Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Strasburg’

The Z-Meter: Your Votes are In!

oaklandchriscarterI recently asked readers to help fill in the last few slots on the Z-Meter, and you obliged. I carry 25 minor-leaguers on the meter at any given time, and keep track of their movements throughout the system, until they finally hit the majors. I kept nineteen names from last year, so I needed six more. Here are the results of your ballot-stuffing:

1. 18% Chris Carter, IF/OF, Athletics
2. 16% Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, Indians
3. 13% Jason Heyward, OF, Braves
4. 12% Jennry Mejia, RHP, Mets
5. 12% Kentrail Davis, OF, Brewers
6. 6% Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers

And the rest:

4%: Brian Matusz, LHP, Orioles; Eric Young, Jr., OF, Rockies
3%: Dustin Ackley, 1B, Mariners; Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins; Tyler Flowers, C, White Sox
1%: Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs; Michael Ynoa, RHP, Athletics; Jarrod Parker, RHP, Diamondbacks; Ryan Kalish, OF, Red Sox

Eight other players received no votes, so let’s not call them out and embarrass them.

We’ll add them to the list of players I felt had potential to continue growing from last season:

AAA
Austin Jackson, Detroit
Justin Smoak, Oklahoma City Redhawks
Travis Wood, Louisville Bats

AA
Lars Anderson, Portland SeaDogs
Madison Bumgarner, Richmond Flying Squirrels
Carlos Santana, Akron Aeros
Andrew Locke, Corpus Christi Hooks
Kyle Drabek, Reading Phillies
Pedro Alvarez, Altoona Curve

A
Ian Gac, Bakersfield
Mike Moustakas, Wilmington
Che-Hsuan Lin, Salem Red Sox
Collin Cowgill, Visalia Rawhide
Tim Beckham, Bowling Green Hot Rods
Zeke Spruill, Rome Braves
Brad Brach, Ft. Wayne TinCaps
Jamie Owen, High Desert Mavericks
Stephen Strasburgh, Nats

It’s been suggested that I keep the non-roster spot for a college player we admire, like we did with Strasburg last season, but I’m starting to feel like that might make for a separate post each week, rather than an addendum to the Meter.

Thanks for voting!

Twenty Percent of Syracuse Fans Are Excited To See Wang In 2010

Just about every team that uses the standard MiLB.com web template has a poll up in the lower right corner of the page.  The questions generally ask something like, “What 2010 promotion are you most excited about?” or “Which player are you most excited to see in _____ in 2010?”

This isn’t amusing on its own.  Look at the home page for the Syracuse Chiefs, however, and you’ll get a good laugh:


I’m pretty sure that 20% for Wang is mine – I threw him a courtesy vote so I could see what the actual tally was – because as cool as it would be to see a guy who won 46 games from 2006-08, including 19 each in the first two years, I can’t imagine anyone would be more excited to see him than Strasburg.

Strasburg Optioned To Double-A Harrisburg

Stephen Strasburg was the Washington Nationals’ best pitcher this spring. In nine innings, he had a 2.00 ERA (both runs coming on solo homeruns) and a 12-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Despite that, and a recent outing in which he struck out eight Cardinals in four innings, the Nationals optioned Strasburg to Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday.  There are two possible reasons as to why: one, starting him in the minors and keeping him there for awhile delays his arbitration and saves money in the long run, and two, getting him a few professional starts in the relative quiet of the Eastern League will allow him to gain experience and work on his weaknesses before being unleashed on the National League.

About two weeks ago, I wondered about Harrisburg’s schedule should Strasburg end up there. Here are the road dates again through the end of June:

April 8-11 @ Altoona
April 12-14 @ Bowie
April 22-25 @ New Britain
April 26-28 @ Reading
May 10-12 @ Altoona
May 21-23 @ Akron
May 28-31 @ Erie
June 1-3 @ Richmond
June 8-10 @ Altoona
June 15-17 @ New Britain
June 18-20 @ Bowie
June 28-30 @ Portland

Will I be watching the matchups and considering a trip to New Britain in April (it’s only 2 1/2 hours away)? Sure, why not? I could probably get to two of the four games if need be, so it can’t be ruled out. Aside from that, the people of Harrisburg will have something to look forward to for at least a few weeks.

Strasburg might be joined in Harrisburg by fellow first-round pick Drew Storen.  Storen was also sent to minor league camp on Saturday, but the news report didn’t say where he would begin.  In his professional debut last season, Storen saved nine games in ten appearances for the Senators after stops at Hagerstown (Low A) and Potomac (High A).

Seeing Strasburg and Paying the Cost

Sorry I am little late in writing this, but did you know The Battle of New Orleans took place two weeks after The War of 1812 ended?

What do you mean, that was 200 years ago?

Last Sunday on a gorgeous day in sunny Viera, Florida, I saw “The Next BIG Thing” Stephen Strasburg make his second spring start as the Nationals squared off against the St. Louis Cardinals. I was impressed as were the Cardinals.

To be honest, I was a bit surprised by Strasburg’s wind-up. Having never seen him pitch before, I pictured him as more of a straight up and down, standing tall pitcher – a la Mark Prior – but his wind-up reminded me a bit of David Cone, except with only one arm angle.

Unfortunately, the Capital City Messiah only pitched three innings. Then the Nationals featured a litany of has-beens, never-will-bes, and future insurance salesmen. The only names I recognized were Livan Hernandez and Ron Villone.

Of course, the Nationals lost.

Fortunately for me, I didn’t mind. As cliche as this sounds, I was there to have a good time. I met up with fellow BusLeagues writer Will, made friends with the Nats Tiki, heckled Mitchell Boggs of the Cardinals, saw former Mets manager Davey Johnson (now working with the Nationals in some capacity), bought a cheeseburger, almost met Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com, talked blues with a random stranger, and saw people wearing some awesome jerseys, to include a Don Drysdale, an Ozzie Smith, a George Foster, a Johnny Bench, and one that just said “Funk”.

Unfortunately (yes, again), my day at the ballpark almost didn’t happen. Even though I was told there were plenty of seats inside Space Coast Stadium, there were no tickets being sold outside the ballpark.

That’s right, it was a sell-out.

Thank you, Mr. Strasburg.

Fortunately (again), I found someone scalping a ticket. 30 bucks for a 17 dollar seat! For a spring training game! Where the main attraction is only in 1/6 of the action!

I am seeing this more and more every spring. When I was a kid growing up in Central Florida, I used to be able to go to the ballpark right before a game and buy a seat in the bleachers for less than 10 bucks. Now the only team you can do that with is the Pirates.

I know it makes me seem old and crotchety, and maybe I am, but I miss those spring training days. Before teams realized they could capitalize on spring match-ups. Before tickets were 30 dollars each (as they are to see the Yankees).

Before the dark times. Before The Empire.

Where Will Strasburg Start The 2010 Season?

Stephen Strasburg is gonna rock some lucky fan base’s world in 2010.  The question is, where?

Tuesday morning, Nats manager Jim Riggleman “strongly hinted” that Strasburg would spend some time riding the buses in ye olde minor leagues to begin the season, the reason being that live game action against Double- or Triple-A hitters will provide a better overall measure of the phenom’s performance than a few spring training outings against major leaguers.

Tuesday evening, of course, Riggleman “definitely didn’t rule out” the idea of Strasburg in a Natinals uniform on Opening Day.  So really, nobody knows what the hell is going to happen.

That leaves me with only one option: to assume that if Strasburg starts off in the minors, it will be in either Syracuse or Harrisburg, and to figure out when those teams might be coming to a ballpark near me.  Because obviously, the main objective is to see this kid throw in person.

I looked at the road trips for each of those two teams, but first the lightning in a bottle scenario: my second annual baseball road trip takes me through Washington in early June, either the fourth or the fifth, when the Nationals play the Reds.  This guarantees at least a shot at seeing Jay Bruce, of course, and is also right around the time that Strasburg would likely be getting a callup if he does in fact go to the minors.  So there’s that.

(And don’t get me started on the possibility of a Strasburg-Aroldis Chapman matchup…)

Now, if he does start off in Triple-A, here are the Chiefs’ road trips through the end of June:

April 14-16 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
April 17-20 @ Lehigh Valley
April 27-30 @ Toledo
May 1-4 @ Columbus
May 14-17 @ Pawtucket
May 18-21 @ Rochester
May 27-28 @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
May 31-June 3 @ Buffalo
June 12-15 @ Charlotte
June 17-20 @ Gwinnett
June 29-30 @ Buffalo

It must be noted that my friend Chris, who writes for this blog, lives in upstate New York, so even if Strasburg gets called up at the end of May, he’s still a) playing his home games in nearby Syracuse, and b) making trips to Buffalo and Rochester. If Strasburg ends up in Triple-A and Chris DOESN’T see him at least once, he’s doing something wrong.

I can’t help but notice, however, that journeys to my corner of the world are few and far between. There’s just one, actually, a four-game trip to Pawtucket in mid-May. It’s a longshot, admittedly, but it’s possible.

Now, there is just as good a chance that the higher-ups will send Strasburg to the Harrisburg Senators. If that’s the case, he could be just up the road in Manchester, right? Or maybe Portland? As my son likes to say, “Uh, uh…no.”

April 8-11 @ Altoona
April 12-14 @ Bowie
April 22-25 @ New Britain
April 26-28 @ Reading
May 10-12 @ Altoona
May 21-23 @ Akron
May 28-31 @ Erie
June 1-3 @ Richmond
June 8-10 @ Altoona
June 15-17 @ New Britain
June 18-20 @ Bowie
June 28-30 @ Portland

I don’t know how the Eastern League puts together its schedule, but if you’re scoring at home, that’s three visits to Altoona, two to Bowie, and two to New Britain before the Senators wind their way up to northern New England in the last week of June. And that stop in New Hampshire, right up the road? Last week in July, my friends, by which point The Strasburg will most certainly have left the building.

So the point of all this, I guess, is that unless the cards fall right, I’m unlikely to see Stephen Strasburg pitch this season. The bright side, though, is that Chris should have ample opportunity to see him if he lands in Triple-A, and fans in minor league towns up and down the eastern seaboard should have that same chance regardless of where he plays.

The Arizona Fall League Will Be On TV, But No Strasburg

The Arizona Fall League’s annual Rising Stars Game will be played tonight at 8:15 and televised on the MLB Network.  It’s a good opportunity for fans to check out some of minor league baseball’s best young players – guys like Drew Storen, Buster Posey, Dustin Ackley, Domonic Brown, and Grant Desme are expected to play.

One guy who won’t be making an appearance is Stephen Strasburg.  Originally announced as the starting pitcher for the East Division All-Stars, Strasburg was scratched on Friday with a muscle strain in his neck, a disappointing fact for who were hoping to see The Chosen One in action, many for the first time. (Strasburg really needs a nickname, does he not?)

Speed Bump For Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg is gonna be a bust.  Write it down.

How’s that for some reactionary thinking?

In reality, it is comically early to begin assessing Strasburg’s professional career.  He has made two starts in the Arizona Fall League.  One was reasonably good; the other, not so much.

The latter was Strasburg’s most recent outing, against the Peoria Javelinas.  He worked into the third inning, allowing eight runs on seven hits with four strikeouts.  As noted in the story about the game, he only gave up sixteen earned runs in his entire final season of college.

That’s a pretty terrible point of reference, however, when one considers that all of those runs were scored against college kids, in college games, the last of which took place nearly five months ago.  Those facts clearly illustrate the dual battles that Strasburg is fighting in the earliest stages of his professional career: one, he has to be rusty (pitches have a habit of not doing what you want when you haven’t thrown them in awhile), and two, this is his first experience against professional hitters.

At least Strasburg has the right attitude, though.  In the same story linked above, he said,

“I felt pretty good, but I just wasn’t able to work ahead in the count…I left some pitches up, and I know what I need to fix. Part of getting back into game shape is, you’re going to have some good games and some bad ones. It’s all about learning from it, and I feel I learned a lot from this outing.”

Can you really ask for anything more, especially from a 21-year-old kid?