Strasburg was able to play catch on Sunday morning

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We’ve been tracking Stephen Strasburg news all morning and will continue to do so this week as the Nationals make an important decision on his immediate future with the club.

Strasburg, 22, was lifted from his start against the Phillies on Saturday night after feeling pain in his right elbow during a fifth-inning pitch to outfielder Domonic Brown.  He was later diagnosed with a strain of the flexor tendon in his forearm, but all signs so far point to him being just fine.

According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, the right-hander played catch on Sunday morning before heading back to Washington, D.C. for an MRI.  The results of that examination will determine whether he is shut down for the rest of 2010 or kept active.  But he did play catch, and that’s a major positive.

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo denied a report from Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus stating that the team has already decided to shut Strasburg down.  For what it’s worth, we’re finding it hard to believe that the kid is going to throw another pitch this season.  Even if everything checks out fine, he topped out at 109 innings last year with San Diego State and is up to 123.1 total frames between the minors and majors this season.  Strasburg is too valuable to that organization in the long term and, for all intents and purposes, 2010 is a done deal for the Nats.

The D.C. medical staff would be wise to tell the young phenom to shut it down and aim to get himself back to full health by the start of spring training next February.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?