Point – Counterpoint: Strasburg Shutdown
June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized
POINT – JOHN:
If there is one debate in Washington this summer that could overtake RG3 talk, it has to be the eventual shutdown of Stephen Strasburg by the Nats. If the Nats are in the same position as they are now in two months, Mike Rizzo is going to have a hard time getting a Strasburg shutdown over on fans.
This team has won nothing in its Washington existence and needs to go for it now. I think the pacing of young pitchers has worked out both ways, but we only hear more about the early ending of careers because that’s what stands out. I do think patience is not a bad idea, but you can't bank on the future unless you can spend like the Yankees.
COUNTERPOINT – STEVE:
Yeah this is going to be a tough one for fans to swallow, especially as you said since the Nationals have never really been in a playoff race (2005 was nice, but they have a real shot this year). Saying that though, it is the right move. The Nationals need to protect their investment and they have to do what is best for Strasburg (and consequently the team) long term. The Nationals are a young team with the majority of their talent under control for the next 3-5 years (and some longer), so their window is just opening. There is no reason to over tax Strasburg and get him injured yet again.
I think it comes down to how long you see the window. The team has control of both stars, Strasburg and Harper for awhile. Plus, barring any setback I think they can extend Strasburg a few years also once he hits arbitration. Harper may be tougher but they have six years to deal with that scenario now. I could see Harper getting a 10-year megadeal around 2014 or 2015 to at least keep him in DC long term. Rizzo has had success with Scott Boras.
But getting back to the main point, returns from Storen and Werth later in the season could offset the loss of Strasburg also. And a playoff 4some of Gio, Zimmerman, Jackson and Detweiler is still pretty tough without Strasburg.
Those are great points about the impact of the injured guys coming back, but come playoff time you need both. How many times have we ever seen a team head to the postseason with their ace on the shelf, by their own choice? I realize it is what's best for the kid and the team, but that is a tough situation. One that the Nats could be very tempted by.
One thing to consider is perhaps start skipping some starts with him, to allow him to pitch into late August/early Sept. No, it might not keep him in the post season, but by extending his time in the majors, it should improve the Nats chances of making the playoffs.
Or maybe they could pull a Rick Vaughn in Major League and use him out of the bullpen come fall? But I am guessing he would still have to put a lot of work in. This situation is going to have a lot of other major league teams watching what comes about. Probably can write books or make a Money Ball like movie based on this dilemma facing Washington.
As you brought up in your earlier blog how this plays out will depend on them keeping John Lannan or making another move for a starter in the next month. But say Jackson and Zimmerman have to go to the DL, then the whole situation may change.
I don't mind the idea of Strasburg pulling a Vaughn and working out of the pen, though I want Willie Mays Hayes on my team first (Snipes not Epps). The problem though with working him out in the pen is that you'd still have to be very careful about overuse. Though the good news comes September when rosters expand you'd have greater depth.
Both Lannan and Wang are question marks as both have trade rumors surrounding them. But can you trade one or both knowing that you will need to shutdown Strasburg and of course the potential for injury? I guess they could try to stretch out a guy like Craig Stammen or Tom Gorzelanny but those aren't great options.
I really wonder how much input Davey Johnson has on this. You would have to think he is only around this year and next like his contract is for. He knows very well what a World Series contending team as much as and maybe more than Mike Rizzo. Johnson may act like he is down with the 160 inning limit but you know he would love to get another chance at a World Series and two cracks at it is better than one.
I think that Nats fans should be very happy to have both Johnson and Rizzo based on the team’s success this year. But now the way the team has played fans should expect this team to contend for a playoff spot in 2012. And if they falter, questions will be legit if Strasburg is sitting in September.
Well I'm thinking Johnson has about as much say in this as Bruce Allen does in personnel decisions, but I think you are right he desperately wants Stras. If for no other reason than to give him leverage in getting an extension.
I do think the Nats are in a bad position, because regardless of why the Nats would falter down the stretch (further injuries/struggles among the big bats, bullpen implodes etc.), Rizzo will get blamed because of shutting down Strasburg.
My final thought on this is, if you shut him down will that (and should that) include the World Series? Sure it might not be the most probable question, but if you can make the playoffs and get through the NLDS and NLCS without him, do you bring him back for the WS (assuming they have kept his arm light tossing etc.)?
I think it would be tough to do that. Just ask Aaron Rodgers about playing after a longer layoff. This is a great debate that is going to get more and more interesting as the summer goes along.