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.

Hunter Strickland says he doesn’t have an anger problem

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Giants closer Hunter Strickland struggled in the ninth inning Monday against the Marlins, surrendering three runs en route to a 5-4 loss. Strickland took issue with Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, who tied the game with a single and celebrated as he rounded first base. When Strickland was yanked from the game, Brinson was on third base, so Strickland had some parting words on his way to the dugout. Then, in the clubhouse, Strickland punched a door in anger, breaking his pitching hand. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result.

Strickland posted to his Instagram on Tuesday, taking responsibility for his actions. He wrote, “To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal.”

Speaking to the media for the first time since breaking his hand, Strickland said (via Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports), “I don’t think I have an anger problem, but sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me.”

Well, if that emotion is anger, and you let it get the best of you, then you have an anger problem. This isn’t an isolated incident.

In the 2014 NLDS against the Nationals, Bryce Harper had Strickland’s number. In Game 1, Harper hit a solo home run ioff of Strickland, putting the Nationals on the board trailing 3-1. Strickland gave up another home run to Harper in Game 4 which tied the game at 2-2. Though the distance made it a no-doubt home run, the ball went down the right field line, so Harper was watching the ball in the air and didn’t immediately run the bases, which irked Strickland. The Giants still went on to win the game and advance to the NLCS, but Strickland carried the grudge with him into the 2017 season. The 2017 season! It just so happened that Strickland never faced Harper at all in the 2015-16 seasons, which makes sense because the two clubs only meet for two series per season and Strickland only pitches one inning per game if he gets into one.

The Nationals and Giants met in San Francisco at the end of May last year. In the first game of the series, Strickland entered with the Giants trailing 2-0 in the eighth inning. He got two quick outs, bringing up Harper for their first meeting since Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS. With his first pitch, Strickland nailed harper on the hip with a 98 MPH fastball. Harper didn’t like it, so he charged the mound and the two threw punches at each other as the benches and bullpens spilled onto the field.

In the 2014 World Series, Strickland had a beef with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Strickland gave up a double to Perez, then a two-run home run to Omar Infante. As Perez crossed home plate, Strickland started yelling at Perez. He appeared to yell, “Get in the dugout, boy.” The term “boy” carries a racist connotation when used by white people towards men of color. It’s unclear why Strickland was upset with Perez, but Perez said Strickland started jawing at him when he was on second base after hitting his double.

So here’s what we know about Strickland:

  • He gets angry when players look at their home run balls in the air, even if that player is unsure if it will stay fair
  • He gets angry if you get a double off of him in an important game
  • He gets angry when players pump their fists and yell in celebration after getting a big hit in the regular season
  • He gets angry a lot
  • He sometimes gets violent when he’s angry

Short of hitters not showing any emotion at all and not getting hits off of him, it’s not clear what kind of behavior satisfies Strickland and won’t make him angry. So, essentially, anything a batter does could potentially set Strickland off. I’d call that an anger problem. If this weren’t in the context of sports, Strickland’s behavior would be problematic.

Strickland’s behavior doesn’t come off as particularly unique because he’s far from the only player to injure himself punching something in anger. He’s far from the only player to get ticked off when batters get a hit off him and celebrate. This anger is part of baseball culture, part of sports culture at large, and embedded in masculinity — what it means to be a man. We teach men, particularly athletes, to repress a wide range of emotions. As a result, many men resort first to anger — one of the few emotions we allow men to express openly — when dealing with any type of adversity.

If Strickland were a well-adjusted person with high emotional intelligence, he would realize that throwing a baseball close to 100 at someone with the intent to injure them is not a good way to resolve a conflict. Strickland could have gone to the Marlins’ clubhouse after the game and had a level-headed chat with Brinson, saying, “I felt embarrassed and emasculated when you got a hit off of me and celebrated the way you did. Perhaps in the future, you could tone it down.” But we don’t teach men and allow them to discuss and express their emotions in healthy ways, so Strickland lashes out at Harper and Perez and Brinson instead.