Every home game between the top and the bottom of the fourth inning, four of our finest presidents line up in centerfield and race for the glory of the evening.
This is a grand tradition in our Nation’s Capitol, to see some of the finest men ever to dawn our fair city gruel it out in a battle of brute strength, athleticism, and determination.
Yet despite 261 races our 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt remains winless. Which leads to the obvious question, why can’t Teddy win?
Born in New York City in 1858, Teddy’s racing potential looked bleak at a young age. The youngster was sickly and asthmatic. Roosevelt was forced to sleep propped up in order to keep his airwaves open and promote healthy breathing. However for most success stories in American History, the thing that handicapped Teddy early on made him stronger. no comments
Bill Ladson from MLB.COM and All Nats All The Time breaks down the numbers of the Strasburg deal which evidently includes one year of college tuition and these incentives:
$50,000 -- Rookie of the Year $50,000 -- All-Star Game $25,000 -- Gold Glove $25,000 -- League Championship Series $50,00 -- World Series $100,000 -- CY Young Award $80,000 -- For finishing second in the Cy Young award voting. $60,000 -- For finishing third in the Cy Young award voting. $40,000 -- For finishing fourth in the Cy Young award voting. $20,000 -- For finishing fifth in the Cy Young award voting.
Chico Harlan for the Washington Post writes in the Nationals Journal about the plan for Strasburg:
"Probably when he leaves here he'll go down to Florida [at the Nationals' facilities in Viera] and work out down there," acting GM Mike Rizzo said. "I'm going to have our pitching coordinator, Spin Williams, down there to meet him. We'll get him on a throwing program just to see where he's at in his readiness to pitch. He hasn't pitched competitively since May 28; typically, it's a four- or five-week process to ramp him up to get him ready to competitively pitch. We plan, once he's ramped up and ready to pitch, we'll probably give him a little taste of Florida instructional league and then send him to the Arizona Fall League."
Gordon Edes reported minutes ago on his column, Gordon Edes’ Full Count, that multiple sources have indicated to him that the Nationals are on the verge of announcing that Arizona Diamondbacks VP Jerry DiPoto is about to be named to the Nats GM position.
“It could happen in the next 24 hours,” insisted one major league executive who said he had it on good authority that DiPoto, the former reliever who has overseen Arizona’s pro scouting the last four years, will be hired by Nationals president Stan Kasten.
Kasten is as close-mouthed on the subject as he was on the pursuit of Strasburg, which ended successfully when the San Diego State right-hander agreed to a four-year, $15.1 million deal.
“I am no help on the GM subject,” Kasten wrote in an email Tuesday."
Rizzo has gained many fans in Washington after taking over for Jim Bowden in spring training this year. Despite his efforts however,
Rizzo was never given the permanent position of General Manager. Instead he continuously carried the title of “Acting General Manager.”
Rizzo has given the Washington Nationals a complete face lift from the table scraps Jim Bowden left him into a team that has a definite future and solid core. Gone are heavy feet draggers such as Wily Mo Pena, Lastings Milledge, Daniel Cabrera, Joel Hanrahan, and Julian Tavarez, and in are Nyjer Morgan, pitching prospect Aaron Thompson, and closer Mike MacDougal.
Rizzo has also made arguably, scratch that, easily the two biggest signings in franchise history. Inking first Ryan Zimmerman his spring to a five year $45 million dollar contract, and just last night, signing phenom Stephen Strasburg to a four year $15 million dollar deal.
That last signing alone has earned Rizzo nation-wide notoriety. Many thought signing Strasburg would be near impossible, and certainly no one thought it could get done for less than $20 million, much less for $15 million.
However, despite all the good Rizzo has done during his reign, it seems perhaps that the Nats had all along planned to make this move at this time. Rizzo had a good rapport with Strasburg’s agent Scott Boras, and perhaps Stan Kasten and Ted Lerner didn’t want to mess with a good thing.
We will have to wait this one out, as we have been teased with leads like this before. It was only early June when Fox Sports reported that manager Manny Acta would be fired “within a week.” We all know that took another month before that trigger was pulled.
The Nats took the field tonight with a 70-day burden off of their shoulders. Stephen Strasburg was under contract, and for the first time perhaps all season; the most important Nationals were wearing uniforms.
The club went up tonight against the future of the Rockies pitching staff, Ubaldo Jimenez.
“U-Ball “as they call him has really found himself as he mastered his control in May posting a 2.88 ERA with 34 strikeouts to nine walks. As a result the 25-year-old now has moved from being a mid-level starter, into an ace in the making. He is 11-9 on the season for the Rockies with a 3.47 ERA and 140 strikeouts to 63 walks.
U-Ball shut down the Nats tonight, scattering seven hits over eight innings. The flamethrower allowed two earned runs and struck out five.
Despite Jimenez’s presence on the mound, the Nationals were able to keep the game close for the majority of the game. The club got out to an early lead in the second when pitcher Craig Stammen slapped a double to right scoring Alberto Gonzalez. Nyjer Morgan then singled in Wil Nieves, giving the Nats an early 2-1 lead.
Craig Stammen provided a quality start for the Nationals that allowed them to stay in the game. He pitched 5.1 innings allowing only four hits. Stammen left the game in the sixth after surrendering the game tying run on a Brad Hawpe fielder’s choice.
The tie was broken in the eighth when Sean Burnett surrendered a solo home run to Rockies leadoff hitter Carlos Gonzalez. It was Gonzalez’s seventh shot of the year.
After the Nats went scoreless in the bottom half of the 8th, Tyler Clippard allowed another solo shot to second basemen Clint Barmes to increase the deficit 4-2.
The Nationals began to rally in the bottom of the 9th and put a run on the board with a Cristian Guzman single that scored Ronnie Belliard and put speed demon Nyjer Morgan at third base as the potential go ahead run. However, that’s as far as Morgan would get as Mr. National Ryan Zimmerman flied out to left.
The Nats lost 4-3in a tight battle. The win kept the Rockies one game ahead of the San Francisco Giants.
For those of you who aren't tired of Strasburg news yet:
Former Nationals first round pick Chris Marrero was promoted today to Double-A Harrisburg. Through 112 games this season Marrero is batting .287/.360/.464 with 16 homers and 65 RBI.
Marrero was drafted 15th overall by the Nationals in the 2005 draft as a raw but powerful high school batter. Due to injuries and swing adjustments the 21-year-olds progress has been slowed but it appears now he is on the right track.
“As the Stephen Strasburg negotiations wore down toward the Monday deadline (midnight ET), it started to become as political as health care. It is, after all, Washington, and so as Scott Boras stuck to his pledge to privatize the bargaining, the Nationals campaigned, in case they cannot come to an agreement.”
“No 21-year-old deserves such responsibility; but Strasburg has put the Nats squarely on baseball's map, on the list of can't-miss attractions in the game that must be seen. Does he really throw 100-102 mph with command? Or is that partly scouts' mythology? Is his 93-mph slider really his best pitch, so sharp it actually seems to hit something in mid-air and deflect? And is Nats interim general manager Mike Rizzo correct when he says what sets Strasburg apart is not just his stuff but ‘a fierceness?”
To prepare for the coming series against the Rockies, we sat down with one of their top team blogs, Purple Row, to discuss the coming series. Here is what Purple Row had to say:
The Nats Blog: Earlier in the year when the debate raged about whether or not to fire National manager Manny Acta, many cited the Rockies Clint Hurdle as the perfect example of a good manager who needed to be removed because he was no longer effective. Do you think his removal is the reason for the Rockies resurgance?
Purple Row: Hurdle's removal was the sine qua non of the Rockies' turn around, but I'm not sure I'd ever classify Hurdle as "a good manager who . . . was no longer effective." Was he ever a good manager? Was he ever effective? For the most part, I'd answer both with a "no." His reign was far too long, and even with the events of Rocktober, he wasn't the most influential person in all of it.
The Nats Blog: In a recent article you pose the question, “Who would you rather have – Ubaldo Jimenez or Johan Santana,” that is quite the comparison, but a good one. How good do you think Jimenez can and will get?
Purple Row: One of my fellow writers, Poseidon's Fist, actually posed that question. But yes, it's a good question to ask. I think U-Ball has the makings of a legitimate ace--provided he doesn't let walks turn into a problem. With a fastball that can reach 99, this is the guy the Rockies have missed since their inception. If this season has truly been a turning point for the Rockies, Jimenez is helping to lead the charge.
The Nats Blog: The Rockies find themselves in pretty good position to win the wild card at this point in the season. How big of a threat do you consider the Marlins and Cubs are to challenge for the fourth playoff spot?
Purple Row: I think the Marlins pose a serious challenge, especially after their recent series victory over the Rockies this weekend. As for the Cubs, that's a sinking ship. The Cubs will need to wait another year.
The Nats Blog: What is one need that you wished the front office addressed before the deadline that you didn’t see happen?
Purple Row: The Rockies did pretty much what I expected them to do: acquire relief help (Rafael Betancourt, Joe Beimel). I still wish they had traded Garrett Atkins, but he's not entirely dead weight as of late.
The Nats Blog: What do the Rockies need to do to be successful in this coming series against the Nats?
Purple Row: Though not much recently, the Rockies have played to the level of their competition. The pitching has bolstered the Rockies the entire season, so as long as that holds the team should win at least two in this series, even if the bats go into a funk.
The Washington Nationals simply had no other choice, they had to break the bank to sign top overall pick Stephen Strasburg.
While Nats fans were left biting their nails, the deal came down to the wire, but in the end Boras’ ludicrous demand for upwards of $20 million were left to the dogs and Strasburg became a National.
$15.6 million shatters the old record for a draft pick by almost $5 million. However borrowing from the Boras logic, given that that previous record contract was signed in 2001, an increase of about $5 million is not that outrageous considering baseball’s revenue.
"It feels awesome. I got a little nervous there for a while that it might not happen, but I feel very blessed, I'm not sure of the plan right now. They said they'd bring me up for the media. They said to take my time to get ready. It's an amazing feeling. I really wasn't sure if it was going to happen, but I'm glad it did."
So get some sleep Nats fans.
Close your eyes and dream of a 2010 with a star pitcher in the making, and a front office you can believe in. As you pull your covers up and lay your head down, know maybe for the first time since 2005…the front office served you well.
And its a good thing too, next years top pick for us is already looking like a bust!
7:30 P.M Monday – 4 hours and 30 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
Bill Ladson from MLB.COM and ALL NATS ALL THE TIME talked with Nationals first basemen Adam Dunn about the Strasburg situation.
"I'm on the fence about it, because the organization is doing everything it possibly can, from what I hear, to sign him and not embarrass him or the organization," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "I heard that they already offered him a record contract. How much more does he need?
"It's very frustrating for me, and I can imagine it's frustrating for everybody in here. I can understand how frustrating it is for ownership. I wish they would hurry up and get it done."
6:40 P.M Monday- 5 hours and 20 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
Regarding Strasburg’s development, and his threat of sitting out a year, Stan Kasten had this to say:
“It really would be a mistake for him to put his career off for another year. We outlined for him a fairly safe, conservative development plan, because we never want to rush anyone. But let’s face it, if he signs with us and gets working out next week and pitches in the Fall League well and then in spring training … he could be up here in the major leagues as soon as opening day in 2010.”
4:20 P.M Monday- 7 Hours and 40 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
Twitter be damned. Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heymantweeted an hour ago that the Nationals offer to Strasburg was only $12.5 million, not the $17 million dollar figure we heard earlier.
4 :15 P.M Monday – 7 hours and 45 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
The only update in the news right now is that Stephen Strasburg updated his twitter:
“Strasburg37:back on twitter finally…huge day ahead of me, hopefully we can get something done today!”
That’s encouraging, for what its worth. Speaking of encouraging, Nats fans seem to be pretty optimistic that a deal will get done. Three Nationals news sources have polls up asking the basic question, will Strasburg be signed?
12:00 P.M Monday – 12 Hours and 00 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
Check out ESPN’s Pedro Gomez’s feature on Strasburg at draft time in June:
At the 12 hour mark there is very little new news on the Strasburg situation. My best guess is this is one, because Scott Boras wants it to go down to the deadline, and two, because he is handling his four other unsigned first round picks.
Baseball Tonight spoke about Strasburg last night in their Baseball Tonight Minute. Former Yankees and Rangers manager Buck Showalter said he should, “take the slot money and go play” and that this type of situation, “will make the draft obsolete in a few years.”
As we know, Strasburg has already been offered well above slot money with $17 million.
ESPN Analyst Buster Onley said that his source close to Strasburg said that if he gets a fair offer the kid wants to pitch and he wants to sign.
Unfortunately embedding is disabled for this video, you can view it here.
10:30 A.M Monday- 13 Hours and 30 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
San Diego State’s television station Interviews Strasburg during the year:
I recently wrote a column basically summing up the decision that has to be made between Strasburg, Boras, and the Nationals. I posted it in the, “Eyes on the Farm,” section so the Strasburg Watch could remain atop the blog.
Here’s a Preview:
“It comes down to tomorrow.
Tomorrow is when one of two things will happen. Either Stephen Strasburg signs and the Major League Baseball draft is changed forever, or he doesn’t, and people will be labeled.
Scott Boras will be labeled as the greediest man on earth. Some may say he already has that title secured, but an agent who refuses a contract that is nearly 60 percent larger than the previous record one is unconscionable.
Stephen Strasburg will be labeled as a sell out, a kid with no heart for the game, and will be ostracized by many players for at least a good part of his early career.
Stan Kasten, the Lerner’s, and the Washington Nationals will be labeled as nearly failures. They will lose as much respect as a last place team can when they blow away a once in a lifetime chance to sign a savior.
Check it Out: The Jamie Mottram from Mister Irrelevant and Duk' fromBig League Stew both provide their top Stephen Strasburg links for the day, both include The Nats Blog.
9:00 A.M Monday – 14 hours and 00 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
John Taylor of the Washington Times pointed out that there are 14 unsigned players from the first round as of this morning, and that Boras commands six of them.
Boras players unsigned:
No. 1 pick Steven Strasburg, Nationals: We all know the deal here No. 2 pick Dustin Ackley, Mariners: Boras is looking for about $9.5 million saying if it weren’t for Strasburg, Ackley would be the number one pick in the draft No. 3 Pick Donovan Tate, Padres: Having his way with the Padres by looming over them his full ride to North Carolina for football if he wants it. No. 9 Jacob Turner, Tigers: Also threatening to go to North Carolina, but to pitch No. 13 Grant Green, A’s: Was projected to be a top 5 pick at the start of the year but had an off season, still wants top 5 money. No. 30 LeVon Washington, Rays: Has less leverage than the other players, but could force a deal as the Rays are afraid of losing similar type player Carl Crawford
Take a look at the six top players to ever receive a signing bonus of $5 million or more:
1B-Mark Teixeira –All Star OF-J.D Drew –All Star C- Joe Mauer – All Star, Batting Title SP- Josh Beckett –All Star, World Series MVP SP-David Price – Just Reached Majors SP-Rick Porcello – Just Reached Majors SP-Mark Prior – All Star, Arm fell off
10:40 P.M Sunday – 25 hours and 20 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
St. Louis Post- Dispatch reporter Rick Hummelrecently interviewed Hall of Fame outfielder and current head coach of San Diego State University (Strasburg’s college team).
“I think the kid wants to play, having been around him three years. But this is one I thought was going to go to the last minute anyway. In my heart, I just feel like they’re going to find a way to get it done. The Nationals have said they want to make him the highest-paid draft pick. Hopefully, come Monday night, he’s got a signed contract and he can start making San Diego State look good and coach Gwynn look good.”
You’ve got to love a coach that will talk in the third person. It’s comforting to know that someone who understands the game both on the field and off the field has confidence not only in the ability but also in the character of a kid we’re about to possibly invest a fortune in.
He says that Boras is focusing on J.D Drew’s $7 million bonus in 1998, which came when baseball’s gross revenues were $ 2 billion. Boras then compares that to Teixeira’s bonus (10.8 million in 2001) which came when revenues were at $3.5 billion. Today revenues stand at $6.5 billion.
Brown points out Kasten’s comment from this weekend where he said, “if this is more about changing the whole way an industry does business, then we won’t be able to reach a deal.”
Clearly, one side will have to give in if a deal is to take place.
Check it out: Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog writes about the MASN broadcasters outrage over the deal, he transcribes the conversation between Dibble and Carpenter.
7:45 P.M Sunday – 28 hours 15 minutes left to sign Stephen Strasburg
Roch Kubatko from MASN reported this afternoon in his article, “Fit to be tied,” that sources close to the negotiations say that the record breaking offer which Nats president Stan Kasten alluded to last night was for $17 million. That contract, if signed, would shatter the previous record $10.5 million contract signed by Mark Prior in 2001.
“Washington’s current offer has been on the table since the team’s ownership group, along with president Stan Kasten and acting general manager Mike Rizzo, traveled to California last week to meet with the 21-year-old pitcher. The fact that Strasburg hasn’t since agreed to a deal, the source said, ‘should tell you enough.”
Check it out:Biz of Baseball wrote an excellent piece analyzing Strasburgs potential value and how his potential contract (their estimate of $30 million) would compare to other players at his level.
(Editors note: We will be covering the Stradburg situation from now until the deadline tomorrow night at midnight. Check back as we will have up to the minute coverage, much like our Draft Day coverage)
When I played high school baseball our team would travel down to Florida every spring. Parents often thought this was a nice trip for their sons to enjoy the weather and to fondly look back at after their paying careers were over.
That was a ruse.
This trip was a 168-hour opportunity for our coaches to get their hands on us and pound into us the fundamentals and hard work that would come to be the foundation of our season. Bloody hands, dehydration, and yelling…lots of yelling…became our world.
Now I don’t know how they teach it in Maracaibo, but in Virginia coach Grove taught us to get the suicide squeeze down at all costs. It’s a curve ball? Get it down. Pitch outside of the strike zone? Get it down. Pitch thrown at your head? GET IT DOWN! GET IT DOWN! GET IT DOWN!
This fundamental was lost on Alberto Gonzalez in the sixth innings of today’s contest. Down 4-3, with one out and a runner on third, skipper Jim Riggleman made a gutsy call to try and squeeze in the tying run with the back of the order coming up.
Willingham stole on the pitchers first motion and was on an island all by himself, relying on only Alex Gonzalez keep him from being stranded.
Reds starting pitcher Justin Lehr saw Willingham was making his move towards home, and that Gonzalez had squared to bunt, so he did what they’ve taught pitchers to do at a young age since baseball first began; throw at the batters head. A ball thrown at your head of course is the hardest location of a pitch to bunt. However anyone who has gotten outside of Little League knows that the batter will not simply avoid the pitch, he’ll just be forced to try his absolute best to not strand his teammate by either staying in on the pitch and laying the bunt down in fair territory or by get hit by it.
This is what happened:
(You may be thinking it looked like he tried to get his bat on the ball, which to be fair he did try. But look where his head is, looking away from the ball. Look where his knees are, on the ground. Look at the angle of his bat. Nothing here implies staying in on the ball.)
I wonder what coach Grove would have done to Gonzalez?