What's Making Me Talk: Stephen Strasburg's Hype, Bryce Harper's Ugly Precedent

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What's Making Me Talk: Stephen Strasburg's Hype, Bryce Harper's Ugly Precedent
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

This is by far the longest and most jam-packed edition of this feature that I've ever done. I've been working on it since last night and really, I'm exhausted.

Obviously, I'm writing the intro after I've written everything else, because well, I felt like it. But really, there was just so much I wanted to cover, it was impossible to leave some things out.

The leading story is one that I could talk all day about, but is one I'm going rather easy on because of the length of this article.

The leading story is one that is popular around the internet because, let's face it, all of us are internet bloggers or internet journalists.

Most of us are the new age, and the old age does not like it.

Of course I'm no doubt talking about the story in which a "blogger" brought up the idea that Raul Ibanez was using steroids and it was the reason for his sudden surge in power.

Now, go read the original articles, they are not hard to find. Go watch the interview between Jerod Morris and Ken Rosenthal on ESPN's Outside the Lines before you go any further, because, I'm going to be very short and to the point.

This blogger did not accuse Ibanez of taking steroids, nor did he suggest any information to support that notion. Morris simply brought up the possibility that Ibanez and anyone else could be in the discussion, especially with everyone and their mothers getting busted as of late, even Manny Ramirez.

He simply made a case based on statistics that Ibanez was having an abnormal year and that we can't trust anyone with big numbers, even someone like Ibanez. I think whoever spun this to Ibanez, spun it the wrong way and Ibanez reacted as if he was getting accused.

Then Rosenthal, who probably didn't read the entire article and this John Gonzalez from the Philadelphia paper gang up on Morris as if he wrote something he didn't write. I'm sure though, if you were in Ibanez's shoes, you wouldn't even want the article to be written at all.

I'd even say, they spun this even further out of Morris' control. If anything, I'm sure Morris is thinking twice about what he wrote, not because he was wrong, but because the overreaction and un-attention the rest of the world has for what he wrote has grown this story to something he didn't intend for it to be.

 

Rivalry Week

What a crazy week as well for both New York Teams, Boston, and Philadelphia. The Yankees and Red Sox and Mets and Phillies renewed their rivalries before they switched partners and faced each other in interleague play.

Let's start with the Yankees starting the year with eight straight losses to the Red Sox. Wow, talk about not winning within the division. In my opinion, that says a lot about how good the Red Sox are.

Even David Ortiz came to play with his two home runs, or was that just him trying to show the world he isn't having any problems with his eyes. I'm thinking seeing pin-stripes is the equivalent of a bull seeing red.

Oh, and can Chien-Ming Wang not suck? I hate looking up his name every week when I have to tell you that he's 0-4 after yet another bad effort.

Switch to the NL where the Mets and Phillies battled it out. It really looks like that division is going to be a dogfight until the final day. Their game on Tuesday that had seven home runs was just insane. Johan Santana started that one? How?

Anyway, three games in which it either went to extras or was decided by one run.

Friday it cooled off when Philadelphia went to face Boston and the New York teams took the field for the subway series. Philadelphia and Boston isn't really a rivalry, but it is a good old-school type match up.

Let's start there though, because I was highly disappointed in the way the umpires handled the game on Saturday. They played the top of the first; Boston scored five runs off Antonio Bastardo and the Phillies shaky defense.

The defense, in my opinion, was a little shaky because it was pouring rain. It wasn't until after the top of the first that the umpires decided to stop the game and undergo a hour and 39 minute rain delay. That led to Bastardo having to end his night early, and while Daisuke didn't start pitching until after the delay, he didn't go far, even though he threw a lot of pitches.

I just have to wonder why the umpires even started that game. Wasn't the radar showing the weather and the downpour that was coming?

Whatever, do what you wish.

Back in New York, things got real interesting real fast. Even if this was the Royals and Cardinals it might have been a national story. I will talk about the error later, trust me, I cannot go with out mentioning that, but we need to start with the Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Bruney feud.

You know what Brian Bruney is?

He's a guy that now has the spotlight of the New York media to make himself a more well-known player. Not many people knew who Brian Bruney was before this year. But since the year started, he's blamed video review for his injury and has now blasted a superstar on a rival team.

"Unbelievable. I've never seen anything like that. I have, but in high school," Bruney told reporters in Trenton, N.J. "It couldn't happen to a better guy on the mound, either. He's got a tired act. I just don't like watching the guy pitch. I think it's embarrassing."

He's of course talking about Francisco Rodriguez and his celebration after he closes out a game in which he pounds his chest and talks to the sky.

I'm not siding with anyone here, but both guys need to cut it out. Bruney first off, should be saying the same thing about his teammate Joba Chamberlain, who does the same sort of antics if he's going to say anything at all.

Rodriguez is just as silly for seeking out Bruney before the game on Sunday and trying to make something more of it. I do have to say Rodriguez said it the best though when he said Bruney should keep his mouth shut and worry about his game. He then went ahead and said too much when he said the following:

"If it came out from somebody big, I might pay attention to it. But somebody like that, it doesn't bother me."

Just stop it people, just stop it.

 

Strasburg goes first, Harper next?

The MLB Draft took place last week and all the talk is centered on number one overall pick Stephen Strasburg. We'll talk a little more about the draft later but Strasburg definitely needs addressed.

What is the rush in getting him to the big show?

The Nationals suck anyway, what good does getting him to the majors this year do other than give him experience at the level in a situation that doesn't matter?

Chances are they are going to suck next year as well, so it isn't like those chances aren't going to be plentiful for them next year.

Make the kid go through the system at his own pace. If he blows rookie batters away in his first start, advance him to High-A ball and just let him go. If he makes it to Triple-A by the end of the season, great for him, I wouldn’t be surprised the way some people are talking about him.

But there is absolutely no reason to push him right into the major league fold this quickly, and I'm not sure you can convince me otherwise. He needs to prove his stuff is ready by going through the minors. Even if it comes down to the fact that he was ready to go right to the majors, you will be investing way too much money into him to take a risk like that.

Speaking about that, I've made my disdain for Scott Boras very clear before. We will see Boras at his worst is with the Strasburg negotiations.

It won't be pretty, but I'm convinced he doesn't have as much leverage as he thinks he might have. Strasburg will not go pitch in an independent league, and if he does, who cares. The Nationals will have the first pick next year and the second pick if they don't get him signed. 

He'll be a National, eventually. So you might as well sign and not make a huge deal out of this.

Washington, just play this smart. Don't give that mad man his $50 million. Stand your ground and realize the position you are in. Starsburg is yours, whether it is this year or next. If he gets hurt in independent leagues, then maybe you don't want someone who would be greedy enough to go into independent leagues just to make more money off you anyway. (It's been noted by several people that Strasburg must give permission to the Nationals in order for them to select him again next year. Which makes that entire rant bunk. Yes, bunk.)

This brings up Bryce Harper, the phenom that is being pegged as the LeBron James of baseball. He was already on SI a few weeks ago and is now planning on enrolling in a Junior College that would allow him to be draft eligible for next year's draft, rather than wait till 2011 when he graduates from High School.

Why can't people wait? Seriously, its one more year. Now we can't even wait until we finish High School before we get into professional sports? Why not just start these guys right out of Little League.

This is getting flat out ridiculous and our generation is looking mighty greedy right now. I dislike it to the fullest.

 

Leyland and Guillen's acts getting tired and old

What an interesting start to the week by Chicago and Detroit. The two teams played five, yes five, games in four days before they went into interleague play. A double-header on Monday started it all off in a very unique way.

After losing to Detroit in the first game, Ozzie Guillen pretty much had one of his typical rip jobs on his team.

“If this was the 1980s, (none) of these guys would be in the big leagues right now because if you hit .210-.230 and you can’t execute, I don’t think you should be out here. When you can’t bunt, hit-and-run, squeeze and move the guy over, you better hit 40 home runs and drive in 140."

Oh and he also didn't like the timing of the call up of top prospect Gordon Beckham.

"I think he came up at the wrong time, not because it's so early or so late, because we're not playing well," Guillen said. "It's easy when your team is playing well, but when you're not you feel part of that and it's not easy for them to handle."

Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie.

When the start of a series recap is "Ozzie Guillen only dropped the f-bomb once today" then you know your manager has a problem.

I love that fired-up attitude from a manager. In fact I wish Eric Wedge was a little more animated. But sometimes, you can go too far, and after awhile that attitude will bring your team down instead of up. How many times have we seen Ozzie do this and it turns his team around for the entire year?

How many times has he done something like what he did in that first quote just this season? Have the White Sox blown away the competition?

Jim Leyland is in the same boat and if I remember correctly after the Tigers lost the second game of that double-header, he went ahead and ripped his team as well.

This "rip my team" sort of thing works once or twice, but after awhile, with the same people in that clubhouse, your message starts falling on deaf ears.

And speaking of the same people in the clubhouse, is it me or are the White Sox trying to recapture some magic from the past, bringing in not only Scott Podsednik, but now Freddy Garcia as well?

You definitely won't get the message across by bringing in even more people that have heard it before.

 

You can say what you want, but...

You can say what you want about interleague play, but one of the best parts about it is the fact that pitchers who don't usually get to hit, get to hit. Rick Porcello basically carried the Tigers to a win with his pitching and his hitting. He gave up just one run and knocked in two against the Pirates on Friday.

Mark Buehrle and Josh Beckett both hit home runs on Sunday and just because the National League is adding a bat doesn't mean they are at an advantage in interleague play. They still have to find a bat that can handle designated hitting duties. The Cardinals do it very well as their DH's have a .325 batting average since interleague play started.

 

Notebook Scribbles

Here are my thoughts that aren't long enough to drag out or just too stupid for someone to even think of. They are randomly scribbled notes in my notebook, duh.

—Jeremy Bonderman is back and gone. He made his return on Monday with a four-inning, six-run outing. He was then placed back on the disabled list later in the week and could be out till as late as September.

—Skip Schumaker committed an error last week. I jinxed him last week, even though I don’t believe in jinxes.

—Alexei Ramirez wants his named to be pronounced Alex-A Ramirez. Why don't you try hitting above .200 before the month of June before you start demanding to be called something else? I'll call you Alex Ramirez, how about that?

—Cleveland on Tuesday against the Royals had a sixth inning in which they didn't score a single run off a hit. Then they scored four in the seventh inning off a Mark DeRosa grand slam. Their sixth had three fielder's choices and a sacrifice fly. Yes, the Royals committed several errors that made it all possible.

—John Baker took a nice whack to the head against the Cardinals when Albert Pujols hit him on his backswing.

—Jered Weaver had a great week and he's having an even better season. Sunday he capped his week off with a complete game shutout over San Diego. His breakout and 2.08 ERA this year is much welcomed with Lackey and Santana missing early time.

—Speaking of breakouts and great weeks, Matt Cain not only had a great week, he's doing very well this season as well. The biggest thing for him is run support; he's finally getting it as evidenced by the 9-1 record. Cain also topped his week off on Sunday with a complete game and nine strikeouts.

—I didn't get to talk about Johan Santana's week earlier, but he had just the opposite week of Cain and Weaver. He had the worst start of his career with the nine earned runs on Sunday against the Yankees. He was joined on Sunday though in the group of good pitchers having bad starts. Derek Lowe gave up seven earned in just two and one-thirds innings.

—Charlie Morton made his Pittsburgh debut after getting traded in the Nate McLouth deal from Atlanta. He did it against Atlanta and left after one inning with an injury.

—David Dellucci has landed north of the border with the Toronto Blue Jays. Good luck 'Looch, I guess.

—I don't doubt Justin Verlander can pitch a lot of innings, he's a horse. But is Jimmy Leyland using him a little too much? Three straight games of him throwing at least 110 pitches and his last two games, 121 and 118 pitches. He's only had one game in which he didn't reach at least 95 pitches.

—Colorado used seven pitchers in nine innings on Thursday. Why? I don't know but they've won 11 straight games, so who am I to argue with interim manager Jim Tracy?

—A few pitchers had some pitiful control this past week. Jonathan Sanchez was one of them, with seven walks and five strike outs in five innings of work. He did throw 106 pitches. How did he get that far? Same with David Price on the same night. He threw 106 pitches as well and walked six with six strikeouts.

—Dontrelle Willis is derailed and the D-Train should probably be taken back in for maintenance again. He walked eight, yes eight, in the Tigers' game against Pittsburgh on Sunday.

—Texas signed Orlando Hernandez to a contract. I ask this, he can still throw a baseball?

—Friend Pedro Martinez worked out for Chicago and Florida apparently. He'd be a nice fit with the Cubs or the Marlins if he came on the cheap.

—Tommy Hanson picked up his first career win. I'm more excited about Brian McCann's performance in that game though. He went 4-4 with a walk.

—I found out St. Louis has a pitcher name Blake Hawksworth. That is a cool name I say.

—Matt Palmer, first 30-year-old rookie to reach six wins and no losses in MLB history. That is pretty cool. What a great story Palmer is.

—Did anyone notice Vlad Guerrero is back and has been back for awhile now? I kind of did, but it has been a quiet return for Vlad.

—Is Luke Hochevar getting it? Complete game, just one earned run and he did it all on 80 pitches last Friday. Fellow Royal Billy Butler might also be on that "getting it" stage of his career. He leads the team in runs batted in and just watching him this past week, he's a much more sound hitter.

—Howie Kendrick was sent down to Triple-A last week. Kendrick was supposed to be a stud, and don't get me wrong, he can still be a good player. He will never be a stud though.

—I would have expected Anthony Swarzak to get sent down to Triple-A after his previous start in which he went three and two thirds innings and gave up three runs or the one before that in which he went four innings and gave up six runs. Not his last start in which he went seven innings and gave up no runs. The Twins are hurting in position players though and needed to make a move.

—Facial hair update of the week. Ryan Franklin's goatee is a monster of its own. It is bigger than Kerry Wood's before he shaved his off. I'm really scared of it.

—A round of applause for Torii Hunter and his three solo shots on Saturday.

—A bigger round of applause for Miguel Tejada for his career 2,000th hit.

—Brian Bannister pitched eight strong innings on Sunday, giving up no runs. I didn't start him in about 3/4ths of the leagues I owned him in because I feared he wasn't going to do well and some of those leagues have innings limits for the year. I suck.

—Has Tony Gwynn Jr. getting traded to San Diego been the kick he needed? He's hitting .333 on the season with a .432 on-base percentage as the Padres regular leadoff man.

—Manny Acta has been fired. But is it official? Too much this week, I'll talk about it next week when it's official. I'm definitely aware though.

 

Notebook Scribbles: Draft Edition

The MLB Draft took place last week and because there are 50 rounds worth of picks, I can't possibly fit all my thoughts into the regular spot for Notebook Scribbles. Plus the world doesn't revolve around Stephen Strasburg.

—Pat White was drafted once again, this time by the New York Yankees. No word on them installing the Wild Cat, but if they do start up a football package, put Nick Swisher at full back.

—White wasn't the only quarterback drafted. Washington quarterback Jake Locker was picked up by the Angels. I think he should stick with football. That would be a win for the Huskies after losing Grady Sizemore to the sport years ago. Locker was a tenth round pick though and is contemplating signing.

—The fun part about the draft isn't day one or the first few picks. No it's the later rounds, when everyone and their mother get drafted. Here are a few notable names that got drafted, but who really knows if they will pan out to be anything.

—The Angels did take Locker, but they also drafted a relative of a very famous person. Asaad Ali, son of the great Muhammad Ali, was drafted in the 40th round.

—Michael Yastrzemski, grandson of Carl was drafted by Boston in the 36th round. The Red Sox also drafted Gavin McCourt, the son of Dodgers owner Frank.

—Speaking of the Dodgers, they drafted son of Tim Wallach, Brett. He wasn't the only son of a former Major Leaguer to be drafted. Jake Williams, son of Matty Williams, former Diamondback and Indian, was drafted by the team Williams does commentary for, Arizona.

—Texas drafted the son of one of their former players as well, with Ruben Sierra Jr. That was not the only junior though, with Chicago drafting Harold Baines Jr. The White Sox also drafted Tyler Williams, son of their general manager, Kenny.

—Another spawn of a front-office worker was drafted by the Cubs. Division rival St. Louis' Walt Jockety, former general manager and now president, saw his son, Joe, drafted by Chicago.

—And in case you were wondering, yes a manager had a son drafted. Mark Tracy, the son of current Rockies interim manger Jim, was drafted by his dad's organization. He is also the brother of Chad Tracy.

—Another brother who is playing baseball saw his brother drafted. If Jake Porcello makes it to the big-leagues with the Tigers, he'll be playing with this brother Rick. The Tigers also drafted Daniel Fields, son of Bruce, who is rival Cleveland's minor league hitting coordinator.

—Mike Flacco won't get to play with this brother, because Joe is quarterbacking the Baltimore Ravens, but if Mike makes it to the show, at least they can live together. Mike Flacco got drafted by Baltimore in the 31st round.

—I'm sure there are cool names that got drafted that I haven't come across yet, but Cleveland did something you don't see often. They drafted two players by the name of Kyle Smith. One a shortstop from Cal Poly, the other a pitcher from Kent State. That's going to be interesting.

 

These Are My Links, You Shall Click Them

While are we on the subject of the draft and the new topic of links. There is a lack of links in terms of the MLB Draft on their own website. Day three came around and there was very little visibility of the thing.

I couldn't even get to the draft tracker from the homepage. That is sad and kind of disappointing.

Michael Bourn: You, sir, are good.

I missed out on the Shin-Soo Choo bobblehead by one day, but it's good to see the Indians getting respect for their promotions. They really are the best. At least I have the CC Sabathia disco bobblehead. The "one on Monday" that link is referring to is Ricky Vaughn in commemoration of the movie Major League. Bob Uecker will be there and everything.

Danny Herrera is the shortest currently active major league pitcher. This is his story.

I can't get the original story anymore, but here is the quote you need via Deadspin. Sean McAdam completely ripped Julio Lugo's defense. At least his defense is worth ripping. Indians fans might argue Jhonny Peralta could rival Lugo in that category mentioned though.

Remember that crazy game the other week between the Padres and Diamondbacks? I don't think these ladies will, or at least they won't remember who won.

One more story via Deadspin, which I think you just need to read. I talked about the kidnapping of Yorvit Torrealba's son, but this is just...just read it.

The Nationals suck so bad they can't even get fireworks night right.

 

Roundabout of Randomness

A very brutal week for injuries in the terms of length, but not in terms of depth. Start it off with a few season enders. Scot Shields is done for the season with a knee injury. Surgery to be performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who was busy with someone else last week.

Anthony Reyes, who officially had his ulnar nerve something or other is officially done for the year. That is the surgery as far as I'm concerned. But during that procedure, Dr. Yocum deemed it necessary to perform Tommy John surgery as well. Reyes will now miss at least half of next season as well.

Those guys are done for the season, but Jason Isringhausen and Eric Chavez could be done for their careers. Isringhausen could hang it up after he was placed on the 60-day disabled list with an elbow strain. That injury to repaired elbows is never good.

Chavez meanwhile is headed back to surgery on his back again. Awhile ago Chavez said another surgery would put his career in jeopardy and now, he's having surgery. Good luck to both him and Isringhausen and here's to hoping that if they are done, they got out before any serious damage has been done.

Roy Halladay left a game last week with a groin injury and he will miss his next scheduled start. Groin injuries are never good for pitchers, not even good for baseball players period. I said it when Rafael Betancourt had a groin tweak a few weeks ago.

The big news concerning injuries though is the injury to Jake Peavy. It will likely keep him out long enough to forget any sort of trade talks that he could be involved in. Did the value for Cliff Lee go up with that? Not that the Indians will trade him, but you have to wonder who the big ticket will be now.

A crazy week for the Texas Rangers if you ask me. Their total number of runs last week was just 14 runs, including three games in which they scored no more than one run.

To me, a bigger story should have been made about their series with Los Angeles, was a nice rare matchup for them against a team that was also leading their division. They lost the series, but it was well played on their part.

I mean, there was plenty of storylines there as well with Andruw Jones facing the team that signed him last year and then dumped him in the offseason when he fell flat on his face.

Jones played a big part in the two games Texas lost, but he did all he could to win the games. Jones hit a game-tying home run in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game and then homered again on Sunday to bring the Rangers within one.

The big story to me though was the problem, which should never be a big story.

The problem was the ridiculousness of the power outage. The game underwent a delay of one hour and 39 minutes for some lighting problems at the stadium. Randy Wolf had pitched just five innings and 67 pitches, and Scott Feldman had gone five as well just 57 pitches.

Yet both had to leave the game because of that delay. I guess there is nothing that could have been done, but it just bites for both of those guys and both of those teams, especially since they gave up runs in the innings after the game resumed and both pitchers had to exit the game.

Much is being made of another non-baseball story, but it is only baseball story because it involves baseball, if that makes any sense.

The seagulls have been attacking Progressive Field in Cleveland, for about the past month I would say. It got really bad against the Royals on Thursday when Shin-Soo Choo lined a ball up the middle and hit a seagull. The ball skipped away from Coco Crisp and Mark DeRosa rounded third and scored in extras to win the game.

The Indians, to fix this problem, have been shooting off fireworks after ever half inning. They are also thinking about releasing an eagle to swoop in and scare off the seagulls. That would be awesome and it could double in entertainment. 

It's kind of tiring to seeing the national media make fun of Choo and the Indians though for this bird problem. Drop it already, one day was enough, two and more is overusing the joke.

Speaking of entertainment and jokes and the Indians, I did go to the game last Friday and I can verify the use of fireworks after every half inning. I was surprised they had enough for the fireworks display after the game. But I was also surprised with the fan base for the first time in my life.

There was a little dispute there between the group I was with and a group behind us. I'll spare the non-baseball related details, but let's just say one fan told a few us to sit down because it didn't matter and that the Indians "were in last place anyway."

Nothing irritates me more than fans like that. They are the worst type of fans because they aren't really fans, just people with nothing better to do other than be negative. One person in our group turned around and asked this older gentleman why he was even at the game, to which he responded, "there is nothing better to do."

I rest my case. Stop coming to games if you don't care, we don't want your fan support anyway.

Finally, one of the bigger deals was made about Luis Castillo's silly error in which ended the game against the Yankees on Friday. He just completely gacked all over himself with a dropped pop-up that let not only Derek Jeter score from second, but Mark Teixeira score from first.

Alex Rodriguez even slammed his bat down in frustration thinking he let the scoring opportunity get by with a lazy pop up. It's sad that a good second baseman like Castillo, at least in his better days, can make a simple mistake like that in the spot you don't want to make it.

Jeter said it best though. Everyone makes those simple mistakes in their careers. You just hope they don't come in situations like that one.

What everyone shouldn't make though is the mistake Milton Bradley made. Or should I say mistakes.

He lost a ball in the sun, made a incomplete dive at a ball, and then committed the biggest sin you can commit as an outfielder, forget how many outs there are.

He probably forgot how many outs there were because he didn't realize the balls he didn't catch, they actually didn't record outs for those.

Milton Bradley is fun to make fun of. I will not pass up an opportunity to do so. Him and his girly sunglasses out in right field. Seriously, it's hilarious. I don't really feel bad for him like I do Castillo.


Nino Colla is Talking every Monday of the baseball season, or whenever time needs to be wasted, provided objects don't get thrown.

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