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Chatter Up: Chico

Quick reminder: Chico's chatting tomorrow at noon.

This news from Astros Land:

Houston relief pitcher Doug Brocail left Sunday's game against Atlanta after straining his left hamstring on a play at first base in the eighth inning.
First baseman Lance Berkman made a diving stop on Kelly Johnson's grounder, and Brocail covered the bag.
Brocail's left leg seemed to buckle as he caught Berkman's throw and touched first base.
Brocail fell over first base and remained on the ground for about a minute before being helped to his feet. Unable to walk off the field, he was driven off on a cart.
The 41-year-old reliever came off the disabled list on April 26. He had been out since April 13 with a strained right rotator cuff.

And this: Roy Oswalt is starting Tuesday; that moves Moehler to Monday.

Steven Shell ends up in Seattle.

Tony Gwynn on Strasburg and the Nats. 'Nuff said.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  May 3, 2009; 6:24 PM ET
 
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Next: Leading Off (The Morning Reading), Lastings Milledge

Comments

Lannan vs. Moehler, Olsen vs. Oswalt - Those are good matchups, both Washington pitchers bring their "A" game to the mound; Granted, Oswalt wiil be the tougher matchup against Olsen, but I like the teams' chances in both games.

The offense just has to step up for Lannan Monday; then everything else starts falling into place.

Posted by: BinM | May 3, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

@tracee: Thanks for the fish.

Who is Tom Fornelli, and why is he just now posting something we (as Nationals fans) knew at the end of 2008 (Strasburg = #1SP in WAS)?

Sorry to hear about Brocail's latest injury - He's had a long career, with some tough luck lately, but that's just one less proven player the Nationals might have to face on Monday & Tuesday.

Posted by: BinM | May 3, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

since Tracee (and Tony Gwynn) brought it up, I'm starting to convince myself that they should draft Strasburg and put him straight into the closer job.

Everybody says he's got 2 major league pitches right now, one of which is a 100 mph fastball with movement. That's all a closer needs.

A decent closer will pitch in twice as many games as a decent starter, but CAN come in to any given game of 162. No starter can do that.

Being new to a league usually benefits the pitcher, not the hitter, at first. It is to the pitcher's advantage to expose him to as few hitters as possible, then, to give fewer guys a chance to see his stuff and make adjustments. Delaying the inevitable, sure, but it *does* delay it.

This team would be at or near .500 with a lights-out closer, and that would change everything. (yes, everything changes everything, but still.) Public perception, team attitude, turnstyles, respect around the league (eventually), just to start.

Downside is, closers burn out young more often than not. Not always, but often enough to give pause.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 3, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

of course, the main thing is, does he have Closer's Mind? Hanrahan has the stuff, but apparently not the nerve. The Chief had decidedly unremarkable stuff, but the nerves of a catburgler. And that's the part that remains to be seen with Strasburg--will he forget where Albert Pujols hit that ball off him last night, and throw it again for strike three?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 3, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

@Sec3mysofa: Take two aspirin, elevate your legs, drink warm liquids and just take it easy, fella. Memo to Earth: No team--repeat NO TEAM--is going to draft Strasburg, pay him the $20 million ransom required by Boras and turn him into a closer. Get over it. It's not happening. As Tony Gwynn sez, he'd be the Nationals No. 1 starter right now. With the starting pitching we now have, the idea of even needing a closer is somewhat ridiculous. S-burg is going to be a starter, not anybody's closer, particularly this bunch.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | May 3, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I think Sec3mysofa may have a point. It would be a bit similar to the way the Rays handled Price. Of course, Strasburg is going to be a starter. I do not think anybody thinks otherwise. But let's say he joins the team in August/September - it would not be a ridiculous idea at all to let him get his feet wet in the big leagues by throwing out of the bullpen for the rest of the season. Then come next spring, he goes straight into the rotation (instead of to AAA like the Rays did with Price).

Posted by: DoctorJoe | May 3, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

While putting my feet up with a cold one is an excellent idea, I'm not nuts here.
The Braves moved Smoltz from their best starter to their only closer when they felt their bullpen was killing them every night.
Papelbon makes well over $6MM/year; Trevor Hoffman makes about that; Mariano Rivera is in the middle of a 3-year/$45MM contract, IIRC. It's not the money.
If it's true he'd be their best pitcher on Day One, then where can he do the most good? I'm wondering out loud if it wouldn't be fifty nights a year, for one inning, rather than thirty-five nights for five or six.

No, I don't really expect them to do it--that's not the point. I don't expect them to fire Clint, or let Teddy win, either.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 3, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

AT first thought, the closer thing is a crazy idea - but he's 20yo. And by the time he's done at SDSU, he'll have 100-120 innings under his belt. In mid June.

Maybe throwing him into the bullpen, limiting his exposure, (and here's the important part) limiting his innings makes some sense.

Posted by: comish4lif | May 3, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I don't put him in as closer, since that would be a lot of pressure for a kid, but I arrange so that my closer has worked two days in a row and then, oh what the heck, we need SOMEONE to close the game, right....

Posted by: Section506 | May 3, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

What do people think out there of the chances of Stephen Strasburg, who probably wants to play pro on his native West Coast and avoid a serial losing organisation like the Nats, making it impossible for Washington to sign him by clinging to a $50 million contract demand, going to Japan or an independent league for a year to keep in tune and entering the 2010 draft hoping a team more to his liking will take him?

Posted by: mx_heinrich | May 4, 2009 5:33 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Chico's story on Milledge was pretty balanced, but those quotes from him are awful. All defiant and insulting to the coaches. I bet he thinks this song is about him.

Posted by: NatsNut | May 4, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm in total agreement with mx_heinrich. I've always believed that Strasburg and Boras are trying to "game" the system. There's no justification to give a draft choice $50 million. Not as a signing bonus and not as a six-year contract.

I've writtent this before but I hope people won't mind if I repeat it here. It would be lunacy to give a draft choice this kind of money. For the first three years of major league service Strasburg is only entitled to the major league minimum of less than half a million a year. Why would any team give him more than $8 million a year, under those circumstances?

The pre-arbitration years are the only time when a player is potentially a "bargain" I cannot believe any team would throw away such an advantage.

I know Boras is going to make the case that Strasburg is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. People are already suggesting Boras will make the comparison to Dice-K.

Okay but Dice-K pitched in Japan and was successful for years. Strasburg is pitching against college kids, it's hardly the same thing.

Yes, Strasburg is an immense talent. He can throw hard, he has more than one pitch, and he has great control. This doesn't change the fact he's pitching against college players. Let's see him start a game in Philly and we'll see how he does against Rollins, Utley, Howard, and Ibanez. He might be great, I certainly hope so. But to make him the highest paid pitcher on the roster, without a single inning of professional baseball strikes me as insanity.

I want the Nats to draft Strasburg and I want them to sign him. I don't doubt they'll draft him but I don't think they will sign him. The Nats aren't about to destroy the draft for the benefit of a single player. I hope I'm wrong but I cannot see any team meeting these demands. Nor do I see how anyone can justify why any team should.

Posted by: grforbes | May 4, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

And now for something completely different. Another reason for the ladies to like Wil Nieves (as if they really needed one) from Debbi Taylor's MASN blog. All together now: awwwww.

Wil the Thrill!
This weekend Nats catcher Wil Nieves and his lovely wife Yormarie celebrated their fifth anniversary. So what did Wil do?

On Friday night he had flowers delivered to Yormarie's seat in the middle of the game!

He also had a message on the scoreboard for her. Now, that's really hitting a home run.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 4, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I also cannot see the Nats signing Strasburg. He might go across country to a contending team with a winning record of developing and/or trading for talent and drawing big crowds, but not to a ragtag franchise bereft of any of those qualities. Which isn't fair in the ideal world, since successive No. 1 draft picks may be the only way for a chronic laughing-stock team, with unerring talent evaluators, to finally move up the ladder of the standings and respectability, like Tampa Bay did. But in Boras's manipulative hands, steering his clients always to teams with the richest, biggest-market payoff, I fear Strasburg is likely to diss the Nats even if it risks his reputation and puts off the time when he can become a MLB free agent. Perhaps even the Nats' lack of a functional bullpen would put off Strasburg, and I wouldn't blame him there. Still, as a diehard 37-year fan of the Expos and their rich farm system, who transferred his misbegotten loyalties to the Nats, I would love my suspicions to be proven wrong.

Posted by: mx_heinrich | May 4, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Actually what I meant to say was that my loyalties weren't originally misbegotten, but have become so recently, alas!

Posted by: mx_heinrich | May 4, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

A couple of questions. Is this kid better now than any one of our starters? I would say yes. So sign him. Does he have the potential to be one of the greats? I would say yes. So sign him. Does he need seasoning in the minors? Hell no. I would say sign him and start him that night. What would happen? We might lose? We're doing that now with established professionals.

Posted by: 6thandD | May 4, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

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