Sports Outside the Beltway

Pitcher Stephen Strasburg likely to have Tommy John surgery

He was 5-3 with a 2.91 Earned run average before getting injured. From AP-

Stephen Strasburg has a torn elbow ligament and will likely have Tommy John surgery, bringing the pitcher’s promising rookie season to an abrupt end.

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Friday an MRI on the right elbow revealed a “significant tear.” Strasburg will travel to the West Coast for a second opinion, but Rizzo anticipates the 22-year-old right-hander will need the operation that requires 12 to 18 months of rehabilitation.

“As you can imagine, he was initially upset,” Rizzo said. “But he has really turned himself from being upset to being focused on his rehabilitation. He’s determined to get the surgery done and begin the process of rehabilitation.”

Strasburg was pulled from Saturday’s game at Philadelphia when he grimaced while grabbing and shaking his wrist after throwing a changeup to Dominic Brown. The Nationals initially called the injury a strained flexor tendon in the forearm, but an MRI taken Sunday raised enough questions for the Nationals to order a more extensive MRI in which dye is injected into the arm.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Strasburg struck out 14 batters in a sensational major league debut in June. He is 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings with the Nationals, who have kept him on strict pitch counts and had planned to shut him down once he reached about 105 innings.

Pitchers have recovered from Tommy John surgery and gone on to have a good MLB career but many more have had their careers ended. This doesn’t look good for either Strasberg or the Nationals.

I look like a prophet too. After Strasburg’s first MLB start, I commented-

I expect Strasburg to come up with a lame arm by the time he is 25.

He’s 21 and his arm isn’t mature.

Washington is a terrible club and seeking solutions and will overuse Strasburg

Strasburg’s first outing was excellent, so the club is not likely to turn back to a more patient course with this pitcher.

Baseball history has a long list of pitchers who came out gangbusters Dwight Gooden, Steve Busby, Wally Bunker, Mark Fidryich, and more but faded rapidly usually due to arm woes. If I recall correctly, Bill James said the only HOF pitcher to have impact as a rookie was Tom Seaver.

Well I was off by three years on when Strasburg would have his arm fall off. Earl Weaver said the best place for a young pitcher is long relief.


Stephen Strasburg scratched from start due to inflamed shoulder

He has struck out 75 batters in 54 plus innings since being put in the Washington National rotation last May. From ESPN-

Rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg was diagnosed with inflammation in his pitching shoulder after being scratched from his scheduled start for the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night because he had problems warming up his prized and powerful right arm.Stephen Strasburg

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Strasburg had “stiffness and discomfort” in his right shoulder, but an MRI and X-ray show no structural damage.

“Given a couple days’ rest and anti-inflammatories, he should be better,” Rizzo said.

The Nationals did not make Strasburg available for comment, saying he went for tests immediately after he encountered trouble. He was supposed to start Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves; instead, Miguel Batista was summoned on short notice and earned the win with five shutout innings in Washington’s 3-0 victory.

Rizzo said Strasburg is day to day and he’s not certain when the righty will pitch next.

“We’re still not sure where he’s at,” the GM said.

Earlier, Rizzo said Strasburg did not have “shooting pains or anything like that in his shoulder or elbow.”

In nine starts for Washington, Strasburg is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 15 walks in 54 1/3 innings. He has won his past three starts.

After Strasburg’s first MLB start, I commented-

I expect Strasburg to come up with a lame arm by the time he is 25.

He’s 21 and his arm isn’t mature.

Washington is a terrible club and seeking solutions and will overuse Strasburg

Strasburg’s first outing was excellent, so the club is not likely to turn back to a more patient course with this pitcher.

Baseball history has a long list of pitchers who came out gangbusters Dwight Gooden, Steve Busby, Wally Bunker, Mark Fidryich, and more but faded rapidly usually due to arm woes. If I recall correctly, Bill James said the only HOF pitcher to have impact as a rookie was Tom Seaver.

I stick by what I said. Earl Weaver said the best place for a young pitcher is long relief.


Stephen Strasburg Impresses In Major League Debut

4684450947_131b1bb9f9If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, then you’ve been part of the hype about the Washington Nationals latest new phenom Stephen Strasburg, which started long before he’d ever thrown a single pitch in a Major League game. Last night, we learned that the hype may just have been justified:

WASHINGTON — For all the hype and expectations, projected debut dates guessed and re-guessed, every word and soundbite, millions though they were, one typically critical detail of a starting pitcher’s pregame routine was absent Tuesday night.

Nationals rookie Stephen Strasburg never looked at a scouting report of his opponent.

“I was just trusting everything he called,” Strasburg said after the game, referring to his future Hall of Fame catcher, Ivan Rodriguez.

Strasburg said it so earnestly that maybe he didn’t understand the magnitude of what he had just accomplished. Hailed as the savior of baseball in D.C., the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, whom some scouts described as the greatest pitching prospect of all time, had somehow managed to match or even exceed the exorbitant expectations placed upon him by striking out a Nationals-record 14 batters in seven innings of no-walk, two-run ball in a 5-2 win over the Pirates.  He interspersed 100 mph fastballs between curveballs and changeups that plummeted to the earth as if gravity’s pull suddenly grew stronger just before home plate.

“I can’t really put it into words any better than you saw,” said manager Jim Riggleman. “It was just a great night for baseball in Washington.”

As commentator George Will, a Nationals season-ticket holder who was among the sellout crowd of 40,315, once wrote, “Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence.

Only time will tell if Strasburg becomes a truly great pitcher, or whether he burns out after a few seasons. So far, though, he’s doing well.


Washington Nationals send Stephen Strasburg to AA Ball

He was the #1 pick in last year’s draft. From AP-

The Washington Nationals have sent top pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg to the minor leagues.

Strasburg was the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft and there had been a lot of speculation about where he would start this season. He was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Strasburg has been the Nationals’ best pitcher in spring training. He made three starts and struck out 12 in nine innings. He was 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA.

I think Washington made the right move. Strasburg would bring fans to the ballpark, but it has been well documented, that pitchers rushed to the majors are much more likely to sustain some form of arm injury. Famous Baseball Manager Earl Weaver said the best place for a rookie pitcher, was long relief. I agree on both counts, while adding very few Hall of Famers had much impact as a rookie, Tom Seaver being the most notable exception. He won 16 games for a NY Mets team that lost over 100.


Washington Nationals release OF Elijah Dukes

One would think the worst team in MLB would be in need of this player. From AP-

Outfielder Elijah Dukes has been released by the Washington Nationals, a sudden move with about two weeks left in spring training.

The Nationals announced the transaction with a terse, two-sentence news release Wednesday.

The 25-year-old Dukes had been expected to be Washington’s starting right fielder.

He hit .242 with 31 homers and 123 RBIs in three seasons with Tampa Bay and Washington. He was limited to 188 games with the Nationals the past two seasons because of injuries.

Why was Dukes released? Two people in the Washington Nationals dysfunctional family organization have given conflicting statements.

Manager Jim Riggleman said it was a strictly baseball decision and not related to any off-the-field problems. “We like some of our other options in right field, really,” Riggleman said. “Elijah was great.”

General manager Mike Rizzo called the release “a performance-based decision” but also implied Dukes’s place in the clubhouse adversely affected the Nationals. Rizzo said the Nationals “will be a more cohesive, united group” without Dukes.

“The clubhouse will be more united,” Rizzo said. “We’ll have a better feel around the ballclub. We’ll gain just by that alone.”

The Nationals discussed the possibility of parting ways with Dukes this winter, Rizzo said. The Nationals “made several inquiries to many” teams, Rizzo said. “We found there was no interest in a trade for Elijah.” The Nationals could have also optioned Dukes to the minor leagues, but they felt he had peaked in his development, Rizzo said.

I tend to believe Rizzo. Dukes has alot of personal problems that detract from him as a ball player. Why would the organization release him out right without trying to make a trade? When healthy, Dukes is a fair to good starting outfielder and would be a excellent 4th outfielder.

I think something recent occurred with Dukes that is not known at present or he was causing trouble in the clubhouse. That is why Washington cut him loose.


Milwaukee Brewers claim P Marco Estrada

The Mexican born pitcher saw Major League duty with Washington Nationals in 2008 and 2009. From AP-

The Milwaukee Brewers claimed right-hander Marco Estrada off waivers from the Washington Nationals.

The 26-year-old has pitched in parts of the last two seasons for Washington, going 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA in one start and three relief appearances last year. He was drafted by the Nationals in the sixth round in 2005.

To make room for Estrada, the Brewers designated right-hander Tim Dillard for assignment.

As I see it, Estrada over Dillard because the former has more potential. Both are 26-year-olds and rate as middle relievers at this moment.

Why I think Estrada has more potential is pretty simple. He strikes out more batters than Dillard. His fastball is in the low 90′s and is said to have a good changeup. The problem Estrada has had in the majors so far, is his tendency to give up gopher balls. Estrada has had the same problem in the minors.

Both these guys are probably going to have little impact in the majors, but if one of them does, I would bet it is Estrada.

Note- This is my 2000th Blog post at OTB Sports since I began writing here in May 2006.


MLB Pitcher Luis Ayala unharmed after kidnap attempt

He pitched for the Minnesota Twins and Florida Marlins last season and is currently under contract to the Los Angeles Dodgers. From AP-

Relief pitcher Luis Ayala was unharmed during an apparent attempted kidnapping by gunmen at his home in the northern Mexico state of Sinaloa.

Martin Robles, a spokesman for the state prosecutors’ office, said investigators believed Ayala was the intended victim, whom police prevented from being abducted.

Robles said gunmen in three vehicles forced their way into Ayala’s home near the city of Los Mochis on Monday by shooting open the door.

Police arrived at the scene after receiving a call to an emergency number, and soldiers dispatched to the scene apparently scared off the assailants.

Ayala’s family was unhurt but police found him in handcuffs when they arrived.

With the drug related violent crime rampant there at the moment, Mexico might be the last country in this hemisphere I’d want to visit.


Washington signs reliever Matt Capps

Because the one thing a team that lost over 100 games the season before needs is a ace reliever to turn things around. From ESPN-

The Washington Nationals have signed Matt Capps to a one-year contract to be their closer for 2010, his agent said late Wednesday.

The deal is for $3.5 million for 2010, with a chance to make another $425,000 in performance bonuses. The performance incentives kick in at 40-65 games finished.

The deal went down to the end between the Chicago Cubs, New York Mets and Washington, Capps’ agent, Paul Kinzer, said. The Mets were a late entry into the Capps pursuit, offering a similar contract to what Capps signed for with Washington.

The only previous MLB team Capps has played for is Pittsburgh. He has plenty of experience pitching for a bad baseball team.

Capps who saved 66 games and been a good reliever from 2006-08, had a sore arm for much of 2009. A one year contract is a small gamble. I just don’t see the Nationals turning around any time soon.


Washington Nationals sign C Ivan Rodriguez

The Nationals will be Pudge’s 5th team in three years. From the Washington Times-

The Washington Nationals have agreed with former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez on a two-year deal, according to a club source. The deal is believed to be worth $6 million, and it gives Washington the veteran catcher who can both spell and mentor Jesus Flores that general manager Mike Rizzo said he’s been looking for.Pudge

The move came shortly after the midnight deadline for free agents to accept arbitration offers. Rodriguez declined arbitration, instead landing a multi-year deal at the age of 38.

What the Nationals will primarily be getting is experience; the future Hall of Famer has played nearly 2,400 major-league games and reached 14 All-Star Games. He has thrown out 46 percent of baserunners during his career.

Washington has been searching for an insurance policy behind the plate with Flores trying to return from shoulder surgery. He also won rave reviews for his work with a young pitching staff in Detroit from 2004-08, and will be counted on to duplicate those efforts with the Nationals’ young arms, particularly top overall pick Stephen Strasburg.

The Nationals goals of having Rodriguez tutor Flores and Strasburg are realistic. Pudge’s goal of playing 70 or more games next season, is more problematic. He is 38 and with almost 2,300 games under his belt. I don’t think he is capable of maintaining a heavy and productive workload but that’s my opinion.


Washington Nationals ordered to pay $40,000 to fired scout

The team’s General Manager, Jim Bowden, resigned because of the Dominican Republic baseball scouting scandal. From AP-

A Dominican Republic tribunal has ordered the Washington Nationals to pay $40,000 in damages to a scout who was fired after signing a prospect who lied about his age.

Jose Baez, the Nationals’ former director of operations in the Dominican Republic, sued the team for what he said was an unjustified firing. The court issued its order last week.

In 2006, Baez and special assistant to the general manager Jose Rijo signed a player who identified himself as 16-year-old Esmailyn Gonzalez. The Nationals gave the player a $1.4 million signing bonus.

A Major League Baseball investigation determined Gonzalez was about 4 years older than he said and also lied about his name.

At least two other MLB teams have had recent problems with Dominican Republic recruiting. Kickbacks, falsifying one’s age, and steroid use seem to be the norm for some MLB hopefuls.


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