It’s apparently idiotic to suggest that the Nationals would be better off with Strasburg

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I realize what’s going to be done is what’s going to be done, that the Nationals have their reasons, and that most Nationals fans are either perfectly fine with this or are at least resigned to it.  But it must be noted that we truly are in something of a crazy world with respect to the impending Stephen Strasburg shutdown.

The pushback against the critical voices has gotten so insistent that it has transformed from “hey, this is not ideal but it’s in the best interests of Strasburg and the team” into something quite close to “the Nationals are better off without him and anyone who says otherwise is stupid!”

Take Thomas Boswell’s column from yesterday. It’s practically strident. After describing the Nats team as dominant, then revealing that he had taken Strasburg’s numbers out of that analysis, he says:

The four-man rotation, primed for October that I’ve described is Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler. So all of the pundits who say the Nats can’t go to the Series or even win it, just because they won’t have Strasburg, can kiss my press pass.

Yeah, it’s totally crazy to think that the team is better with one of the best pitchers in baseball.  In a postseason where anything can happen, and where nine of the ten teams who enter will not leave alive, it’s always the case that the best on-paper team wins it. The ones who lose never ever wish that they had an extra ace pitcher at their disposal. It’s ludicrous to suggest otherwise and it’s totally reasonable to describe the team that is left as “hegemonic” and “dominant” like Boswell does here. Nope, that never, ever looks silly later.

The Strasburg Sitters have won. He will sit, and none of us who think it’s a bad idea to sit him will get our way.  But I do wish that the Strasburg Sitters would acknowledge that in their very own division, a Phillies team with three legitimate Cy Young quality pitchers and a fourth who recently had been were bounced in the NLDS last year.  That a Braves team with three future Hall of Fame starters only broke through to win it once in a decade and a half.

And that no matter how loudly you call the rest of us dumb and how rudely you ask us to “kiss your press pass,” that simple odds favor the field over your dominant Washington Nationals and that any team, no matter how good, is much, much better off with Stephen Strasburg on it than off of it come playoff time.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.