Tagged: Stephen Strasburg

Super Stras!

Per nationals.com — in five AFL regular-season starts, Stephen Strasburg allowed 15 hits and nine earned runs in 19 innings — for an ERA of 4.26 — with seven walks and 23 strikeouts. Aside from one bad start — giving up seven earned runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings to the Peoria Javelinas on Oct. 22 — he went 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA.

Another Superman for the Nationals!

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By the way, I thought this excerpt from the above linked article was interesting:

Strasburg had just completed essentially his first month as a professional pitcher, and was caught off guard by one question:

How has pitching with a hefty bank account been different?

The tall right-hander gathered himself for an answer.

“That never enters my mind,” said Strasburg, the recipient of a $17 million five-year package from the Nationals. “At San Diego State, I was only concerned with trying to put the team on the map.

“Now, I’m just trying to work as hard as I can to prepare to pitch in as high a level as the Nationals will want me. There will always be pressure no matter where you pitch. You always have to prove yourself and answer expectations.

Good answer, kid! I’m not sure if I believe you…$17 million is a lot of money to ignore…but it was still a good answer!

0-7 at the beginning, 7-0 at the end

The season is over for the Washington Nationals. In many ways, I agree with this Mets fan about the end of the season finally being here.

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Photo Credit: yahoo.com

It’s been a difficult, frustrating, infuriating, and downright painful season, which began with 7 straight losses. For the second year in a row, the Nationals lost over 100 games. They actually won the same number of games in 2009 as in 2008 (59) but lost one more game (103) this year because their final home game of 2008 was rained out and not rescheduled. (Ironically, the Yankees 2009 regular season record was 103-59.) Needless to say, my prediction of a 75-87 record was way off! So many things went wrong for the Nats in 2009…dreadful pitching (mostly by the bullpen but also by some of the starters)…non-existent offense at times…poor defense and too many errors…even a wardrobe malfunction.

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Photo Credit: DC Sports Bog
Losing Jordan Zimmermann (Tommy John surgery) and Nyjer Morgan (broken hand) were tough blows to deal with as well.

But despite the intense suckitude displayed by the Nationals for most of the 2009 season, there were also some good things that happened this year. In no particular order, some of 2009’s highlights include:

  • Bidding adieu to Jim Bowden and Manny Acta. Bowden was a moron; Acta was not. Acta seemed like a very nice guy, but, quite frankly, he sucked as a manager. Granted, he didn’t have a lot to work with, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was horrednous.
  • A 33-42 (.440) record under interim manager Jim Riggleman
  • Josh Willingham’s 2 grand slams in the 7/27 game vs. Milwaukee.
  • Adam Dunn hitting his 300th career home run (I was at that game).
  • Drafting, and then signing, Stephen Strasburg…and not breaking the bank in the process.

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Photo by me

  • Adam Dunn’s surprising improvement at 1B. He’s definitely not gold-glove caliber (and probably never will be), but his defense has improved. And, if nothing else, he’s a big target at first. His defense at first base is certainly better than it was in left field.
  • The acquistion of Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett. Morgan (a/k/a Tony Plush) in particular provided a tremendous spark, and his presence in the lineup as well as in center field was greatly missed after he went on the DL.
  • Justin Maxwell, who provided two of the greatest moments of the season: stealing a home run away from Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones with a phenomenal over-the-wall catch at Nationals Park back in May, and his walk-off home run off of Francisco Rodríguez in the final home game of the season to defeat the Mets, and complete the sweep.
  • Jordan Zimmermann’s MLB debut, and first win, in April. I was there…it was a rainy night, and a lot of people left early, so sticking around for the final out and the win was especially fun. (I hope Zimm2 makes a full recovery from Tommy John surgery and comes back stronger than ever.)
  • John Lannan and Craig Stammen beating the Yankees in June. I felt very conflicted about that series at the time, but in retrospect, that series definitely ended up being one of the most memorable series of the season.
  • Not getting swept by the Red Sox. It’s the little things that mean a lot in a 103-loss season.
  • The 8-game winning streak in August.
  • The 7-game winning streak to end the season.
  • The emergence of John Lannan as the leader of the Nationals pitching staff. People believed that he would fall apart because he doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts and just isn’t dominant enough. His first few starts of the season weren’t good, and he hit a rough patch in August, but came back for a strong finish in September.

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Photo by me

  • Ryan Zimmerman — his 30-game hit streak was easily the biggest highlight of the season…despite some throwing issues early in the season, his defense was gold-glove caliber…and signing him to a 5-year deal ensures that the “face of the franchise” will wear a Nationals uniform for a long time.

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Photo by me

And now, even though the postseason is in full swing, I’m feeling a bit of sadness and withdrawal. Despite another 100+ loss season and all of the agony that went along with it, I’m sad that the Nationals’ season is over. Maybe it’s just the residual good feelings from the end-of-the-season 7-game winning
streak…or maybe it’s the fact that I upgraded the seats in my season
ticket plan (I’ll be behind home plate instead of near the right field
corner)…or perhaps a combination of both. I attended the Nats’ final home game — in which Justin Maxwell hit the walk-off home run — and it was such an incredible way to end the home schedule. But it left me wanting more…more improvement, more wins. If only the Nationals could have played like that more often during the course of the season and had more incredible comebacks like that.

I am full of hope for next year. The 7-game winning streak at the end of the season was a very exciting way to end a miserable season. Granted, those 7 wins came against an awful Mets team and a deflated Braves team that had just been knocked out of wild card contention…it’s not like we swept the Phillies and the Dodgers. Nevertheless, I am very hopeful that 2010 will be better. I’m hopeful that the Nats can get the starting pitcher that they need. I’m hopeful that the Nationals can settle their situation at second base. I’m hopeful that Ian Desmond can continue his maturation process and become a bona fide MLB shortstop. I’m hopeful that Drew Storen can make a successful leap from the minors to the majors next season to help ease the Nationals’ bullpen woes. I’m hopeful that Stephen Strasburg makes it to the big leagues — sooner rather than later — and lives up to the hype surrounding him. I am looking forward to seeing what moves the Nationals make during the offseason, including who the manager will be. I know that whatever the Nats do, they’re not going to go from worst to first in one season…but I am hopeful that there will be a significant improvement. I have to be hopeful…hope is what will keep me reasonably sane between now and next February.

Speaking of February…when do pitchers and catchers report??

That Strasburg Dude

I mentioned that the Nationals signed their #1 draft choice, Stephen Strasburg.

Stras_2_washington.jpgWhen the Nats formally introduced Strasburg to the media and fans, they invited fans to attend the press conference on the afternoon of August 21st. I took the afternoon off work so I could attend the press conference at Nationals Park. It was pretty cool!

2richboyz.jpgRain was in the weather forecast for the afternoon, but Mother Nature cooperated by keeping the rain away until the press conference had ended. We got quite a bit of rain between the end of the press conference and the start of that night’s game vs. the Brewers…and on Stephen Strasburg day, there was a rainbow over Nationals Park!

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See more photos from the press conference here.

Cleaning out the dust and the cobwebs

It’s been a while…over two months, in fact…but I’m back. Real life intruded upon my online time — work issues and personal issues kept my online time limited to just my message board for the most part, but I’m hoping that everything is resolved now, and I’ll be able to make regular contributions to this blog once again.

Let’s see…what has happened since my last blog entry? Well, starting with the Yankees:

With a sweep of the Twins in early July, the Yankees tied the Red Sox for the lead in the AL East for one game, surrendering the lead the very next day with the first of three losses to the Angels. Less than two weeks later, a win over the Orioles pushed the Yankees into another tie for first in the AL East with the Red Sox. The Yankees have been in first place ever since, and despite losing their first eight games against Boston this season, they now hold a 9-game lead over the Red Sox. Since my last blog post, the Yankees have had winning streaks of 7 games three times and an 8 game winning streak, with no losing streaks longer than 3 games.

As for the Nationals:

Joel Suckrahan Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge were traded to the Pirates for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett, giving the Nationals the centerfielder they’ve needed all season. Manager Manny Acta got the boot just before the All-Star game and was replaced by bench coach Jim Riggleman. Shortly thereafter, the Nationals front office sent a “We admit that we suck, but we’re trying not to suck quite so much” email to all season ticket holders and all fans who purchased Nationals tickets or merchandise online. The Nationals were 6-10 in July after Riggleman took over for Acta, and were 14-15 in August, including an 8-game winning streak in early August. The Nats traded Nick Johnson — the last remaining connection to the Montreal Expos — to the Marlins for minor league pitcher Aaron Thompson. Starting pitchers Scott Olsen, Jordan Zimmermann, Craig Stammen, and Collin Balester were lost for the season to injuries (shoulder surgery for Olsen, Tommy John surgery for Zimmernann, arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur int he elbow for Stammen, and an intercostal strain of his left
side for Balester). In need of an innings eater, and/or overtaken by nostalgia, the Nats signed pitcher (and former National) Livan Hernandez after he was released by the Mets. Oh, and the Nationals signed their number 1 draft choice — perhaps you’ve heard of him? — some guy named Stephen Strasburg.

Yep, that about covers it.

STRASBURG!!!

OK, it’s official…the Washington Nationals used their #1 pick to select Stephen Strasburg.

DCfireworks.jpgNow that we’ve selected him, WE NEED TO SIGN HIM!!!

As for tonight’s game against the Reds, the start was delayed about 2 hours because of rain. I’ve lost count of how many Nats games have been delayed because of rain so far this season! It was a close game, and Ross Detwiler had a decent start…but his walks cost him, as 2 of his 3 walks ended up scoring. The final score was Reds 3, Nationals 2. *sigh* Another loss. 😦

Strasburg Mania

2009 MLB First Year Player Draft is just hours away, and all indications are that the Nationals will select Stephen Strasburg, the right-hander from San Diego State, with their first pick.

strasburg.jpgNationals fans are practically drooling over the prospect of this soon-to-be 21 year old (on July 20th) being signed. Many fans are hoping to see him called up to the majors in September, and nearly all Nats fans have already anointed Strasburg as the ace of the Nats staff for 2010.

I, however, am a little bit leary.

There’s no doubt that Strasburg is incredibly talented. He has great stuff — he has thrown 100+ mph fastballs, for goodness sake! But signing Strasburg is going to require a lot of money…an estimated $50 million. There is no guarantee that he will live up to the hype surrounding him. And I’m concerned about the longevity of a pitcher who throws so hard. Will Strasburg be the Nationals superstar ace for years to come, or is he just a few pitches away from blowing out his shoulder or elbow?

If the Nationals are able to sign Strasburg — and I fully expect them to do so, if only because not signing him would be a PR blunder of epic proportions — then I hope he remains in the minors this season. I know that most fans want to see him called up in September, but I’d rather not see him rushed into the big leagues before he’s ready. Maybe he will be ready in September, but I doubt it. Calling him up will certainly sell tickets towards the end of what is turning out to be an incredibly awful season, but I don’t believe that’s a good enough reason to rush this kid up to the majors before he’s ready.

At any rate, the draft is nearly here, and it will certainly be an exciting day for both the Nationals and Strasburg.