Mike Rizzo: Stephen Strasburg’s shutdown will be determined by “the eye test”

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Mike Rizzo says he has decided when he’s going to shut Stephen Strasburg down for a few starts. And it is him doing the deciding:

“There is no magic number,” Rizzo said. “It will be the eye test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won’t decide and ownership won’t decide. It will be the general manager, and that’s me.”

This backs off earlier comments about Strasburg having a 160 inning limit. Which only makes sense now as it seems likely that the Nationals’ season is going to be longer than most people thought it would be back in spring training.

Still, worth clipping and saving this in the event the move backfires. Because if the Nats lose a bunch of games in his absence, Strasburg comes back rusty and ineffective after the layoff or he gets hurt anyway, it will be interesting to here if Rizzo’s rhetoric changes to “we, as an orgainzation, decided to …” rebop.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.