He was arguably the top prospect in baseball coming into this season. He plays centerfield, has power, speed and pure hitting ability. Called up in late April and inserted into the starting lineup, the former first-round pick has become the lynchpin of his team's offense and could well prove to be key to that team snapping its playoff drought. Perhaps most impressively, he's doing that at an age when merely holding one's own in the major leagues is a tremendous accomplishment and most other ballplayers his age are either in the low minors or college. He is not Bryce Harper. He is Mike Trout.
The surprises began with the very first pick of the 2012 MLB draft -- when the Astros selected Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa instead of the widely expected choice, Stanford righthanded pitcher Mark Appel -- and didn't stop there. Here's a quick look at the winners and losers from the first round and the compensation round.
PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper and Cole Hamels may instigate a rivalry between the Nationals and the Phillies. But that's only if Hamels re-signs with the Phillies and, even then, only because of their abilities on the field.
While the NFL sells quarterbacks and NBA sells scorers, the appeal of baseball rests more on teams and regional allegiance. The individual player with national appeal -- the one who sells tickets on the road and who creates a bump in TV ratings outside his market -- has been a rarity in recent years. But the first two months of this season have created personalities that provide baseball with chances for just such appointment-viewing type players.
He's brash, bold and has the skills to back it up. 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper is less than a month into his baseball career with the Washington Nationals, and he's already making his presence felt in the nation's capital. With high-profile magazine covers and international baseball experience already on his resume, the Nationals are looking to Harper to be one of their building blocks as they try to put Washington baseball on the map.
This is the Code at its deepest and most ingrained levels. It is the confluence of ability and pride and hype and the concept that all men must earn their stripes. It is the old guard welcoming the new -- player and team alike -- with an unmistakable challenge: Welcome to the big time. Let's see if you can hack it.
Five Cuts on a weekend dominated by the two pitching-led franchises who make their homes on either side of the Capitol Beltway:
WASHINGTON -- Justin Upton was walking by the pool of a resort in the Bahamas, an offseason respite after leading the Diamondbacks to a division title, when he saw someone familiar.
On April 7, 1984, a 19-year-old phenom named Dwight Gooden walked to the mound at the Astrodome in Houston for his big league debut with the New York Mets while a 22-year-old named Darryl Strawberry took his place in rightfield for career game number 126 and Davey Johnson, a manager in his first full season with the team, watched from the dugout. Gooden would win the game, Strawberry would hit a home run and the balance of power in the National League reached a tipping point. Over the next seven seasons no team won more games, no team delighted and annoyed more fans and no team drew more attention than the New York Mets.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Bryce Harper's first day in the major leagues came with all the hype one would expect for the player dubbed "Baseball's Chosen One" when he was only 16 years old.
Billy Beane knew what he had in Gio Gonzalez: a young, durable, lefthanded strikeout artist. If Beane, the Oakland A's general manager, was going to deal him last winter -- even in the midst of a fire sale in which virtually every player on the A's roster, save second baseman Jemile Weeks, was available -- it would be for a return of the sort that would decimate most trading partners' farm systems.
NEW YORK -- A few days after Jayson Werth signed his first professional contract in mid-June 1997, the first-round pick of the Orioles traveled to Baltimore for an introductory press conference at Camden Yards.
VIERA, Fla. -- An hour before Sunday's Grapefruit League game, Jayson Werth and Nationals' hitting coach Rick Eckstein remained in the batting cage beyond rightfield at Space Coast Stadium, working on a drill that brings Werth back to his productive days with the Phillies. Werth stood at the plate. Twenty feet away behind a net, Eckstein threw hard fastballs that Werth cracked all over the cage. Eckstein said it's a unique drill, not the average soft-toss, something he's never seen before.
VIERA, Fla. -- Not all of Bryce Harper's batting-practice sessions are jaw-dropping, tell-your-buddy, home run binges.
Last week I looked at how five of last year's breakout players are likely to fare in the coming season. This week, I turn my attention to five (non-rookie) players who could emerge as breakout stars in 2012. Four of the best, coincidentally, hail from the same division.
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals gave third baseman Ryan Zimmerman a six-year contract (with a team option for a seventh year) worth a reported $100 million that will cover 2014-2019 after his current contract (for two more years and $26 million) expires. There is also an $18-million player option for 2020. Five thoughts on the new deal ...
Back in boyhood, stoops at dawn awaiting newspapers from me, I had to laugh at how the noble enterprise of journalism, with its brave war correspondents across the globe and its ink-stained pressmen risking mangled fingers in massive machinery, ultimately was reduced to a 10-year-old-kid and his wagon delivering the product. So it is with the Major League Baseball drug policy, the one that commissioner Bud Selig has fought hard to position as the gold standard of the sporting world. Today Selig's gold is tarnished apparently because a courier in Wisconsin didn't know the FedEx office was open on a Saturday night.
The heir to Stan Musial left St. Louis, the Tigers came out of nowhere to give a Prince a king's ransom and three of the most intriguing players in baseball today never have played a day in the big leagues. In other words, strange as it is, this is the perfect spring training to follow a 2011 season in which none of the nine biggest payrolls won a postseason series and St. Louis, which lost its ace (Adam Wainwright), scrapped its closer (Ryan Franklin) and languished 10 ½ games out in late August, wound up winning the World Series.
Five thoughts on Thursday's news that free-agent starter Edwin Jackson had reportedly signed a one-year deal worth an estimated $10 million with the Nationals:
Prince Fielder still doesn't have a team, but already he is almost assuredly about to set a record this year. No free agent ever has signed a nine-figure contract this late in the offseason.
Ryan Madson had a great year -- his best year -- closing for the best team in the National League last year, Philadelphia, and still could do no better than a one-year contract with Cincinnati for $8.5 million. Spare the spin about how he's the next Adrian Beltre who will parlay a one-year deal to a windfall in the next free agent market. Beltre was coming off a down year when he took the showcase gig in Boston. Madson hit free agency with a career year -- 32 saves, 2.37 ERA -- and still couldn't cash in (according to reports, he was on the verge of re-signing with the Phillies for $44 million for four years in November before talks fell apart).
As one of the greatest players in major league history, Albert Pujols is just about as irreplaceable as a player can be, but after inking Carlos Beltran to a two-year, $26 million contract to play right field, the Cardinals are in good shape to compensate for his departure in 2012. You see, the Cardinals are coming off Pujols' weakest season, which means that rather than having to replace roughly nine wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference's WAR (or bWAR), they "only" have to replace 5.4 wins, and at least half of those should come from the return of ace Adam Wainwright, who sat out the entire 2011 season following Tommy John surgery in March.
Venezuelan federal authorities on Thursday dispatched their "best investigators" to track the kidnappers of Major League Baseball catcher Wilson Ramos, the country's justice minister said.
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg's final tune-up for his return to the Washington Nationals came during a quiet mid-afternoon bullpen session on Saturday at Nationals Park. His trademark fastball blazed into a catcher's mitt, the sound echoing throughout the thousands of empty blue seats. The only audience members as Strasburg threw his 40-plus pitches were pitching coach Steve McCatty, a couple of medical staff and an unexpected observer, Nationals pitcher Livan Hernandez.
The 2011 season's least heralded breakout star precedes each at bat by walking onto the dirt that surrounds home plate and stopping just before entering the righthanded batter's box. He purses his lips, lifts his left leg up and back like a starting pitcher and rotates his torso and shoulders forward as if mimicking the first half of his swing in slow-motion.
WASHINGTON -- Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman patiently took questions Wednesday night about the Washington Nationals' second-half slump, and, then after his giving his final answer, he perked up with a question of his own for the reporters standing around his locker.
So far, the slowest-moving trade market in history has featured one big deal (the Mets' salary dump of Francisco Rodriguez), one small deal (the Tigers' pickup of Wilson Betemit), and one very serious logjam.
PHOENIX -- Nationals phenom Bryce Harper's batting practice before Sunday afternoon's Futures Game produced a predictable array of frozen-rope liners and roof-scraping bombs, one of which helpfully landed (for measurement's sake) near a 420-foot marker emblazoned on the right-centerfield concourse in front of the distant Chase Field Diamond Club.
The All-Star Game may be thought of as baseball's midway point, but the Midsummer Classic is still almost two weeks away and several teams will actually be making the turn into the second half of play this week. On Wednesday six teams -- the Braves, Reds, Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Padres -- will become the first clubs to play their 82nd games, and by the weekend all 30 teams will officially officially have completed the first half of their schedules.
Stephen Strasburg is back to throwing off a mound. That latest milestone in his recovery is a big one, though it's tough to make any sort of judgments about this since the timing is very much slowed down. Let's be clear -- he's not behind schedule, but the Nats have set him on a very conservative path, extending several of the rehab phases with a target of having him back in D.C. sometime in September. The assumption has been that Strasburg would need a few rehab appearances in August in order to build stamina, though the minor league calendar is a bit of an issue. (The regular season ends at the start of September.) In his first mound session, Strasburg was able to "let go," getting his pitches up to "the low 80s" according to reports. That's not exactly letting go, for a guy who regularly pitches in the high 90s. Sure, he's going to naturally be conservative in the first outing, but his arm should be very fresh as well. It's not a concerning detail yet.
WASHINGTON -- A day after his bizarre resignation as manager of the Washington Nationals, Jim Riggleman spent Friday night doing what he had done all season.
Jim Riggleman thought about quitting his job as Nationals manager a few times before, according to people familiar with the situation. He considered it this winter when GM Mike Rizzo got a five-year extension while Riggleman's own status wasn't addressed even for 2012. He thought about it again at the winter meetings, and then once again in spring training. But all those previous times, he heard his agent, Burton Rocks, advise him to remain in his job, to wait it out because something positive will happen, that his bosses will eventually show their appreciation for him. Riggleman must have thought he waited long enough.
In mistaking a tree for the forest, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman will now only be remembered for the way he chose to leave.
WASHINGTON -- With three consecutive series victories, the Washington Nationals have finally shown some signs of life. Now they're waiting for Jayson Werth, their $126 million outfielder with the neatly-trimmed beard, to do the same.
To borrow a phrase from the suddenly talkative Mets owner Fred Wilpon, plenty of teams seem "snakebitten'' this year. There have been so many injuries this year, particularly to star players (Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, David Wright), that the Snakebitten Six teams, listed below, have to feel something's just not right.
WASHINGTON -- In a matter of minutes Friday night, Jayson Werth, the Nationals' $126 million outfielder, saw his mood switch from celebratory to testiness.
HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- If Bryce Harper had the life of a normal high-school senior, he would be in his hometown of Las Vegas, getting ready for finals and putting the finishing touches on his graduation party.
The Washington Nationals gave Jayson Werth $126 million to bat . . . second? Why pay a guy middle-of-the-order money and not hit him in the middle of the order? It's actually a smart move by manager Jim Riggleman and the Nats.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Big, burly and happy slugger Adam Dunn wanted desperately to stay in the National League, the only league he had ever known. He preferred to keep the first base glove he had grown to love. He figured he finally had found a home at first.
VIERA, Fla. -- Word going around camp is that 18-year-old phenom Bryce Harper will not be starting the season with the Nationals and is very unlikely to make his big-league debut until he is 19 next year.
Free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche has signed a two-year contract with the Nationals, SI.com has learned.
With 2010 drawing to a close, and 2011 about to begin, it's time for the 30 teams in Major League Baseball to make their New Year's resolutions. On Tuesday I made suggestions for the 14 American League teams. Today, I offer my suggestions for the 16 National League clubs...
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It was one wild winter meetings. Only a handful of teams made major moves, but oh, what deals they were.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When meeting turned to dining on Monday night, managers and general managers began streaming into Shula's Steakhouse off to the side of the Dolphin hotel lobby, a congregation of suits still sizzling from the industry-rocking seven-year, $126 million free-agent contract Washington gave Jayson Werth the previous day.
SI.com's Jon Heyman is at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Check back all week for his latest updates.
The Washington Nationals have averaged 96 losses over the past five years. They play in a division with three of the best-run clubs in baseball, and a fourth, the New York Mets, that is very rich and was just turned over to some very smart operators. One of their three most valuable assets, Bryce Harper, was drafted this summer, just weeks before another, Stephen Strasburg, blew his arm out.
The Washington Nationals' top instructor in the Dominican Republic failed to disclose to his superiors that the prospect the organization had signed to a team-record $1.4 million bonus in 2006 was neither who he claimed nor the age he purported to be, according to court testimony obtained by SI.com. Jose Baez, the Nationals' Dominican academy coordinator from February 2005 through February 2009, also told the fake prospect to "remain calm and keep playing," according to court documents.
For the past year and a half, the name Stephen Strasburg has sent bolts of electricity through the nervous systems of baseball fans, scouts, and players, but for the next year -- if not more -- it will provide us with nothing more than frustration. After just 12 tantalizing major league starts, Strasburg's right arm gave out on him in the fifth inning of his start against the Phillies last Saturday. On Thursday, the results of his enhanced MRI came in, and they were not good. Strasburg has been diagnosed with "a significant tear" in his pitching elbow and is apparently headed for ligament-replacement, a.k.a. Tommy John, surgery, which will likely to keep him out of action through the end of the 2011 season. That's a huge blow to the Washington Nationals and to major league baseball and its fans in general, as all have lost a captivatingly unique young talent for more than a calendar year, but what exactly does it mean for the burgeoning career of the 22-year-old pitcher actually
In the end, Bryce Harper and the Nationals needed each other too much for him not to sign.
Power prodigy and No. 1 overall draft choice Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals agreed on a five-year, $9.9 million deal late Monday night, beating the midnight deadline for 2010 draftees.
Bryce Harper, the homer-hitting 17-year-old from Las Vegas, is said by sources to be seeking to beat Mark Teixeira's $9.8-million signing record bonus for a position players but baseball executives are hopeful Harper won't top Stephen Strasburg's record $15.067-million set a year ago. No word has leaked yet on the Nationals' offers to Harper, whom Washington took with the No. 1 overall pick in June's draft.
An SI survey of five baseball executives to solicit opinions on how teams performed before the trade deadline found that the Rangers' moves were universally considered the best, which is no surprise. The Padres were roundly praised, as well, and no one found fault with what the Yankees did, which is to throw their financial might around as only they can. In other words, just what they usually do.
In one of the most active trade deadlines in memory, a number of teams made pickups notable not just for their quality, but for their low price. At the other end of the spectrum, a number of contenders with holes sat out the deal-making, to their detriment, and one made themselves worse with a deal. Here are the trade deadline winners and losers:
With a bit more than a day left until the nonwaiver trade deadline, there are still plenty of deals to be made as contenders solidify their rosters and their counterparts try and get some value for veterans. Even after a flurry of moves Thursday, a bevy of talent remains available. Let's play matchmaker!
• The White Sox and Rays are among the teams talking to the Nationals about slugger Adam Dunn. The belief is the Nats are looking for prospects and could send them to Arizona for pitcher Edwin Jackson. Washington is believed to have asked Chicago for either Gordon Beckham or a tandem of Daniel Hudson and Dayan Viciedo.
An MRI revealed no damage in the shoulder of Nationals' star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Washington will monitor him closely and see how he responds. It's uncertain how long he'll be out.
There is no doubt that Nationals rookie starter Stephen Strasburg is a once-in-a-generation talent. There's no doubt that, should he stay healthy, he's bound for a great career.
So much about Stephen Strasburg's third major league start Friday night was similar to what we saw in his first two: the overpowering fastball and the head-snapping breaking ball; the high strikeout totals and the low hit totals; the looks of frustration on the faces of opposing hitters and of pure joy on the faces of the fans who crowded into Nationals Park for a rare sellout.
If the commonality of a man is that, no matter how famous or successful, he puts his pants on one leg at a time, then the pitchers' corollary is true, too, for the Nationals' wunderkind starter Stephen Strasburg. In his second start, on a 72-degree Cleveland afternoon, television cameras showed him in the dugout between innings, putting his warmup jacket on his throwing arm -- just one arm, just like everyone else.
The Diamondbacks' honchos met much of Thursday, and they are meeting at length again today. So far, they all can agree on one thing: there's a lot to talk about.
With one start Stephen Strasburg gave baseball something it has needed for years: a national drawing card.
With baseball's first-year player draft just five days away, the Nationals aren't saying who they will take first overall. But that's more about their own rules regarding caution and secrecy than anything else. By now everyone knows who the star of this mostly average draft is: 17-year-old slugging sensation Bryce Harper, a Sports Illustrated cover boy at 16 last June and a college superstar at 17 this June, two years ahead of his time.
For all the hype and expectations, projected debut dates guessed and re-guessed, every word and soundbite, millions though they were, one typically critical detail of a starting pitcher's pregame routine was absent Tuesday night.
None of the biggest of the free agents from last winter -- Matt Holliday, John Lackey and Jason Bay -- has quite lived up to the hype or his big contract yet. All three are terrific players with long track records of success who have performed reasonably well, and it's way too early to judge their deals. But a little over a quarter of a billion dollar ($268.5 million in all) was spent on that trio that comprised easily the top three free agents from last year, and while all of them are playing solid, sound baseball, it's hard to say any of them has produced beyond or even up to expectation (the fourth biggest, Chone Figgins, has struggled far worse.)
Stephen Strasburg's major league debut on Tuesday night was everything the Nationals and their fans could have hoped for. Pitching in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Nationals Park, the 21-year-old right-hander met the high expectations placed upon him, allowing two runs over seven innings, striking out 14 without walking a batter. He showed the entire arsenal, touching 100 mph with his fastball, showing off a sharp curveball that he both buried for swinging strikes and placed for called ones, and even dropping in a work-in-progress changeup now and then. He retired the last 10 men he faced, striking out the last seven and eight of the last nine.
Just before the Nationals made official their selection of Bryce Harper with the draft's first overall pick, one of the two dozen or so suit-wearing decision makers who populated the club's war room pulled out a personal camera. He aimed the lens at general manager Mike Rizzo sitting at the center table and then again at the rest of the assembly.
The Washington Nationals believe they are doing everything right, short of bubble wrap and clubhouse feng shui, to keep pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg healthy. The truth is they know nothing for certain. Raising a major league pitcher involves more guesswork and fear than any club would publicly admit. The fear is that when a pitcher breaks down -- and it typically is a matter of when, not if -- the club will be blamed for being "wrong" about how it used the pitcher.
If there was a low point for the Nationals in their mostly hopeless first five seasons in Washington it likely came in February 2009. Their top international prospect, Esmailyn Gonzalez, had been proven to be four years older than he said he was -- and not named Esmailyn Gonzalez. General manager Jim Bowden was under federal investigation for alleged bonus skimming. They had lost 102 games in 2008, and the franchise hadn't finished above .500 since relocating to Washington in 2005.
The Nationals, who have the first pick in next month's draft, are now working to hire possible No. 1 pick Bryce Harper's college coach as a scout, SI.com has learned.
Word going around the game is that the country's consensus top amateur player, the already legendary 17-year-old slugging catcher Bryce Harper, who is being advised by Scott Boras, will seek to break last year's record $15.67 million bonus set by Stephen Strasburg after Harper is selected at or near the top of next month's draft.
President Obama continued a century-old baseball tradition among the nation's chief executives Monday, throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pres. Obama faces a mix of cheers and jeers during his ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener.
When President Obama threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' season opener on Monday, he kicked off not only a new baseball season but also a new round of fundraisers at Nationals Park.
As teams narrow their rosters and make the final few cuts before Opening Day, one would like to think that they're putting players on the roster that give them the best chance to win. However, for some teams the decision is not that straightforward. I'm talking, of course, about service time manipulation, which teams can employ in order to delay a young player's eventual foray into arbitration and the free-agent market.
You have to start somewhere. The Gregorian new year begins in Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean that is the inhabited landmass most near, on the west side, to the international date line. For those of us who measure time by the Doubledayan calendar, the new year begins in Washington on Monday at 1:05 p.m. with a pitch from Nationals left-hander John Lannan, shortly after the ceremonial one from another southpaw, President Barack Obama.
Increasingly baseball's best prospects start the season in the minor leagues, either to get a little extra seasoning before a call-up or to slow the accumulation of major-league service time, a tactic to delay arbitration eligibility until after their third full season -- and so fans are robbed of seeing players like Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg until at least June. Many of last season's best rookies -- including NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan of the Marlins, the White Sox' Gordon Beckham, the Braves' Tommy Hanson and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen, among others -- all took a similar path to the majors last season.
I spied Guastavo in Kissimmee. The sighting was, given the clarity of a Florida morn, a glimpse out of the blue, like a Golden-crowned Warbler in the states. The proper name of this rare bird is Gustavo Adolpho Chacin, a left-handed pitcher last seen in parts around major league baseball in 2007, best known for winning 13 games at age 24 for the 2005 Blue Jays.
Heading into the 2009-10 free-agent market, the conventional wisdom was that the three big stars in their prime would get big bucks, and that the vast majority of players in the middle and lower ranks would mostly struggle to land a decent contract. And while it has been as rough as predicted for many players -- several good ones are still looking for work (see below) -- the market also yielded some surprising success stories.
The Washington Nationals have reached agreement on a deal with free-agent second baseman Adam Kennedy, sources confirm.
CHICAGO -- Jim Riggleman, the Nationals' interim manager for the second half of the 2009 season, will be elevated to the permanent managing job, SI.com has learned.
NEW YORK -- This Yankees team is a lot like many past pin-striped champions, with its emphasis on pitching, power and payroll. And although it'd been six years since the storied franchise's last trip to the World Series, in another reminder of past champions, Mr. Steinbrenner recalled the usual script. Only this time it was the young Mr. Steinbrenner, Prince Hal, who sounded in celebration like he was impersonating his father.
Former Nationals manager Manny Acta has been hired as the Indians' new skipper.
Another critical piece of the Washington Nationals efforts to rebuild their operations abroad was put into place Wednesday afternoon when Boston Red Sox Latin American coordinator Johnny DiPuglia accepted a position as the Nationals director of international operations.
When commissioner Bud Selig told us he had faith in the Washington Nationals back at his All-Star Game briefing, it was assumed he was being more hopeful than realistic. But Selig looks like he might have been on to something.
The last three years, Major League Baseball has implemented a signing deadline, ending the interminable holdouts that often plagued baseball's draft process. The draft still has plenty of problems, but that's another story. This draft is essentially in the books now that Monday's deadline has passed, with two fourth-year pitchers -- indy leaguers Aaron Crow (Royals first-rounder) and Tanner Scheppers (Rangers supplemental first-rounder) still unsigned but not subject to the deadline.
With or without Stephen Strasburg, when midnight arrived on Tuesday the Washington Nationals would still be in last place in the NL East, still own the worst record in baseball and still have more question marks than any organization in baseball. But now that Strasburg has agreed to a four-year contract worth more than $15 million, for the first time in the Nationals brief history, there is considerable cause for optimism. By signing the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, the Nationals not only made up for their failure to sign their top pick (pitcher Aaron Crow) a year ago, but also brought some much-needed legitimacy to a floundering franchise, some much-needed talent to a club hurting for star power and some much-needed hope to a fan base starving for a team that can, eventually, be something more than a pushover in the difficult NL East.
As the midnight deadline approaches, there are strong signals the Nationals will raise their initial offer of $12.5 million for No. 1 pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg.
Guesses from a multitude of executives around baseball for ballyhooed/deified No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg's eventual signing bonus have ranged from $12 million to $30 million. Every estimate represents a record bonus.
1. Does it seem to you that ejections and arguments are way up this year? It might seem that way after a wild past week in which umpires Ed Rapuano (long-distance ejection) and Jerry Crawford (blown gasket) called attention to themselves last weekend, Kevin Youkilis overreacted on Tuesday and four guys got thrown out of games Wednesday afternoon alone. Well, the answer is ... yes, just a bit, thanks to a lot of beefs about plays on the bases.
So much of success must start with a vision. For those faced with an unenviable task of seemingly overpowering enormity, it can and must be a source of sustainable energy and renewable hope.
Indians higher-ups say they aren't likely to trade hitting star Victor Martinez. Not only is Martinez one of the better hitters in baseball, with 14 home runs, 57 RBIs and .313 batting average, but the Indians hold a bargain 2010 club option on Martinez for $7 million.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates, swapping outfielders at a rapid rate for the second successive season, sent starting left fielder Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals in a four-player deal involving outfielder Lastings Milledge and also shipped backup Eric Hinske to the Yankees on Tuesday.
Folks always talk about how important it is to get off to a good start. These players, managers and executives can say they're off to spectacular starts ...
The Pedro Martinez Sweepstakes kicks off in earnest today when he throws for at least four teams: the Cubs, Rays, Angels and Yankees. The workout will take place down in the Dominican, where he's been working out and waiting for the appropriate deal.
A potentially great pitching market is threatening to become almost nonexistent.
Manny Acta appears to be on his way out as Nationals manager, and while respected ex-big league manager Jim Riggleman reportedly will be installed as the interim manager, team higher-ups also have begun internal discussions about permanent candidates. One of those candidates to replace Acta, according to National League sources, is Bobby Valentine, who is currently in his seventh season as manager of the Chiba Lotte Mariners in Japan.
Manny Acta is likely to be fired soon, perhaps as early as Monday, a National League source confirmed.
The four-minute clock that began counting down at the command of Commissioner Bud Selig at the start of Tuesday's MLB Draft marked not only the beginning of the draft but the end of the Washington Nationals' time as a mostly anonymous, seemingly directionless and understandably inept franchise.
The wealthy Yankees, Red Sox and Mets were all hoping that by some miracle Stephen Strasburg would slip to them due to signability concerns. (Hey, it happens -- coveted hurler Rick Porcello fell all the way to Detroit at No. 27 in 2007.) But there was no talking the needy Nationals off the pitcher who's considered one of the greatest prospects of all time.