Author: Mike Florio

Max Scherzer has dominated since returning from Triple-A


When the Tigers demoted Max Scherzer to Triple-A in mid-May he was 1-4 with an ugly 7.29 ERA, but since returning following a two-week stint in Toledo he’s been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.
Scherzer tossed eight innings of one-run ball against the Blue Jays last night, improving to 9-5 with a 2.20 ERA, .215 opponents’ batting average, and 116 strikeouts in 111 innings since rejoining the rotation.
Including his rough early outings Scherzer has a 3.60 ERA, .247 opponents’ batting average, and 142/59 K/BB ratio in 153 innings overall this season. He’s one of just a dozen American League starters with an average fastball above 93 miles per hour and has the eighth-best strikeout rate in the league at 8.4 whiffs per nine innings.
An overpowering fastball combined with a mid-80s slider and quality changeup give Scherzer the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter long term and the 25-year-old right-hander has emerged as one of the biggest bright spots in a disappointing season for the Tigers.

Tony La Russa and Albert Pujols to attend rally in Washington with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin


While in Washington to play the Nationals this weekend Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa will be guests at the “Restoring Honor” rally organized by FOX News host Glenn Beck and featuring former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Pujols is being honored at the event and La Russa will be on hand to introduce him to what’s expected to be a crowd of over 20,000 gathering at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.
Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch writes that La Russa was only willing to attend and involve Pujols “after receiving assurances that the event is not a thinly disguised political rally.” Here’s more from the manager, who got into some hot water last month for publicly supporting the Arizona immigration law:

I made it clear when we were approached. I said, “If it’s political, I wouldn’t even approach Albert with it.” I don’t want to be there if it’s political. I made the point several times: “What is this about?” I don’t know who’s going to be there, who’s going to accept it. But the gist of the day is not political. I think it’s a really good concept, actually.

I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that a rally hosted by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin at the base of the Lincoln Memorial will probably have just a tad of politics involved. Strauss notes that “some liberal critics have portrayed the three-hour event as a platform for the conservative Tea Party movement” and adds that “the rally is expected to include a faith-based message, something that squares with Pujols’ commitment to his faith as well as his Pujols Family Foundation.”

Micah Owings stays with Reds, accepts Triple-A assignment


Reds general manager Walt Jocketty apparently wasn’t kidding when he said there was “not a lot of interest” in Micah Owings from other teams after the right-hander was designated for assignment last week.
Owings cleared waivers and has accepted an assignment to Triple-A, which means he’ll remain in the Reds organization while losing his spot on the 40-man roster. He’ll try to get back on track in the minors, but Owings is unlikely to receive a September call-up now that a 40-man spot would need to be cleared for his return.
He’s still just 27 years old and at one point looked like a potential middle-of-the-rotation starter long term, but Owings has ERAs of 5.93, 5.34, and 5.40 over the past three seasons and given his strong track record offensively I continue to think he’d be better off ditching pitching for an attempt at becoming a full-time position player. He has a .293 batting average and .538 slugging percentage in 198 career plate appearances and also starred as a hitter in college.

Stephen Strasburg will burn through service time while on DL


I hate to spread more icing on the Nationals’ bad news cake, but a side effect of Stephen Strasburg likely needing Tommy John elbow surgery is that he would burn through service time while on the disabled list.
In other words, even if he never throws a pitch in 2011 and spends the entire season on the 60-day disabled list Strasburg will use up one season of pre-arbitration status. That will push him one season closer to a raise via the arbitration process and, far more importantly, one season closer to becoming a free agent.
Or, put another way, because of the surgery the Nationals will likely go from having Strasburg under team control for six full seasons to having him under team control for five full seasons. And all after they so clearly (and smartly) manipulated the start of his service time clock by keeping him in the minors until mid-June.
Of course, the wasted service time really only becomes a big factor if Strasburg returns from surgery and re-establishes himself as an ace, in which case the Nationals will surely still be thrilled with the outcome even if they lost a year.

Does Rob Dibble still think Stephen Strasburg should "suck it up" and "stop crying"?


I hope Rob Dibble feels about as good as he announces right now.
Dibble, who serves as the Nationals’ television analyst, made headlines for saying during a radio interview that Stephen Strasburg should “suck it up” and pitch through the arm pain that knocked him out of Saturday’s start.
Dibble’s anti-Strasburg rant included all sorts of cringe-worthy statements–all of which were particularly absurd given his own lengthy injury history–but here are some of the “highlights”:

OK, you throw a pitch, it bothers your arm, and you immediately call out the manager and the trainer? Suck it up, kid. This is your profession. You chose to be a baseball player. You can’t have the cavalry come in and save your butt every time you feel a little stiff shoulder, sore elbow. Stop crying. Go out there and pitch, period.

Turns out, that “little sore elbow” was a significantly torn UCL and requires Tommy John surgery. Of course, Dibble couldn’t have had any way of knowing that. Except he also claimed to know “exactly what the doctor who looked at Strasburg had said.”
Later, after he’d been criticized for his comments, Dibble lashed out at “bloggers”:

I’ve been playing baseball since I was six years old, so that’s 40 years I’ve been on a baseball field and around a baseball field, and so our opinions are formulated through facts, not fiction, not their little chat room jargon. And so they can try and twist it any way they want, and if a guy’s hurt, he’s hurt, he’s going to go on the disabled list, it’s a moot point, but if he’s not hurt get your butt out there and play. They’re two totally different scenarios, so, you know, stick to what you know, which is nothing, and stick to your little blogs.

To recap: Based on his 40 years of experience and opinions “formulated through facts, not fiction, not their little chat room jargon” Dibble concluded that a 21-year-old pitcher with a torn elbow ligament should “suck it up” and “stop crying” because “you can’t have the cavalry come in and save your butt every time you feel a little sore elbow.”
My hope for Strasburg, the Nationals, and their fans is first and foremost that he makes a full recovery and comes back stronger than ever in 2012. Beyond that, it sure would be nice if by the time Strasburg does return Dibble isn’t still spewing his special brand of macho garbage and grunt-filled commentary from the broadcast booth.