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Collin Balester's repeat 'shaking' performance

Morning roundup

Again, Collin Balester found himself in a place he never wanted to be once. He walked carefully halfway between the mound and the plate and stopped. He wiped his forehead and looked down at a batter flat on his back, trainers crouched around the hitter, Balester wondering what damage he had done.

On Tuesday night, Balester drilled Mark Reynolds in the head with a 95-mph fastball. Nine days prior, in Milwaukee, he flattened Rickie Weeks with a nearly identical pitch.

"Sometimes, you get underneath your pitches and you throw it up," Balester said. "You don't want to do that kind of stuff. It's the second time I did that, but it's one of those things you never want to have happen in your career. It's obviously unintentional. It's not a good situation to be in."

Both hitters were fine. Reynolds passed a neurological exam and, despite a bump protruding from his forehead, was laughing on the railing of the dugout by the end of the game. Weeks had stayed in the game. On Tuesday, he tried to visit Reynolds after the game but never had the chance to catch up with him.

"All you think about is his health," Balester said. "Hopefully he's doing alright. Hopefully, he doesn't have any setbacks."

Balester explained a repeated mechanical flaw led to the hit batters. He keeps his elbow underneath the ball, and his arm does not catch up to the ball by the time he releases it. The motion forces the ball to sail high and inside to right-handed batter. "Obviously, it's one of those things I've got to work on," Balester said. "I lose it up-and-in a bunch. When it hits someone in the head, it's a little shaking."

"I hope it's just a fluke coincidence," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "It's something about the way it comes out of his hand, and every once in a while it runs up and in on somebody. You can't have that."

On Tuesday, Balester struck out the next batter he faced, Stephen Drew. He only faced three more batters, and he walked two of them. The most immediate and pressing worry last night was Reynolds' health. Now that we know he's fine, the next concern is Balester's psyche.

Balester has made only four relief appearances in the majors, and a trainer tending to a prone hitter has interrupted two of them. The next time out, will Balester be thinking about how he's going to get batters out, or how he's going to not hit someone in the head?

"You've got to try to put it behind you," Balester said. "You've got to keep pitching."

FROM THE POST

Scott Olsen felt disgusted and hometown boy Joe Saunders threw a complete game in a 6-1 Nationals loss to the Diamondbacks that prevented the Nats from matching their best stretch of the season.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5, Syracuse 3: Wilson Ramos went 2 for 4 with a triple. Peter Orr went 3 for 4. Matt Chico allowed two runs on five hits and a walk in five innings.

Harrisburg 8, Binghamton 6: Jesus Valdez went 3 for 5. Chris Marrero went 2 for 4 with a double. Jhonatan Solano went 3 for 3 with two doubles, a walk and five RBIs.

Potomac 9, Lynchburg 5: Tyler Moore went 2 for 3 with two doubles and a walk. Mike Burgess went 2 for 5 with a home run.

Hagerstown 8, Lexington 5: J.P. Ramirez went 3 for 4 with a home run. Destin Hood went 2 for 3 with a walk. Garrett Mock will make a rehab start for Hagerstown tonight.

Tri-City 5, Vermont 3: David Freitas went 2 for 4 with a double. Justin Miller went 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk. Mark Herrera struck out four in 1 1/3 innings and allowed one hit.

GCL Nationals 16, GCL Marlins 2: Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez allowed no earned runs on two hits in two innings, striking out three. Ryan Mattheus, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, pitching a clean inning with two strikeouts.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

Mark Reynolds could joke about getting hit in the head after the game, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports.

Can Ivan Rodriguez reach 3,000 hits? Mark Zuckerman asks.

Pat Andriola of FanGraphs looks at the options the Nats have with Adam Dunn.

Livan Hernandez is the real deal, Nationals Baseball says.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 4, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Collin Balester  | Tags: Collin Balester  
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Next: Today's lineups

Comments

Nats Minor Leagues: "...Wilson Ramos went 2 for 4 with a triple."

He was 2 for 4 the previous night, IIRC. Looks like he won't be in Syracuse much longer.

Shouldn't be, anyway.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 4, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

So is there anyway, short of Ramos, to lessen the frequency of Pudge and has rally killing double plays?

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | August 4, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Balester is not a major league pitcher. He's a fun guy, a good teammate (it appears), and a young talent, but he is not good enough to be entrusting the game to - at least not yet. I'm more than a little confused about why he is on the 25 man roster.

Posted by: natbiscuits | August 4, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

GoNatsTerps: Umm, maybe hit doubles in front of him?

Posted by: BinM | August 4, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Balester has damn near come close to seriously injuring two of the games best players(Weeks&Reynolds) yet Sharon Martis can't get a call up from Syracuse,Olsen nibbles his way into another loss yet the hierarchy of this franchise won't give a strong armed young pitcher another chance to prove himself and we wonder why we're a last place club.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 4, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

dargregmag, you can't seriously think at this point Martis deserves a look over Olsen; at a minimum we need to know if Olsen can pitch more then 4 games and stay healthy, because if he can he's a sure bet for one of the 5 spots. For Martis, is it better for him to keep starting at Syracuse or come up to pitch the occasional garbage innings with the big club? I vote he stays right where he is and keeps working.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 4, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Balester needs to be DFA'd. Get him off the 40-man roster now. And I don't think any team would put in a claim for him, so if the Nats really think he can be an effective reliever they could then re-sign him to a minor league deal. I think it's time to give someone like Josh Wilkie a shot (or go ahead and move Stammen to the bullpen when Strasburg comes off the DL next week).

As for Dunn being on waivers, I wonder if the BoSox will put in a claim. Youkilis is now on the DL and reports are that he might need season-ending surgery. I don't see the Sox competing for a playoff spot with Mike Lowell and/or Big Papi manning first base. Might be an interesting couple of days ...

Posted by: erocks33 | August 4, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Balester looks pretty good, but for the disaster pitches to Weeks and Reynolds. He's regularly hitting 95 on the gun and his curve is a knee-buckler. The guy has had some very unfortunate luck. Control problems happen to many, many guys; the guy at age 24 deserves a chance to right the ship. At least NO ONE is going to be lunging over the plate against him for some time, that is for sure.

The FanGrpahs piece is nicely done. Rizzo can't find a deal for Dunn he likes prior to the deadline, but won't negotiate with the guy to extend. Now Adam holds all of the cards, unless some amazing waiver wire deal is made to send him packing, which is not likely. There is no incentive for Adam to provide a discount to the Nats any longer, they did not offer him piece of mind that he was here to stay back in March, and he's not likely to ink now for anything below what he perceives as market money. So the Nats will have to compete with the big boys to keep him, something they've never done well. We're likely looking at comp picks next June when Dunn takes the big money to play in Boston or Chicago and another 3 years of building it the Lerner way (aka, losing badly).

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

dargregmag, last night on the pregame show Ray Knight said that there are 14 count 'em 14 starters waiting in line for one of the five rotation spots on this team. I suppose he was referring to these guys, in no particular order: Strasburg, Zimmermann, Hernandez, Olsen, Stammen, Martin, Wang, Atilano, Marquis, Maya, Lannan, Detwiler, Mock and Chico. All of them have either started a game for the Nats at some point this year or are expected to start before the season is over. It's pretty clear why Martis is not part of this list. He may be pitching well in AAA, but he's not dominating. True, neither are several of the others on the list of 14 (Lannan, Stammen, Atilano, Chico, Martin, Mock) but the thing those guys have over Martis is that their options for this year have been burnt while Martis's option hasn't. This late in the season, it's doubtful that they would want to burn Martis's option just so he can get a start or two in this extremely crowded mix. If he continues to pitch well the rest of this year and into spring training next year he would be a much more valuable trade chip with that extra option year. And at this point, that's probably what he is, a trade chip. As most likely are several of the others, like Atilano, Martin, Lannan, Mock, Chico and Stammen. If all of the pitchers they are heavily invested in pan out - or even if only half of them do - the lesser lights in this gang of 14 are going to have to go somewhere, because there's not room for them all in a five man rotation.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 4, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I understand Balester being called up and given a chance. He's got some upside. It may be likely he never develops, but he's got stuff and thinking that maybe he can be a useful member of an MLB bullpen is not too much of a reach. He needs a whiff up here, then get sent back to Syracuse and see if he can put it together.

Martis doesn't seem like he's ever going to really get it together.
His last 12 innings at AAA, 6 innings of 2 hit shutout ball, and two 3.1 inning starts where he gave up a combined total of 15 hits and 10 runs.
Is he deserving of a call up? Only inasmuch as we've called up darn near everyone else.
Is he going to do well pitching the the MLB level? There is really no reason at all to think he would be successful.

Plus with Marquis coming up real soon, with J Zimm on the horizon, with Maya as a possibility as well, there's no reason to even be thinking about bringing up Martis.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 4, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"Balester looks pretty good, but for the disaster pitches to Weeks and Reynolds."

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

Posted by: FeelWood | August 4, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"So the Nats will have to compete with the big boys to keep him, something they've never done well. We're likely looking at comp picks next June when Dunn takes the big money to play in Boston or Chicago and another 3 years of building it the Lerner way (aka, losing badly)."

If Dunn is serious about not wanting to DH (and he apparently is), and the only 4 year offers he's getting are from AL clubs wanting to DH him, then he might very easily decide to accept a 3 year offer to play first base in the NL. According to Dibble on last night's broadcast, Dunn turned down better offers from AL clubs two years ago when he signed with the Nats. If he did it once, he can do it again.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 4, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

SCNatsFan; All i'm saying is that Martis deserves a chance for the most part the starting pitching has been a joke sans Livo and "The Kid" it's been a revolving door between DC and Syracuse for most of these starters, so Martis doesn't deserve a shot? you can't be serious! Olsen been on and off the DL yes he can pitch but is he that much better than Martis given his injuries? i think they can both exist on this team as it presently sits. The bottom line is everyone has been up and down on this team between DC and Syracuse and i think Martis should be given consideration.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 4, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

FeelWood; Atlanta and the Cubs will be in the mix for Dunn also, as may Florida, SF, the Dodgers, the Mets and Houston. This is Dunn's last chance at big money, he's going to have to look around for the best deal. He'll play the field for a lot of monmey for some club, I am not thinkg that the Nats have the nerver to ink him for market money.

And funny stuff on the Mrs. Lincoln comment. :-)

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

You never know how much a player might be tired of moving and loves the city he is in; assuming mgt wants him back all we can do is hope Dunn falls into that situation and he signs here for reasonable money, not a lowball offer that I fear we will offer.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 4, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"FeelWood; Atlanta and the Cubs will be in the mix for Dunn also, as may Florida, SF, the Dodgers, the Mets and Houston."

I can't see any of those clubs offering him four years to play first base. I also can't see any of those clubs outbidding the Nats for three years of Dunn. If any of them are dumb enough to go longer than three years for him, I have one word for them: Soriano.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 4, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Dunn will have difficulty getting a four year deal. There will be several clubs who will decide it's worth going the 4th year to sign a 40 HR left handed hitter for the middle of their lineup.
He'll turn 31 this winter, with a 4 year deal, he'll be 34 at the end of the contract.
He'll get 4 year offers, from NL clubs.

That said, I still *want* to have faith that Rizzo is in more control of this than the general public realizes, and we get a deal signed over the next couple weeks.

I *want* to think this way.
Please don't burst my bubble with a dose of logic or reality.
Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 4, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

So with 14 pitchers in the wings, what does next year's starting 5 look like? You have to assume spots for SS and JZimm and probably Livo unless he's traded. Marquis will be in there given how much they are spending. Does that leave 11 pitchers fighting over a single spot, or have they already penned in Maya?

Posted by: DavidandDonald1 | August 4, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

This might have been mentioned before and I may be late seeing it but the photo of Zimmerman and Dunn that was on the Nats website home page is now Zimm and Strasburg. Just saying...

Posted by: mojo6 | August 4, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

FeelWood: Soriano was a FA and signed a big, long contract that looks pretty bad right now and all, but what about the more analgous Tex and his $180M, or Howard and his $145M, or the riches Adrian Gonzalez will get? Contracts of more than $100M have flown off the shelves more than 20 times in MLB history, the idea that one of the most reliable sluggers in the game won't get something well above $60M, when the Mets have Ike Davis at 1B, the Cubs and Braves have no one and the Dodgers have Manny coming off their books and out of the clean-up spot is a pretty ridiculous one for Nats fans to put faith in.

ALL of those clubs, and more, will kick the tires on Dunn. The fact is that he is very low risk until he gets old (and sicne when is 34 so freakking old, Howard's deal takes him until he's 37); him asking for 4 years is not beyond market norms. He is as relaible a slugger as there is in the game. And he'll be among the only ones available next year. He is going to get well more than $60M, barring some wacky injury, mark it down.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

So with 14 starting pitchers, I guess it's safe to say we'll be shopping a bunch of them around this winter.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 4, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Howard's deal is already widely ridiculed in the industry. No smart club will make even close to the same mistake with Dunn. I think 4 years/$60 million is as much as he can possibly expect. (He's just two years removed from a 2 year/$20 million deal signed as a 27 year old player.) Mets believe in Davis and won't give Dunn a Bay contract (already an albatross); Cubs have way too much committed to underperforming players (Soriano, Zambrano, Fukudome, etc.) to spend on Dunn; Dodgers have 26-year old Loney at first and questions about their budget due to the McCourt divorce; Braves . . . maybe. Giants, probably. But I expect Dunn's best NL offer would come from the Nationals.

Posted by: jcj5y | August 4, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Ok, even if you concede Howard's deal is over the top, even though it is less than Tex's and A-Rod's, is it unreasonable for Dunn to get half of Howard's deal? They are very very similar players.

If Dunn hits the market he gets something north of $70M, I am guessing. With half the league realistically in on him, inclduing markets like NY, LA and Chi, how does he NOT get 4 years?

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Free agent prices are like real estate prices. The market value of a player or property has nothing to do with what someone else paid for another player or property a year or even two years ago. All that matters is what someone is willing to pay today. Dunn's agent may throw out Howard's or Bay's or even Teixiera's contract as a comparable, but if no buyer is willing to match it in today's market that comparable is worthless.

And if half the league is really in on Dunn, where were they during the recent trade deadline talks? If they weren't willing to meet Rizzo's high asking price for Dunn, why will they be willing to meet Dunn's high asking price for himself?

Posted by: FeelWood | August 4, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Dunn and Howard are similar players. That's how absurd Howard's deal is. How is Dunn today that different from the Dunn who only got $20 million from the Nats two years ago? Maybe he's more valuable (or less harmful) as a first baseman from a defensive standpoint. But he's also two years closer to declining production. His list of suitors will be essentially the same teams who tried to trade for him. He will likely get a fourth year, but who wants to be paying Dunn $15 million if he falls off a cliff in 2012? Only a few teams can take that risk.

I like Dunn. I expect he's going to stay productive as a hitter over the next three or four years. I want the Nats to keep him and to pay him. But I don't think other teams---all of whom virtually ignored him two years ago---will suddenly see him as a long-term, big-money investment.

Posted by: jcj5y | August 4, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Baseball is all about long-term, big money investing. Clubs have to compete for the eltie players, they have to pay what it takes to get a guy. Many clubs will be looking to add a deadbolt lock 40 HR, 100 RBI, never gets hurt, no drama guy to their lineup. There is a small supply of those players. So, you guys can Rube Goldberg up machinations of all sorts that lead you to believe that Dunn gets some comparatively puny contract all you want, but that is just not likely to happen. Maybe the Nats get him before he gets to the market somehow, but if not he gets 4 years and big money.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

This morning when I got up, I noticed that, although my Zimmerman bobblehead was facing towards me as usual, my Dunn bobblehead seemed to be facing slightly away from me. Just saying...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 4, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

But seriously, folks. I don't ever want to see Balester bean another batter. No way, no how. I really feel for those guys.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 4, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone is saying Dunn will get a puny contract. My only point is that every other potential Dunn suitor will be having the same debate as the Nats between 3 and 4 years at around $15 million per. The question isn't whether Dunn is a lock for 40 HRs in 2011. The question is whether he's a lock for 40 HRs in 2014. Any reasonable person would be nervous about that.

Posted by: jcj5y | August 4, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"Many clubs will be looking to add a deadbolt lock 40 HR, 100 RBI, never gets hurt, no drama guy to their lineup. There is a small supply of those players. So, you guys can Rube Goldberg up machinations of all sorts that lead you to believe that Dunn gets some comparatively puny contract all you want, but that is just not likely to happen."

Then why didn't it happen two years ago? There were just as many clubs looking for that then, and the supply was just as small. Rube Goldberg that and get back to us.

And comparatively puny to what? Ryan Howard's contract? Any reasonable contract for Dunn will be comparatively puny to that.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 4, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

jcj5y: the very rich are different than you and me (or, at least, they're different than the Nats)./

Mega-market franchises don't have to look at production per dollar (as evidenced by the Soriano contract). They just have to look at whether they believe they'll get the production, and write a check for whatever it takes to get it -- 60/70/80 million are all the same number to them.

Even if you're not a Lerners-are-cheapista, you have to acknowledge that there's a dollar amount beyond which it would be foolish for the Nats to sign Dunn. What the Cubs (and other huge market teams) can pay out of petty cash is way beyond that number.

I still think that the Nats will sign Dunn before the end of the season, but if they don't, I don't give much for our chances of signing him in a free-agent bidding market.

Posted by: joebleux | August 4, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

"Many clubs will be looking to add a deadbolt lock 40 HR, 100 RBI, never gets hurt, no drama guy to their lineup."

Dunn will almost certainly be two seasons removed from his last 40 HR year by the time FA season rolls around. Which isn't to say that keeping him this winter will cost a lot more than wrapping this up last spring would have.

Posted by: zimbar | August 4, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Please, I can assemble a Dunn gets paid a lot of money machine with about 3 parts, you need some smoke, mirrors, chicken wire and a parade of horribles theory of aging to make your Dunn goes for 3/$45M-ish contraption.

Two years ago was then this is now. Dunn was a hapless OF then and he did not then have another amazingly consistent and impressive 2 seasons he has had in the meqan time under his belt and he had not shown that he can play a tolerable 1B and that he can hit above .260 for a prolonged period, which he has done. He has gotten better. And the Year of the Pitcher is here and guess what, slugging in the game is at a serious premium. Things change, markets move -- he has gained value.

Tell me with a striaght face through the spinning cogs of your Dunn's not worth so much machine as it spurts smoke and oil about the room that the Mets, keeping up with the Joneses in the Bronx and the Phils down 95, are not going to be in on Dunn for big money. Or that if the Red Sox somehow miss out on Adrian Gonzalez they don't pay what it takes to get the only guy out there who can give them a lineup to compete with NYY? Paying a reliable elite player $20M per year is nothing to those clubs and an $80M total price tag is very doable. The big market clubs have to compete on paper every year.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

"Tell me with a striaght face through the spinning cogs of your Dunn's not worth so much machine as it spurts smoke and oil about the room that the Mets, keeping up with the Joneses in the Bronx and the Phils down 95, are not going to be in on Dunn for big money."

The Mets are broke. Despite gaping holes in their lineup they weren't even in on anyone at the trade deadline.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 4, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The Mets are in third place chasing much better clubs -- teams out of the running are not in on generally all in on players at the trade deadline.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I think the days of clubs not considering production per dollar are over. Every club, even the Yankees, has a budget. $15 million spent on Dunn is $15 million not spent on someone else. Owners, no matter how rich they are, don't want a team that costs $100 million and comes in third.

The Cubs are a perfect example. They are a complete disaster right now, and it's hard to imagine how they get competitive again with all the terrible contracts (including Soriano) on their books. They aren't going to spend $200 million on players. They need young, cheap talent. That's not Dunn. The Mets are in the same situation, as already pointed out. And I guarantee that the Phillies couldn't give Ryan Howard's contract away right now. So cost for production definitely means something. Some teams have a higher budget than others, but no one is out there thinking that it doesn't matter how much they pay for a player, as long as he produces in the short run.

Posted by: jcj5y | August 4, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

They don't sign Dunn and they become an afterthought in the NL east and there's a huge hole in the lineup in the spot that he vacates the big question is in the comming years how much will he decline in terms of his skill set(bat,glove)his strikeout's will surely increase the bigger question is can the Nationals afford not to sign Dunn and still be competitive.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 4, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"Owners, no matter how rich they are, don't want a team that costs $100 million and comes in third."

Those same owners will gladly pay $150 Million for a club that comes in first. The glass is always half full when you already have $100M committed, just add another bat, another SP and NEXT YEAR you'll break through. Or so the logic seems to be -- and that approach plays well with the fans.

Pundits are predicting the Cubs to be a plyer for Dunn, BTW:

"The Cubs should be active in the free agent market for first basemen as they attempt to replace Derrek Lee. Adam Dunn, Carlos Pena, Aubrey Huff, and Paul Konerko could be options. Troy Glaus, Adam LaRoche, Lyle Overbay, and Lance Berkman might fit into the second tier. I can envision the Cubs pursuing Dunn if the Nationals don't extend him."

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/

The complete disaster Cubs club has an awful lot of talent.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I hate to interrupt the Dunn debate (there is no debate, sign him, even if it's 4 years..., whew, glad we settled that!) but I thought it would be interesting to speculate on Strasburg's remaining schedule. Give him eight more starts that would add 45-50 innings to his total and get him to the 160 inning cutoff, and assume he returns as currently planned on Aug. 10. His schedule, pitching every fifth game, would look like this:

8/10: Marlins @ home
8/15: Diamondbacks@ home
8/21: @ Philadelphia
8/26: Cardinals @ home
8/31: @ Florida
9/6: Mets @ home
9/12: Marlins @ home
9/18: @ Philadelphia

Note this would take him to within a few weeks of the end of the season, much later than originally thought, which means that the Nats would need a replacement for him for two starts. It would give him five home games, so lots mo' money for the Lerners. And it gives him two shots at the Phillies, which would be very sweet indeed.

Posted by: baltova1 | August 4, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

The last paragraph from the Cubs' summary on mlbtraderumors makes my point well:

"Last offseason the Cubs were somewhat paralyzed by the need to move Milton Bradley's contract before they knew how much money they had to spend. History might repeat itself as they attempt to unload large commitments to Zambrano and Fukudome. They'll also face big raises for arbitration-eligibles Geovany Soto and Carlos Marmol, among others. The Cubs' offseason should involve plenty of financial wrangling as they try to free up enough dollars to avoid bringing back the same 90-loss crew in 2011."

In other words, the Cubs have to dump multiple very bad contracts before they can think about adding Dunn. Because they have a budget.

Posted by: jcj5y | August 4, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

As for talent, the Cubs currently have a worse record than the Nationals.

Posted by: jcj5y | August 4, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

baltova, Ben Goessling over on the MASN site beat you to the punch on the SS schedule projection earlier today (with appropriate disclaimers, of course).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 4, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

jc: You forgot the part from MLBTR that reads:

"The Hendry front office has always succeeded in dumping players they've soured on, and Carlos Zambrano should be no exception."

Anyway, it does not matter because the Cubs don't have to dump anything for next year. They spent $144M this year, $134M in 2009 (according to Cots) -- more than DOUBLE what the Nats spent in those years, and they ONLY have $104M on the books for next year (even with Carlos Zambrano in the club house). They could add Dunn and another FA pieces for that matter and reduce payroll from what was the budget.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

On the Stras schedule -- I should have taken the bait to change the subject, sorry -- they might try to limit his innings in each start pretty much no matter how things are going and get him more starts (say limit each to 6 innings or a pitch count whatever is less). That way they could strect h him out over as many starts as possible, keep him on 5 days and make a LOT of money as the fans come to see him.

Posted by: dfh21 | August 4, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

natsfan1a1, in the immortal words of the greatest mind of our times: "D'oh!!!"

D--n you, Goessling...

Posted by: baltova1 | August 4, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Ballester hitting people square in the head isn't a typical control problem, it's a concentration problem. Control problems have to do with dragging your front leg through, etc. The only way you keep throwing it up there is if you lose focus. Whether it's in the middle of the windup or whatever. He needs to get over himself and quit being so self-conscious and focus on throwing through the mitt. Psychologically, he acts like a kid on the mound, movements for no reason. Looks like a bird looking around sometimes.

That's it - just stare at the mitt for a couple of extra seconds before you throw it. Anything to keep his head pointing down into the strike zone and not back up to the sky. I mean, he's got plenty of stuff. No doubt about that. We all pretty much agree on that. And those who don't - just imagine his stuff with Lannan's head. He'd be making 5 million a year.

Posted by: Brue | August 4, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Back to Dunn.

Anyone know how much salary got freed up by shipping out Capps and Guzman? Is that money that's available to pay Dunn?

I've read speculation that the Nats agreed to eat a fair amount of Guzman's contract, since the Rangers are in bankruptcy.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 4, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Back to Dunn.

Anyone know how much salary got freed up by shipping out Capps and Guzman? Is that money that's available to pay Dunn?

I've read speculation that the Nats agreed to eat a fair amount of Guzman's contract, since the Rangers are in bankruptcy.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 4, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

SSoorryy,, ddoouubbllee ppoosstt..

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 4, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

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