The Nationals top pick in the 2010 draft, Bryce Harper, made his professional debut last week participating in the fall instructional league against other draftees. Harper has shown flashes of his talent but has by-in-large appeared to be out-matched by more experienced older players. As a result, Frankie Piliere of FanHouse.com believes that he is not ready for the Arizona Fall League this year:
"As it turns out, even Harper isn't above the challenges instructional league can present. Harper is no doubt rusty, as he's just a few games into the fall schedule, but there are clearly adjustments he's going to have to make. He was given a significant and early test on Saturday, getting to square off against Braves star pitching prospect Julio Teheran.
It was an interesting first look at Harper, and sometimes it can be easy to forget just how young he is. But the message here is to not get ahead ourselves when it comes to him. While he may be an impressive talent, he is not ready for competition like the Arizona Fall League later this year as some have speculated.
That is in no way a slight to his abilities. He is, quite simply, just as vulnerable as any other highly touted teenager taken in the first round. He is not super human. He has flaws and he will have to make adjustments as he advances. In that sense, he is no different than big-time draftees like Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who are elite hitting prospects now, but had their holes coming out of high school and were certainly not ready for a league like the AFL straight out of the draft."
While Piliere has a point that Harper certainly has a lot to learn about hitting professional pitching, this of course is a small sample size and could just be attributed to rust. For the past 13 years of his life Harper has played baseball year-round. This four-and-a-half month period between his last college game and his pro debut could very well have been the longest time he has spent away from baseball since he was a child. So while he may not be hitting the ball as well as he did in junior college last year, we have to keep in mind the learning curve he has demonstrated in the past.
Mets Blog wonders if Josh Thole is ready to become the team's number one catcher for 2011.
Depending on how the Mets handle their catching situation for next year will say a lot about their philosophy and if they have learned anything about how to handle free agency the past five years. To me, Thole has proven that he can handle the load and be a productive player in the everyday lineup, but the front office could have other ideas. Chances are, there will probably be an attractive catching free agent during the off-season, the only question is can the Mets resist holding off on the big spending this off-season?
Marlin Maniac conducted a survey asking readers what their ideal Dan Uggla extension would look like.
After looking at the data gathered in the survey, I would have to agree with the results. I would not be looking to give Uggla anything longer than four years but I can understand why he would want Hanley Ramirez type of money. Several people have commented on Uggla's age being an issue and I still can't understand why it is a concern to some because he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Talking Chop has noticed a trend the past few seasons with the Atlanta Braves and the timing of their fatigue.
I had never been aware of the Braves struggles in September the past decade because they usually already had the division wrapped up or were already too far out of the race to be competitive. The Braves flamed out quickly then anyone could have expected but I think that has more to do with Philadelphia winning then anything. There will be a lot of question marks surrounding the Braves this off-season, the rapid late season "collapse" paired with the retirement of long time manager Bobby Cox is a lot to overcome.
Cincinnati Reds rookie Aroldis Chapman reportedly threw the fastest pitch ever recorded yesterday as he unleashed a 105 MPH fastball on the San Diego Padres. Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports wrote:
"The blazing pitch pushed a white-hot pennant race to the back burner. Yes, the San Diego Padres won the game 4-3 to pull ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the National League wild-card race. Sure, the San Francisco Giants all but buried the Colorado Rockies thanks to a dominant performance by Tim Lincecum(notes).
But the lingering memory was of a now-you-see-it, did-I-actually-see-it fastball to Tony Gwynn(notes) in the eighth inning. The pitch was not a fluke: Chapman threw 25 pitches in his 1 1/3 innings of relief, and every one was at least 100 mph. He didn’t throw a slider. He didn’t throw a changeup. Why would he?"
The Nationals made a strong push to sign the Cuban fireballer this offseason when he became available following his defection. Shortly after Chapman signed a $30 million dollar contract with the Reds, then Nationals President Stan Kasten announced that they had offered him over $20 million dollars. Other reports had the Nationals offer at about $25 million.
In 11 MLB games Chapman has struck out 13 batters in nine innings pitched while posting an ERA of 1.86. In 38 Triple-A appearances this season, he went 8-6 with 8 saves and 122 strikeouts in 94.2 innings pitched. The 22-year-old has electrified so far with his speed, and has made many wonder if he is in fact better than Stephen Strasburg.
While Chapman was almost a National, his success or failure really has nothing to do with the ball club. However, his late season success seems almost a slap in the face to Nats fans who feel robbed for not having Strasburg to close out the year. Strasburg was our Chapman, and while Aroldis may have a bit more spunk on his fastball, both are electrifying and incredibly fun to watch. I have no problem wishing the Reds luck, but still, a part of me burns every time I see Chapman out there making headlines, and I think about Strasburg not being able to play catch for even a few months.no comments
There have been rumblings in New York today about the possibility of former Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten taking over baseball operations for the Mets this offseason. While they have been mostly hypothetical "what if's," the reasoning has been strong and the thought of it is scary. Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog wrote:
"I haven’t heard his name mentioned yet. But, he’d be a perfect choice to be the older, senior-level visionary I have written about in previous posts. He has a track record, he’s smart, 58, powerful, personable, respected around the game, he knows business and did a terrific job getting the Nationals in a place where they are ready to ‘compete then contend,’ as he likes to say. Obviously, his work with the Braves in the 90s and the NBA’s Hawks in the 80s is well documented. He’s from New Jersey and told reporters in DC the other the day that he is not retiring."
Cerrone is right on the money here. Kasten is the perfect fit to take over this winter when current general manager Omar Minaya is inevitably let go. As Thomas Bosewell noted earlier this week, Kasten's biggest frustration during his tenure with the Nationals was to get the Lerner's to commit to spend the money necessary to win. The Wilpon's in New York have never been considered frugal. If Kasten was able to put himself in a position in a city with the fan base of New York, and the wallet of an ownership group like the Wilpon's, he could really do some damage. He is a well respected and talented man, who some believe, was never fully allowed to use his abilities in Washington.
If Kasten were to join the Mets this winter it would be disastrous for the Nationals organization. It would be, in effect, taking the Nationals strongest front office asset and giving it to someone who we should start genuinely considering our division rival. While the Phillies and the Braves are top dogs now, Washington and New York are currently in an arms race to see who will be on top next. The Nationals have the prospects to compete very soon, and the Mets have the resources to put themselves back in contention very quickly. Giving them Kasten gives them that much more of an upper hand.
This of course is still just a hypothetical scenario. Some believe he would not be a good fit with Fred Wilpon's personality, where others believe that he could even be the next commissioner of Major League Baseball.
Do the majority of baseball fans really think that the Cubs are the next team to make the playoffs? Or can we just write that one off on the fact that there are a ton of die-hard optimistic Cubs fans? Either way, this is promising that people outside the beltway have faith in Washington too. With Espinosa, Harper, Strasburg, Desmond, Zimmerman, and Zimmermann, the Nats have a strong chance of making the playoffs in 2012...do you think any other of these teams can say that?no comments
According to several sources, Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten will resign at the end of the season for "personal reasons".
It has been widely speculated that Kasten would leave the team because of differences between him and team owner Ted Lerner. While Kasten wants to spend more on upgrading the roster, Lerner was not willing to buy into that philosophy, causing a riff between the two.
It is a shame to see Kasten leave like this, as he has been one of the driving forces for change within the organization. The team and its fans finally have something to believe in, recognizing that the Nationals would not be where they are today without his efforts. There will certainly be more developments and reaction with this story from both parties.no comments
Tomahawk Take gives us the latest on some issues concerning the Braves pitching staff.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and for the Atlanta Braves, that means sending Jair Jurrjens out to the mound with a slight meniscus tear in his knee. I don't necessarily disagree with the move, but I would hate to see Jurrjens leave the game early due to reinjuring himself. This season was a wash for Jurrjens because of this injury. I am confident he will come back next season with a chip on his shoulder, proving to be one of the better pitchers in the NL.
With a ten game win streak and arguably the best rotation in the game, the Phillies have emerged as the flat out favorite not just in the National League, but maybe all of baseball.
The Philadelphia Phillies continue to prove us why they have always been the team to beat. They hold a commanding six game lead over the Atlanta Braves and have all but wrapped up the NL East race, as they vie for their fourth consecutive title. Acquiring Roy Oswalt has turned out to be the best move at the deadline, seriously, who knows what would have happened if he stayed in Houston. Philadelphia is peaking at the perfect time, which is a scary thought, it is hard seeing them not breeze through the NLDS and NLCS as they wait for either the Yankees or Rays.
The Florida Marlins are spending their late September reflecting on the long season and how their catching situation panned out.
The catching platoon clearly did not work for Florida this year, but I don't think that means they should totally scrap the idea. John Baker was hurt early in the year forcing Ronny Paulino to inherit more playing time, its as simple as that, the platoon could prove to be successful if both players are healthy. I don't see Florida going after Victor Martinez during the off-season, and quite honestly I don't think the Red Sox catcher has any interest in them either. Personally, I think the Marlins should give the platoon another shot, what do they have to lose.