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Tag:Stephen Strasburg
Posted on: January 11, 2012 5:10 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 7:07 pm
 

Prince Fielder intrigue continues to build

So why hasn't Prince Fielder signed yet while Albert Pujols has been sitting back and counting that 10-year, $254 million deal for weeks?

Plenty of reasons. Mostly, as Boras would tell you, because the market is still developing.

Start with the fact that the two clubs who in recent years have helped establish the ga-zillion dollar markets -- the Yankees and Red Sox -- are sitting this one out. New York has a long-term first baseman in Mark Teixeira, as Boston does with Adrian Gonzalez.

Beyond them, only a small handful of clubs can play ball at Fielder's asking price. Which, you can be sure, is a dollar or two more than Pujols is getting annually from the Angels.

From the start, barring a stunning early offer, Boras was in no hurry to sign Fielder. It was clear that Pujols would sign, the bar would be set, and then Boras/Fielder would look to exceed it.

Within that, as Boras has explained many times this winter, free agents at this level are ownership decisions. As he did when he represented Alex Rodriguez in 2000 and scored the 10-year, $252 million deal, Boras meets directly with owners (then-Rangers owner Tom Hicks, in that case).

That, too, takes time.

With the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels out, the Cubs, Mets and Dodgers are among the few who could afford Fielder.

The Cubs are under new management, and president Theo Epstein philosophically does not believe in awarding long-term contracts to the tune of seven, eight or more years to free agents. Consequently, they acquired Anthony Rizzo from the Padres this month, the idea being Rizzo will be Chicago's first baseman of the future.

The Mets and Dodgers, of course, have serious financial issues of their own. The Mets, who lost Jose Reyes to the Marlins this winter, are rebuilding and broke. The Dodgers are in the process of being sold.

So that leaves the next tier of suitors. And one other key component: With the Yankees and Red Sox on the sidelines, there is nobody to help drive up the price up via a bidding war.

Boras met with the Nationals several weeks ago. Those two have done several multi-million dollar deals in recent years, including the $126 million Jayson Werth contract last winter, and deals with recent top draft picks Stephen Strasburg (four-years, $15 million) and Bryce Harper (five years, $9.9 million).

The Mariners desperately need a middle-of-the-lineup bat. But whether the M's would spend that kind of dough remains to be seen ... as does whether Fielder would want to play in Safeco Field, notorious for diluting offensive numbers.

Asked at the winter meetings last month whether his client had a geographical presence, Boras quipped, "I just think he likes fences that are close to home plate. That's the geographics he likes."

Baltimore is another city that continues to be linked with Fielder. The Orioles are desperate for a clean-up hitter, not to mention a winner. Owner Peter Angelos has the money, though he is notoriously slow in wading through the free agent market.

Texas? The Rangers' deadline for signing pitcher Yu Darvish is next week. Some industry sources think the Rangers are holding off on Fielder while they negotiate with the Japanese free agent. Then, they'll either go full bore after Fielder if they don't sign Darvish (unlikely, they're expected to sign the pitcher) or see if there's a way to fit Fielder in after signing the pitcher.

The Blue Jays? Hmmm ... interesting thought, and lots of speculation surrounding them. Maybe the exchange rate is slowing those talks down.

Milwaukee remains in on the fringes, but only if the price falls.

Always, with Boras, there is the threat of a "mystery team" stepping up. No other agent in the game is as skilled at luring suitors down the path ... and then obtaining a pot of gold ... as Boras.

But now, as it gets deeper into January and an industry awaits Fielder's decision, it may take Boras' biggest play yet to get what he and his client want.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Gio a princely acquisition for Nationals


Now that the on-the-move Nationals have snagged ace pitcher Gio Gonzalez in a prospect-heavy deal with Oakland, they've got a rotation that puts them squarely on the launching pad in the NL East and brings with it one obvious reaction.

For that, I turn to the Twitter account of one Bryce Harper, who exuberantly tweeted Thursday afternoon: "Now all we need to do is get Prince! hah."

Can you imagine?

The Nationals at least are camped on Prince Fielder's front doorstep, one of a number of clubs talking with the slugging first baseman as the winter shopping season hurtles toward its next big target. And the Nationals do have a very good relationship with Fielder's representative, Scott Boras -- see Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth, among others.

Maybe that's far-fetched dreaming. After all, Werth is only headed into Year Two of that $126 million deal. And though the Nationals are located near U.S. Mint headquarters in Washington, D.C., the printing presses that spit out currency are not located in Nationals Park. Would the Lerners have dough -- and, more importantly, the guts -- to roll with both Werth and Fielder?

Of course, after watching the long, torturous slog that brought them from Montreal to rat-infested RFK Stadium to present day, it's hard to believe that the Nationals are finally on the threshold of playing with the big boys in the NL East. But they are.

In Gonzalez, Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, they not only have a very good front three in their rotation, but they have a trio of young arms they can control for the next several years.

Even without Gonzalez and, essentially, Strasburg last year, the Nationals' 3.58 ERA ranked seventh in the majors.

Ryan Zimmerman is a Gold Glove third baseman and team leader, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond are very solid in the middle of the infield, Wilson Ramos is the good, young catcher so many teams would love to have and Michael Morse, who can play first base or left field, is a monstrously strong young man who became a legitimate power threat in 2011. And people are dying to see whether Harper will make the club out of camp this spring.

Philadelphia is Philadelphia, Atlanta remains a force and the Marlins have spent more money than the Yankees this winter. The entire NL East will be playing at a higher level (well, everybody but the Mets).

For the Nationals to become kings of the divison, it just might take a Prince.

Failing that? The Nationals -- 80-81 last year, and 21 1/2 games behind the Phillies -- are moving from rebuilding to intriguing, and quickly.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:23 am
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

VIERA, Fla. -- Outtakes from hanging out with the Nationals and, among other things, talking Tommy John with Stephen Strasburg and wondering whether Nyjer Morgan will keep it together this summer. ...

-- One thing that heartened free agent Jayson Werth after he signed with the Nats: The club's pursuit of ace pitcher Zack Greinke before Milwaukee stepped in and acquired him from Kansas City.

"I don't feel like anybody feels we're done looking," Werth says. "I feel Riz [general manager Mike Rizzo] is still out there looking for the right pieces, like trying to get Greinke. He's an aggressive guy. This is starting to turn into a win-now situation."

-- Before there was Stephen Strasburg, there was Jordan Zimmermann. High draft pick, potential ace pitcher, Tommy John ligament transfer surgery. ...

Zimmermann, 24, is projected to start the season in Washington's rotation in what will be his first full summer back following the Tommy John procedure. Not only are the Nats thrilled that Zimmermann is about ready to pitch in, he's able to serve another purpose, too.

"It's nice to have somebody to talk to," Strasburg says. "Somebody to see if what you're feeling is the same way he felt as the process goes on."

But, Strasburg noted, "you talk to three different guys who have had the surgery, you get three different answers as to how fast you can come back.

"It's more a matter of how you're going, how your strength is."

-- A year ago, Strasburg was all the buzz. Now, it's the Nats' second consecutive No. 1 Pick of the Century, outfielder Bryce Harper. Difference is, Harper is only 18 and has as much a chance of seeing the majors this summer as Ted Williams does of managing another Washington team in D.C.

Still, he's in major-league camp because he's on the 40-man roster, and the Nationals sure have enjoyed having him so far.

"It's been great for him," general manager Mike Rizzo says. "He's going to learn a lot from this. He's a sponge. He's a student of the game. He's a baseball rat. He keeps his mouth shut and his ears open. We have some veteran leadership now, and it's a credit to Bryce that he's [soaking it up].

"It's much like with Strasburg last year. They've really embraced Bryce as one of their own."

Among others, Werth has made sure to deliver various tips and pointers to Harper.

"He's young," Werth says. "But he's a lot further along at that age than I was. He's a special talent."

-- Rizzo on Nyjer Morgan and his troubled second half of 2010: "I think those were isolated incidents, out-of-character incidents. He's a very positive person and he plays the game hard. Sure, at times last year he got himself into trouble. But in his career, now, I think the extracurricular stuff will be eliminated.

"He's a big piece for us. His defensive presence in center field, his defensive range, he's a pest at the top of the lineup and he's capable of stealing 50 bases a year."

Sunblock Day? About two hours of light rain in Florida here in the past two-and-a-half weeks. If you're coming, bring the sunblock. If you're already here, get some more.

Likes: Talking to Yogi Berra in the Yankees' dugout the other day at Steinbrenner Field. ... Talking to David Wells in the Yankees clubhouse. He's never dull. ... This beautifully done story on Mets media relations man Jay Hortwitz from Jeff Pearlman. ... Caught the last half of the PBS American Masters series on the musicians of the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles -- James Taylor, Carole King, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and many others. Great documentary. Very well done. Sure hope I can catch up to the entire show in the near future. ... A new Lucinda Williams disc, Blessed. Haven't picked it up yet. Will soon. She's great.

Dislikes: The middle-aged man in the hotel workout room the other day who was using the exercise bike right next to me -- and riding barefoot. I get it, it's Florida, where bare feet and flip flops are perfectly acceptable. But come on. If you're going to work up a sweat in a workout room, have some respect for those around you. Disgusting. Thank goodness I was running on a treadmill and had no intention of using the bike.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well in the town where I was raised
"The clock ticks and the cattle grazed
"Time passed with amazing grace
"Back where I come from
"You can lie on a river bank
"Paint your name on a water tank
"Or miscount all the beers you drank
"Back where I come from"

-- Mac MacAnally, Back Where I Come From

 

Posted on: August 17, 2010 1:10 am
 

Score it another big night for Nationals

On a warm August evening as the kids prepare to head back to school, the Washington Nationals' just-before-the-midnight-deadline signing of outfielder Bryce Harper really wasn't as urgent as the Padres extending their lead in the NL West, the Atlanta Braves' stirring comeback win over the Dodgers or the Mets' dilemma with the outrageous behavior of closer Frankie Rodriguez.

But a couple of years from now?

Oh, you bet an otherwise non-descript summer's evening has every chance to be historic if the Nationals continue to close the talent gap on their rivals with nights like this.

One year after signing Stephen Strasburg just before the clock struck 12 -- and you've seen this summer why Strasburg is so important -- Nationals' general manager Mike Rizzo hammered out a deal with agent Scott Boras that granted Harper a major-league contract worth a guaranteed $9.9 million, according to CBSSports.com sources.

It was déjà vu in that the two chief negotiators -- Rizzo and Boras -- were the same two men who battled to the deadline with Strasburg last year.

It also is déjà vu in the importance to the Nats' franchise: Down-and-out in the years after leaving Montreal with a farm system badly in need of restocking, Washington made history in becoming the first franchise to pick first overall in two consecutive drafts.

"No one ever had the opportunity to have two No. 1 [overall] picks two years in a row," Rizzo said in a post-midnight conference call, and just before taking a celebratory shaving-cream pie in the face from club president Stan Kasten. "And to be fortunate enough to have two picks this vastly talented is extraordinary, I believe."

The Nationals intend to assign Harper to their Florida Instructional League team at the soonest possible moment and, depending on how Harper fares there, he could wind up in the Arizona Fall League this autumn. Maybe.

Either way, he'll be in spring training with the big boys next year thanks to his major-league deal, and Rizzo said the Nats believe Harper capable of being "fast-tracked" to the majors despite his tender age of 17.

The signing was no surprise; Harper worked a loophole to get out of high school early, play ball at a Nevada community college and become draft-eligible at 17. That's how badly he's been wanting to get started on his professional career.

The Nationals, meanwhile, are committed under Kasten and Rizzo to building from the ground up. We saw this with the $15.1 million deal they handed Strasburg and the $1.6 million signing bonus granted Drew Storen last year and we saw it again Monday.

In addition to the $9.9 million guaranteed Harper, the Nationals spent roughly $3.8 million on three other players: Second-rounder Sammy Solis, a left-handed pitcher from the University of San Diego; fourth-rounder A.J. Cole, a right-handed high school pitcher; and Robbie Ray, a left-handed pitcher from Tennessee.

"It means a commitment from ownership," a pleased Rizzo said. "They gave us the resources to have an impactful draft.

"We picked four players that at some time during the amateur season were [projected] to be first-round picks on Baseball America's list. They're guys we're extremely happy about. ...

"Kris Kline and Roy Clark [the Nationals' director of scouting and the vice-president of player personnel, both of whom were hired last Oct. 16 as Rizzo constructed his front office after earning the GM job earlier last summer] did an outstanding job. We knew they would. That's why they were brought here."

Posted on: July 29, 2010 5:08 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 7:01 pm
 

Toronto's Downs hot property & other trade notes

Toronto was the focal point of last year's trade deadline, then-Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi was the point man and ace Roy Halladay was the bait.

A year later, Cliff Lee, Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt having been traded and Saturday's 4 p.m. EDT non-waivers trade deadline bearing down?

Toronto again is a focal point, first-year GM Alex Anthopoulos is the point man and reliever Scott Downs is getting as much action as anybody on the market.

Now Downs might not pack as much marquee punch as Halladay, but this year's trade market isn't exactly heavyweight, either.

And given the overwhelming bullpen needs of the majority of contenders this summer. ...

"He might be the best guy out there," the general manager of one club with interest in Downs says. "He's owed just a little more than $1 million, he's left-handed, he can close, he can set up. ..."

Among other clubs, the Blue Jays have fielded inquiries about Downs from the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Mets, Dodgers, Rockies, Giants, Reds and Phillies over the past several days.

Clubs also are watching Jays relievers Kevin Gregg and Jason Frasor.

-- The Nationals are holding out hope of signing slugger Adam Dunn to a contract extension between now and Saturday's trade deadline, which is why talks remain slow between them and other clubs like the White Sox, Yankees and Giants. If contract talks don't progress, trade talks are expected to.

-- The Dodgers, who obtained outfielder Scott Podsednik from Kansas City on Wednesday, still want to acquire a starting pitcher and worked hard to try and pry Roy Oswalt from Houston until the Phillies finally finished the deal. The Dodgers were given indications that Oswalt would have waived his no-trade clause to go there.

-- The Dodgers have scouted the Cubs' Ted Lilly but are lukewarm on him, particularly given that they'd get only about 10 starts for the roughly $4 million he's still owed. They also have had a scout sitting on Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm, who was blasted by the Rockies in Coors Field on Thursday (five earned runs, seven hits, 4 2/3 innings). The Pirates have not indicated yet whether they intend to move Maholm.

-- GM Ned Colletti thinks the chances of the Dodgers acquiring pitching help might be better in August given the slim pickings right now. Plus, Dodgers under Colletti have made several of their key moves in August. Last year, they added pitchers Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland, infielder Ronnie Belliard and pinch-hitter Jim Thome in August. Two years ago, they added Greg Maddux in August.

-- The Twins and Mets also continue to engage the Cubs regarding Lilly.

-- The sinking Rockies want to move starter Aaron Cook, according to one source, but there has not been much interest.

-- Philadelphia scouted Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa as a fallback in case Roy Oswalt did not work out.

-- The Angels, who are just about DOA right now, had been working toward a deal for the Cubs' Derrek Lee for several weeks before Lee nixed it. Angels outfielder Torii Hunter had dinner with Lee in Chicago on June 18 after that afternoon's game that doubled as a recruiting session. Lee must be one of the few people in baseball who can't be charmed by Hunter.

-- Multiple clubs have asked Milwaukee about veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds, but Edmonds has told the Brewers he does not want to go anywhere. He particularly would make sense for San Francisco, which is looking for an outfielder who can improve the offense.

-- This shoulder stiffness that sent Washington's Stephen Strasburg to the disabled list on Thursday is something completely new. His college coach, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, said at Petco Park on Wednesday night that Strasburg never had a shoulder or arm problem in three seasons at San Diego State. Not even something minor. "None. Zero. Nothing," Gwynn said.

Posted on: July 12, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 8:32 pm
 

Will young power arms finally shift tide to NL?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- How long has it been since the National League has won a freakin' All-Star Game?

Let's just say this: Last time the NL won, 1996 in Philadelphia, Bob Dole was running for president.

It's weird, it's bizarre, it's ugly and it's a subject the National Leaguers get tired of answering. Current count: The AL's unbeaten streak has reached 13 years, including winning the past seven in a row (since the humiliating 2002 tie in Milwaukee).

Yet silly as this sounds, there is a very real sense that the tide might be beginning to shift away from Junior Circuit dominance in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Reasons?

Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez. Florida's Josh Johnson. San Francisco's Tim Lincecum. Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo. All All-Stars this year. And, Washington's Stephen Strasburg, and San Diego's Mat Latos, who very well could debut as All-Stars next summer when the game hits Phoenix.

You know about Strasburg. And Latos was the next pitcher NL manager Charlie Manuel would have chosen in the event of one more injury scratch.

"It needs to turn for us, the way it's been going," says San Diego manager Bud Black, a coach on Manuel's NL staff this week. "There are some fine young power arms in the National League.

"Hey, the American League's no slouch either, with David Price and CC Sabathia. And Felix Hernandez can probably throw it as hard as he wants to."

No question. But there is more sizzle in the NL's pitching this summer -- especially given all the incredibly talented young arms -- than there has been in quite some time.

"Just looking at our staff, I know I wouldn't want to be a hitter on the other side," says Mets third baseman David Wright, who has been in the NL clubhouse for the past four losses. "We have some power arms, really, top to bottom. Just seeing their age and the ability and the upside and what they've accomplished already is amazing.

"I know how I feel with a bat in my hands in the box against these guys. Then when you string together the depth that the NL has with their young power arms, it's pretty impressive."

Jimenez comes into the game with 15 wins, a no-hitter against Atlanta this year and a 33-inning scoreless streak compiled during one especially torrid stretch in May and June.

Johnson leads the majors with a 1.70 ERA and has allowed no more than one earned run in 10 of his past 11 starts.

Lincecum has won back-to-back Cy Young awards, Strasburg is showing signs of having Cy Young stuff ... the list goes on.

"I know you've got Strasburg, Jimenez, Josh Johnson ... those guys throw hard," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter says. "They're filthy. I've been watching them on television."

In the NL, Wright has been watching most of them from the batter's box.

"You know that it's going to be a rough day when you're battling to draw a walk," Wright says. "Or you're battling to plate one guy and you know you have to be perfect as far as situational hitting just to plate a run, that you're not going to have that big inning where you can put up some crooked numbers.

"Where you have to battle and grind and fight and almost hope that the other team makes a mistake. You know what an uncomfortable at-bat it is. You know what they're capable of doing."

Add Philadelphia's veteran ace Roy Halladay, who will pitch for the NL for the first time following six All-Star appearances for the AL, and Atlanta's cagey Tim Hudson, who is making his NL debut Tuesday following Tommy John ligament transfer surgery (and two All-Star selections when he was pitching in the AL), and it's not an easy staff to face.

As for Jimenez and Johnson, the NL's two most dominant pitchers in the first half and the ones many AL hitters will see for the first time on Tuesday night, well, Wright says his least favorite to face is. ...

"Neither. We've been fortunate in that we've missed Josh Johnson the last few times we've played the Marlins, but it's no fun having him in the division.

"When you go in for a series in Miami, you always know which day Josh is pitching. You know you'd better win the game before that or the game after that or the other games because you're likely not going to win that one."

Whether the same will hold true for the All-Star Game, well ... it's got to turn one of these years, doesn't it?

Posted on: July 4, 2010 4:49 pm
 

All-Star questions, snubs and thoughts

-- Stephen Strasburg, discuss.

-- OK, here's my part of the discussion: I think the right thing was done not only in leaving him off of the All-Star ballot, but also in not listing him among the final five men for whom fans can vote. You know he would have won that in a landslide. As I blogged the other day, the guy's career has barely achieved liftoff -- there are others in line in front of him for the All-Star Game. Besides, the Nationals are so worried about his innings-pitched count that they're probably going to shut him down by early September. So why shouldn't he wait a year or two before making his All-Star debut? That said, it's one hell of an argument, and colleague Gregg Doyel makes the contrary argument (big surprise there, huh?) here and, as usual, does it very well. He's wrong, but he's good.

-- Biggest snub? Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo not being on the NL team. Forget a simple roster spot. He should be starting.

-- How can the San Diego Padres have by far the best pitching staff in the game one-through-12 this season and not have one pitcher on the NL team? Closer Heath Bell is one of the five players up for the fan vote for the last spot on the team. But starter Mat Latos (9-4, 2.62 ERA) should be on the team, and starter Clayton Richard (6-4, 2.74) merits consideration. But the real snub is that set-up man Luke Gregerson didn't make it despite a strikeout-walk ratio that is sick: 51 K's against six walks over 40 1/3 innings. What, the NL team has a death wish by not inviting San Diego pitchers?

-- Best All-Star story: Cincinnati reliever Arthur Rhodes, who, as a 40-year-old first-time All-Star, is the third-oldest All-Star "rookie" in history. Rhodes from April 13-June 26 made 33 appearances for the Reds without allowing a run, equaling a single-season record he now shares with Mark Guthrie (2002, Mets) and Mike Myers (2000, Rockies).

-- Nicest All-Star story: Arizona outfielder Chris Young, who got himself so twisted up at the plate last season that the Diamondbacks shipped him back to Triple-A to fix his mechanics (and for his own sanity) last summer, bounces back to earn his way onto the NL team. Young has 16 homers, 57 RBI and 14 steals and is one of the few bright spots in Arizona this summer.

-- With the 5 p.m. start time to the Tuesday, July 13 game in Anaheim, you'll be hearing so much about "twilight" you'll think vampires (or Kristen Stewart) will be playing. No question, in the Year of the Pitcher, pitching should dominate for at least the first half of the game. Hitters will not be too crazy facing Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, David Price, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee and the rest in the twilight.

-- Quick reference guide: The American League has won seven consecutive All-Star Games since the tie in Milwaukee in 2002, and 12 of the past 13 (including the tie). The NL has not won since 1996 in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.

-- The new rule this year by which each manager can designate a position player to re-enter that game in the late (or extra innings) if the last available position player at any position is injured) is cheesy. I know Commissioner Bud Selig's special on-field committee is a crack staff, but it won't be long until we'll have Little League everybody on the roster gets to bat rules in place. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio used to play seven, eight, nine innings. Today's "everybody gets a chance to play" mentality is weak.

-- As the sole representative from the host Angels, one of Torii Hunter's duties, no doubt, will be to introduce all of his AL teammates to the Rally Monkey.

-- You'll also be seeing endless replays of the big Bo Jackson 448-foot homer to dead center field against Rick Reuschel in the 1989 game.

-- Vladimir Guerrero returning to Angel Stadium as an All-Star with Texas will be intriguing to everyone but Angels fans.

-- Rookie Jason Heyward's announced plan to participate in batting practice with the NL All-Stars, because he was voted in by fans, but to sit out the game, because he's on the disabled list, is classy.

-- Final man votes: I'd go Paul Konerko of the White Sox in the AL, and Cincinnati's Joey Votto in the NL.

-- The painted Mickey Mouses (most featuring All-Star designs on Mickey) they're placing around Anaheim look very cool. And this from a cranky guy who doesn't give two hoots for Mickey, and a guy who generally avoids Disneyland (and Disneyworld) at all costs (I just despise crowded places where you stand in line forever).

Likes: The long piece on Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in Sunday's New York Times magazine. ... Seeing clips of Lou Gehrig's "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" each July 4 -- it was delivered 71 years ago Sunday -- never fails to produce chills. ... I'm not much for reality shows -- sports or otherwise -- but The Club, centered on the crazy Chicago White Sox, on MLB Network later this month looks too dramatic to pass up. ... George Steinbrenner's birthday being on July 4. How perfect is that? ... Man, does the Padres' Tony Gwynn Jr. have wheels.

Dislikes: We can all argue All-Star snubs, but there are too many players on each roster already. The 34-man rosters are ridiculous.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Driving in to Darlington County
"Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
"Driving in to Darlington County
"Looking for some work on the county line
"We drove down from New York City
"Where the girls are pretty
"But they just wanna know your name
"Driving in to Darlington city
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove 800 miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting out the T-top"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: June 30, 2010 5:23 pm
 

Stephen Strasburg is not an All-Star

Come on. Stephen Strasburg an All-Star?

In 2011, probably.

Every season from 2011 through 2021, good chance.

But 13 days from now? In 2010?

No way.

Five starts do not make an All-Star, no matter how many oohs, ahhs and strikeouts Strasburg has produced. This is still a game in which you have to earn your way. Strasburg is off the starting blocks in that department. But he hasn't earned anything yet.

There are too many good pitchers in the National League who have been doing it since Opening Day who deserve All-Star spots more than Strasburg. Break it down to rookies alone, and St. Louis' Jaime Garcia and Cincinnati's Mike Leake are in line ahead of Strasburg (yes, even though Leake has struggled in his past couple of outings).

Look, I love Strasburg. He's exceeded the hype, which pretty much was an impossible task.

As a fan, I'd love to see him pitch an inning in the All-Star Game facing someone like Derek Jeter, Justin Morneau and Josh Hamilton.

But there are only two possible reasons to justify putting him on the NL squad:

1. The fans demand it.

2. Because the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series, you must put the best pitchers on the team regardless.

As for the first reason, the fans have their say in voting for the starting position players. They don't name the entire team.

As for the second reason, again: Judging by all appearances and rave reviews, Strasburg looks like he's already one of the best pitchers in the game. But even he said following his outing against Atlanta on Monday that he's got plenty to learn.

There are too many others deserving to jump Strasburg ahead of them. And I haven't talked to him about this issue, but my guess, level-headed kid that he is, is that he'd agree.

The game demands that you earn things, you're not just given them.

And in the end, you'll be respected a heck of a lot more if you do.

Likes: Vladimir Guerrero back in Anaheim. And the nice ovation he received in the series opener Tuesday. ... MLB Network, which does an excellent job each night cutting from game to game to game. ... XM Radio offering every game, every night. I know I've plugged them here before, but what a great thing satellite radio is -- for games, news, music, everything. ... Mexican food in Southern California. ... Excellent new disc from Gaslight Anthem, American Slang. ... The fourth season of Friday Night Lights is fantastic. Really, really good writing and acting, as we've come to expect from one of the best shows ever on television.

Dislikes: Atlanta rookie Jason Heyward saying he's out of the All-Star Game. ... Poor Joel Zumaya. Best wishes to the Detroit reliever in his recovery following an absolutely sickening injury. ... The Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton in the doghouse. Come on fellas, how difficult is it to work hard and be a good teammate? ... Carlos Zambrano is a dope.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You told me fortunes
"In American slang"

-- Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com