Posted on: June 11, 2010 1:04 pm
In the words of Nationals' radio play-by-play broadcaster Charlie Slowes following the remarkable debut by Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday in Washington D.C., "There's a new mayor in town, and the campaign took one night."
It is permissible to let our imaginations run wild with a player like Strasburg, and not just because everyone else is doing it. However, the fact remains that it is very unlikely that there is a player in baseball right now with the potential to hit 60 home runs, which has long been the most alluring statistical figure in baseball. But the last two A.L. home run champions (37 for Miguel Cabrera in 2008, 39 for Carlos Pena and Mark Teixeira in 2009) have only totaled 76 home runs, which would break the standing home run record by only 2!
As baseball fans, we have to look elsewhere from home runs for a national story. The past few years, the age of the young pitcher has been dominating the national scene. Tim Lincecum has two Cy Young awards by age 25, Zack Grienke took home the Cy Young at age 25 and posted a ridiculous ERA for the A.L., and N.L. teams this season can speak to the utter dominance by 26-year-old phenom Ubaldo Jimenez.
The strikeout has become the new home run. The last generation of great pitchers (Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson) have now been replaced by a younger ensemble of hard-throwing hurlers. It is obvious to say that every team wants Stephen Strasburg, and not so that local diners can cash in on a wide variety of sandwiches called "The Strasburger." Every teams wants him for the national draw that he is getting, in addition to the seemingly limitless pitching talent.
So, the question is: Who would you be willing to part with for Stephen Strasburg?
The Boston Red Sox have 25 players on their active roster, and a total of 34 players have donned a uniform so far this season. They have seven minor league affliates, which would put the total number of payers affliated with the Boston Red Sox at around 200.
There is only one player that I would not give up under any circumstances, even if the trade was 1 to 1, and that is Jon Lester. Lester has, believe it or not, the exact same potential that Strasburg does, except that Lester has already begun to follow through with success. Does this sound crazy?
The sport of professional baseball is over 150 years old. Using <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/historical/player_stats.jsp?c_id=mlb&baseballScope=mlb&teamPosCode=all&statType=Overview&sitSplit=&venueID=&timeFrame=3&timeSubFrame2=0&Submit=Submit" target="_blank">mlb.com's historical statistics page , they list approximately 17,200 hitters who have recorded an at-bat in the majors and about 8,350 pitchers who have recorded an out, with incomplete records dating back to 1871. Yes, there will be some duplicates, but we can very roughly estimate that somewhere around 20,000 people have played professional baseball. Of that number, who has the highest winning percentage with at least 100 starts?
If you guessed Stephen Strasburg, well you'd be wrong. If you guessed Jon Lester, you've earned a sticker for today. With a career record of 49-18, Lester's .731 winning percentage is higher than anybody with at least that many starts. Oh, and he also happens to be leading the A.L. in strikeouts.
Lester has everything that Strasburg has - the size, the pitching repertoire - without the same fanfare because he wasn't the number one overall pick. Lester also has done all of his work in the best division in baseball since he came up, so imagine what his numbers would have been like if Boston played in the N.L. West. Lester has not pitched his last no hitter, and he will win at least one Cy Young Award. At 26 and with the record he has already acquired, Lester is Boston's Strasburg.
As for the rest of the players in Boston, it would depend on what else was included in the deal, but the only other player I would not trade, unless it was 1 to 1 (which would never happen), would be Dustin Pedroia. Rookie of the Year, MVP, and a Gold Glove already, he has batting titles and several more GGs in his future.
The next closest player that I would have initial problems dealing away would be Kevin Youkilis. He plays two positions, is a very consistent .300+ hitter with one of, if not the best, eye in the game, he has the potential to hit 40 home runs and is the cleanup hitter on the team that has scored the most runs in the A.L. this year. But, and this is somewhat surprising, Youkilis is already 31, which means that he is in his prime right now. Nobody expects him to fall off anytime soon, but we said the same thing about David Ortiz, whose last impact year came when he was 31, and we all feel that at 34, he is exceptionally over the hill.
I was thinking that, with respect to the almost 200 players in the Sox farm system, there would be some that I would hold onto. I might have to hold onto Casey Kelly, but he is only in his first year being a full time pitcher, while around the same age as Strasburg.
Lester is a dominant pitcher already, and he would be the one player from this Red Sox team that I would not give up for Stephen Strasburg. <!-- EndFragment-->
Tags: Boston Red Sox, Carlos Pena, Casey Kelly, Charlie Slowes, Cy Young, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Greg Maddux, Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Stephen Strasburg, Tim Lincecum, Tom Glavine, Ubaldo Jimenez, Washington Nationals, Zack Grienke
Posted on: February 7, 2009 1:36 pm
Their names have been run through the mills countless times over the last five years in connection with the seemingly epidemic use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. We already know them:
Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Jose Canseco. Mark McGwire.
And the list goes on.
Although his public appearance has been skewered since he began his tenure with the New York Yankees, who are hated by many merely on principle, Alex Rodriguez was once looked upon as the best all-around player of our generation. His ability to combine speed and power to become the youngest member of baseball's elite 40 home runs/40 steals group elevated his fame and promise to become the eventual home run champion.
Today, however, SI.com is reporting that in 2003, during his first MVP season, and last season with the Texas Rangers before being traded to the Yankees, Rodriguez tested positive for illegal substances twice.
Four different sources have independently reported the positive tests to SI, and the substances are reported to be testosterone and a designer anabolic steroid called Primobolan.
These tests were part of MLB's 2003 anonymous drug testing, which is a slight misnomer. The tests were anonymous only to the extent that the actual names of the players (of which there were 104 in 2003) were not released.
However, with the impeding trial against Bonds and BALCO, those lists and other related documents were unsealed to determine whether or not Bonds had perjured himself to federal investigators. Bonds is not being tried for steroid use, but only for lying. If admitted, this list will be used to help determine whether other players knew of Bonds alleged steroid use at that time.
With the opening of these documents comes the fallout for Rodriguez. While Canseco mentioned that the sequel of his first book Juiced would include a section detailing Rodriguez's steroid usage, many dismissed this claim.
Over his career, Rodriguez has been able to stand beside the fact that he has been remarkable consistent over his career, never achieving too far over or too far little of his career averages. With the fact that four sources have independently confirmed this news, it will be difficult for Rodriguez to side step the issue as when Canseco accused him.
Rodriguez will not be punished by MLB because of his positive test because there was no penalty for a positive test in 2003, as the tests were supposed to be anonymous. A suspension from MLB, however, is likely the least of Rodriguez's worries at this time.
Posted on: January 26, 2009 10:26 pm
Three-time All-Star first baseman Sean Casey is expected to formally announce his retirement this week. He will begin work as television analyst for MLB Network sometime before Spring Training opens.
Casey played 12 seasons in the big leagues, and while beginning his career in Cleveland and finishing in Boston, he will be best remembered for his time with the Cincinnati Reds, where he earned his three All-Star appearances.
During his tenure with the Reds, he developed the nickname of "The Mayor" because of his habit of striking a conversation with everyone on and off the field. Casey was widely known as one of the most approachable and friendly athletes in the game.
Off the field, the list of charitable programs in which he is an active member is extensive. Big Brother, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and various Christian-based groups all benefit from Casey's time and star power.
Meanwhile, Casey was also a very good left-handed hitter, compiling a .302 lifetime career batting average, which up until his retirement, ranked him 16th on the active list of qualifying hitters.
He was, for 12 seasons, everything that a professional athlete should aspire to be.
But while baseball looses one of its best, it is likely that they also lost yet another player who used what are today banned substances to elevate the level of his play.
The current Major League Baseball drug policy that was enacted before the 2005 season by Commissioner Bud Selig following the BALCO scandal amended the previous policy to include a much stricter section for performance enhancing drugs. The testing and the punishments became much more rigorous.
Before the 2005 season, a player who tested positive for an illegal performance enhancing substance was given treatment, not suspended, and not even named. Previous to 2002, there was no testing for performance enhancing drugs.
Yes, Casey exhibits model professionalism. It was reported during his tenure with the Red Sox that he could walk from the parking lot to the clubhouse and remember the name of every attendant and employee that he saw on a regular basis.
In 2004, at the age 29, and in the very middle of a hitter's prime, Casey slugged 24 home runs and drove in 99 RBIs, tying a career high. But despite playing in 137, 112, 143 games over the 2005-2007 seasons, respectively, Casey only managed 21 home runs. Casey went homer-less in 69 games with the Red Sox in the 2008 season.
Coincidence? No. Casey was in the prime years of his career, when all good hitters experience a surge in their offensive statistics. Yet, while Casey's batting average (.312, .272, .296, .322) over the last four years of his career remained exactly around his career average of .302, his power numbers drastically declined. And since when has 33 been an age ripe enough to retire?
Maybe it is anomalous. Perhaps he is clean. The fact remains that even if fans have speculated whether or not Casey used PEDs, he was a stand-up character for his entire career. If Casey is ever mentioned in some former senator's report years from now, people will forever have a good memory of him because he was the exact opposite of those most hated by baseball fans (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, etc.)
Any ball club would welcome the Mayor. He was loved during his time in Boston. That he may have been involved with the steroid scandal says a great deal about the era that baseball has gone through.