Stephen Strasburg's teammates let him down again in loss

6 Comments

After getting stuck with a loss and a no-decision despite allowing one run in each of his previous two starts Stephen Strasburg’s teammates let him down again last night versus the Braves.
The lineup failed to score a run in seven innings, shortstop Ian Desmond committed his 19th error by booting a double play that at least would have kept the score 0-0, and Sean Burnett allowed both inherited runners to score after coming on in relief.
Don’t let the box score fool you. Strasburg was good. His teammates stunk.
He’s now just 2-2 in five starts despite a 2.27 ERA, .216 opponents’ batting average, and 48/7 K/BB ratio in 31.2 innings. And if Desmond makes that play or the Nationals don’t completely implode behind Strasburg after the botched DP his ERA would still be under 2.00.
Strasburg is every bit as amazing as even the most ridiculous hype claimed he would be, but he’s still not good enough to make up for the other 24 guys on a team that has lost nearly two-thirds of their games over the past three seasons.
Finding a way to give him proper offensive, defensive, and bullpen support yet this season is probably asking too much, but hopefully the Nationals can make some major strides this offseason so the early years of Strasburg’s career aren’t littered with losses and no-decisions in games he pitched brilliantly.
With even average support Strasburg could easily be 5-0 with a 1.42 ERA right now.

Max Scherzer will not be ready for Opening Day

Getty Images
1 Comment

Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.

[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:

Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.

He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.

Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

Getty Images
11 Comments

Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.