Restoring the rosters: No. 6 – Montreal/Washington

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
No. 8 – Boston
No. 7 – Colorado
It was the most enjoyable roster to construct, even if it’s no longer quite as strong as it was a couple of years ago. Coming it at No. 6, it’s your ExpoNats.
Rotation
Cliff Lee
Javier Vazquez
John Lannan
Jordan Zimmerman
Randy Johnson
Bullpen
Armando Galarraga
Jason Bergmann
Chad Cordero
Collin Balester
Bill Bray
Darrell Rasner
Miguel Batista
Or Stephen Strasburg, if you like. I haven’t included any other 2009 draft picks in these rankings, though, and I’m not sure it’s fair to start now. It’s not as though the Nationals deserve credit for unearthing the right-hander.
The rotation is strong if one is willing to overlook the injuries. Zimmerman will miss most or all of 2010 after Tommy John surgery and Johnson may not be back next year after missing the last couple of months with a strained shoulder. If those two had to be replaced, then Galarraga and Balester would enter the rotation and there’d be little left for the bullpen. Cordero probably won’t ever be what he was before wrecking his shoulder, and Bray has also displayed little ability to stay healthy.
Once past the 12 pitchers above, one is down to Craig Stammen, the perpetually injured Shawn Hill, Chris Schroder and Mike Lincoln.
Lineup
LF Milton Bradley
CF Grady Sizemore
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Jason Bay
RF Vladimir Guerrero
2B Brandon Phillips
SS Orlando Cabrera
C Brian Schneider
Bench
INF Jamey Carroll
OF Matt Stairs
INF Geoff Blum
C Michael Barrett
OF Jerry Owens
The lineup is pretty remarkable, even with Jose Vidro, Cliff Floyd, Mark Grudzielanek, Brad Wilkerson and Rondell White having fallen by the wayside. The top six players are all All-Star-type performers when they’re going well. Sure, Bay has to be played out of position at first base, but I think he might actually be more valuable there anyway. The defense wouldn’t be much worse than the offense with legitimate Gold Glovers at third, second and in center.
The bench isn’t bad, either. Carroll is getting on base 37 percent of the time this year, and Stairs could still produce an 800 OPS if given more than five at-bats per week. Barrett is iffy after two years ruined by injury, but at 32, he’s not yet too old to bounce back. If not him, then Luke Montz would have to be the backup.
Summary
It’s fun to think what might have been, unless, of course, you’re a spurned Expos fan. The team may well have gone to the World Series in 1994 if not for the strike. In 14 years since, the ExpoNats have finished fourth or fifth 12 times, including the last six years in a row. The franchise hasn’t seen the postseason since 1981, and another last-place finish is surely on the way in 2009. The hopes are now pinned on Strasburg and the Zimmerman(n)s and… well, not much else. There’s still a long road ahead.
But at least it’s no longer being traversed by a Segway.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.

Eric Thames leaves game with apparent injury

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Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.

The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.