Picks and Runs
Two questions (and perhaps they're familiar ones) for your Sunday morning.
ONE. Can the Nationals sign their top-5 picks?
TWO: Can the Nationals score?
They're struggling with the first mission because, this year, according to those with whom I've spoken, the Lerner family is adamant about sticking with a budget -- and that means they're not tossing out McGeary kind of money to those selected after the first round. As for Aaron Crow, the first-round pick, he allegedly wants what some in his camp have been calling a "premier" deal, similar to what Max Scherzer, taken 11th overall by Arizona in 2006, received. Scherzer, like Crow, is a Mizzou pitcher. And Scherzer was the very last pick from that year's class of first-round picks to come to terms. (Scherzer finally inked a four-year deal worth $4.3 million, with incentives that could add up to $6 million.)
Of course for now, much of it posturing. But this much I know: Difficulties in negotiation with Crow have exceeded anything typical.
Read more here.
Now for the second question.
Today, the Nats' offense tries to rebound from the Sheets-Sabathia punishment with Manny Parra (9-5, 4.18), a solid No. 3 starter, and another reason why Milwaukee has one of baseball's top rotations. Parra, though, has lost his last three starts, giving up five and six earned runs in the last two.
The Nationals haven't scored in their last 22 innings, going back to inning No. 5 on Thursday against Colorado. This hasn't been the first time a 1-2 combo has knocked the Nats into back-to-back shutouts. Brandon Webb and Dan Haren of Arizona did it on May 31/June 1. Derek Lowe and Clayton Kershaw did it on July 26/27. There's no great shame in getting shut down by an ace, but because the Nationals' lineup is already among the league's weakest, and because patience (or lack thereof) is their greatest susceptibility, the truly exceptional pitchers have a paint-by-numbers formula to shut things down. You can read the latest gamer here.
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