Strasburg’s doctor: there are no studies supporting the Nats decision to shut him down

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UPDATE II:  Yocum walks it back. Now he says he did talk to the Nats. Oy.

UPDATE: Boras says, nope, the Nats DID talk to Yocum. This is getting interesting.

12:33PM: All throughout the Strasburg Shutdown drama, we repeatedly heard how the doctors were all saying that it’s advisable to shut Strasburg down. That doctors were consulted and that the Nats’ plan was medically sound. Those of us who didn’t like the decision were told that we had to defer to the team and their cadre of medical experts because we, after all, are not doctors.

Only one problem: no one with the Nationals ever asked the guy who performed Strasburg’s surgery what he thought about it and, more significantly, the guy who performed the surgery tells the L.A. Times today that there are no studies supporting the proposition that shutting him down will protect him at all:

The doctor who performed elbow surgery on Stephen Strasburg said he did not tell the Washington Nationals to shut down their ace pitcher.

“I wasn’t asked,” Dr. Lewis Yocum told the Los Angeles Times … Yocum said that, had he been asked, he would not have been able to provide conclusive information about whether Strasburg’s long-term health would be best served by shutting him down.

“There’s no statistic as far as studies,” Yocum said.

Yocum further notes that it’s GM Mike Rizzo who came up with the 160 inning shutdown standard himself. That he imposed it in the case of Jordan Zimmermann, and that he’s doing the same with Strasburg without the aide of any medical directive.

Which, hey, that’s OK in and of itself. Zimmermann has worked out so far, so maybe Rizzo has stumbled upon a bold and effective new standard here. And it is his team and he can do what he wants and what he thinks is best for it.

But given the lack of studies on the matter, those people supporting the shutdown decision have to give up shaming those of us who don’t into silence with some notion that medical necessity or insight governed this decision.  End the erroneous appeals to medical authority — like Scott Boras has done repeatedly — and own up to the fact that it’s Mike Rizzo, not medical science, making this call.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.