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Narrow lead, high drama

As Stephen Hunter wrote in the Post's Style section yesterday, even losing baseball is sometimes worth all the effort and woe -- so long as you know the right reasons to care. Now I'm not trying to channel Hunter here, or even redirect this thesis (because, here, I'm diverging from his revel-in-hate recommendation), but last night's game represented the kind of self-contained drama that even a losing team gets to have once in a while, the kind of drama that doesn't need the relevance of a pennant chase to be riveting.

In the end, the game is still the game, and every game stands alone. And when a team patches together eight fantastic innings, it needs to finish the ninth. Joel Hanrahan needed it to test himself as Washington's closer. The Nats needed it because they hadn't won at home in about three weeks.

In the ninth last night, Hanarahan provided much of the drama by himself. He threw 25 pitches, trying to protect a 2-1 lead. And how to describe it? Excruciating? Riveting? Perhaps he should have handed out free doses of Novocain to anybody watching. After recording the first out of the inning on a grounder, Hanrahan promptly walked as close to the cliff's edge as you can get without tumbling.

He was throwing smoke, just not with accuracy. In the inning, according to the numbers compiled by brooksbaseball.net, Harnahan threw 16 fastballs (average speed, 96.8!) and nine sliders. Nothing else. When things started getting really bumpy, he basically stopped even throwing sliders. He was desperate just to get the ball over the plate. He missed with pitches that were a foot high, a foot in.

With Hanrahan, we've seen the spastic control problems before.

But here, we saw him escape.

After getting the Nomar Garciaparra groundout on a full count pitch, Hanrahan gave up a hard single to center by Casey Blake. One on.

Then, Hanrahan walked Mark Sweeney on five pitches. Two on.

Uh oh.

Then, in what was probably the most critical at bat of the game, Hanrahan faced Matt Kemp. And he started out 1-0, 2-0... then 3-1. Nothing but fastballs. He was basically saying, I'll lose with a hit, but damn if I lose with more walks. The last pitch he threw to Kemp, with the count full, was right on the inside corner of the plate.

Kemp popped it up to center.

One batter later (yeah, Hanrahan fell behind there 2-0 as well), he induced an easy groundout.

Game over, breath out.

No other sport makes you hold it as long as baseball does.

---

A few additional links...

For today's notebook, courtesy of Mark Viera, click here.

If you're interested in the instant replay piece I wrote, click here.

Oh, and remember, we're chatting today at 2 p.m.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 27, 2008; 8:10 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Welcome back, Elijah
Next: Dodgers pregame (plus a Manny wig and vintage Maddux)

Comments

This is a great post, Chico.

It's a nice recap, with a personal perspective of someone really *watching* the game.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 27, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Good post, Chico, and captures what was to me the most important part - "here's my best stuff - hit it if you can" That's the key to Hanrahan becoming a closer - too often he's tried to strike everybody out and get too cute. He (unlike Chief) has got can't-touch-this, blow-away stuff. Good to see him just fire it in there. Sometimes, it's not going to go this well, and the ball's going to end up 500 feet away, but I'll take that chance.

Posted by: Highway 295 Revisited | August 27, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

carryover...

from BA:

Grant Green is clearly the top shortstop for the 2009 draft at this point, and he's the top overall position prospect as well. He was an easy choice for the No. 1 prospect in the Cape this summer. One scouting director I spoke to said he embodied the best of Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria, and others compared his bat to Longoria's, high praise indeed. Though he's 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Green should be able to stay at shortstop.

don't worry too much about Strasburg sweepstakes. we just need to sign who we draft...

Posted by: longterm | August 27, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Nice post, Chico - and thanks for declining to take the Haterama route that Hunter suggested.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Great post, but I will nitpick on one item: this is not the closest you can go. I once saw the Chief load the bases (including 2 walks, I think) with 0 outs in a 1-run game and then strike out three batters.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 27, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Another carryover:

How about Milledge's great play in the field, after which Charlie and Dave said that he tapped gloves with the master (AKA Willie Harris)? Dave (or was it Charlie?) said that earlier this year he probably doesn't make that play.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Completely agree about Milledge - have seen great improvement and a lot less hotdogging also. EBoni is also making contact. On a recent game ( they are starting to blur together now) he beat out what should have been two ground ball outs for hits. He makes contact and he has a chance to be on base. As long as I see improvement and hustle I will be ok with where we are now.

Posted by: masnstinks | August 27, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

"Manny and Elijah Dukes got into a screaming match (and had to be separated) in the dugout..."

"If I yell and scream at guys, it’s not going to make them play harder."


“Among the 213 major leaguers who’ve seen at least 1,000 pitches this season, only 34, Milledge included, swing more often than they take."

****************************************

"These kids have such huge egos. When they get their first contract, they buy cars and fancy clothes and walk around their home towns saying ‘estoy firmado’ [I’m signed]. When they get released, they feel like they have failed and can never go home. You hear stories of kids trying to kill themselves after they get released. It is a bad situation."

Patience and a good eye seems to be one of the more difficult lessons to learn. ... teaching him to work the count seems to be the big hurdle. Posted by: NatBisquit | August 27, 2008 8:12 AM

"He's a little impatient at plate but that's partly because he's so young. When you have that many tools, it's not easy. It takes experience. I don't believe you can just say he has to walk more. Walking is a byproduct of being able to hit pitches and making a pitcher adjust to you. It's hard to say he needs to walk more. But he is aggressive and I agree he could use more plate discipline.”

"He is growing into a solid contact hitter, and his increasing walk rate also bodes well for a future in the leadoff position, while the move of Justin Upton to the outfield clears the road for him to take over for Orlando Hudson soon."

Bad to the Boni? Or... "He's as intriguing a player as we have because of his sheer athleticism."

Robinson Cano, Yankees .263 .297
Edgar Renteria, Tigers .259 .308
Emilio Bonifacio, Nats .231 .257
Orlando Cabrera, White Sox .267 .325
Austin Kearns, Nats .217 . 311

"His “swing isn't conducive to the small-ball game he needs to play.”

It’ll just piss them off when they see Boni smile?

"Because you smile too much, man."
Chico Harlan is a staff writer for the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Australia.

estoy firmado! Segue to Segway! Go away FBI! In the name of General Manager and YMOS James Gordon Bowden III

Posted by: Jim B | August 27, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Yep, what a difference a day makes.

Piling on the good news, with a hat tip to NFA (mandatory reading for Plan Fans at http://www.farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com/), three Nats minor league affiliates are in the playoffs. In the Dominican Summer League, the Nats are 55-17, best record in the league, and will seek to defend their 2007 title. The Gulf Coast League Nats are 33-21, second best in the league, and our own P-Nats are set to win the second half title (they already won the first) and are 76-58, also second in the league overall.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 27, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden
"It was voted down 27-to-1 back then. They all kinda laughed at me."

And they haven't stopped since.

Posted by: 756* | August 27, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Chico -- you should also have mentioned that if Kemp doesn't swing at a high and tight fastball on a 3-1 count, Hanrahan would have walked the bases loaded. Then,, who knows what would have happened. So thank you Mr. Kemp!

Now, let's go out there and win tonight and take this series!

Posted by: e | August 27, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

shh, don't jinx the P-Nats' second half title, Bob L. - the magic number is 3, methinks. ;-) There was a good crowd for Justin Maxwell bobblehead night over the weekend, and the team had drawn the most fans ever since becoming a Washington affiliate as of August 23 (170,153). I believe that they have two more regular season home games, a final four-game road trip, and then their first two playoff games will be at home (September 3 and 4). Go P-Nats!

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

From Viera's gamer:

"A bizarre play with the bases loaded gave Los Angeles a run, making a bad inning worse. Zimmerman touched third for a force out after fielding a routine grounder, but catcher Jesús Flores dropped the throw home. Nomar Garciaparra, who broke to the plate, scored on the play. Balester's night finished the inning after giving up that run."

That's really a poor description of an interesting play. Flores dropping the ball had nothing to do with the outcome of the play. The key to the play was that Flores apparently didn't know that Zim had touched the bag, and thus thought there was a force at home. He had more than enough time to pick up the ball and tag Garciaparra, if he known that the force play was off.

Posted by: joebleux | August 27, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Ohhhhhhh!!! Thanks joebleux, I was wondering what that was about. It was killing me because even way up in the highest row, it was clear that even after Jesus bobbled it, he picked it up in time for the force out. It didn't occur to me it was no longer a force out.

THANK YOU.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 27, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

One additional factor, the home plate umpire called "out" on Garciaparra, which is why Flores didn't know that the force was off.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 27, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

No problem, NatsNut. That's why it bugs me when the gamers are sometimes overloaded with adjectives and unloaded with information; it short-changes those of us who are interested in what actually happened.

Good point about the umpire, 506.

Posted by: joebleux | August 27, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

"underloaded", not "unloaded". I don't see what's so great about the posting software; it's certainly fixing any of my typos.

Posted by: joebleux | August 27, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Good point on the gamer, joebleux. Also, I believe Charlie and Dave said that both the home plate ump and Flores did not have a good view of the play at 3rd.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Re. your comment on the site upgrade, the Firefox spellchecker is pretty good about picking up typos, joebleux (just a FYI because you'd mentioned it).

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

natsfan1a: yeah, I use firefox (which is now obnoxiously telling me that I need to capitalize "firefox"). But it doesn't help me when I spell the wrong word right. Or when I leave out minor words like "not" in my last post. Stupid software.

Posted by: joebleux | August 27, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Nothing werse tan incrluding a brunch of typos iin a post about tpose.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 27, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I'm also unsure about this "upgrade". My posts aren't getting any smarter.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 27, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Was Hanrahan shaking off other pitches from Jesus, or was Flores calling for all fastballs? There are drastically different implications from the two (tells you who lost confidence in the slider).

Posted by: Chris | August 27, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

The supposedly upgraded blog was on me for most of last night!

Posted by: The Fritz | August 27, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Great post. Just the kind of additional detailed inside info that makes it worthwhile to follow this blog. Hanrahan may be on to something. Great closers don't use a lot of different pitches. They have a reliable and unhittable pitch that they can throw for strikes and dare the batters to hit. See Rivera, M. You can't get away with that for nine (or six) innings, but when you're seeing the lineup only once through (or hopefully only three batters) it's the best way to go.

Posted by: Section 222 | August 27, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

So, with AK down, likely for the remainder of the year (we know what 2-4 weeks becomes...), how does the FO approach the OF in the offseason? Do we pencil in Milledge, Dukes, Kearns and Harris, with the only contract work to be done with Willie? Or did we see more than enough from Kearns to justify looking seriously for an upgrade FA? Do we keep the status quo and hope Maxwell or Marrero bust out on the farm and get called up?

One thought, with the way they're power numbers are trending, is to swap Kearns and Milledge in CF and RF (like they've already swapped #4 and #7 in the lineup).

Or is that stupid?

Posted by: nat in beantown | August 27, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Not that I'm overly high on Willy Taveras or anything, but something about this quote from the Denver Post bugged me just a little. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but I bet if I post the quote there will be someone on this blog that can help me figure it out:

"A National League source confirmed Taveras and closer Brian Fuentes were placed on waivers to inspect their trade value. Fuentes went on Monday and would clear today, though it's almost certain he will be claimed. Taveras is eligible to clear Thursday and might since Boston is heading in another direction for an outfielder and Washington, which likes Taveras, will not add payroll."

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 27, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I think we go into '09 with the outfield penciled in as Dukes/Milledge/Kearns. No way is Kearns going away for next season, his contract is too big and I think the team still has hopes for him to turn it around.

Even if he doesn't I'm willing to accept a less than stellar Kearns with the bat in RF because of his defense and I think if Milledge continue to improve he can more than make up for Kearns. (ie Kearns would be a sub-average offensive RFer, but Milledge would be an equally or more above average CF offensively). Dukes of course is a huge question mark still, but a potentially rehabbed Pena makes for some flexibility.

I'd like to see them go after a lefty handed hitting LF/1B with tons of power. The only name that comes to mind that would be available is Adam Dunn and we've beaten that conversation horse long enough...

Posted by: estuartj | August 27, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I really love Willie Harris, but please don't resign him. Here is why:

1) Some version of Kearns, Milledge, Dukes, Casto, and Langerhans, all already under contract, should be our outfield of the future. Two of those names should disappear in a year or two with free agents or the growth of minor leaguers.

2) Harris has played well enough to earn a starting role next year. He is a bench player for us. He needs to go and make a name for himself as an every day man. And still send us a letter with hugs and kisses every now and then.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 27, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

>Was Hanrahan shaking off other pitches from Jesus, or was Flores calling for all fastballs? There are drastically different implications from the two (tells you who lost confidence in the slider).<

Sometimes you'll notice Flores shaking his head when he gives signs, to get Hanrahan to shake his head, like he's shaking something off too, which usually leads a hitter to think that he's shaking off a fastball to get to the second or third sign which is usually a breaking ball.

Posted by: Brue | August 27, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

edit: Sometimes the above works for a breaking ball too, they'll give that sign first (as opposed to the fastball being the first sign), and not shake it off, and chances are, the hitter will think it's a fastball. At least, that's what you have to guess in that situation because more often than not, it's a fastball on the first set of signs.

Posted by: Brue | August 27, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I have been known to shake my head on occasion as well.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 27, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Regarding that "safe at first" call that the replay clearly showed as an out: looking at that replay, and the ump's position relative to Belliard's -- the ump could not have seen that the ball had reached Belliard's glove in time.

I'm delighted we won anyway, but jeeeezzz!

Posted by: Hunter is an IDIOT! | August 27, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"I'd like to see them go after a lefty handed hitting LF/1B with tons of power. The only name that comes to mind that would be available is Adam Dunn and we've beaten that conversation horse long enough..."

Hey, how about me? I'm a free agent after this season, and if Jim Bowden can make Alfonsio Soriano a left fielder he can probably make me a first baseman just as easily. Okay, so I'm not a lefty, but my home runs still count just as much even though they come from the right side, don't they?

Posted by: Pat Burrell | August 27, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't read too much into that Denver post quote. That writer has no more inside information on what the Lerners will and won't do than anyone on this blog, which is zero. I think a decision to claim a player off waiver would primarily be about adding value to the organization, not payroll - unless the players contract was truelly exorbinant (and even then it would be a value vs cost discussion).

Posted by: estuartj | August 27, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"I really love Willie Harris, but please don't resign him."

Please do resign Harris. He's arbitration-eligible, so why just give him away for nothing? He can always be traded next year if he's not filling a role here.

Posted by: don't be stupid, like atlanta was last year | August 27, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I see what you mean Bob L., but I take it as they don't want to add Taveras's payroll. And that's a good thing. He's not enough of an upgrade to trade anyone for.

Posted by: Geezer | August 27, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

OK, I agree that the Denver guy doesn't cite any sources, and I suppose it's possible to spin the quote to mean that the Nats don't want to pay Taveras. On the other hand, I don't think reporters typically just make stuff up, and the pro-rated portion of Taveras' salary for this year would be something like $330k. If the Nats really are interested in him (hopefully as a 4th or 5th OF/pinch runner), then $330k shouldn't stand in the way, right?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 27, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I thought Harris was a one-year FA.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 27, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I was going to shoot down that Pat Burrell post, but I just looked up his numbers and he actually his hitting for more power away from the Philly Band Box...curious.

I still don't think we need a 32 yo power hitter, but 30 dingers already this year is nothing to sneeze at.

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | August 27, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Time for the city to throw a ticker-tape parade for the Nats.

They actually won a game.

Posted by: O's Exec | August 27, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"I still don't think we need a 32 yo power hitter"

You prefer NO power hitter, like now?

Posted by: just sayin' | August 27, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I just read from the mlb.com mailbag that Harris is arbitration eligble this year. I think the quote was that the "sides are talking, but since Harris is arbitrtion eligible that they could settle their contract issue that way".

Posted by: estuartj | August 27, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I thought Harris was a one-year FA.
Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving)
August 27, 2008 1:24 PM

Here is what I am paying him this year; genius, no? My Christmans present to you.
1 year/$0.8M (2008)
signed as a free agent 12/13/07
DFA 12/4/07, non-tendered (by Atlanta) 12/12/07

estoy firmado! Segue to Segway! Go away FBI! In the name of General Manager and YMOS James Gordon Bowden III


Posted by: Jim B | August 27, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I think this team needs to be like "Logan's Run" when you hit 30 you get terminated...

Condolences to the families of Guzman, Redding, Young and Johnson...

Posted by: estuartj | August 27, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Nat in beantown posited:

"One thought, with the way they're power numbers are trending, is to swap Kearns and Milledge in CF and RF (like they've already swapped #4 and #7 in the lineup). "

The problem with Milledge in RF is that he doesn't have the arm for it - With Kearns in right, runners at third think twice about breaking for home on a fly ball... Dukes would probably be equally good in right as Kearns, defensively (when you consider his arm)... Every ball in the air to right would be a sac fly with Milledge in right.

Posted by: Wigi | August 27, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Dukes looked pretty good in right field earlier in the season.

Posted by: Traveler | August 27, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

All - highly recommend reviewing Nationals Farm Authority site today. Brian has an excellent lay out of potential September 1 call-ups.

As for outfield, I'm highly intrigued to see what Bernadina does when they call him up. He's been blistering in Columbus in the 40+ games since he was sent down there.

Posted by: Nats fan in NJ | August 27, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Bernadina merits a callup, but no matter how good he is, I'm not sure where he plays. The future looks like Lastings in CF and Dukes in RF at this point (I've been a Kearns backer but if he has a strong first half next year we should deal him). So, our 2010-12 contending team needs power bats in left and at first. Roger's not that. Maybe he can be a bench player along with Casto so we can stop renting Mackowiaks and Langerhaaaanses. (I like Willie Harris ... where would we be this year without Willie Harris? Get him re-signed!)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 27, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Check out NFA. Brian is reporting that two other teams, Pitt and KC, may not have signed their #1s.

More for us to choose from next year.

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | August 27, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Also Brian will be calling in to tonight's pregame (TV) sometime around 6:30, so all 9000 of us should tune in!

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 27, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm nodding my head BLH, I'll be tuned in.

Let's play two!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 27, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I will probably listen to a few innings on the way home and then watch the rest on tv - hope I don't inflate the listening and watching numbers by doing both!

Posted by: masnstinks | August 27, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

SlowPitch63 - quit stealing my name for your posts.
-----------------------
"I'm nodding my head BLH, I'll be tuned in.

Let's play two!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 27, 2008 3:31 PM"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 27, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Wigi,
I wasn't proposing that Kearns and Milledge switch places defensively. I was saying that Milledge is likely to be above average offensively for a CFer and Kearns is above average Defensively for a RF so between the two they even out. I'm hopeful with Kearns that his power will return, but even if it doesn't as long as he has a high OBP I'll take him in RF because of his defense. It would be great if we had the surrounding personel to have him batting 7th or 8th to take advantage of his obp, only on this team would he be anywhere in the middle of the order and having him bat cleanup is a sad sad joke.

Posted by: estuartj | August 27, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Where does Kearns belong in our ideal line-up (saying the bench is too easy...)?

1. Bonifacio
2. Guzman
3. Milledge
4. Johnson
5. Dukes
6. Zimmerman
7. Flores
8. Kearns
9. Sabathia/Sheets/Balester/Lannan/Zimmermann

Posted by: MO Nats Fan | August 27, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

See, that makes me happy, joebleux, because it proves that spellcheckers aren't quite ready to replace the eagle eyes of skilled proofreaders and editors (that said, corrections from spellcheckers and/or editorial types can be annoying ;-)).

That's when the gremlins always creep in, Bob L.

natsfan1a: yeah, I use firefox (which is now obnoxiously telling me that I need to capitalize "firefox"). But it doesn't help me when I spell the wrong word right. Or when I leave out minor words like "not" in my last post. Stupid software.

Posted by: joebleux | August 27, 2008 11:24 AM

Nothing werse tan incrluding a brunch of typos iin a post about tpose.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | August 27, 2008 11:30 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Methinks that they have to implant the chips in us for that to happen, 506.

I'm also unsure about this "upgrade". My posts aren't getting any smarter.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | August 27, 2008 11:38 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Dear 506 and NJ,

xxoo

Sincerely,

Willie

Posted by: Fake Willie Harris | August 27, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

It sucks to be the Pirates...


The Pittsburgh Pirates' signing of Pedro Alvarez, the No. 2 pick in the baseball's amateur draft, may be in jeopardy.

The Pirates on Wednesday announced that at the team's request, Major League Baseball has placed Alvarez on the restricted list because Alvarez's agent, Scott Boras, informed the team that Alvarez would not sign the contract and wants it renegotiated.

In a related development, the case has been forwarded to the players' association, which plans to file a grievance against Major League Baseball, claiming that the Alvarez contract was approved in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The union claims that Alvarez agreed to his contract after the Aug. 15 midnight deadline. It's possible for clubs to receive an extension in negotiations, but only with the players' association approval.

The team, in a prepared statement, said it was informed by Boras that Alvarez, a highly-touted third baseman who played at Vanderbilt, would not report to the team until the team renegotiated his contract and agreed to pay him more than the $6 million signing bonus to which he agreed.

Boras also claimed that the contract was agreed to after the deadline, the team said.

"This claim was not raised on the evening of the 15th when we informed Mr. Boras that Major League Baseball had confirmed that the contract was submitted in a timely fashion," the team said. "Mr. Boras asserted this claim several days later, after all of the draft signings had become publicized."

"Regrettably, we are not surprised that Mr. Boras would attempt to raise a meritless legal claim in an effort to compel us to renegotiate Pedro's contract to one more to his liking," the team said. "We are, however, disappointed that Pedro would allow his agent to pursue this claim on his behalf. "

Boras, reached by ESPN.com, said the matter was a dispute between Major League Baseball and the players' association.

"Pedro Alvarez never received a contract from the Pittsburgh Pirates," Boras told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. "We're awaiting the determination of a grievance filed by the union against the commissioner's office."

The team also said it had been assured by the commissioner's office that it's contract with Alvarez is a valid, and that MLB "will vigorously defend any claim to the contrary."

The Pirates bypassed Boras clients previously because they were unwilling to meet his demands for signing bonuses over the slotting system designed when Pirates president Frank Coonelly was a labor lawyer for MLB.

Once Coonelly accepted the Pirates job, he and general manager Neal Huntington said the team would not be scared off by Boras-represented clients and would draft players based on their ability, not their agent.

The signing of Alvarez has been seen as crucial to the future of the Pirates, who are headed for their 16th consecutive losing season. The team's previous management had been criticized for lackluster scouting and drafting, and the signing of Alvarez offered the new management team a chance to break from that history.

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted by: 756* | August 27, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I mean, college must really be the sh*t! The kid could have $6 mil in his pocket right now, ready to hit the majors in '09 or '10. Is he really that pissed that Hosmer got the same and Posey got more than he did?

Posted by: 756* | August 27, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Hi, I had a blown save the other day for the Mets. Just like old times...

Posted by: NR Luis Ayala | August 27, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

From today's chat--can someone explain this? Does he mean "complete game"?


Chico Harlan: Yes, Maddux is great to watch. Just great. By the way -- and I'll leave you with this little nugget, because we're running out of time with this chat -- the last pitcher before Maddux to throw a game in DC was... yes, Walter Johnson, who last pitched in the District against the St. Louis Browns on Sept. 27, 1927.

Posted by: CE | August 27, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I think reference was to 300 or 350 game winners.

Posted by: Dale | August 27, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Huh. That's funny - I filled in "complete" when I read the transcript and didn't notice the missing word.

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

350. I'm pretty sure Clemens had 300 when he pitched here. Probably Glavin too at some point.

Unless it's gambling jargon, in which case, bet the house on the Nats if Maddux is going to throw the game. Got to figure he'd be a good candidate to be able to hit our bats with his pin-point control.

Posted by: joebleux | August 27, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

That's funny, joebleux! Eight Men Out comes to Nats Park...

Posted by: natsfan1a | August 27, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

we're up

Posted by: lineups | August 27, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

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