Tagged: Nationals

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS

Brewers….Stick  a Fork In Them
The year long struggle to get a resemblance of a starting pitching rotation has doomed the Brewers. I’m baffled that Doug Melvin could not find one decent starter or take a chance on someone ala the Phillies with Pedro Martinez and the Cardinals with John  Smoltz. I mean what do you have to lose? They couldn’t be any worse than our current group of slugs (except for Yovani Gallardo) and who knows, they could find lightning in a bottle.

Instead he demotes JJ Hardy and then refuses to trade him, releases then trades Bill Hall to the Mariners for a minor league pitcher and gives Bill Castro his walking papers.

Even though Alcides Escobar has started out fine, he can’t pitch and it is still way too early to project what kind of player he will be. 
 
So the Brewers who started out so promising are now cooked. And don’t look for much improvement in the near future. There are some attractive free agent starters worth pursuing in the off-season; Josh Beckett, Rich Harden, Tim Hudson, Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb to mention a few. Look for the club to make some half-hearted offers just to appease fans by saying offers were made but were rejected. Of the above mentioned, I would take a shot at getting either Hudson, Webb or, yes, even Ben Sheets. All three will be coming off major surgeries and their contracts could be uploaded with incentives. Perhaps they can go overseas and sign a Japanese pitcher, most of whom have done pretty well over here. 


BULLETIN: All may not be lost yet this year. It was just announced that Suppan and Bush are coming to the rescue with anticipated starts this week. l contend that nothing will change, that their chronic inflammation of the suck will continue to hinder whatever hope the Brewers have of climbing out of this mire. Quick, order a shipment of the anti-suck vaccine.

Jim Rice…Shut-Up!
Now that he is in Cooperstown, Jim Rice apparently feels that he can mouth off on all things baseball. His ridiculous criticism of Derek Jeter was uncalled for. He said that Jeter is not a good example for Little Leaguers! What, and I suppose Manny Ramirez is?
 
Who is Jim Rice to talk about a player who is already better than Rice ever was? Soon, Jeter will become the Yankees all-time hits leader. He is one of few major leaguers who truly represents the image of the game the way it should be. Scandal-free, he avoids tabloid headlines. He takes his Captain’s designation seriously.  If I had a young son right now you better believe I would want him to emulate Jeter.

And Rice? He’s lucky to be in the Hall of Fame.  If I were him, I would walk quietly into the sunset and never be heard from again.

Strasburg Era Begins.
Well the Nationals signed phenom Stephen Strasburg to a record contract for a draft pick. Thanks to Scott Boras, who’s only goal is to eventually bankrupt teams so long as his players are taken care of, a new era of inconceivable wealth is being awarded to unproven players who have yet to pitch or hit at the major league level.

These kids are now being enriched based on their potential. Imagine if Strasburg blows out his arm before he’s even pitched in the major leagues. Who loses? All of the risk is on the team, not the player.

Something needs to be done. To those who want to compare these contracts to those that rookies get from the NFL and NBA there are two big differences. One, first round picks almost always make the professional team the year they are drafted. In baseball, there is no guarantee. They sign rich contracts and begin in the minors. Second, both the NFL and NBA have restrictions on what they pay draft picks. The NFL has a slotting system with suggested pay ranges for draft picks, (baseball supposedly does to but it is, at times, ignored). The NBA has a hard salary cap for rookies. Baseball has neither and won’t as long as the union is calling the shots.

I don’t know where the Nationals, who play in front of some of the smallest crowds in the majors, came up with the money for this contract. They will be paying Strasburg over $15 million over the life of the contract. By contrast, the Brewers signed their first 13 picks for just over $6 million! The Marlins entire 2009 payroll is just over $21 million. 


The players contract ends in 2011 and this needs to be addressed before it gets out of control. The league will propose hard caps for signing bonuses like the NBA. Otherwise, as Melvin points out, why have a draft at all? Let every team have the opportunity to sign players. 
 
Of course, the union will make no concessions unless something is offered in return. Maybe a bigger percentage of royalties can be a negotiating chip.

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THE LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE

The Washington Nationals are expected to take highly-touted San Diego St. pitcher Stephen Strasberg with the first pick in tomorrow’s draft. That’s a bold move.

As everyone knows, he is represented by the notorious Scott Boras, who will use all of his tools to insult the Nationals for not being “forthright” in negotiations. It is said that record breaking dollars for a #1 draft pick will be necessary to sign him. How much? Over $10.1 million upfront plus an additional $40 million over the life of the contract. This for a pitcher, arguably the best prospect at that position ever, who has yet to throw a professional pitch.  To put this in perspective, $50 million is more money than the entire payroll of three mlb teams and nearly as much as the Nationals 2009 $59 million payroll.

Now I know he won’t get this in one lump sum but it is still beyond comprehension. Say Strasberg signs and is in the Nationals’ rotation by September, which many are predicting. Does that justify the $1millon plus bonus, which is more than anyone else on the team makes? That will create animosity for sure.

Pitchers, by the nature of the position, are more prone to elbow and shoulder injuries. If Strasberg eventually faces the dreaded Tommy John surgery before the completion of the contract, the Nationals will be paying him star money for doing nothing but rehab.

The Nationals as an organization is revenue-challenged. This is because there is a certain level of fan apathy due to the dumb moves the team has made leading to the 74-141 record since the start of the 2008 season. So where are they going to come up with the money to pay him? A bank loan? Right.

Boras has already threatened to take Strasberg to the independent leagues or to     Japan if the Nationals play hardball. Wait, doesn’t the client and his family have any say in this?

Give the team credit. They are not going to back away. Yes, there will be lengthy and acrimonious talks and it will be nearly impossible to sign Strasberg. But the Nationals’ fans should laud this move.

Will this madness ever end? Not as long as there are bloodsucking agents like Boras around, or as Nationals President Stan Kasten says, ” “I used to think [agents] were a necessary evil in sports. Now I just think of them as evil.”

Commissioner Bud Selig is urging owners to push back during the next labor negotiations in 2011. They will fight to reduce the bonus “slots” now being routine in the draft. But there is nothing routine about the audacity of Boras’ relentless pursuit to bankrupt the game which by then he will have enough money to form his own league using his own players. Let’s see how much he would pay them then.

Trust that the Nationals will do the right thing, which will be to tell Boras to take a hike. Nobody, no matter how talented, is worth bankrupting a franchise. Maybe after all of this drawn out drama ends, they will join other teams who won’t even consider signing any player represented by him.

Now, I know that there will be some who defend Boras’ for representing the best interests of his clients’ and to that end, they are correct. But he has taken this to a whole new fantasy land level.

Yes, this is the Land of Make Believe, ruled over by a King who pillages teams and shares the spoils with his faithful peons. What will he have to rule over when the teams’ are ravished and forced to disband?

WILL THE NATIONALS EVER GET IT RIGHT?

The chaos currently going on in Washington includes the
major league baseball team, possessors of the majors worst record and showing
little sign of changing.

The main culprit has been the bullpen, which stinks as much as
pen full of crowded hogs. It has the worst save ratio and the highest
bullpen ERA.

There has been more movement in and out of the Nationals
bullpen than crowds rushing to get in line for the next Wal-Mart sale.

Right now it is a hodgepodge of mostly inexperienced kids
and enough geezers to qualify for the senior meal at Denny’s. To wit, the pen
currently consists of Joe Beimel 32, Julian Tavarez 36, Ron Villone 39, Jesus
Colome 31 and Kip Wells 32.

That’s 5/7 of the bullpen over 30.

When fans shout “Warm Up the Bus”, these guys head for the
locker room to get good seats. Combined they would have 3 memberships to
AARP.
  They don’t run to the
mound they amble wishing they could climb aboard a golf cart instead. Their entrance theme is “Blame It on the Bossa Nova”.

I don’t know what the team’s
plan is but right now it is as clear as pea soup. 
Recently fired GM Jim Bowden was in his second round of incompetence, having
wrecked the Reds so much that they are now just starting to recover.

At least they have committed to a youth movement in the
rotation – Detwiler, Lannan, Scott Olsen, Shairon Martis and now Greg Stammen.
They can only get better and it’s not a bad idea to let them get some
meaningful exposure now.

It’s a shame, because offensively the team can hit as
evidenced by Ryan Zimmerman’s recent hitting streak and Adam Dunn’s tape
measure blasts.

With a spectacular new ballpark and a relatively small
payroll, the Nationals should be in a good position to get more competitive.
But the park is usually less than half full which puts a severe strain on
revenue. That’s par for the course in today’s Washington’s environment.

If they don’t get any better soon, look for yet another
government bailout.