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Stephen Strasburg Rumors
Count Chipper Jones among those who wouldn't shut Stephen Strasburg down in the midst of a pennant race. Talking to Yahoo Sports' Les Carpenter, Jones pointed to his own lone World Series title despite the Braves' many postseason appearances as an example of how difficult it is to attain a championship. "Next year what if [Jordan] Zimmermann gets hurt again?” Jones said. “What if Gio Gonzalez goes down? There is a certain set of circumstances. Sometimes things aren’t the same. As those [pitchers] get older they will lose a little bit of speed on their fastballs. They will be a little more hittable. You have to strike while the iron’s hot.”
Here's the latest from Washington…
- Dr. James Andrews support the Nationals' decision to limit Strasburg's innings in an interview with ESPN Radio's Scott Van Pelt (Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post has a partial transcript). Andrews admitted he didn't have direct knowledge of the situation since he didn't perform Strasburg's Tommy John surgery but he "would certainly take up for the decision….I don’t think you can criticize that one bit, to be honest with you."
- Lucas Giolito will undergo Tommy John surgery on August 31, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. The Nats took Giolito with the 16th overall pick of the 2012 draft amidst injury concerns due to a UCL sprain that sidelined the right-hander for much of his final high school season. Giolito has thrown two innings as a professional thus far, pitching for the Nationals' rookie league team. Giolito's surgery will be performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who also handled Strasburg and Zimmermann's Tommy John procedures.
Cody Ross was a walkoff hero for the Red Sox tonight, slugging a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off White Sox closer Addison Reed to give Boston a 3-1 win in the Battle Of The Sox. Here are some links from around the majors as we wrap up a busy Thursday of trade rumors…
- The Nationals have decided on to shut down Stephen Strasburg at some point this season though it may not be at the 160-inning limit, GM Mike Rizzo tells ESPN's Pedro Gomez. "There is no magic number," Rizzo said. "It will be the eye test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won't decide and ownership won't decide. It will be the general manager, and that's me."
- The Rangers have "a very small list" of pitchers on their wish list and may be out of the pitching market entirely if Cole Hamels signs an extension with the Phillies, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- If Torii Hunter is really willing to take a big discount to re-sign with the Angels, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Halos could save money by keeping Hunter and Peter Bourjos at low costs and then non-tender or trade Kendrys Morales to free up more money to pursue pitching.
- The Cubs are unlikely to make a major free agent signing this winter, as Theo Epstein tells CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney that the team isn't far enough along in its rebuilding process. “Free agency’s definitely a nice way to add talent to an organization without giving up talent," Epstein said. "But you cannot make an organization that way. And we have a lot of steps ahead of us that we need to take care of before we’re in a position to add a finishing piece or two through free agency.”
- Beyond their big-name talent, the Cubs are also getting calls about right-handed hitting bench players Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson, reports Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link).
- The Twins led all teams in draft spending this year, as Baseball America's Jim Callis breaks down how much each club spent on their draft picks.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps the week's minor league transactions.
- Dodgers president Stan Kasten hinted that his team isn't likely to splurge in a blockbuster trade deadline deal, saying any trade the Dodgers make will "have to be governed by reason" and "make sense long term," he tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters (including MLB.com's Joe Frisaro) that his team is running out of time to prove they're contenders before the Fish could be forced to sell some pieces at the deadline. “In terms of decision making, I don’t how that’s going to go,” Beinfest said. “I really don’t. We need to win games here to make sure we’re on the periphery of even thinking about getting into things….You believe in your talent and hope we get hot. I think that’s where we are right now. But every day that goes by, it gets tougher and tougher to do that.”
The Nationals will consider adding a veteran starter to bolster their rotation down the stretch, Yahoo’s Tim Brown writes. Kevin Millwood and Francisco Liriano could be possibilities for Washington unless the asking price on the top available pitchers drops. But the Nationals don’t need to rush to make a move and could even wait until August, when players have to clear waivers before being traded. Here’s the latest from Brown, starting with a note on Washington’s most talked-about pitcher:
- Agent Scott Boras said Stephen Strasburg the pitcher is worth $30MM per season “in free agent value.” Ostensibly, Boras was commenting on the Nationals’ decision to cap the right-hander’s innings, but it’s interesting to see how Boras values Strasburg. In case you’re wondering, the Nationals control his rights through 2016.
- Though the Rangers are “staying on top of” the pitching market and prepared to discuss deals for top starters, they’re more likely to upgrade their bench this summer.
- Rival teams are curious about what the Marlins have in mind with just 12 days remaining before the trade deadline. Here are the latest rumors regarding the 44-47 Marlins.
Here's the latest out of Washington…
- Despite Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury, the Nationals would still consider trading John Lannan, a source tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The team "is not going to give Lannan away," however. The Red Sox and Tigers have been linked to Lannan, though trade speculation about the southpaw has quieted in the wake of Wang's injury. If Lannan is dealt, however, Washington still has Ross Detwiler to act as the fifth starter or as rotation depth if Wang is healthy.
- Stephen Strasburg is on a 160-inning cap this season, and Fangraphs' Paul Swydan looks at how the Nats can try can manage Strasburg's starts throughout a possible pennant race.
- If the Nationals leave Bryce Harper in the minors through July 1 and prevent him from obtaining Super Two status, ESPN's Dave Cameron (Insider subscription required) calculates the team could save as much as $14MM in future salary for the former #1 overall draft pick.
- GM Mike Rizzo tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that service time was "a piece of the equation" related to sending Harper to Triple-A but the move was made to help Harper's development. Rizzo pointed out that the Nationals aren't afraid to call up a young star if they need him, such as when Drew Storen was put in line to be a Super Two when he was called up in 2010, though Rizzo admitted Harper's and Storen's situations are quite different.
- In a separate piece from Stark, he talks to a scout who feels Harper should've started the season at Double-A, not Triple-A. "To be honest with you, if they sent him to Double-A, I actually think he'd be challenged there," said the scout. "Triple-A is filled with guys who have been in the big leagues and know how to pitch….So at this stage, it's not a slam dunk he'll go to Triple-A and tear it up. It'll be interesting to see how he does."
Some afternoon links for a slow-moving Sunday…
- The Mariners currently project as a 75-win team, writes Dave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner and Fangraphs. Cameron writes that assuming the team still has $15MM to spend, they could push themselves into the .500 range for the 2012 season. He looks at remaining free agents and presents three speculative offseason scenarios — one of which involves Prince Fielder.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer answers questions from Indians fans surrounding Matt LaPorta's trade value, potential free agent signings, Shelley Duncan's roster status, the health of Grady Sizemore, and more in this mailbag piece.
- Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com writes that Nationals fans should get used to the conservative approach for Stephen Strasburg, speculating an innings limit of 170 (based on how the team handled Jordan Zimmermann last year). He goes on to say that while GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson may get creative to allow him to pitch into early September, they're both "big picture guys" who would probably shut Strasburg down before late September even things broke right and Washington reached the playoffs.
On this date in 1993, the Phillies defeated the Braves in the NLCS and advanced to the World Series, which they lost in six games to the Blue Jays. Here are today's NL East-related links…
- Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider examines the Nationals' roster and shows that it takes years for general managers to fully make their mark on a team. Mike Rizzo has acquired most of Washington's players, but previous regimes acquired many others.
- Justin Verlander sees strong similarities between himself and Stephen Strasburg, though Strasburg has shied away from the comparison in the past. “He throws 100 with a hammer and a changeup,” Verlander told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “There’s really nobody else. Comparison-wise, it’s him and I right now.”
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes discussed a number of Phillies, including Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson, Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence, with Nick Mandarano on a recent podcast.
- Ozzie Guillen will earn $10MM, not $16MM, over the next four years with the Marlins, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
The Phillies have already clinched the NL East, while the Braves cling to a two-game lead in the NL Wild Card race entering play today. Here's some news that focuses primarily on a couple of other teams in the Senior Circuit's Eastern Division…
- Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo expects a relatively quick resolution to the open managerial situation, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Rizzo said he will interview candidates both inside and outside the organization.
- In addition to targeting an impact starting pitcher (mentioned below), the Nationals would like to add a high-OBP outfielder to hit atop their lineup, writes Ben Goessling of MASNsports. Previous targets have included Denard Span, Michael Bourn, and B.J. Upton. Goessling says Washington is once again a logical landing place for Upton.
- The Mets will not renew the contracts of Wayne Krivsky and Bryan Lambe when they expire on October 31, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Both front office executives date back to Omar Minaya's time as GM. Krivsky, a former Reds GM, was responsible for bringing Justin Turner to the organization.
- It's likely that the Mets tender Mike Pelfrey a contract, but the right-hander is still searching for a new pitch after a disappointing 2011 season, writes Andy McCullough of the New Jersy Star-Ledger.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says the club is targeting an impact starting pitcher and another bat this offseason, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Earlier this week we heard they were scouting C.J. Wilson.
- According to an AP report (via the Boston Herald), the Nationals will have Stephen Strasburg on an innings limit in 2012.
Weather permitting, Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg will make his 2011 MLB debut tonight, almost one year from the day of having Tommy John surgery performed on his elbow. Whether or not Strasmas is cancelled, here are today's links…
- Strasburg still needs to knock a little rust off his command, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told ESPN's Jayson Stark. Stark takes the stance that the Nationals are not rushing Strasburg back. Stark's colleague Keith Law has a fantastic article discussing the Tommy John procedure and recovery, with help from pitchers Jarrod Parker and Chad Durbin. For a look at what Strasburg did during his down time and how he's changed in the last year, check out Dave Sheinin's article from the Washington Post.
- SI's Jon Heyman hears that the Cardinals are "not completely confident" Albert Pujols will remain in St. Louis, which is one reason they didn't trade Lance Berkman (Twitter link).
- The Chicago Sun-Times talked to Tim Wilken, the Cubs' director of amateur and professional scouting, about the possibility of an extension in the wake of Oneri Fleita's four-year deal. Such a move would quickly sour many Cubs GM candidates, hears Yahoo's Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Wilken recently told Baseball America's Phil Rogers that it's been 20 years since he's had the kind of ownership commitment toward draft and international free agent spending that he had in 2011.
- NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman explains why he's predicted against Yu Darvish being posted in past years, but also outlines why he can see the righty being posted this winter.
- Tigers righty Doug Fister has "basically turned himself into the modern version of Brad Radke," writes Dave Cameron of FanGraphs. Does he represent the best acquisition by a contender this summer? Hunter Pence belongs in that discussion as well.
Sunday afternoon linkage..
- In a terrific article, Jonathan Newton of the Washington Post looks at Stephen Strasburg's recovery from Tommy John surgery and explains the four key advancements since the operation's initial occurence that have made it so commonplace and so successful.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney has an interesting take on the Cubs' extension of player personnel director Oneri Fleita. The move means that the incoming general manager will not be allowed to pick his own executive in that spot. Olney says that high-profile GM candidates like Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, or Billy Beane would likely want to fill that position themselves.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that if he had to choose between a big bat or a quality arm this winter, he'd choose the former, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Of course, their financial situation could hamstring them in the offseason. Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, and Ted Lilly are all set to return but with Rubby De La Rosa possibly missing the 2012 season, the Dodgers could have two spots to fill in the rotation.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post writes that the Rockies have money to spend and they shouldn't be gun-shy this winter. Their payroll situation is helped largely by Aaron Cook's $9.25MM deal coming off the books.
- Mike Gonzalez already feels comfortable with his new club, writes Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. On Thursday we learned that the Brewers were also in on Gonzalez before he was dealt to the Rangers.
The Nationals took a 63-73 record into today's action, putting them on pace to finish with a better record than the Orioles (55-81) for the sixth time since the Nats moved to Washington after the 2004 season. Of course, since neither team has topped the .500 mark in that stretch, the Battle of the Beltways isn't exactly recognized as a top-tier baseball rivalry.
Here are the latest items about the Nats and the O's….
- Stephen Strasburg talks to The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore about his year-long rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. Strasburg is scheduled to make his 2011 debut on Tuesday against the Dodgers, and is penciled in for three more starts in September if things proceed as planned. Strasburg is on a 60-pitch limit for Tuesday and will be on an innings cap for the 2012 season.
- Livan Hernandez will be shut down after his start on Sunday so the Nationals can take look at some younger pitchers, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Hernandez agreed to the move and will be "a mentor/coach" for the club's young pitchers, perhaps with an eye towards a coaching job after his retires. Hernandez wants to return to Washington next season and has even offered to pitch middle relief, noting he will not go to the bullpen for any other team.
- If Hernandez doesn't re-sign, Adam Kilgore hears from a source that the Marlins are the top candidates to sign the veteran hurler.
- With Andy MacPhail rumored to be leaving at the end of the season, MASNsports.com's Amber Theoharis looks back at MacPhail's three best moves as the Orioles' president of baseball operations.
- This is probably no surprise given MacPhail's possible departure, but Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun expects "a significant front office overhaul" in Baltimore. In that same piece, Zrebiec also discusses how Kevin Gregg is a popular clubhouse figure and a valuable mentor to the Orioles' young pitchers, but the right-hander is having a difficult time closing games. Gregg is under contract for $5.8MM in 2012, with a $6MM club option for 2013.
- Also from Zrebiec, Brian Roberts has been told by doctors that his concussion problems shouldn't be career-ending. The second baseman hasn't played since May 16 after suffering his second concussion in as many seasons.