Would Stephen Strasburg and/or Chris Sale be HOFers if Their Career’s Went Like This?

June 25, 2012

Two young pitchers who have performed very well in their brief major league careers are Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals and Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox. Both youngsters were dominant in college. Strasburg was the top overall pick in the 2009 draft, while Sale was selected 13th overall a year later.

Both made their major league debuts very quickly. In fact, Sale signed right after the 2010 draft and was in the majors after only 10 innings in the minor leagues.

Strasburg has been solely a starting pitcher while Sale started in the bullpen and this season became a starting pitcher (Sale did have a relief appearance earlier this season, when he came in relief after the White Sox moved him back to the pen because of elbow stiffness). Strasburg and Sale, after both were called up to the major leagues in mid-season during 2010, have been downright dominating at times.

Strasburg has gone 15-5, 2.51 ERA in his short career, while Sale has a 12-5, 2.41 ERA. Both have similar WHIPs, ERA+ and H/9 numbers, with high K/9 rates. Strasburg’s numbers have been affected by his Tommy John surgery and Sale’s overall numbers by his two-year bullpen stint.

Each filled a glaring need for their teams. Strasburg became an attendance draw for a franchise in the early throes of their resurrection. Sale, however, was needed to become a stopper in the bullpen for two years before his transformation to starting pitcher, a role he has known throughout his entire career.  

Let’s fantasize a little and plot out one of these young pitchers careers. We can choose either Strasburg or Sale in our “for instance”, and since I am an American League fan, I will select Sale. Remember, although I will consistently reference Sale, these scenarios could also play out for Strasburg.

For arguments sake let’s say Sale, who has two Grade A pitches (fastball & slider), plus a very nice developing change-up, continues to pitch well in 2012 leading the White Sox to a playoff run.  He ends up winning 16 games, losing 7 while posting a great ERA of 2.85. Bothered by some arm issues the following season, Sale regresses to a record of 9-7.* The White Sox resist the Joba Chamberlain urge to move Sale back to the bullpen and he comes back strong in 2014, winning 22 games, losing 5 with a stellar ERA of 2.54. His strikeouts pile up consistently during that 2014 season, and Sale finished with 267 whiffs.

He will, of course, win his first Cy Young award.

*Sale does have a wicked delivery, one that if off-line to the plate and takes his throwing arm back way behind his body, getting into a high “Inverted W” arm action. Many evaluators believe this type of delivery is great for his velocity, but terrible for his health, and some have predicted a future arm surgery. While predicting future arm surgeries are not difficult for today’s pitchers (many, many pitchers who are babied have them –including Stephen Strasburg), I believe Sale’s delivery (except being off-line to the plate) is more like Randy Johnson’s. Johnson leaned over when delivering the ball, giving the image of a terrible delivery, when his delivery was actually not harmful to his health.

Over the next six seasons (while hitting his prime), Sale racks up totals of 20, 18, 17, 21 (another Cy award), 18 and 18 wins. American League hitters are oftentimes in awe and state “Sale is the premiere pitcher in the A.L…,” and “the movement on his pitchers sometimes make him impossible to hit.” After a devastating 19 strikeout performance against the cross town Chicago Cubs in the summer of 2015, a Sports Illustrated writer quotes the home plate umpire as saying, ” that was the best pitched game I have ever umpired.”

Remember that Strasburg (despite still being on strict pitch counts and innings limits) is putting up equally gaudy number in the National League. Because of these two phenoms, the drafts of 2009 (Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Zach Wheeler, Drew Storen, Shelby Miller and Mike Trout) and 2010 (Sale, Bryce Harper, James Taillon, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, Christian Yelich, Zach Lee) is now being considered two of the best drafts of all time.

After those 7 great seasons, Sale runs into some unforeseen difficulties and more elbow problems, posting only 31 wins over the next 4 seasons. But, in 2025 he bounces back, making 34 starts and going 21-7 with a 2.30 ERA and 295 strikeouts.  A third Cy Young award takes its rightful place in his trophy case (just missed his fourth in 2015, placing second to Ivan Nova of the New York Yankees). But, late in the comeback 2025 season Sale has a recurrence of the elbow problems which had plagued him over the prior four seasons.

With the White Sox clearly wanting him to continue playing, at age 36 Sale decides to take the Sandy Koufax/Mike Mussina route and retires gracefully from the game, and as George Costanzo would likely approve, he exits on a high note.

His career numbers are exceptional with a record of 213-118, an ERA of 2.97, with 2882 strikeouts recorded in slightly more than 3000 innings. He won the three CY Young awards and helped lead his team to at least one World Series title.

Remember it could also be Strasburg that has this career.

After that type of career, do you think Sale or Strasburg would be a Hall of Famer? Absolutely they would!

The writers would be falling all over themselves to proclaim Sale/Strasburg as the “best pitcher of his generation” and are predicting they might generate close to the vote totals of Greg Maddux, who became the first unanimous player voted into the Hall of Fame. 

So why then is there any debate at all about Roger Clemens’ chances for Hall of Fame induction?

Those career “fantasy numbers” presented above are exactly Clemens’ career totals AFTER the 1997 season in Toronto. This was the season BEFORE he has been named by his trainer Brain McNamee of being on the receiving end of “performance enhancing steroids” and human growth hormone (HGH).

Early in Clemens’ career, he had shoulder surgery and bounced back to go 24-4, slightly better than what Sale or Strasburg “did” above. But Clemens also won four Cy Young awards during this early period, before his ultra-competitive nature allegedly pushed him into the forbidden zone of performance enhancers.

About 99% of the baseball public has already persecuted Clemens, and an informal survey of 80 probable Hall of Fame voters, taken the day after the Mitchell Report came out, witnessed 28 saying they would vote YES for Clemens, 21 voting NO, with 31 UNDECIDED. Many undecided’s are clearly in the NO category after Clemens’ recent trial acquittal.  

The source of Clemens’ involvement was his long time trainer, Brian McNamee, who said he personally injected Clemens with steroids and HGH during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 seasons. Most people who have an opinion believe McNamee, but what McNamee said was under direct pressure from the federal government to “tell the truth” or face deep prosecution for distributing controlled substances.

While Greg Anderson kept his secrets regarding Barry Bonds, McNamee felt compelled to tell what he knew. And like I mentioned earlier, mostly everyone believes him.

But for the powers that be (the writers) to reduce Clemens’ entire body of work before the allegations made by McNamee is ridiculous.

Clemens is a Hall of Fame player with HOF credentials. If you add in the seasons which McNamee said he didn’t administer PEDs to Clemens (1999, 2002-2007), the non-alleged PED numbers are even more staggering. If you want to remove all the seasons from Clemens’ career after his first use of PEDs, then you still have a tremendous career. Clemens (and Barry Bonds) were HOF players before they became supposed “cheats.”

Should we then remove Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker from the HOF, great ball players who were implicated in a game-throwing scandal during the 1919 season? Do we remove from the HOF all the players like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Willie Stargell and Mike Schmidt who supposedly used “greenies” and other amphetamine drugs to stay on the field during the 1960s and 1970s?

Is it OK because the use of greenies (and reds, etc)  that was widely accepted in the game back then?

MLB writers constantly call on the game’s umpires to just call the game and not impose themselves into the game. Now it appears like the writers are not only calling the HOF game, but are actually imposing themselves into the contest.

And that is bad for baseball.

 

 

Advertisements

Is Prince Fielder Destined to Be a Washington National?

December 8, 2010

Based on the deal for Jayson Werth and what Adrian Gonzalez is expected to earn via an extension, the Milwaukee Brewers are well aware they will not be able to re-sign Prince Fielder to a long-term contract.

Tons of teams have looked into the big first baseman, including the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. With the Cubs not in yet, it appears they will go with a shorter-term fix like Carlos Pena. However, look for the Cubs to be players if Fielder reaches free agency.

With Scott Boras as his agent, Prince is likely to become a free agent, but there is one team which might be able to keep Fielder off the market.

Why not the Washington Nationals for Fielder? Boras is Fielder’s agent, and he just moved his outfielder Jayson Werth to Washington. The Nats are a natural fit for Fielder as they need a first baseman for 2011, but might be able to wait another season to sign the free agent to be.

However, if the Brewers are not in contention for the playoffs come July, could the Nats trade for Fielder, then sign him to a long-term extension thus keeping other potential suitors away.

The Nats have some pitching they can give up, with quite a few guys at the major league level and Triple A.

At the Winter Meetings, I asked Boras if he will push for a Fielder trade to the Nats. His reply? “I would love to be able to dictate things, but I can not force deals to happen.”

And he gave me a questioning look.

Boras appears to have a great relationship with Nats GM Mike Rizzo and the Lerners, having already worked on deals for the last two top draft picks, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper plus the recent Werth contract.

If Fielder is not traded to the Nationals this off season, look for him to be in a Nationals uniform by 2012, if not sooner.


MLB Winter Meetings: Jayson Werth to Washington Nationals, Adrian Gonzalez Deal Dead?

December 5, 2010

On the ground at the winter meetings in unseasonably cold Orlando, Fla., there has been quite a bit of action already.

Actually, in much colder Boston, the Adrian Gonzalez trade is currently off, as the slugging first baseman and the Boston Red Sox could not agree on an extension. They had a window until 2 p.m. today, and while the Red Sox were willing to given Gonzalez a six-year extension, the player wanted eight years and “Mark Teixeira money.”

Many people here believe that if Gonzalez tests the free-agent waters after this season, there would be up to six potential suitors for the type of money (eight years/$180 million) Teixeira signed for two winters ago. Those teams include the Dodgers, Angels, Nationals, Cubs and, of course, the Red Sox.

The Cubs were the other teams heavily involved in trying to trade for Gonzalez last week. Could talks with the Cubbies begin anew?

While the deadline for an extension has passed and the trade is now dead, it does not mean it is completely done. The teams could talk trade again (same players involved), and the Red Sox could up their offer.

I believe the Red Sox need Gonzalez so bad that they at least go to a seventh year (he would only be 35 in that last season), and this trade eventually gets done.

It gets done because of the major news today from the meetings that former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth, he of the 120 career home runs at the age of 31, signed a big-money contract with the Washington Nationals.

That deal is for seven years and $126 million. Are you kidding? This deal will turn out just as bad as the deal Jason Bay signed with the New York Mets. Maybe it’s the name.

Well, Scott Boras did his work here and earned every penny of what he is getting paid by Werth.

But the right-hand hitting Werth was also on the Red Sox radar, to complement the trade for the left-hand hitting Gonzalez.

Now Werth is out, and the Gonzalez deal is done, for the time being. Even if the Red Sox do eventually get Gonzalez, they need another bat.

And that means going after Carl Crawford. The Sox can put a dent in the Yankees and Angels’ pursuit for CC No. 2 and improve their own lineup, too.

Let’s say the Red Sox then do sign Crawford. That means the Angels are needing to improve their team. They would like to get lineup help and want Crawford to be their No. 3 hitter.

But if Crawford signs elsewhere, the Angels can improve their team by getting better starting pitching.

And that means going heavy for Cliff Lee. What better way to crush the rival Texas Rangers, hurt the Yankees and improve your own team?

I have always thought the Angels were going to be a dark horse for Lee. However, many people here believe that Lee does not want to go back to the west coast. Valid point.

Also, the Angles aren’t hurting for starting pitching, with five starters already in the fold, including Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Joel Piniero, Dan Haren and Scott Kazmir. But Kazmir is mostly ineffective and could be moved, as he only has one year left before free agency. They could also move the more desirable Santana to make room.

However, money does talk (ask Werth), and the Angels will certainly be able to go $150 million for six years for Lee. That might get it done. Angels owner Arte Moreno has never been shy about spending his hard-earned cash.

Plus, I have always believed the Angels don’t really need Crawford with speedy youngsters Peter Bourjos (ready now) and Mike Trout probably ready in 2013 or sooner. Trout could be the best overall prospect in the major leagues.

Going after and signing Lee would make the Angels the leading contender in the AL West and would severely alter the Yankees pitching plans for their rotation.

If Lee signs elsewhere, what do the Bombers do then? I have several thoughts on what they could do,  but they will be held for another piece.

These possible moves are the domino effects of the Gonzalez trade being called off (for now) and Werth strictly showing us money was the only factor in signing with the Nationals.

So much has gone on here at the winter meetings, and they haven’t even officially begun.


With Strasburg’s Injury will Yankees Alter Their Plan for Phil Hughes?

August 27, 2010

Stephen Strasburg needs Tommy John surgery (TJS), and if you are in shock over this, you shouldn’t be. Strasburg has all the requirements of a guy destined for this procedure.

First, he throws extremely hard, upwards of 100 MPH. That is just too taxing on the throwing arm’s tendons and ligaments. There is a certain threshold for the body when it comes to pitching a baseball. Second, Strasburg has brutal pitching mechanics, with a very violent motion.

Rather than a smooth arc in his arm’s backswing, Strasburg uses a direct path, leading with his elbow. In leading the backswing that way, Strasburg’s elbow ends up well above his shoulder, putting extra stress on his arm.

With his velocity, that combination is a terrible one-two punch, most often leading to surgery. AJ Burnett, who still has bad mechanics, was a similar pitcher at a young age and needed TJS many years ago.

Unless they have great mechanics, most hard throwers have multiple arm issues. I spoke at length with pitching coach Rick Peterson last winter and he agreed that the Strasburg and Burnett-type arm action was detrimental to a pitcher’s health.

Strasburg has been babied and coddled as much as any pitcher ever and he still came down with an injury (actually two if you count his shoulder soreness earlier). But like other hard throwers who had TJS (Josh Johnson, Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter), Strasburg will eventually come back and throw.

Let’s hope he has better mechanics upon his return or he is destined to be a reliever.

Many people are wondering why Strasburg was even in the majors just one season after his college career. Well, he dominated every level up to the major leagues and had nothing left to prove. He was carefully monitored, and likely would have the same injury pitching in the majors, minors, or college this season.

It is just a good thing that the Nationals were not in a playoff race and using Strasburg more than what he was actually used. That would have brought down a heap of big criticism from fans and media about “what is best for the player” and “the Nationals caused this injury.” *

*I am waiting for the criticism to start on Tony Gwynn, Strasburg’s head coach in college. While there is NO WAY Gwynn had anything to do with this injury by pitching Strasburg, someone has to be responsible in this blaming society we live in. Dusty Baker will never live down the injuries to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, yet he had nothing to do with the terrible mechanics of both young pitchers.

Everyone knows how strict the Nats were with Strasburg. He never threw 100 pitches in any start, topping out at 99, and only entered the seventh inning in three of his 12 starts.

Yet he still needed surgery. It is more bad mechanics and his great velocity which put more torque on the elbow and shoulder than innings or pitch counts.

But while the Nationals had no playoff aspirations when Strasburg was called up, the Yankees do have World Series thoughts on their minds.

That begs the question of Phil Hughes’s innings limits this year. Hughes is 24, and has not had a full season on the mound yet in his major league career. He has a somewhat similar backswing arc as Strasburg, but it is not as drastic or violent as the Nationals phenom.

Hughes’ limit this year is in the 170-180 inning range, and he is currently at 144. He should be expected to make about six more starts which could give him another 35 innings or so. The Yankees might look to skip Hughes a start, or limit him in certain games, piggybacking Javier Vazquez in Phil’s starts.

But according to Cashman, come playoff time, “it’s all hands on deck” and Hughes could be part of the playoff rotation. The Yankee GM said he could not look people in the organization in the eyes and not use his best pieces in the most important games.

That means Hughes in the postseason rotation, likely slotting into the No. 4 spot.

While I have many times stated in the past that Hughes will definitely not be part of the postseason rotation, but will be in the bullpen, it likely is not the case. This is not to say that is what I thought the Yankees should do, but what I expected the Yankees to do was to put Hughes in the postseason bullpen.

Despite his last start in Toronto, Hughes is the Yankees’ second most consistent starting pitcher next to CC Sabathia. I trust him more in a playoff start than I do Javier Vazquez, Dustin Moseley, or even AJ Burnett.

Although I expect Andy Pettitte to come back into the rotation, and today’s news of an issue-free bullpen session was positive, Hughes still needs to be part of the rotation if the Yankees will win this year.

So, if Hughes is OK with getting postseason starts and innings, putting him over 180 for the season, why isn’t it OK for him to get a few more regular season innings? Important, down the stretch innings? *

*And for the record, major league innings in May and September are the same. There are no “extra stress” innings. Pitchers do not throw with less effort in May than they do in September, or less effort in the third inning than they do the seventh. Certain pitches in certain game situations might be thrown harder (AJ does this way too much) but pitchers generally throw with the same effort all the time. High stress innings is one of the biggest misnomers in baseball pitching theory.

That 34-inning increase violates the Verducci Effect and, according to the theory, would put Hughes in an “at risk” situation the following year. This is why the Yankees are looking to maybe skip Hughes or use the piggyback method. 

Before his last start, Hughes suffered miserably after he was skipped in a start around the All-Star break. He needs to pitch on a consistent, rotated basis and not be skipped or reduced. The Verducci effect has not been proven to be a precursor to injuries, and all the pitchers on this “at risk” list over the last two seasons have been major injury-free.

The injury to Stephen Strasburg showed that pitchers who are limited and coddled are not immune to injuries. Most pitchers go through arm problems and it’s not a given that if Hughes is limited, he will be immune to injury. The risk is always there.

But that risk and concern should have no bearing on the Yankees winning another World Series title this year. The idea of baseball is to win games and World Series titles.

Hughes has been durable all year and the Yankees need his innings down the stretch, especially with 10 of the last 14 games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox.

And if Hughes does have any arm issues next season, then worry about it next year. While he is going over his limit with the playoffs, another 12 regular season innings is not going to drastically affect his future. His career will not end if he throws 200 total innings this season including playoffs.

Winning another World Series title and ring should be the important thing right now.


2010 Strasburg or 1981 Fernandomania: Who Had the Bigger Craze and Hype?

July 7, 2010

When Stephen Strasburg first toed a major league pitcher’s rubber on June 8, 2010, the media attention was amazing.

Hordes of reporters were dispatched to Washington, DC, the Nationals sold out their home game with the Pittsburgh Pirates (the lowly Pirates!), and throngs of fans lined up to buy Strasburg jerseys and T-shirts.

Strasburg sensationalism was born!

He did not disappoint. Strasburg dominated the weak Pirates lineup to a tune of seven innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, and striking out an amazing 14 batters, the last seven in a row.

After blowing away Adam LaRoche to end the seventh, Strasburg left the mound (everyone knew he was done for the day) to a rousing standing ovation, a good lead, and eventually his first victory.

It was a good moment for Major League Baseball.

But as one of my old baseball coaches was fond of saying, “If you think that was good, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Strasburg’s debut, and his subsequent five additional starts, do not even compare to the wild ride in 1981 ushered into baseball by Fernandomania, the phenomenon which was Fernando Valenzuela.

While Strasburg allowed two earned runs in his first major league start, Fernando did not allow his second earned run until his SIXTH start of his rookie season.

Check out his game log from 1981 here.

After the first eight starts of his rookie season as a Los Angeles Dodger, Valenzuela was 8-0 with a 0.50 ERA.

Relying on a screwball that he only began throwing a year earlier, Valenzuela threw seven complete games and five shutouts—including 36 consecutive scoreless innings—in those first eight starts.

In two other games he allowed only one run, and the only time he did not throw a “complete game” was a 10-inning affair in Montreal where he went nine innings.

You had to be there to appreciate the control that Fernando Valenzuela had over the hitters in the National League AND the entire baseball world.

He was similar to Babe Ruth in stature, both in his popularity and in his physique. Like the Babe, Valenzuela was also a pretty good hitter and a really good left-handed pitcher.

His tremendous 1981 season, however, was not his beginning.

After being signed out of the Mexican League, Valenzuela was promoted in late 1980 during the Dodgers‘ pennant run, where he posted a 2-0 record, one save, and a 0.00 ERA in 10 relief appearances (17.2 innings). 

Add in the two wins and 17.2 scoreless innings from late in 1980, and after his first 18 major league appearances, Valenzuela had a 10-0 record with a 0.37 ERA.

His success spurred a phenomenon called Fernandomania, and while the Los Angeles Latino community were already big baseball fans, after “El Toro” (Valenzuela’s nickname) came alive, the Latin fans were now out rooting in full force.

People of all types clamored for his rookie baseball cards (I know, as I just began as a card dealer back then), and Fernando had to give press conferences before every road series.

When he visited the New York market for a June road series, Valenzuela was met by almost a hundred photographers, and that did not include all the TV cameras and print reporters.

I remember my junior year in high school, hanging out with friends at someone’s house on May 8, watching that Friday night game in New York that Fernando pitched against the Mets.

A bad Met team (managed by Joe Torre) drew almost 40,000 fans that night to see Valenzuela. He did not disappoint, posting his eighth straight win and fifth shutout. 

While Strasburg has been hyped due to the over-reaching 24-hour media outlets, Fernandomania was due mainly because of the person. Valenzuela was a quiet, unassuming 20-year-old Latino with a baby face and big smile.

At that time ESPN was still doing mostly log-rolling championships and world’s strongest man competitions.

They did not have the presence they do now.

Even 20 years later, Fernandomania still is discussed.

Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda said, “It happened so fast, it was like a forest fire…he attracted crowds on the road and at home like you’ve never seen. Fernandomania was something I will never forget.”

Valenzuela was an instant celebrity, and his presence began the marketing of Latin sports figures to a Latin market hungry for Latin heroes. His presence is the sole reason the Dodgers led the National League in attendance both in 1982 and 1983.

Fernando’s patented delivery (see photo), including him “looking to the sky” before every pitch, was in itself a separate phenomenon.

Fernando only went 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA, but he missed two months’ worth of starts due to the 1981 players strike.

Stephen Strasburg is a really good pitcher with a bright future. He throws the ball up to 103 MPH, and that fastball is only his third best pitch after his 90 MPH change-up and knee-buckling curve ball.

But all the hype and following he has now does not captivate an entire nation (and two distinct cultures) like Fernando Valenzuela did in 1981.

Valenzuela was only a 173-153, 3.54 ERA pitcher for his career, and while he was dropped from Hall of Fame voting in 2004, his early career, and the madness which ensued, were definitely Hall of Fame worthy.

There will never be another player who had the stature and charisma so early and so young as Fernando Valenzuela.


The New York Mets Signed RHP Clint Everts! Yes!

January 12, 2010

When news broke last month that the New York Mets, led by GM Omar (the Maniacal) Minaya, signed Clint Everts, a minor league pitcher for the Washington Nationals, most of the reaction by the Mets faithful was ho-hum.

At least this signing wasn’t another back up catcher like Chris Coste and Henry Blanco.

The Mets did say this off season was going to be spent looking for a left fielder (Jason Bay – check), catching and pitching. What Met fans did not realize that by pitching, they meant the career minor leaguer Everts.

Who ever heard of this guy, a Washington Nationals reject?

Actually, I have and wrote about him  (although he was a spare part to the story) on several occasions.

Clint Everts* was the first ever draft pick (5th overall) in 2002 by Omar Minaya when he was GM of the (then) Montreal Expos. Coupled with the acquisition of Jason Bay, it appears Omar really loves to have his old chums back in the fold.

Minaya chose Everts over such also rans as Zach Greinke (6th – one pick later), Prince Fielder (7th), Jeff Francis (9th), Jeremy Hermida (11th), Joe Saunders (12th), Scott Kazmir (15th – Mets), Nick Swisher (16th), Cole Hamels (17th), James Loney (19th), Denard Span (20th), Jeff Francoeur (23rd), Joe Blanton (24th) and Matt Cain (25th).

*Interestingly, Everts played HS baseball with Kazmir. Imagine two high school players both chosen that high in the draft? (That also happened in 2007 when Mike Moustakas was taken second overall by the Kansas City Royals and his teammate Matt Dominguez was taken 12th overall by the Florida Marlins.) 

Kazmir was traded away to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a trade which cost the job of GM Jim Duquette. Minaya then replaced Duquette as Mets GM. 

See how everything comes full circle in baseball? Minaya has very few of his drafted players which have made the majors, with virtually no players making an impact. Mike Pelfrey is the best Minaya draftee thus far.

For all his supposed scouting prowess, Minaya is a terrible drafter.

I wonder if all those ex-Expos guys like Bay, Everts, and Orlando Cabrera (Why not Omar?, Cabrera is Latino and once played for you in Montreal) are making the 360 degree turn and coming back. Why does Omar insist on bringing back all his former players that he once rid himself?

Because Omar never has, is not now or never will be a good General Manager.

A little refresher course on how Omar became a MLB General Manager. He was assistant GM of the Mets and interviewed for several GM jobs which had opened up.

Minaya interviewed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998, then interviewed with the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, Anaheim Angels, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers (his old team which gave him his start).

All for their open GM positions!

And no one wanted him, as John Houseman would say, the old fashioned way…by earning it! Even the lowly Pirates, probably the worst managed organization in baseball did not want Omar to head their team, to be the face of their franchise!

Looking back at this past season, with all the terrible press conferences he held where Omar had a terrible UZR on the English language, most likely did not help him in the interview process.

Despite all the people throughout baseball who thought Omar was a great guy and terrific ambassador type for baseball with the Latin community, he still did not impress enough to warrant a real, earned job.

But in December 2001, MLB wanted to contract two teams from its “roster.” One targeted team was the Montreal Expos (the other was the Minnesota Twins). MLB wanted to appease the Expos owner Jeffrey Loria so when the Boston Red Sox franchise became available, MLB allowed Florida Marlins owner John Henry to buy them. Then the Marlins were purchased by Loria and MLB assumed the ownership of the Expos.

A nice, tidy, three way swap.

But since MLB was desiring to have their first Latino GM, it was a great triangle for MLB as they get to kill two birds with one stone. They would rid themselves of two undesirable franchises and hire themselves MLB’s first Latino GM, something Bud Selig was being pressured to do.

All involved knew that contraction was NOT going to happen due to the Minnesota lawsuit, and the likely result was that both teams, but primarily Montreal, were going to switch cities. Even though the franchise would  remain viable, MLB allowed Minaya to make terrible trades as Montreal GM which continues to ruin the franchise even today after the team moved to Washington.  

And now Minaya has continued his trend of ruining teams by running the New York Mets into the ground. His total lack of player development has put the Mets into a Ponzi scheme type hole of continuously needing to sign big money free agents to fill needs.

With his job on the line Minaya continued that trend by signing Jason Bay and Everts, of course.

 Why would Mets ownership continue to put their future into Minaya’s hands knowing he is desperate save his job? Desperate men do desperate things, which is detrimental to the future of the organization. If Minaya fails this season and gets fired, he will NEVER get another top job within baseball.

But at least Clint Everts will still be working.


Stephen Strasburg should sign the contract offered him and pitch

August 16, 2009

What are the Washington Nationals doing?

No, nothing concerning Stephen Strasburg–yet, but they are now winning games. They have won three in a row, and 11 of their last 14.

How are they to really hold Strasburg (and agent Scott Boras) hostage if they keep winning games in 2009? The Nationals need to finish with the worst record in baseball to solidify last place and get the first pick in the draft next year, too.

Then they can have both top picks next season because if they don’t sign Strasburg this year, they automatically get the #2 overall pick next year. If they finish in last place, they can take Strasburg again next year (with his permission) and can reduce his value for next year.

There are currently five amateur draft picks in the top ten of this past June’s draft who have not yet signed. They need to sign by midnight Monday night or those teams which picked them will lose their draft rights. Any team which loses a pick would then garner a compensatory pick one spot after the missed pick in the next draft.

The Nationals went through that scenario last season. They picked ninth overall last year and took Missouri RHP Aaron Crow, he of the “winged arm” action and is very susceptible to injury. Crow thought he was hot stuff and did not sign with the Nationals. Crow went to pitch for Fort Worth in the American Association, a highly regarded independent league.

But it is not the major leagues. And Crow only pitched one inning last year.

The Nationals then had a compensatory pick at #10 overall this year because they did not sign Crow last year. At #10 this year the Nats drafted Stanford closer Drew Storen, who signed immediately and is currently in AA Harrisburg. He already was promoted from High A ball and just recorded his third AA save Sunday afternoon.

While picking Storen at #10, the Nats bypassed a still available Aaron Crow, who ended up going #12 to the Kansas City Royals. Crow has not learned his lesson, and still has not signed with the Royals yet either. And the price keeps dropping.Las tyear Crow was offered $3.5 million while he is only offered $3 million by the Royals.

Although Crow has not wised up regarding his signing of a contract, he was smart enough to pitch in independent ball which does not force him to sign a contract by Monday night’s deadline.

Will Strasburg do the same thing as Aaron Crow? That can also be asked in the manner “Will Strasburg be an idiot like Crow?”

Don’t for a minute believe the Boras hype at Strasburg maybe signing with a team from Japan, or going back to school, although Tony Gwynn would surely love that!

The only thing that matters is playing in the Major Leagues in America. There are two players from the 2008 draft who are already in the majors: Gordon Beckham of the White Sox and Brian Matusz of the Orioles. Matt Wieters and David Price form the 2007 draft are already in the majors.

These good young players are getting to the big leagues quicker than ever, and that is where they will make the bigger money. By playing in the majors!

Strasburg needs to be smart (like Storen) and sign with the Nationals to begin his major league career immediately. I love what current Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said regarding Strasburg. According to Boras, who also represents four of the top five unsigned draftees, it is Strasburg’s decision.

Strasburg then needs to make the smart decision. If he does, maybe he can get his first major league victory in September, with Storen getting the save.

That would make last year’s first round pick Aaron eat some crow.