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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sorry Nats fans, but history is not written by the losers | HardballTalk

History won’t be any kinder if Strasburg blows out his arm at some point and never gets to the playoffs.

Nats fans can look at Zimmermann and Jackson’s bad starts and say “hey, they would have started anyway, so it’s not the fault of the shutdown.”  They can look at Ross Detwiler‘s great start on Thursday and say Stephen Strasburg’s playoff rotation replacement did just as good a job as Strasburg would have done, if not better.  They can also say that they twice came within one strike of advancing last night, and Stephen Strasburg would not have been throwing those pitches.  But guess what: it’s futile.

Because everyone else will note that the Nationals (a) willingly chose to enter the playoffs with their best pitcher on the bench; (b) lost a series in which they gave up 32 runs and had only one quality start in five games; and (c) used a starting pitcher in relief in Game 5 on short rest, so all hands — except for their best hand — were obviously on deck.

And no matter what holes you can poke in that argument, Nats fans, the fact is that your team did not advance. They lost, and losers do not get to write the history when it comes to such matters. Believe me. I know from experience.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM | 390 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, playoffs

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   301. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:09 PM (#4271463)
The only reason most of the people are defending Rizzo's moves is because he made them. If Rizzo had decided to strip Strasburg down and paint him green in an attempt to save his arm there would be people defending that move as well.

This happens all the time here.

I choose A.

Why do you choose A?

Because A happened.

I see.
   302. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4271467)
it's funny how the overwhelming majority of the anti-Rizzo sentiment is coming from fans of other teams.

How many regular Nats fans do we have? I for one heard many a complaint at the ballpark in Game 3 and 5 that Strasburg wasn't pitching in the series. But hey, BTF is the world so if it hasn't happening here it doesn't exist.
   303. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4271474)
The only reason most of the people are defending Rizzo's moves is because he made them.


If Rizzo had figured out a way to use Strasburg in the postseason, with maybe a 180-inning total for the entire year, I can't imagine there'd be many people - and certainly no Nats fans - who'd come on here and scream that Strasburg should have been shut down for good in early September. For all the grief Cubs fans give Dusty Baker, I've never heard any of them argue that Mark Prior should have been shut down for 2003 a month before the regular season ended.
   304. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4271477)
Based on what I've seen, I'd say probably 80-85% of Nats fans supported Rizzo strongly. Probably a certain percentage were of the pack mentality who made it an "us versus them" thing given the drum-beating of coverage, and the sheer stupidity of some of the anti-shutdown arguments.

Much of that is based on a "Trust in Rizzo" argument. He's the guy who built this team. We have faith that he's going to keep us here, and that when he says we have a window over the next half-decade, we do.

There's a certain arrogance to Rizzo -- it's certainly not a quiet confidence. And a lot of Nats fans have rallied around that, believing what he's saying as if it's truth, not just projection and bluster.
   305. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4271487)
You know what other fan base rallied around a personality because he "led" a winning team? Cubs fans. "In Dusty we Trust-ee" was the slogan of 2003. Should give you pause.
   306. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:27 PM (#4271490)
And they got to the LCS :/
   307. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4271498)
Rizzo had several reasonable options, he chose one, and that's it. Sure there are going to be people defending that decision as a reasonable one. If he had made a different, also reasonable choice, people would defend it as reasonable, because it would be. Nothing strange about it. It's only strange if you think there was a single, obvious choice and all the other options were horrifically bad.
   308. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 05:57 PM (#4271517)
The question is do they make a strictly health/business interest decision with Strasburg or do they take into consideration the interest of the fans who pay for the whole thing and the other guys on the team who are there trying to to win. The argument against Rizzo here is that he went forward with the "Zimmerman plan" at the expense of the latter, and from a fan's perspective one can reasonably say it was a sh!tty thing to do when there were reasonable alternatives available. That is all anyone here is trying to say.

If you argue this was a business decision, then you've basically conceded Rizzo's case. The only business advantage for the Nats here is if shutting him down early really does reduce the risk of injury over the next 4-5 years. This is why the Rizzo critics have mainly settled on the critique that he was "stubborn." If you admit it was arguably the best business decision, then it was also likely the best fan decision (in this case -- that obviously isn't always true).
The only reason most of the people are defending Rizzo's moves is because he made them....This happens all the time here.

Seriously? You think the general tendency at BTF is to say "management is always right?" Don't see it....

Clearly, "management thought it was the right thing to do" does not settle any debate. At the same time, I think that "this decision was made by people who had more information than I have, and a strong financial incentive to make the correct decision," should be treated as strong evidence in this kind of debate. It doesn't settle the issue, but nor should it be dismissed as many here have done.





   309. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 06:14 PM (#4271536)
At the same time, I think that "this decision was made by people who had more information than I have, and a strong financial incentive to make the correct decision," should be treated as strong evidence in this kind of debate. It doesn't settle the issue, but nor should it be dismissed as many here have done.

Certainly true, but as you say, it doesn't settle the issue.
   310. Bob Tufts Posted: October 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4271537)
If history is written by the winners, why do we read Gone With The Wind?
   311. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 06:58 PM (#4271572)
It's only strange if you think there was a single, obvious choice and all the other options were horrifically bad.

No, it is also strange because the people defending the move are disputing the notion that were other viable options. The argument has always been between this was the only good option vs there were plenty of good options.
   312. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4271574)
Seriously? You think the general tendency at BTF is to say "management is always right?" Don't see it....

Yes seriously. The argument isn't that people on BTF defend management but that people on BTF and everywhere will defend what happened vs what ifs.
   313. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:12 PM (#4271578)
The only reason most of the people are defending Rizzo's moves is because he made them. If Rizzo had decided to strip Strasburg down and paint him green in an attempt to save his arm there would be people defending that move as well.


I doubt that, the people defending the move are defending them for a variety of reasons. I defend the move because I agree with it. In hindsight he could have taken a different tack, but I absolutely support a very cautious approach to a player returning from Tommy John surgery, whether there is numbers to back it up or not, doesn't matter, as the only numbers out there say "basically if you pitch, you are going to ruin your arm at some point in time". I like the 160 ip, I agree that once you shut him down, you don't turn him back on until spring training(intuitively turning him back on for the post season seems like sheer folly)

People defend Rizzo because he didn't cave into pressure. Not because he they blindly follow everything a person does.
   314. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:19 PM (#4271584)
No, it is also strange because the people defending the move are disputing the notion that were other viable options. The argument has always been between this was the only good option vs there were plenty of good options.


He came into the season with several options, the most common options being
1. Pitch the kid with no concern
2. limit his pitch count per game, but beyond that no concern
3. pitch him cautiously with a rough mental idea of an innings limit
4. Follow plan 3 but assume that the team will make a playoff and reserve about 40 innings for that
5. Start him off as a reliever, and as the season progress's stretch him out to a starter making sure that he falls within a certain innings pitched limit
6. follow plan 3 but when realized that they were going to make the post season do something to make him eligible for the post season
7. follow plan 3 but when realized that they were going to make the post season dump plan 3 entirely.

He went with plan three and stuck with it. I think he's right in being cautious and not shutting him down and starting him back up, I think the 160 ip is a good start, I think he felt that getting 20+ starts out of Strasburg was better for the fans and the finances than getting 14 starts and 20 relief appearances. Ultimately the only thing that was going to ruin the plan was if the team did the unexpected and posted the best record in baseball and went into the post season as the favorites... the odds of that happening, seemed a bit unrealistic.
   315. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:27 PM (#4271589)
In hindsight he could have taken a different tack

So only now a month after he shut Strasburg down and 5 months after it became apparent that the Nationals were going to be having a special season did it become apparent to you that he could have taken a different tack? If you realize now that he could have taken a different route I'm not sure why you are defending his moves to people who didn't need months to realize that he could have taken a different route.

I like the 160 ip, I agree that once you shut him down, you don't turn him back on until spring training(intuitively turning him back on for the post season seems like sheer folly)

So if he stubs his toe on May 3rd and goes on the DL you wouldn't have him pitch again until spring training of 2013?
   316. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:27 PM (#4271590)
You know what other fan base rallied around a personality because he "led" a winning team?

Come on, there's no need to bring up the Nazis here.
   317. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:38 PM (#4271602)
So if he stubs his toe on May 3rd and goes on the DL you wouldn't have him pitch again until spring training of 2013?


On May 3rd, sure I would have. On September 1st and he misses 3 starts....maybe not.
   318. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:40 PM (#4271604)
People defend Rizzo because he didn't cave into pressure.

Caving into pressure is one thing. Considering alternatives with an open mind, and modifying one's course in the light of new circumstances, is quite another.
   319. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4271608)
So only now a month after he shut Strasburg down and 5 months after it became apparent that the Nationals were going to be having a special season did it become apparent to you that he could have taken a different tack? If you realize now that he could have taken a different route I'm not sure why you are defending his moves to people who didn't need months to realize that he could have taken a different route.


Because if his team is the wild card team or barely makes it into the post season, I wouldn't have Strasburg pitching. The only scenario I would have contemplated Strasburg pitching was the one that they ended up with, best record in the league. Anything less than that, I shut him down.

On top of that, you want to maximize his innings, you wanted to make sure he reached at least 140 innings. At least I would have. If I was making the decisions, starting in August I would have conferenced with Davey Johnson, the pitching coach, and Strasburg and maybe modified his usage for the remainder of the year, plotted out a way to skip three starts and say those are for the post season. But even then, you still have another 3 weeks of the season to account for. I'm not sure that I could have planned a way to get him into the post season, while sticking to my beliefs on how to handle a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery.

   320. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4271613)
The only scenario I would have contemplated Strasburg pitching was the one that they ended up with, best record in the league. Anything less than that, I shut him down.

So division winner by 4 games means you would shut him down because the Reds win one more game?


On top of that, you want to maximize his innings, you wanted to make sure he reached at least 140 innings.

There was/is nothing stopping the Nationals from having Strasburg throw simulated games.
   321. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4271615)
On May 3rd, sure I would have. On September 1st and he misses 3 starts....maybe not.

How about shutting him down in June? How about in July? How about in August?
   322. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:48 PM (#4271616)
The argument has always been between this was the only good option vs there were plenty of good options.

No, there were only BAD options available. The Rizzo critics seem to have a hard time getting their heads around that reality. And, as has been shown throughout this thread, the options were all roughly equally bad.

And can we please at least drop the profoundly silly argument that because at some point in the season things changed (it became clear the Nats would contend), and Rizzo did not then change course, that he must therefore be "stubborn" and "inflexible?" There is no logical reason that a strategy developed under condition "X" has to change under any condition "not X." You need to show there was a better and plausible strategy available at the time. And no one has come close to doing that here.
   323. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:52 PM (#4271620)
On top of that, you want to maximize his innings, you wanted to make sure he reached at least 140 innings. At least I would have. If I was making the decisions, starting in August I would have conferenced with Davey Johnson, the pitching coach, and Strasburg and maybe modified his usage for the remainder of the year, plotted out a way to skip three starts and say those are for the post season. But even then, you still have another 3 weeks of the season to account for. I'm not sure that I could have planned a way to get him into the post season, while sticking to my beliefs on how to handle a pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery.

You've kind of contradicted yourself about three times over in here. You're making this out to be far, far more complicated than it is.

Modifying his usage pattern in mid-season such that he's directed to reach about 140 innings by the end of September is not rocket science. That would leave him with about 20 innings of potential post-season availability.

The notion that having him wind up with some number of innings marginally different from 160 as the result of that would be clearly more dangerous to his health is just completely based on, you know, no evidence at all.
   324. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4271621)
No, there were only BAD options available.

No, there weren't.

The Rizzo critics seem to have a hard time getting their heads around that reality.

That's because it isn't reality.

And, as has been shown throughout this thread, the options were all roughly equally bad.

This has been shown roughly nowhere.
   325. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:55 PM (#4271623)
So division winner by 4 games means you would shut him down because the Reds win one more game?


The point was an excellent record, 95+ wins(94 will also work) which wasn't something that they really thought was going to happen.

There was/is nothing stopping the Nationals from having Strasburg throw simulated games.


I hope you aren't saying those are the same thing.

No, there were only BAD options available. The Rizzo critics seem to have a hard time getting their heads around that reality. And, as has been shown throughout this thread, the options were all roughly equally bad.


The critics don't think there were only bad options available. They think it's perfectly legitimate for Rizzo to tank his plan and let Strasburg go, since there is no real numbers to indicate that there is a magic 160 inning pitched number. (note I obviously don't agree with that philosophy, but that seems to be their philosophy)

How about shutting him down in June? How about in July? How about in August?


Depends on how long he is down for, and why he went down. June probably not, I think if I have an a 160 innings pitched limit, that roughly 3/4ths of that would be the shut down range if there is a reason to shut him down(if he's over 120 innings or so, I seriously consider any extended down time to be the shut down time)
   326. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:57 PM (#4271624)
They think it's perfectly legitimate for Rizzo to tank his plan and let Strasburg go, since there is no real numbers to indicate that there is a magic 160 inning pitched number.

I'm not sure which critics have advocated simply "letting Strasburg go," but I'm not aware of any in this thread. I certainly haven't said anything remotely similar to that.
   327. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:59 PM (#4271626)
Modifying his usage pattern in mid-season such that he's directed to reach about 140 innings by the end of September is not rocket science. That would leave him with about 20 innings of potential post-season availability.


I wouldn't have considered it as an option until around August 1st, he already had 120 ip at that time. If I have a hard 160 limit then you have 60 team games remaining to get him another 20 innings pitched? Do you really want to make him a reliever and expect him to bounce back and become a starter again?
   328. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 07:59 PM (#4271628)
I am a Tiger fan and if the Tigers did the same thing under similar circumstances I would be royally pissed. I want my team to go for it. Smoltz for Doyle Alexander still hurts, but I loved it at the time and the '87 race was a great memory I will always have. To intentionally shut this guy down when he could help them in the last weeks of September and the playoffs was a joke.

I have yet to see anyone demonstrate why converting him to relief at the ASB was a bad option. Perhaps some risk yes, but driving to the park on the freeway and flying on the team charter are risks too. The Nats fans and players got screwed. If they win a couple and Strasburg has a great career, hey, all is forgiven. If not........
   329. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 08:02 PM (#4271631)
I hope you aren't saying those are the same thing.

Same thing to what?

Strasburg needs to bat and field a baseball in order build strength in his arm and hone his skills?

As for they were all bad plans, I'm not really sure why the defense of Rizzo then. If having him pitch 160 innings from April to the end of September is just as bad as having him start in May or skipping starts or shutting him down and starting him up again then the reaction to all these suggestions shouldn't create 100's and 100's of posts. You should be saying "meh" instead of so vigorously defending Rizzo's moves.

Depends on how long he is down for, and why he went down

How about he was shut down to keep him healthy? This is kind of weird. If Strasburg injures himself and goes on the DL it is perfectly acceptable to have him come off the DL and pitch. But actually bench him for 10 to 15 days is considered too dangerous and impossible to implement.
   330. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4271635)
If I have a hard 160 limit then you have 60 team games remaining to get him another 20 innings pitched? Do you really want to make him a reliever and expect him to bounce back and become a starter again?

There are a number of reasonable ways to set up a schedule in which he would work about 20 innings in 60 games instead of 40 innings in 35-40 games. Having him make a few bullpen appearances is among them. Freaking out than any slight deviation from The Prime Directive equals a dramatic increase in his injury risk is to put far more faith in the predictability of injuries than is warranted.


I have yet to see anyone demonstrate why converting him to relief at the ASB was a bad option.


It wasn't a bad option at all.
   331. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 08:06 PM (#4271636)
Do you really want to make him a reliever and expect him to bounce back and become a starter again?

Temporarily? Yes. It happens all the time. Especially in the postseason.
   332. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4271639)
It happens all the time. Especially in the postseason.

And for most of the many decades of MLB history, it commonly happened all through the regular season as well. There is no evidence that it in itself raised the likelihood of injury.
   333. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 08:12 PM (#4271645)
This is just classical stand on 16 when the dealer has a 10 showing type mentality.
   334. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 08:21 PM (#4271667)
This is just classical stand on 16 when the dealer has a 10 showing type mentality.


It's a different philosophical viewpoint. It's not inherently stupid.

   335. GuyM Posted: October 15, 2012 at 09:15 PM (#4271790)
No, there were only BAD options available. The Rizzo critics seem to have a hard time getting their heads around that reality.
No, there weren't.

Thanks for providing confirmation.

A good option would be using your best pitcher for the full season plus the post-season. That wasn't available (maybe Ray would disagree, I don't know). The options that have been offered here, like Rizzo's plan, are not good. And if you think winning the division is priority #1, none of them are an improvement on what happened. Good creative effort, but the results just aren't there.
   336. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 09:46 PM (#4271882)
There were plenty of workable options Guy, all with pluses and minuses. Rizzo chose the one that hurt his team the worst down the stretch and possibly screwed his team out of the NLDS. Just because you think you have refuted the other options doesn't make it so. I hate to break it to you but you are wrong.
   337. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4271906)
There were plenty of workable options Guy, all with pluses and minuses. Rizzo chose the one that hurt his team the worst down the stretch and possibly screwed his team out of the NLDS. Just because you think you have refuted the other options doesn't make it so. I hate to break it to you but you are wrong.


What options? Within the framework that Rizzo fully believes in, which for simplicity sake, we'll say is no more than 170 innings pitched.
   338. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4271915)
Why are we being handcuffed by Rizzo's own refusal to adjust his plan? He made a bad choice and you guys are defending it by saying that we need to stick within Rizzo's poor parameters and definitively prove that our suggestion would work better than Rizzo's. That's silly. Just because Rizzo chose to jump off a bridge and dash himself on the rocks that doesn't mean we have to figure out a way for Rizzo to jump off the bridge and not dash himself on the rocks. We can actually suggest that he simply not jump off a bridge.
   339. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4271917)
Tell me again why the Nationals couldn't skip a start here or there?

He had to pitch in Colorado on 6/25 or against them on 7/6? He had to face Miami twice in his last 3 starts? He had to face San Diego on 5/15?
   340. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM (#4271939)
"What options?"

Stick him in the bullpen at the ASB when they realized they would be playing real games in September. Like I said in POST #1 and have repeated several times. And the myriad other options given by Steve T.
   341. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4271972)
What options?

How many million times does the multitude of options need to be repeated?
   342. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4271974)
One of the most bizarre aspects of this discussion is the people insisting that Rizzo's plan was not "160."

Zimmermann was shut down at 160.
Strasburg was said to be on the Zimmermann plan.
News reports all over the place said Rizzo said 160.
Davey Johnson said Rizzo said 160.
Rizzo in August nevertheless makes noise about there being no set limit.
Strasburg was shut down at 160.

Why in the bloody hell are people contesting that Rizzo's plan was 160?
   343. cardsfanboy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:26 PM (#4271980)
Stick him in the bullpen at the ASB when they realized they would be playing real games in September. Like I said in POST #1 and have repeated several times. And the myriad other options given by Steve T.


really, you are proposing a team to take one of their three best starters at the half way mark and make him a reliever to save his arm for the post season...and you don't think that would have a major backlash?

You know when they were only 4 games up on the Braves and 4.5 games up on the Mets, and 7 teams within 4.5 games of them.
   344. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM (#4272005)
really, you are proposing a team to take one of their three best starters at the half way mark and make him a reliever to save his arm for the post season...and you don't think that would have a major backlash?

Who here is arguing in this case based on finding the option that causes the smallest story to unfold?

Who cares what kind of story unfolds? The issue is that they didn't want to go full throttle with Strasburg so they had to come up with a plan to use him this season that was different than simply giving him 32 or so starts and letting him throw 200 innings if possible. They chose a plan and many people are disagreeing with the inflexibility of the plan.
   345. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM (#4272006)
really, you are proposing a team to take one of their three best starters at the half way mark and make him a reliever to save his arm for the post season...and you don't think that would have a major backlash?

So ... "fear of backlash"? That's your argument? You're going with that?
   346. McCoy Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:43 PM (#4272027)
You know when they were only 4 games up on the Braves and 4.5 games up on the Mets, and 7 teams within 4.5 games of them

So how about at the end of July when they had the best record in all of baseball and the Braves were 5 games back with nobody else even close in their division?

People keep talking about flexibility and the team adapting. So you know what the answer is if they move Strasburg to the pen and they start to lose their lead? Put Strasburg back in the rotation. This isn't rocket science.

Personally I wouldn't have moved him to the pen. My first choice would have been to start Strasburg's season later. Not because I wanted to save him for some unknown playoff game in the future but because starting him later allows his arm to recover that much more and avoids a good chunk of cold nasty weather. Rizzo had created a plan that ignored the possibility of a playoff run or the team being in serious contention. Since he entered into the season with that kind of mindset having him start in April or May or June makes no difference at all.

So that would have been my first choice. If for some reason Strasburg had to start in April and the team started to show signs of getting good I would start to look at my options. I would look to see how much of a dropoff Lannan is, I would try to find out how well Strasburg is bouncing back after each start. Once I thought I got a good handle on the various variables I would decide between shutting him down for a month in August/September and starting him back up or having him skip 4 or so starts throughout the schedule.
   347. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4272031)
If they had told the fans that a transition to the pen would allow them to use him all year and into the post season in high leverage situations there would have been zero backlash and in fact a hugely positive reaction. You know the fans all believe the bullpen is really important. A lot of Reds fans think it is in the Reds best long term interest to leave Chapman as the closer. I do not share this contention but the notion that moving Strasburg to the pen to KEEP HIM AVAILABLE would have caused a backlash is laughable.
   348. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:48 PM (#4272032)
The problem those of you arguing against the shutdown are ignoring is that you're ceding to Rizzo (in some cases) the necessity for some sort of limit -- whether it's 160 or 180 or whatever -- but not ceding to him the main thrust of his argument: that what happens this year doesn't really matter, because by doing this (and the other actions he's made as GM) he's guaranteed a window from 2013-2018.

So while we can devise all kinds of schemes to reallocate those 160 this year, it's missing the point. Rizzo wanted him to train as a starting pitcher to help NEXT season. They were happy with the innings they got this year, but knew all they needed was four solid starters in the postseason. Signing EJax was done not to strengthen the season-long rotation, but to have a veteran, capable third starter once Stras was shut down. Rizzo didn't care about this season. If anything happened it was gravy.

So while you can reallocate those innings, it doesn't make sense to do so unless you're also giving ground to the second part of his arguments and beliefs.
   349. Tim D Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM (#4272055)
"Rizzo didn't care about this season."

I hope you are wrong although I'm not sure you aren't. If Rizzo didn't care then I wholeheartedly understand why some Washington fans (call ins on MLB Radio mostly) have suggested he should be fired. In reality he will very likley be Exec of the Year. And I am sure his bosses are very happy. As a fan I am just very disappointed a front office would so brazenly handicap their team's chances.
   350. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM (#4272056)
what happens this year doesn't really matter, because by doing this (and the other actions he's made as GM) he's guaranteed a window from 2013-2018.

"Guaranteed?" You're going with that?
   351. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4272096)
Yeah, the idea that they're guaranteed anything at all in 2013-2018 is utterly silly. These are speculative future wins. And what we do know they were guaranteed is a playoff run in 2012 with a 98 win team. They had precious little respect for that opportunity.
   352. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4272108)
I'm anti-shutdown. I don't agree with his decision because I'm NOT confident that that window is anything.

But that's what he believes. That's what he's openly talked about -- even last week in his response to the anonymous GM who said he hoped the Nats never won anything ever because of the decision.

So he's making the 160 decision based upon his supreme confidence (or arrogance!). And if you're ceding him that, then you might as well give him the other part of his argument. If he didn't think he had a window opening up, then he wouldn't (most likely) have limited Stras to that extent this year.
   353. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:15 PM (#4272121)
So he's making the 160 decision based upon his supreme confidence (or arrogance!). And if you're ceding him that, then you might as well give him the other part of his argument.

No. There is no reason to do that. None.
   354. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:21 PM (#4272137)
Well then don't stick to the 160 either.
   355. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4272146)
Well then don't stick to the 160 either.

Well, the 160 itself was the first wrong-headed idea, as was pointed out many times. But the arguments here have generally taken it as a given. Even if we take it as a given, we don't have to take every following wrong-headed idea as a given.
   356. Chris Needham Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:39 PM (#4272155)
Well, sure. But then we're all arguing about nothing. Since 160 only makes sense in the context of Rizzo's other beliefs.

But then arguing about nothing is 99.76% of what this site's about!

(That and doing close reading analyses of other poster's comments and picking them apart...)
   357. Steve Treder Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:50 PM (#4272163)
But then we're all arguing about nothing.

No, we aren't.

Since 160 only makes sense in the context of Rizzo's other beliefs.

No, it doesn't. It can stand on its own, as so many posts here have acknowledged.
   358. valuearbitrageur Posted: October 15, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4272167)
One of the most bizarre aspects of this discussion is the people insisting that Rizzo's plan was not "160."

Zimmermann was shut down at 160.
Strasburg was said to be on the Zimmermann plan.


It was very likely they were going to be shut down within 10-15 innings of each other. Neither was likely to be shutdown before 160 or after 180, and 160 is probably within 5 innings of at least 33% of the distribution of possible endpoints. A pitcher on a plan like this, averaging 5.5 innings per start, will likely be shut down at points in series like 160, 165, 171, 177, with the lower numbers significantly more likely since you would expect the evaluators to have itchy trigger fingers when they get close to what they might consider a "minimum" maximum.

So the odds they both got shut down on their first start ending within the range? At least 1 in 10, maybe much much higher if Rizzo starts raising the bar for continued starts at 160.

News reports all over the place said Rizzo said 160.


Nope. I've seen reports that speculated he'd do it at 160 but I've never seen a report that said Rizzo said 160..

Davey Johnson said Rizzo said 160.


Nope.

I've seen Davey repeatedly answer the question, "After how many innings do you think he'll pitch before he's shut down" with "oh, probably about 160". Never have I seen him or anyone else quoted as saying Rizzo told them to shut Strasburg down at 160.

Rizzo in August nevertheless makes noise about there being no set limit.


I've never seen Rizzo quoted saying anything other than that.

Strasburg was shut down at 160.


After a very bad start, and what could be considered worsening performance over the 2nd half, at least in HR rate/ERA, etc.

Why in the bloody hell are people contesting that Rizzo's plan was 160?


Why in the bloody hell do are people contending it was when there doesn't seem to be a single quote establishing Rizzo ever had a 160 inning plan?

And why in the bloody hell do you and I even care? I mean if you disagree with Rizzo' decision, what difference does it make if he had flexible or inflexible plan?

And I agree with his decision, and if it turns out I'm wrong and his 50 page "plan" was just the sentence "Shutdown at 160 innings" typed over and over again, I'm not sure it matters to me.

The stuff from Andrews was really scary. A re-injury within the next year is very likely to be a career ender. Reinjury is happening to 15- 20% of MLB pitchers undergoing TJ.
   359. boteman Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:00 AM (#4272171)
Tedium.
   360. Steve Treder Posted: October 16, 2012 at 12:01 AM (#4272173)
I mean if you disagree with Rizzo' decision, what difference does it make if he had flexible or inflexible plan?

Really? You're serious with this question?
   361. Dr. Vaux Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:42 AM (#4272217)
Detweiler would have been the guy who didn't start if Strasburg started. They still would have been trying to limit Strasburg's innings, so he wouldn't have been in the games 1 and 5 position. He'd probably have made only one start, and the start Detweiler made was as good as Strasburg's would have been. Not having Strasburg didn't cost them the NLDS. I think everyone here really knows that, though.
   362. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:59 AM (#4272220)
So while you can reallocate those innings, it doesn't make sense to do so unless you're also giving ground to the second part of his arguments and beliefs.

So again we have to be handcuffed to Rizzo's stupid decisions in order to show there was better options out there. That doesn't make sense.
   363. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 16, 2012 at 08:05 AM (#4272238)
Tedium.


The word you're looking for is 'piffle'.
   364. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: October 16, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4272255)

Not that it matters at all to this argument, but Strasburg was supposed to have another start that would have put him over the mythical 160 if hadn't pitched so crappy after they told him that he had two left.


   365. Chris Needham Posted: October 16, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4272262)
So again we have to be handcuffed to Rizzo's stupid decisions in order to show there was better options out there. That doesn't make sense.


No. But if you're handcuffing yourself to 160, you need to realize why Rizzo did it that way, and all the thinking that went into it. He didn't pitch him in relief because he was trying to train a starting pitcher to handle a regular turn for 75% of the regular season.

So reallocating those 160 innings doesn't make sense as an academic exercise unless you're coming from the mindset of Rizzo: that the limit is to help 2013-2018, and whatever happens this year happens. If you don't agree with that, then don't limit yourself to shuffling around those 160 innings.

The approach I think they should've taken was careful scrutiny of his delivery/mechanics/command. And evaluated him on a start-by-start basis, particularly as he got closer to the 25 or so start mark. If he started slipping, and showing signs that command was going out of whack, then make a decision to rest him or shut him down. And maybe that's what they did, with all the gum-flapping about innings limits being a sort of cover.

Rizzo really did talk a lot about the eye test. And while he never really said anything about an innings limit, he didn't do a whole lot to shoot it down either. Maybe they were doing things behind the scenes... scouting their own player closely, monitoring him with pitchfx... there are any number of ways they could've looked at the issue rather than just a simple count. We don't have any evidence that they were doing it that way, nor do we have any evidence that they don't. The team simply refused to talk about what they were doing, other than letting Rizzo stand out front, taking the heat on how he was "the one who decides" (or whatever phrase he used).
   366. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2012 at 09:39 AM (#4272266)
One can also view 160 as a proxy to keeping Strasburg from not pitching while fatigued or overworking him. I for one said shutting him down for a month would allow them to have Strasburg throw more than 160 innings if they needed him to. Others have said that 160 innings is false precision. Nobody is handcuffing themselves to Rizzo's silly notions. Which is our point. There were better options and he didn't employ them.

I don't really understand the notion that we should use him until he gets tired and then do something about it. Wouldn't a better plan be to keep him from getting fatigued period?
   367. Bob Tufts Posted: October 16, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4272319)
I don't really understand the notion that we should use him until he gets tired and then do something about it. Wouldn't a better plan be to keep him from getting fatigued period?


Yes - and this relates to my posts of Dr. Andrews and Dr. Yocum a long time back.

This decision was a short term vs. long term choice based on balancing the physical health and productive career of the player and the economic status of the franchise. A lot of money was paid up front for Stras and the team wants to be sure that they get yearly returns in the future on that investment. That's all!

Having thrown 5 1/3 innings in relief in game one and 2 innings in relief in game two of a doubleheader in a AAA playoff run and completely toasting my arm, I have a different view than the "go for it now" crowd posting here.
   368. spycake Posted: October 16, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4272375)
Having thrown 5 1/3 innings in relief in game one and 2 innings in relief in game two of a doubleheader in a AAA playoff run and completely toasting my arm, I have a different view than the "go for it now" crowd posting here.


To be fair, Bob, nobody is remotely suggesting such a thing for Strasburg. Most of us are perfectly fine with a ~160 IP limit as a precautionary measure, we just think those innings should have been allocated with some acknowledgment of the Nationals playoff chances/realities in 2012.

How much more confidence did the team gain in "getting yearly returns in the future on that investment" by pitching him April through August, as opposed to May through Sep/Oct? How much more confidence did they gain by not skipping alternate starts after the all-star break? How much more confidence did they gain by not giving him 2-4 weeks of rest in July/August, the same that he would have received if he had suffered a minor non-throwing injury during the season?

Rizzo left a non-injured all-star starting pitcher with a career 135 ERA+, 11.2 K/9, and 4.7 K/BB off his playoff roster (and effectively off his September pennant race roster). Call me naive, but I think that's going to have more effect on the Nationals fortunes 2012-2018 than any of the usage modifications I suggested above.
   369. Bob Tufts Posted: October 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4272494)
BPro's writers picked the Nats to finish 4th. Only Adam Rubin at ESPN picked the Nats to win the division. Jon Heyman also predicted the Nats would win the division, and I wouldn't build a predictive model around his brand of logic.

So, I am at a bit of a loss as to when the team "knew" they were playoff bound and not merely spouting pre-season bromides.

   370. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4272564)
So, I am at a bit of a loss as to when the team "knew" they were playoff bound and not merely spouting pre-season bromides

I would say they "knew" they were in the playoff hunt by some point in May.

   371. Steve Treder Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4272571)
I would say they "knew" they were in the playoff hunt by some point in May.

And by July their probability of making the postseason was high.
   372. Bob Tufts Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4272594)
Pitchers are creatures of habit - they exist best on a set and regular schedule of throwing between starts and working out through the entire season. Anything that changes their schedule is deleterious to their performance.

The "best" way to play the July/August/September innings reduction game would have been to drop Strasburg from the rotation after off days and keep the other 4 starters on a regular rotation. But, would the other 80% of the rotation have performed as well in September and in the playoffs with this minor innings increase?
   373. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4272601)
Strasburg would have needed to skip something like 3 starts before September 1st. They could have gone with Lannan on those days.
   374. Tim D Posted: October 16, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4272607)
The likelihood of playing meaningful September games was a lock by the ASB. They shut Strasburg down September 7. My gripe is not only that he was not available for the playoffs but even moreso that he was unavailable for what could have been the most critical part of the schedule. Transition to relief at the ASB, when he had 99 IP, would have meant they could have easily kept him under 60 IP for the rest of the season and the post-season if there was one and still gotten a good return by using him in in high leverage situations. And if they had had him in the pen in the Cardinals series it may very well have turned out differently because their pen was a disaster. Their closer was hurt for a large part of the year. As I alluded in the first post of this thread I just couldn't understand why they just kept running him out there for 5-6 IP at a time when it was obvious to everybody in the baseball world that they could ration his use a little, still get a big impact, and keep the injury concern to a minimum. We are talking about what, 15 IP a month for a closer or set up guy? Insist on 2-3 days rest between appearances, whatever. Just keep him available because now you playing for real.
   375. spycake Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4272613)
BPro's writers picked the Nats to finish 4th. Only Adam Rubin at ESPN picked the Nats to win the division. Jon Heyman also predicted the Nats would win the division, and I wouldn't build a predictive model around his brand of logic.


They were an 80-win team last season, without a full season of Zimmermann, without Gonzalez and Jackson, and only a token September performance from Strasburg himself. In fact, it's been mentioned on this thread that Rizzo signed Jackson to give them 3 good starters once Strasburg was shut down in September, suggesting that Rizzo expected some level of playoff contention.
   376. Tim D Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4272618)
Sure, pitchers are creatures of habit, I pitched some too (in high school, no big deal). But situations are not always optimal and adjustments are usually necessary. All the Yankee fans were sure Kuroda would get pounded on short rest Sunday because he had never done it and was better on long rest. Well, he was spectacular. Strasburg is not some fragile porcelain doll. And no one is asking him to pitch both ends of a doubleheader or do any Robin Roberts endurance contests. A change in his usage pattern is not necessarily in and of itself a risk of further injury. They could have shifted him to the bullpen and probably kept him stronger and under 150 IP for the whole season. And then have the whole off season to transition back to starting. I don't see the problem.
   377. spycake Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4272623)
Pitchers are creatures of habit - they exist best on a set and regular schedule of throwing between starts and working out through the entire season. Anything that changes their schedule is deleterious to their performance.

The "best" way to play the July/August/September innings reduction game would have been to drop Strasburg from the rotation after off days and keep the other 4 starters on a regular rotation. But, would the other 80% of the rotation have performed as well in September and in the playoffs with this minor innings increase?


First of all, they had Lannan to take Strasburg's "skipped" starts. No re-shuffling of the rotation was necessary. I think most teams don't skip the fifth starter's spot on off-days anymore either, so aren't starters used to varying amounts of rest?

Secondly, this is really shifting the goalposts here. I thought the Rizzo plan was all about "getting yearly returns in the future on that investment" but now we're quibbling about how skipping the fifth starter on off-days affects the short-term performance of the other 4 starters on the staff?
   378. spycake Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:18 PM (#4272637)
Also, I'm sure pitchers love to set their schedules, and agents love to determine their client's usage, but when those things fully override even the most simple, uncontroversial approaches to optimal postseason roster construction, it's bound to generate complaints. Both by fans, media, and other GMs. I'm sure Rizzo will be fine, though.
   379. Chris Needham Posted: October 16, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4272668)
Again, the reason Rizzo refused to transition him to relief is because he wanted Strasburg to build up a starting pitcher's tolerance. This wasn't about getting Strasburg 160 innings. It was about getting Strasburg 160 innings as a starting pitcher, working every fifth day and getting into that rhythm so that they could cut him loose NEXT season.

Switching him to relief was not something they actively considered because they believed that he would most benefit NEXT season by being a starter full time THIS year.

Yes, there are other approaches they could've and perhaps should've taken... but you have to also realize the reason why they resisted a move to relief.

We can cite how the Rays handled Price and the tradition of many other rookie SP starting in the pen, but they would just counter that this case is different because of the recovery aspect.
   380. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:00 PM (#4272688)
We all realize why Rizzo did what he did. The debate isn't about his motivations, well, other than there being an issue of Rizzo valuing future unknown years over a known present year.
   381. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 16, 2012 at 04:53 PM (#4272759)
We all realize why Rizzo did what he did. The debate isn't about his motivations, well, other than there being an issue of Rizzo valuing future unknown years over a known present year.


Right. The criticism is not that he developed a plan; it's that he developed a plan and then showed a total lack of flexibility thereafter (despite the fact that it was clear at least by July where the Nats were headed) assigning false precision to the plan in the face of other options that were just as reasonable. And in so doing he scoffed at a championship run with perhaps the best team in the league while prioritizing speculative future runs over the run that was already in the queue.

And at that, Yocum's initial statement basically said that he was not consulted, with his second statement attempting to walk that back a bit while contradicting his first statement in a number of key respects that led to a bizarre juxtaposition.

But Rizzo totally had a 50-page binder, man.
   382. GuyM Posted: October 16, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4272834)
You guys are still at it? A few years from now, some screenwriter will write a scene with a character who's revealed to be an obsessive and somewhat crazy baseball fan when he frantically insists "You know, the Nationals would have been World Champions in 2012 if only they hadn't sat down Strasburg. I sent Mike Rizzo my plan to start Strasburg's season in May, skip some starts in June and July, make him a reliever in August, and put him on the DL for September -- but he just wouldn't listen."

Unfortunately, the line falls flat with audiences, because no one has any idea what he's talking about....
   383. McCoy Posted: October 16, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4272916)
You're still at it?
   384. CrosbyBird Posted: October 16, 2012 at 10:00 PM (#4273215)
Unfortunately, the line falls flat with audiences, because no one has any idea what he's talking about....

I don't know about that. If Strasburg blows out his arm in 2013 and the Nationals don't make the playoffs for the rest of the decade, I think people will be talking about the shutdown and the lost opportunity for quite some time.
   385. GuyM Posted: October 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4273868)
I don't know about that. If Strasburg blows out his arm in 2013 and the Nationals don't make the playoffs for the rest of the decade, I think people will be talking about the shutdown and the lost opportunity for quite some time.

If Strasburg blows out his arm next year, you think fans will consider that vindication for the "stop coddling Strasburg and increase his workload" view? That's more than a little counter-intuitive. Evidence of Strasburg's fragility makes Rizzo's case at least as much as his critics'. That's like arguing the Nats were wrong to "baby" Strasburg in 2010 because he ended up needing TJ surgery -- an argument that's been persuasive to virtually no one.

As for not making the playoffs the next few years, that would obviously be very disappointing and presumably hurt Rizzo's reputation. But if that happens, then the view that the 2012 Nats were the "best team in baseball" will seem far less credible (since the same core of players, sans SS, will have failed to be even one of the top 33% of NL teams for multiple years), so 2012 will seem less like the magical opportunity that some now see. And to the extent anyone spends time thinking about 2012 could-beens, the name "Storen" will come up about 10x more often than the name "Rizzo" (with "Davey" somewhere in between). (Not fair, but the reality.)

And Rizzo will also be protected by the more general trend that as time goes by the notion that "we should stop babying pitchers and let them pitch" will become an increasingly marginalized view, understood as something said by cranky old men who don't understand the modern game. Younger fans will wonder "did people really used to argue about whether young pitchers need to be protected?", just as they will be puzzled to learn of global warming deniers and opponents of gay marriage. Whether Rizzo was right or wrong in this case, he will be seen as being on the right side of baseball history.
   386. Ron J2 Posted: October 17, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4273877)
Gio, Edwin Jackson and Zimmermann all made two appearances in the series. Strasburg probably would have been available for at least one relief appearance, even if he had made only one start.


Valid point. I doubt it moves the dial on the expected winning % though.
   387. McCoy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 11:03 AM (#4273890)
If Strasburg blows his arm out in 2013 it will show that Rizzo's plan was faulty and that a different route could have been chosen. Rizzo punted 2012 specifically so that he could protect Strasburg's arm. His arm falling off will be a sign that he failed to do that, big time. Especially when you factor in that recovery from TJ surgery is extremely high. 2012 will be viewed as a wasted chance for a title so that the Nationals could gain absolutely nothing in the future.
   388. CrosbyBird Posted: October 17, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4274005)
If Strasburg blows out his arm next year, you think fans will consider that vindication for the "stop coddling Strasburg and increase his workload" view? That's more than a little counter-intuitive. Evidence of Strasburg's fragility makes Rizzo's case at least as much as his critics'. That's like arguing the Nats were wrong to "baby" Strasburg in 2010 because he ended up needing TJ surgery -- an argument that's been persuasive to virtually no one.

Not at all. The whole idea of limiting Strasburg in 2012 is based on balancing present value with potential future value. If the future value part of the proposition ends up a bust, it certainly makes the decision look very bad in hindsight. (I'm not saying that we should evaluate the intelligence of the decision based on hindsight, but we certainly can evaluate the results that way.)

2010 is an entirely different animal: there was really practically no present value to be sacrificed. The Nationals lost 93 games that season, and that's an entirely different risk-reward calculation.

If Strasburg blows out his arm in 2013, it would further establish that even the most cautious approach is still far from a guarantee of future health, but a highly speculative proposition. The thing we know best is the now; without the benefit of hindsight, it is very likely that the 2012 Nationals are a better playoff team with Strasburg than without him. (With the benefit of hindsight, considering the bad start from Jackson and the bullpen issues, having even another reliable live arm on the staff certainly would have been of value.)

Also, it's not about whether or not Strasburg should be coddled. I have yet to see any poster in this thread suggest that the Nationals shouldn't have had some sort of reduced-work plan for 2012. The questions are whether this was the most effective strategy for limiting Strasburg's risk in 2012, whether such a strategy should be more flexible that this one was, and whether a shot at a title should factor into that risk/reward calculation. To most of us here, the answers appear to be NO, YES, and YES. If Strasburg blows out his arm in 2013, it's hard to say this strategy worked in preserving his arm (making the first two answers seem more reasonable). If the Nationals never get to the playoffs again, it makes the 2012 chance for a title more precious (making the third answer seem more reasonable).

And Rizzo will also be protected by the more general trend that as time goes by the notion that "we should stop babying pitchers and let them pitch" will become an increasingly marginalized view, understood as something said by cranky old men who don't understand the modern game.

This is really an argument directed at Sir Not Appearing In This Thread. It's not particularly helpful to the discussion.
   389. GuyM Posted: October 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4274057)
Also, it's not about whether or not Strasburg should be coddled. I have yet to see any poster in this thread suggest that the Nationals shouldn't have had some sort of reduced-work plan for 2012.

CrosbyBird: the question I raised, and you responded to, is whether large numbers of fans (or Nats fans) will be upset about this decision some years from now. I think that is exceedingly unlikely, for the reasons I gave. You provide the reasons that Rizzo's critics will feel vindicated under your scenario, and I'm sure you are right. But that's the point: both sides can and will take any outcome as justification for their view. In the end, I don't see very many Nats fans feeling this is a black-and-white issue -- it's balancing unknown risks against a small advantage. It just isn't that a big deal and will be mostly forgotten about. This isn't Bartman or Grady Little leaving Pedro in too long. On a 1-10 outraged fan scale, it's maybe a 2. And that's under the conditions you stipulate (Strasburg gets hurt, Nats achieve squat).

I don't really get your final point. The issue at hand is how Rizzo's decision will be judged by "history," and my point is entirely germane to that.
   390. OsunaSakata Posted: October 17, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4274170)
But Rizzo totally had a 50-page binder, man.


But it was only one binder and it wasn't full of women.
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