Cookie Monster, Wily Mo Pena, and J.D. Drew

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One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just doesn’t belong
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Sesame Street, “One of These Things”
A recent Sports Illustrated poll asked 380 major leaguers to name the player who “gets the least out of the most talent” and the results are pretty interesting:
1. Wily Mo Pena
2. Daniel Cabrera
3. Elijah Dukes
4. J.D. Drew
5. Mike MacDougal
Perhaps not surprisingly four of those five guys last played for the Nationals, with Dukes and MacDougal still on the team, and the only non-Nationals player on the list looks like the answer to one of those “which of these things is least like the other four?” test questions.
Pena is a career .257/.303/.443 hitter and at 26 years old is a free agent after being let go by three teams in two seasons. Cabrera owns a 46-64 record and 5.09 ERA in 881 innings and is currently pitching at Triple-A after being cut by the Nationals. Dukes is a former top prospect with off-field issues who’s hit .234/.337/.423 through 208 games in the majors. MacDougal is currently the Nationals’ closer and is in one of his “effectively wild” stages after being a mess in four seasons with the White Sox.
And then there’s Drew, who somehow gets lumped in with that foursome despite being an All-Star last year, finishing sixth in the MVP balloting in 2004, posting the 25th-best OPS among active hitters, and playing 1,316 games over 12 seasons in the majors. Drew has missed lots of time with injuries, rubs some people the wrong way with his laid-back demeanor and patient approach to hitting, and hasn’t become the superstar that many people expected when he was a top-five pick in back-to-back drafts.
However, at the end of the day he’s a .282 career hitter with a .391 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage who figures to end up with around 1,800 hits, 275 homers, and $100 million in earnings. To call Drew a disappointment is one thing, but equating him to complete busts like Pena and Cabrera while suggesting that a 12-year veteran with a .900 OPS “gets the least out of the most talent” is all kinds of silly. Drew has more career value than Pena, Cabrera, Dukes, and MacDougal combined, and it isn’t particularly close.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.