   155. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: September 09, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4231043)
If A is "Shut him down" and B is "Don't shut him down," aren't you saying that B is better than A without sufficient data?


I don't have a dog in this argument, but Ray is not committed to saying that. All he has to say is that the costs of A are so large they require specific justification, so if we don't have good evidence either way we should go with B.

Now, people earlier in the thread have been trying to put some pressure on whether the costs of A are really that large...
   156. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 09, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4231059)
Lucas Giolito is an important data point here. He was talked about as a #1 overall, got hurt, and then signed with the Nats at #18* after lots of buzz he'd go back to get more cash, and I can't help but think part of the reason he did was he trusted the Nats to make a rehabilitation plan for him and then follow it through.


Kevin Goldstein interviewed Rick Giolito (Lucas's dad) in the BPro podcast (#100, it's about 2 hour in) and this is exactly the point Rick Giolito brought up explaining why Lucas signed.

-- MWE
   157. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 09, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4231063)
Lucas Giolito is an important data point here. He was talked about as a #1 overall, got hurt, and then signed with the Nats at #18* after lots of buzz he'd go back to get more cash, and I can't help but think part of the reason he did was he trusted the Nats to make a rehabilitation plan for him and then follow it through.


Kevin Goldstein interviewed Rick Giolito (Lucas's dad) in the BPro podcast (#100, it's about 2 hour in) and this is exactly the point Rick Giolito brought up explaining why Lucas signed.

Of course to Ray** and Dibble, all that proves is that Rick and Lucas are a pair of wimps.

**Who seems to have forgotten his often-expressed opinion that the postseason is just a series of meaningless exhibition games, but then there are a lot of things that he seems to forget.
   158. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4231069)
Of course to Ray** and Dibble, all that proves is that Rick and Lucas are a pair of wimps.


No, just that X may not be the actual or main reason why someone did something, even if the person says X.

But let's assume X was the reason. On the other side there is Strasburg's comments, which are basically that he disagrees with the decision vehemently and it's "not why I play the game."

But I don't care whether players like it. I care whether it is a rational decision. And this is not.
   159. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4231079)
Re this alleged liability issue, I'll bite: What is the cause of action? Negligence? Breach of contract? Something else?

And what is the argument for Boras/Strasburg that could potentially win on that cause of action?

If you want to answer those we can have a legal discussion. Otherwise, please stop repeating "liability, liability, precedent, precedent, 50 page study." That is not a legal argument.

I'd also be interested in what precedent you are referring to, specifically.


If the Nats are given specific expert medical advice and choose to ignore it, and Strasburg gets hurt, it's a negligence case.

More importantly, any insurance the Nats have covering their liability for player injuries and their managerial decisions that helped cause player injuries, is very likely to be voided if the Nats refuse to follow expert medical advice in how they treat a recovering player. So their risks are significantly heightened.

The specific precedents have already been cited on previous threads, you know that.
   160. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 09, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4231081)
No, just that X may not be the actual or main reason why someone did something, even if the person says X.


Seriously, go listen to Rick Giolito's entire interview with Goldstein (it starts at 1:38:35)

Link.

and then come back and say that he's being misleading about their reasons for signing.

-- MWE
   161. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 09, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4231083)
The rebuttal is that in order to make a judgment that A is better than B, you need data and sufficient samples for both A and B. The Nats don't have it, and it is really weak of you to cite black box work when (a) you haven't seen it yourself (have you?) so you can't tell us what it is, and (b) the data for such black box work doesn't exist.


Again, it doesn't matter what the black box is. Unless you are accusing Rizzo of outright fabricating the "report", a report exists, and he summarized it's analysis of post tommy john re-injury rates as being extremely high when the pitcher's work load in those first two years was high.

Unless Rizzo has a convincing counter study of Tommy John re-injury rates that rebuts the one he's been given, he's legally, ethically, and morally obligated to follow it's recommendations.

And the sample size is nearly immaterial. Whether it covers 10, 20 or 100 tommy john recovering pitchers, it's the absolutely best existing analysis of the risks, and that's what the Nats should use. Please feel free to post any significant study of Tommy John recovery risks that contradicts what they were advised and you'll finally have a point.

But otherwise you've shown no cause for Rizzo to disregard expert recommendations and open up the pandora's box of liability and potential future costs for the Nationals.

I don't have a dog in this argument, but Ray is not committed to saying that. All he has to say is that the costs of A are so large they require specific justification, so if we don't have good evidence either way we should go with B.


The costs of losing Strasburg (especially if compounded by team liability) for any of the next 3 years are irrefutably large. If he responds as Zimmerman did and is able to increase his innings count next year while remaining as effective, he'll be the best pitcher in baseball over his remaining 3 year commitment, and worth $100M+.

The costs of not having Strasburg in the playoffs are murky at best. Despite his rate stats, Strasburg is barely pitching more than 5.5 innings per start. He's been worth 14 runs above replacement, giving his starts to a pitcher worth 11 runs above replacement (in 2 fewer starts), is such a minor downgrade it's almost impossible to assess a large cost to it.
   162. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 09, 2012 at 08:48 PM (#4231200)
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that all of the tired arguments about the shutdown that have already been made repeatedly would have to be repeated yet again with even more heat and less light once the actual shutdown arrived. But Strassburg has stunk up the joint in two of his last three starts, so I am just a tad bit surprised that no one seems to want to even consider the possibility that the kid really might be starting to wear down after throwing 36 more innings than he's ever thrown in a season before.
   163. Honkie Kong Posted: September 09, 2012 at 09:36 PM (#4231226)
I suggest that we shut the thread down now.
If it goes on beyond this point, it can get nasty, and will affect how the commenters react to each other in future.
Let us all store our comments for the next thread.
163 is the comment limit for this thread.
   164. Tom T Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4231277)
I'd pick Vladimir Zatsiorsky, not that I expect any of the geniuses, the experts on this thread to know who he is


Well, I guess it depends on the scale of the biomechanics question in which you are interested. Isn't he more of a muscle/strength/posture guy? I guess I think of that more as a "controls" person than a biomechanics person, but I'm probably biased by my stronger interests in the behavior of tissues at a more cellular level. (Okay, just funning here only because I actually knew who this was....)

In addition to rfloh's excellent summaries, Crispix and Harveys have appropriately framed the situation...if he'd continued to pitch and been injured, about the same list of people would have been flaming Rizzo as are presently flaming him for shutting him down without evidence.

Ray's arguments are darn near identical ("There is no evidence!" and "Studies have been inconclusive!") to the long litany of arguments that have been raised for years against the idea of sub-concussive blows potentially producing physical damage to the brain. And the best response is probably the same --- there was no controlled study ever performed, so, in fact, we have no information in either direction on this issue, regardless of Ray's claims about pitching loads and concerns about injury. In fact, pitching loads have been decreasing for DECADES and this is NOT solely (or even primarily) the outcome of attempts to prevent injuries. [While the book is chock-full of craptastic "logical" arguments put forth by a lawyer who clearly has no, or virtually no, training in research or scientific rigor, the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstracts DOES manage to provide some useful historical information....]

Therefore, more power to Rizzo here...he is, in effect, running a controlled study and within about 15-20 years (sorry, drawing preliminary conclusions anytime before that would be quite irresponsible) we should have our first glimpse at whether Dr. Andrews is correct -- i.e., we need to get a decent corpus of pitchers...probably 10-12...through the surgery and subsequent care, and then have enough time to assess whether their subsequent careers are relatively less filled with injury.
   165. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4231299)
And what is the argument for Boras/Strasburg that could potentially win on that cause of action?

If you want to answer those we can have a legal discussion. Otherwise, please stop repeating "liability, liability, precedent, precedent, 50 page study." That is not a legal argument.

I'd also be interested in what precedent you are referring to, specifically.


If the Nats are given specific expert medical advice and choose to ignore it, and Strasburg gets hurt, it's a negligence case.


This is wrong. Not just a little wrong, not just mostly wrong, but entirely wrong. Completely wrong. 100% wrong.

It is not a negligence case. There is a CBA that speaks to grievances, and there is a player contract. Strasburg signed a contract to play baseball for the Washington Nationals organization. And that is precisely what he is doing for them, whether they make him pitch 160 innings or 200 or 250.

And even if the concept of negligence were applicable here - again, it's not - the Nationals would have breached no duty by asking him to do what scores of other players in the industry have done routinely - pitch 200 or 220 or 240 innings. Moreover, even if he pitched 250 innings and got hurt a year from now, nobody could show that the 250 innings caused the injury whereas 160 would not have. But it's not a relevant inquiry anyway, and I feel stupid even talking about the elements of negligence, because negligence doesn't apply in the slightest and you haven't the faintest notion what you are talking about.

Again: please stop pretending to be a lawyer. You are not one, and it's silly to watch you try. You are simply talking out of your ass.

The specific precedents have already been cited on previous threads, you know that.


No, I don't know that. I am asking what precedent you are referring to. If you don't provide it, you are simply trolling.
   166. SoSH U at work Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4231300)
...if he'd continued to pitch and been injured, about the same list of people would have been flaming Rizzo as are presently flaming him for shutting him down without evidence.


Allow me to speak to you and Harveys and anyone else who has proffered this insight and say, bullshit. You want to disagree with Ray and company's position about the handling of Strasburg, fire away. But this line, which is very convenient for the spouters since it almost certainly can not be disproved (barring a sudden change of heart from Rizzo), is utter crap.

Personally, I think the idea behind the usage limit for someone coming off TJ surgery is reasonable. I think the stubborn refusal to deviate at all in the execution of that limit is what's less defensible. And I know damn welll that if the Nats found some creative way to keep Strasburg to his limit while still making him available for some postseason innings and he subsequently went down, alternate universe SoSH wouldn't excoriate Rizzo for doing so.
   167. Tom T Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:48 PM (#4231314)
Allow me to speak to you and Harveys and anyone else who has proffered this insight and say, ########.


Certainly some folks are and would be (correctly, per current knowledge; Ray among them) stating that, well, guys get injured no matter what you do, so doing the status quo (not being "cautious") would not be universally criticized (though also not necessarily "praised"). But, like Harveys, I believe that in case of injury, the volume would be just as loud and the list of raised voices would not be disjoint.

It is certainly an over-statement to say "every," but I would be quite surprised if NONE of the people who have criticized the Nats on this issue have previously made a remark like "What did you expect?" in the context of usage when someone like Wood or Kuo or another post-TJ pitcher was injured. (My search skills aren't so hot on my phone, or I'd hunt down a thread to look for an example. Perhaps you can do so and, in fact, disprove the statement. Conversely, perhaps one can find overlap among the voices and, in fact, support the claim.)
   168. SoSH U at work Posted: September 09, 2012 at 11:59 PM (#4231325)
It is certainly an over-statement to say "every," but I would be quite surprised if NONE of the people who have criticized the Nats on this issue have previously made a remark like "What did you expect?" in the context of usage when someone like Wood or Kuo or another post-TJ pitcher was injured. (My search skills aren't so hot on my phone, or I'd hunt down a thread to look for an example. Perhaps you can do so and, in fact, disprove the statement. Conversely, perhaps one can find overlap among the voices and, in fact, support the claim.)


OK, then I guess its OK if I claim that if Strasburg helped pitch the Nats to the 2012 World Series, some hazy percentage of the people who have expressed support for Rizzo's courage in shelving Strasburg would instead be lauding him for realizing that World Series chances only come around oh so often and taking a shot at the ring when it was there?

From whatever side of the argument it comes from, I think it's a crap position that's designed to do nothing but discredit the motives or sincerity of the people who hold a viewpoint opposite one's own.
   169. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:02 AM (#4231327)
I will add that with respect to the erroneous "negligence" concept that the fact that scores of pitchers have pitched a lot of innings coming off of Tommy John surgery would make any decision to pitch Strasburg for 200+ innings reasonable.

He has a player contract to pitch. Doctors cleared him to pitch. He wanted to pitch. He has pitched. Scores of other TJ pitchers have gone 200+ innings in their next season. There is no basis in the world to hang a legal argument on "160 innings but not 200 innings." The notion is frivolous.


   170. SoSH U at work Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:11 AM (#4231335)
I will add that with respect to the erroneous "negligence" concept that the fact that scores of pitchers have pitched a lot of innings coming off of Tommy John surgery would make any decision to pitch Strasburg for 200+ innings reasonable.


From a non-lawyer such as myself, I had a different question about the claim: If the Nats really had no choice (financially speaking) but to follow the recommendations of Andrews, as VA says, why would they even seek out his recommendations in the first place? What if he recommended 40 innings this year, working up to a full starter's workload the year after Strasburg hit free agency? Would they have to abide by that or risk the enormous liability VA discussed if he got hurt? It seems that unless what the doctors were going to recommend was the exact plan you had already landed upon, you'd never let your hands get tied like that.

   171. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:46 AM (#4231353)
From a non-lawyer such as myself, I had a different question about the claim: If the Nats really had no choice (financially speaking) but to follow the recommendations of Andrews, as VA says, why would they even seek out his recommendations in the first place? What if he recommended 40 innings this year, working up to a full starter's workload the year after Strasburg hit free agency? Would they have to abide by that or risk the enormous liability VA discussed if he got hurt? It seems that unless what the doctors were going to recommend was the exact plan you had already landed upon, you'd never let your hands get tied like that.


I haven't commented on the insurance aspect; my comments have been restricted to any legal claim or grievance Strasburg might have against the Nationals. KT claimed that Strasburg would have a negligence claim against the organization and I am certain that is wrong.

As to the insurance aspect, Boras has said that the Nationals ran the risk of not being able to collect insurance on Strasburg if he continued to pitch against medical advice and suffered another injury. I'm not familiar enough with the insurance angle to comment much, but it would depend first on what the insurance contract said. I would be shocked if the Nats were duty bound to follow each and every doctor's advice; for one thing, they would basically lose all control over the player, and for another, if they sought a second or third opinion and got conflicting opinions... well, it would be impossible to follow all of them. And it seems to me that for any reasonable player usage decision you can get a doctor to sign off on it. Are there _really_ no doctors who would say "Yes, it's fine to pitch him for 200 innings"? But again, the insurance angle -- as opposed to what claims Strasburg might have against the organization -- is not something I'm familiar with.

Frankly, I would be rather surprised if the Nationals have an insurance policy on Strasburg at all. His contract has totaled $15 million over four years. Why bother? I also understand that it's been harder to insure pitchers.
   172. base ball chick Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:08 AM (#4231359)
it is actually true that all these doctors said - no argument about it - that strasburg HAD TO BE shut down at 160 IP?

if not, what did they ACTUALLY say? does anyone know?

as for me, well, i feel sorry for strasburg. he already has made enough money in his first contract to live on for the rest of his life. so he doesn't NEED more to live on. chance to go to and WIN the WS doesn't happen near as often as you think and youneverknow, maybe gio gonzalez will be hurt next year/other pitchers suck/any number of position players don't play up to expected numbers, bad umpiring happens, no cigar.

ballplayers sure do talk a lot about the importance they place on that Ring...

and actually, i don't get the screaming - rizzo said BEFORE THE SEASON that he was gonna shut strasburg down at 160 innings just like he did jordan zimmerman. it's not like this is something he dreamed up a few weeks back
   173. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:17 AM (#4231361)
And even if the concept of negligence were applicable here - again, it's not - the Nationals would have breached no duty by asking him to do what scores of other players in the industry have done routinely - pitch 200 or 220 or 240 innings. Moreover, even if he pitched 250 innings and got hurt a year from now, nobody could show that the 250 innings caused the injury whereas 160 would not have. But it's not a relevant inquiry anyway, and I feel stupid even talking about the elements of negligence, because negligence doesn't apply in the slightest and you haven't the faintest notion what you are talking about.

Again: please stop pretending to be a lawyer. You are not one, and it's silly to watch you try. You are simply talking out of your ass.


Stop changing the argument to avoid the issues. We are specifically talking about a player recovering from an injury who has a specific recovery plan put in place by medical professionals. No one said teams could be liable for over-using healthy players, what I specifically said that was they had liability for not following the recommendations of their medical advisors.

He has a player contract to pitch. Doctors cleared him to pitch.


No, they cleared him to pitch a partial season as long as specific protocols were followed to protect his arm.

Scores of other TJ pitchers have gone 200+ innings in their next season.


And who many were quickly re-injured according to the most definitive research every done on the subject, the Nat's 50 page report on TJ injury re-occurence risks and rates that you can't debunk and so keep changing the subject.

There is no basis in the world to hang a legal argument on "160 innings but not 200 innings." The notion is frivolous.


No, I don't know that. I am asking what precedent you are referring to. If you don't provide it, you are simply trolling.


Yawn, I guess anyone who doesn't work for you, and won't do pro bono research at your beck and call is a troll then, but the cases were brought up on the previous thread (including one won by an injured MLB pitcher). If you want to actually use facts to try to rebut me, you go find them, or cite something tangible from the CBA that allows clubs to ignore professional medical advice in how they use players. Of course, you won't and can't do either, because you know I'm right.

Frankly, I would be rather surprised if the Nationals have an insurance policy on Strasburg at all.


Who said they did?

I was talking about corporate entity insurance to cover liabilities for contributing to a player's loss of future income. We aren't talking about his relatively minor salary, we are talking about a $100M+ suit that Boras would certainly file (as he alluded to in his last interview when he spoke of the Nationals moral and legal obligations to follow their experts advice) if the Nationals misused Strasburg against their advice and he suffered a career ending injury. There is no way the Nats insurance company would cover a penny of that verdict if the Nationals lose because they ignored their own medical experts. You fancy yourself a crack lawyer Ray, but you know apparently know even less about business.
   174. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:25 AM (#4231367)
From a non-lawyer such as myself, I had a different question about the claim: If the Nats really had no choice (financially speaking) but to follow the recommendations of Andrews, as VA says, why would they even seek out his recommendations in the first place? What if he recommended 40 innings this year, working up to a full starter's workload the year after Strasburg hit free agency? Would they have to abide by that or risk the enormous liability VA discussed if he got hurt? It seems that unless what the doctors were going to recommend was the exact plan you had already landed upon, you'd never let your hands get tied like that.


From a corporate management perspective, not getting advice probably opens you up to as much liability as getting advice and then violating it. Can you imagine facing Boras in court, and saying " we didn't think we needed to talk to any medical experts, as lots of pitchers went 200+ innings a year after Tommy John surgery" and having Boras reel off their names and how many quickly soon succumbed to reinjury and how many were career enders, and asking why you couldn't be bothered to even ask a doctor for advice when his clients career was at stake.

Getting professional medical advise isn't just about taking the best possible care of Strasburg, it's also about protecting the owners of your franchise from liability, liability in an extreme case that could end in a massive punitive verdict being handed out by an inflamed jury.
   175. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 02:20 AM (#4231375)
and actually, i don't get the screaming - rizzo said BEFORE THE SEASON that he was gonna shut strasburg down at 160 innings just like he did jordan zimmerman. it's not like this is something he dreamed up a few weeks back


What does that matter, though? What if Rizzo had said before the season that he was going to shut Strasburg down at 160 innings because Strasburg wears size 11 shoes. Would that justify the decision, simply because Rizzo had announced it months earlier?
   176. Chris Needham Posted: September 10, 2012 at 09:18 AM (#4231427)
it is actually true that all these doctors said - no argument about it - that strasburg HAD TO BE shut down at 160 IP?

if not, what did they ACTUALLY say? does anyone know?


No. Nobody knows. I've followed this thing as closely as probably anyone, and nobody knows anything specific on either side. 75% of the "facts" asserted in this thread are interpretations or projections based on a scant number of facts that ARE out there.

For whatever reason, the team decided early on that they were only going to talk in very broad generalities about their position. I think they were taken aback at the level of interest in it. Perhaps they thought that sticking to the broad talking points here would deflect some of the debate -- particularly given the "quality" of some of the arguments from those opposed to the shutdown. Either way, it wouldn't surprise me if we see a few articles in the offseason with specifics. But for now, we're stuck with the broader ideas about risk/injury, etc.
   177. Joey B. Posted: September 10, 2012 at 09:39 AM (#4231433)
The 1987 Twins, 2006 Cardinals, and every team that beat the Braves from 1992 till 1999 say that the Nationals have no less chance of winning the World Series without Strasburg than they do with him, as long as they're in the playoffs. That's what's really being overlooked here. The post-season is a spin of the wheel-of-fortune, and the Nationals appear to understand that. Fans and media want them to pretend not to.

Well in that case the Nationals should just shut down every single pitcher on the big league staff at the end of the season and bring up the staff from the Hagerstown Suns for the playoffs.
   178. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 09:49 AM (#4231438)
and actually, i don't get the screaming - rizzo said BEFORE THE SEASON that he was gonna shut strasburg down at 160 innings just like he did jordan zimmerman. it's not like this is something he dreamed up a few weeks back

BBC, before the season it seemed like the Nats would be fringe contenders, not the best team in the NL.

It's the realistic chance to go deep in the playoffs, and win a WS, that has people (myself included) saying they should take more risk.
   179. Joey B. Posted: September 10, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4231456)
And quite frankly, the fact that the pro-shutdown guys in the media still feel compelled to argue their side so strenuously in spite of the fact that they have already won the debate (the guy is not coming back to pitch this season) strongly suggests to me that they feel far less secure in their position than they act like they are.
   180. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4231462)
What if he recommended 40 innings this year, working up to a full starter's workload the year after Strasburg hit free agency? Would they have to abide by that or risk the enormous liability VA discussed if he got hurt? It seems that unless what the doctors were going to recommend was the exact plan you had already landed upon, you'd never let your hands get tied like that.

Ray's hit it already, but there's no liability for asking a doctor for an opinion and doing something different. It would be a workman's comp claim anyway, since it would be an on-the-job injury -- it has nothing to do with negligence. Potential legal liability has exactly nothing to do with any of this.

Another reason the idea is frivolous is that innings don't impact pitchers -- pitches do. Other people can be more rigorous with the math, but there has to be at least a 20% difference between reasonably expected pitch counts over 160 aggregate innings.
   181. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 10, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4231472)

From a corporate management perspective, not getting advice probably opens you up to as much liability as getting advice and then violating it. Can you imagine facing Boras in court, and saying " we didn't think we needed to talk to any medical experts, as lots of pitchers went 200+ innings a year after Tommy John surgery" and having Boras reel off their names and how many quickly soon succumbed to reinjury and how many were career enders, and asking why you couldn't be bothered to even ask a doctor for advice when his clients career was at stake.


You're entirely out of your depth.
   182. Chris Needham Posted: September 10, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4231474)
For what it's worth, the vague allusions to legal liabilities that Boras has talked about have been walked back a bit. He's given an interview or two where he's clarified that he did NOT mean this in terms of negligence, but in terms of responsibilities for insurance policies that the Nats have on the contract.

Which then raises the question... Why should the Nats care that much? At this point, given where the contract is, payout rates, and other issues, it's a matter of $2 million or so for the team. Big deal.
   183. base ball chick Posted: September 10, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4231493)
KT pot,

after reading your posts about the "negligence" and possible lawsuits, me, not being any sort of lawyer including the one you play on TV, wants to know this:
- there sure have been a whole lot of pitchers who have had TJ surgery and have come back when cleared to play BY THE DOCTORS and have reinjured themselves. best i know, there haven't been any negligence suits. why not? do you think that if, in that secret paper, The Experts had said that Strasburg could pitch 160 innings and no more, that if he hurt his elbow again pitching his 90th inning, that he would/could have sued them?

snapper,

IF the point of the complaint is that a pitcher age 23 returning from TJ surgery could/should pitch X innings and no more as determined by The Experts, why wasn't there This Outrage last year when Zimmerman got shut down after 160 innings? because they weren't in the playoffs? the concept/problem is the same - The Experts say 160 innings and no more (supposedly).

if people are going to attack the concept, they should attack the concept. regardless of playoff possibilities.

i do feel sorry for strasburg because the poor SOB is in a no-win position.
   184. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 10, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4231585)
why wasn't there This Outrage last year when Zimmerman got shut down after 160 innings? because they weren't in the playoffs? the concept/problem is the same - The Experts say 160 innings and no more (supposedly).


Exactly because they weren't in the playoffs. I don't think anyone is arguing that there is a level of prudence here by the Nats but the cost/benefit is skewed in the wrong direction. The benefit of having Strasburg pitch in October is an increased likelihood of a World Series title. The benefit of having Zimmermann make his last few starts last year was an increased likelihood of a .500 season. One of those things has a hell of a lot more meaning to teams and fans than the other.

I don't think too many people are saying that a pitcher should just be ground into dust no matter what. Some caution is worthwhile it just isn't worth the cost of harming a potential World Series run.
   185. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4231596)
Exactly because they weren't in the playoffs. I don't think anyone is arguing that there is a level of prudence here by the Nats but the cost/benefit is skewed in the wrong direction.


Right. If the reward is higher, the risk should be higher. The fact that Rizzo appears not to have considered that is a point that is not in his favor.

   186. spycake Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4231603)
If Rizzo does not follow the medical advice he was given by medical experts the team consulted, and Strasburg gets hurt, it could cost the Nationals up to $100M. It would be the easiest court case Boras has ever filed on a clients behalf, and none of the Nationals insurers would have any obligation to cover a penny of the verdict.


Jumping back to this potential litigation idea -- has this really been examined closely? I mean, we have 140 years of professional baseball and all sorts of pitcher injuries -- would the first ever major league pitcher abuse lawsuit really prevail? I would guess that medical experts could issue the same advice to every pitcher in baseball: "By pitching, you are risking injury." I think it would have to be something very specific to Strasburg, and the risk of injury very imminent, for such a lawsuit to even be considered valid.

And doesn't this mean that any number of pitchers could have potential legal action against their teams? I find it hard to believe that medical staff have not given such generic "advice" before and pitchers still eventually got injured.
   187. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4231621)
Exactly because they weren't in the playoffs. I don't think anyone is arguing that there is a level of prudence here by the Nats but the cost/benefit is skewed in the wrong direction. The benefit of having Strasburg pitch in October is an increased likelihood of a World Series title. The benefit of having Zimmermann make his last few starts last year was an increased likelihood of a .500 season. One of those things has a hell of a lot more meaning to teams and fans than the other.

Right.

If the Nationals were 5 games out of the WC, I would have zero problem with them shutting Strasburg down.

Players and teams should be, and are, willing to take more risks to win WS. Curt Schilling doesn't pitch the "bloody sock game" in a meaningless Sept. contest.

This may be the best chance the Nationals and Strasburg ever have to win a WS.
   188. Tom Nawrocki Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4231629)
Exactly because they weren't in the playoffs. I don't think anyone is arguing that there is a level of prudence here by the Nats but the cost/benefit is skewed in the wrong direction. The benefit of having Strasburg pitch in October is an increased likelihood of a World Series title.


I also think the arguments would be very different if the Nats had gotten hot and leapt into contention over the past month, but they've been in first place in the division since May 22. The brass has known they're likely to be in the playoffs for months now. There was plenty of time to tweak Strasburg's usage pattern - have him skip starts, put him on a strict 80-pitch limit, whatever - so that he would have some gas left in the tank for October.

But they chose not to do that. It doesn't even seem to have been considered. That strikes me as crossing the line from prudent to stubborn.
   189. SoSH U at work Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4231637)
I also think the arguments would be very different if the Nats had gotten hot and leapt into contention over the past month, but they've been in first place in the division since May 22. The brass has known they're likely to be in the playoffs for months now. There was plenty of time to tweak Strasburg's usage pattern - have him skip starts, put him on a strict 80-pitch limit, whatever - so that he would have some gas left in the tank for October.

But they chose not to do that. It doesn't even seem to have been considered. That strikes me as crossing the line from prudent to stubborn.


My feeling exactly. It's one thing to have a theory about the need to limit his innings to around 160, even if there's limited data to support it. But they've gone beyond that to also conclude that there's only one possible way to distribute those innings, which I think is far less defensible.
   190. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM (#4231639)
I also think the arguments would be very different if the Nats had gotten hot and leapt into contention over the past month, but they've been in first place in the division since May 22. The brass has known they're likely to be in the playoffs for months now. There was plenty of time to tweak Strasburg's usage pattern - have him skip starts, put him on a strict 80-pitch limit, whatever - so that he would have some gas left in the tank for October.

But they chose not to do that. It doesn't even seem to have been considered. That strikes me as crossing the line from prudent to stubborn.


Concur.
   191. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4231649)
And concur.
   192. GuyM Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4231679)
i do feel sorry for strasburg because the poor SOB is in a no-win position.

How do you figure? The media seems to have bought the story that he is "outraged" at having his season ended, even while his future is in fact protected (and at the urging, in part, of Strasburg's agent!). Has a good-cop-bad-cop act ever been more successful? Looks very much like a win-win outcome for Strasburg....
   193. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4231683)
And quite frankly, the fact that the pro-shutdown guys in the media still feel compelled to argue their side so strenuously in spite of the fact that they have already won the debate (the guy is not coming back to pitch this season) strongly suggests to me that they feel far less secure in their position than they act like they are.

Hmmmm, so what does that say about the Primates here on good old BTF? You'd have to go back to the last Barry Bonds for the HoF thread to find this lopsided a proportion of opinion. You guys have long since "won" the BTF debate, and concluded that you're the geniuses, and that the guy who's helped build the Nats into a long range World Series contender is a moron.
   194. Ray (RDP) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4231692)
and that the guy who's helped build the Nats into a long range World Series contender is a moron.


I didn't say he was a moron.

I said he should be fired.
   195. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4231693)
How do you figure? The media seems to have bought the story that he is "outraged" at having his season ended, even while his future is in fact protected (and at the urging, in part, of Strasburg's agent!). Has a good-cop-bad-cop act ever been more successful? Looks very much like a win-win outcome for Strasburg....

Strasburg has lately been more vocal than ever in his annoyance, but there's no question that he's now in a pretty much win-win situation. Most Washington fans, unlike some people here, realize that the team controls the player (especially a player recovering from TJ) and not the other way around.
   196. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4231694)
and that the guy who's helped build the Nats into a long range World Series contender is a moron.

Not a moron, just stubborn. All smart people make bad decisions occasionally, and stubbornness is a leading cause.
   197. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4231696)
and that the guy who's helped build the Nats into a long range World Series contender is a moron.

I didn't say he was a moron.

I said he should be fired.


We value your opinion, and we're enclosing a 2013 season ticket application in return.
   198. SoSH U at work Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4231698)
Most Washington fans, unlike some people here, realize that the team controls the player (especially a player recovering from TJ) and not the other way around.'


And most people, unlike gullible pseudo-Washington fans, realize the player controls the agent, not the other way around.
   199. Ron J2 Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4231704)
Yes, it is. They are guessing. They have no evidence.


Incorrect Ray. The evidence is fairly clear that it's best to be risk adverse with pitchers under 25. Craig Wright's study in The Diamond Appraised is one example. The study Rizzo cites is another.

Does it guarantee an injury free future? Clearly not. But historically great pitchers have generally been used gently before age 25.

Now I happen to think the way Earl Weaver handled Jim Palmer (a 23 year old coming off a serious arm injury) in 1969 to be optimal. 23 regular season starts (rarely on short rest) and then used as the #3 starter in the playoffs. He planned the entire year to keep Palmer's use consistent but low enough that he could be a factor in the playoffs.

Weaver has said that what happened to Jim Hardin and Dave Leonhard (minors -- Weaver said that Leonhard was a major talent who was over-used) played a major role in his handling of Palmer in 1969 (and in his belief that all talented young pitchers should spend their first year in the majors in long relief (yes, he didn't always follow his own rule here)
   200. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 10, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4231707)
Now I happen to think the way Earl Weaver handled Jim Palmer (a 23 year old coming off a serious arm injury) in 1969 to be optimal. 23 regular season starts (rarely on short rest) and then used as the #3 starter in the playoffs. He planned the entire year to keep Palmer's use consistent but low enough that he could be a factor in the playoffs.

And if Washington had done that, there wouldn't be one complaint here.
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