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Curt Schilling Loved Stephen Strasburg, Now Hates Him

ESPN has been rolling out a a video of former pitcher Curt Schilling breaking down Stephen Strasburg and his mechanics over the past few days. There is quality analysis in the video and some excellent side-by-side comparisons of Strasburg against a similar pitcher, Josh Johnson. While I appreciated the analysis, this video was the prototypical “Monday Morning Quarterback” story.

It’s much easier to criticize the phenom after he’s hurt himself and after it’s likely he’ll need Tommy John surgery. After all, this is the same over-the-top Schilling who boldly declared that Strasburg might be the best pitcher in baseball upon being called up to the Major Leagues from the Minors. Better than Sabathia, better than Carpenter, better than Wainwright, better than all of them.

Clearly Schilling’s gushing and praise had no limits in May, and now his disparaging comments and criticism will be the most piercing. Schilling may have forgotten his words because this analysis fits today’s story much better, but we haven’t. If Strasburg’s so bad and has so many flaws in his delivery, then where was all this brilliant analysis in May when you were busy declaring him the best pitcher in baseball, Curt?

Feel free to disregard everything Schilling says from now on, if you weren’t already doing so. Here’s the video of Curt Schilling breaking down Stephen Strasburg in case you missed it:

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Tommy John Likely for Strasburg

For Washington Nationals fans, the news cannot get much worse regarding Stephen Strasburg.  About a month ago we pondered whether or not Nationals fans should be concerned about Strasburg’s shoulder.  We came to the conclusion that there was no need to panic just yet.  After watching the 22-year-old suffer an elbow injury that is likely going to require Tommy John surgery, Nats fans can feel free to freak out.

According to MLB.com, Strasburg has a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.  It was originally thought that he had a flexor strain before he underwent an arthrogram that revealed the bad news.  So what does this all mean for Washington and the future of its young phenom?

Remember the old Kerry Wood?  Tommy John surgery.  How about Erik Bedard and his abbreviated stretch of dominance?  Tommy John surgery.  Carl Pavano?  Tommy John.  B.J. Ryan?  Tommy John.

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Bryce Harper’s Kind of a Tool

Bryce Harper’s athletic ability is obviously through the roof.  Anyone who has as much buzz surrounding them as he does at such a young age must have something going for them.  However, if his ejection video and Stephen Strasburg’s comments toward him are any indication, he’s not the most likable prospect in baseball right now.

Now that D.C. Sports Bog has provided us with a couple of Bryce Harper mohawk pictures, I just think he’s a complete tool.  Am I judging him prematurely before knowing much about him at all?  Yeah, probably.  But that’s what most people do.  It’s certainly what I do.  Lose the attitude — definitely lose the fohawk — and I just might reconsider.

Photo Credit: D.C. Sports Bog

Dustin Pedroia Gets Advice From M.J.

We all know the story by now.  Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia broke his foot back in June and did everything he could to get back on the field as quickly as possible, including taking ground balls from his knees.  Nobody knows if the Red Sox medical staff cleared him prematurely or if he just tried to do too much too soon, but Pedroia apparently wasn’t ready to return when he came off the disabled list and ended up re-injuring the foot, ending his season.

Pedroia, who made our list of the top 30 franchise players in the MLB, now finds himself seeking a second opinion to determine if he’ll need to undergo surgery on the left foot.  Along with the second medical opinion, Terry Francona arranged for Michael Jordan to give Pedroia some advice.  Francona and M.J. have a history together, as Tito was his manager when he decided to leave basketball and join the Birmingham Barons in 1994.  Coincidentally, Jordan suffered the same injury on the same foot while playing with the Bulls during the 1985-1986 season.

I don’t call Michael very much just because I know how much people bug him” Francona told WEEI’s Dale and Holley Show. But because of Pedey, I knew that Michael would enjoy talking to him, and he did. He was almost fatherly in his advice. He was like, “I went through this, it’s tough, you got to listen.” Pedey was all ears and that was good. When guys like Michael Jordan talk, people are apt to listen more.”

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Can Albert Pujols Win the Triple Crown?

About a month ago, I was asked if I thought Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera win the Triple Crown. I placed his chances at 50/50 thinking he had RBIs in hand, a strong grasp on the batting title, and a decent shot at catching up to Jose Bautista in home runs. Well, Bautista has gorilla stomped his way to 40 home runs while Miggy is tied for second with 31, and it’s turned out that another slugger has an even better chance at winning the Triple Crown: Albert Pujols.

A recent surge in power and overall production this month (nine home runs and 20 RBIs in August) has propelled our number one franchise player in MLB to the top of most offensive categories in the National League. Entering Tuesday’s play, Pujols was leading the NL in home runs by two over Adam Dunn, RBIs by six over Joey Votto, and he was third in batting average, a mere four points behind Votto again.

You would think that Joey Votto might have a shot at winning the Triple Crown too, but he’s four home runs back and that’s difficult to make up. Because of the edge in home runs and RBIs, and how close he is in batting average, Albert Pujols has one of the best chances at winning the Triple Crown that we’ve seen in several years.

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Alan Trammell Screwed Over by Cubs

On Sunday, Cubs manager Lou Piniella gave a tearful goodbye to the baseball world. He retired immediately following the Braves-Cubs game to be with his ailing mother. Because of Lou’s departure, the Cubs needed a managerial replacement, and they named third base coach Mike Quade the team’s interim manager for the remainder of the season. That move definitely made me scratch my head.

Piniella hasn’t been around the team much since he announced he would retire back in July. In his absence, bench coach Alan Trammell has been managing the the team. But I guess that doesn’t mean much to the Cubs. Jim Hendry and company completely overlooked Trammell and gave the job to Quade for the rest of the season. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they also told Trammell that he wasn’t even being considered for the vacant mangerial spot. Basically they told him that he didn’t have a shot in heck and that he wasn’t even being given a courtesy interview.

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Top 30 Franchise Players in MLB

There used to be a yearly column in Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus called the Ultimate Fantasy Draft written by BP’s Nate Silver before he became a full-time political analyst. The premise was if every player in baseball were granted free agency, which players would produce the most value over the next six seasons. I wrote a similar article for my now-dead Baseball Mastermind website in 2008 and will do so again here, determining the most valuable assets in Major League Baseball for the next five seasons (2011-2015).

This is not a “Who is the best player in baseball?” article, nor is it a fantasy baseball article, so age and defensive ability factor into the equation significantly as well as injury history. These factors will diminish the value of Josh Hamilton (having the best season in baseball in 2010) and Roy Halladay, the oldest player on the list (even though he is probably the best pitcher in baseball today). I included players like Hamilton, Halladay and Cliff Lee over some younger players because this is a five-year window and two or three MVP-caliber seasons, followed by two decline-phase or even injury-limited seasons are still worth more than five good, not great seasons.

This season was particularly difficult to assess because there are so many good young pitchers in the game today. Combine that with the fact that there have been many injuries and down years from some of the key position players such as Chase Utley, Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia, Justin Morneau, Kevin Youkilis and Grady Sizemore to name a few.

I projected aggressively, yet cautiously with Justin Upton, Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Heyward because, while any of these players may break out into superstardom as soon as next season, as we have seen with many young players (Upton, Delmon Young, Matt Wieters), they may scuffle and produce at a below-average rate for a few seasons in making adjustments.

I looked at career statistics, advanced statistics for offense and defense and of course, their age, position and injury history. Again, this is not the MVP award — defense actually matters. Thanks to Vincent Hull, Andrew Grant and Cameron Weiss for consultation with the list. Without further ado, here are the Top 30 Franchise Players in MLB:

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