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Morning Reading

This morning's feature story -- yes, we're back to baseball... at least for that moment -- mentions, in passing, some mechanical adjustments that Scott Olsen is working on this spring. I would have liked to write much more about this, so I'll elaborate here.

Here's the background. In 2006 and 2007, Olsen threw his fastball between 90-94 mph. Last season, it dropped. He was normally between 86 and 90. Olsen never felt any alarm, because he was still getting enough people out, and he didn't feel injured. He was just curious.

Well, Randy St. Claire, when he started examining videos, thinks he figured out what happened. Last year, Olsen's delivery changed precipitously -- though neither he nor anybody on the Marlins picked up on it. First two years, Olsen used much more of his lower body. And when he started his delivery, bringing the ball from his mitt, he'd take the ball way down low, almost swinging it down toward his knee, before throwing. And in 2008?

"His arm path was way high," St. Claire said. "He was almost down to his knee in 06 and 07 when he takes the ball out of his glove. And last year he was very tall, and when he broke the ball was here. So he gives up that lower half."

It's too early to tell if the changes will help Olsen get his velocity back, but both are hopeful. By late-March, once Olsen's arm strength is worked back up, we should have a better sense.

"You know," St. Claire said, "you can make more mistakes when you've got that little bit extra [velocity]."

Here are a few more links from the morning:

The Washington Times' Tim Lemke details one way that baseball can help curb its problems in the Dominican. ... Stephen Strasburg wins every pitching award known to man. Again. ... Bill Ladson writes a lengthy essay on why Kory Casto should be cut about the star of yesterday's game, Roger Bernadina, who earlier received some tips from Elijah Dukes.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 4, 2009; 8:22 AM ET
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Next: Up For Grabs


I haven't followed the links yet, but thanks for a great story on Olsen in today's paper (he really should stop smoking, though). Hope that The Saint is on the right track as far as his mechanics.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Chico - nice article on Olsen in the fishwrap edition - I particularly liked the atmospherics - "all filthy language and honesty" is a good line. I appreciate, too, the expansion on the tech-talk mechanics here. Do you know or have you asked if St. Claire has looked at video of Strasburg? I for one would be very interested to know what he thinks, especially from a long-term health perspective. I ask because you posted the link at the end of a post about mechanics, and I just a few days ago saw an online analysis (from driveline mechanics) that seemed to suggest that Strasburg (as good as he is) may be an arm blowout waiting to happen - Mark Prior all over again.

Would be interesting to know what the in-house Nats guru thinks about it.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | March 4, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

heh heh re. Casto. As for Strasburg, ka-ching!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Geez Ladson, it was a rental!

Posted by: CajunD | March 4, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

That's a joke, son.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Chico, thanks for the additional info. about Olsen. Could you check into what Eckstein is working on with Kearns? I'm interested to see if there's some similar mechanical explanation for why Kearns' hitting has fallen so far.

Posted by: macman3 | March 4, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Nice stories today in both editions. Does anybody know when MASN might actually broadcast a preseason game?

Posted by: NatsFly | March 4, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Friday's game is supposed to be on MASN, NatsFly.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Also, Sunday's will be on MLB.TV. (Where's OldDude when you need him?)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

did a quick google for "Stephen Strasburg pitching mechanics" and came across the Chris O'Leary site. Recall he was the guy who threw a big red flag about Crow and his Prior-esque, Putz-like "inverted W" motion (that is, elbow above shoulder, ball below, when loading before releasing). He has picked up the same thing in Strasburg, as well as other parts of his motion that put more intense load on his shoulder and elbow. In sum, he says his motion is more Prior than Price.

Here is another analysis, from driveline mechanics, same Prior analogy:

That said, why worry about it? The Nats are taking him. They are so backed into a corner that even if the USC shortstop Green is Mauer and Strasburg is Prior, they do not have the credibility or guts to pass on him. Besides, this is just one guy's analysis, and Kasten and Rizzo don't seem to put much trust in "Mod Squad" ideas. Yes, they are likely to get a college pitcher at #9A, if the boards are to be believed. But there is no way they pass on Strasburg given how low their credibility is in baseball right now.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 4, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Actually, it's two different analyses, different methods, that reach the same conclusion.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 4, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I wanted to chime in on the Odalis post. I watched an Outside the Lines episode this weekend about the trainer Presinal and the contingency of MLB players who train with him. Presinal was never interviewed, but Jose Rijo and Odalis Perez were interviewed at length at the same training facility in the DR as their WBC team was running drills. So I find it very difficult to believe that Odalis was either MIA, out of phone contact, or out of Nats contact (considering Rijo was there and still a Nat at this point in time).

Posted by: dclifer | March 4, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

On another note, in light of the recent discussion of the future of Post coverage, here's an interesting piece on niche sites (particularly as regards sports content):

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Hey, there's a new post!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Off-track but ...

Does anyone else not like the new Nationals' section on the Post's website?

Now it's MLB & the Nationals.

I liked the old look and old way with the Nationals having a place of their own without the encroachment of stories about Manny Manny Manny

Posted by: rushfari | March 4, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Do the team a favor and cut Casto already.

Posted by: nationals15 | March 4, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

rushfari, there was a post about it earlier, but I don't recall just when or what comments were made specifically. The Post was soliciting input, so hope that they'll see your comments at some pont.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

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