WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Who knows, maybe Nationals star Jayson Werth is right and the great Stephen Strasburg debate will go on long after the season. Heaven knows, it's certainly is still raging now.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, the one who made the call to shut down the star pitcher after 159 1/3 innings, took umbrage at a couple unnamed execs who suggested in USA Today that they despise the Nationals for shutting down Strasburg (and maybe a little for what some may perceive as cockiness).
Rizzo referred to the unnamed aspect of the comments as "chicken (bleep).'' Rizzo, a Chicagoan, also said, "That's not how we do things in my neighborhood.''
One unnamed exec told the paper, referring to the Nats, "If we don't win the World Series, I don't care who does, as long as it's not these guys. They don't deserve to win it. Not after what they did.''
A National League exec said in the story, "I hope they go down in flames. I hope it takes another 79 years before they get back to the playoffs.''
The GMs weren't named, so Rizzo speculated. "Who knows, maybe the came from an executive on a team that lost 120 games.''
As for apologizing for expressing confidence that the Nats will be back, Rizzo wouldn't say he's sorry about that. He suggested every team should feel that way. The comment of his in question apparently was one he gave while explaining why they could afford to shut down Strasburg: "We'll be back, and doing this a couple more times,'' he had said.
As for the call to shut down Strasburg, Rizzo is expressing no regrets. Nor should he. Putting the health and career of Strasburg ahead of the team was, if anything, a selfless act by Rizzo, not something to be ripped in a mean-spirited way by someone who wouldn't put their name behind what they said. Strasburg is returning after having Tommy John surgery last year, and he was put on the same program that Jordan Zimmerman, who had the surgery the year before.
Rizzo pointed out, not happily, that the Nats have had trouble scoring runs in this Division Series, which the Cardinals lead 2-1 in games after consecutive 12-4 and 8-0 victories, and that Strasburg couldn't have helped the offense.
Rizzo also pointed out that Strasburg was wearing down as the season went on, as evidenced by the 4.29 ERA over his last eight starts. "If it was the April and May Strasburg, that's something different,'' Rizzo said. "He wasn't the same pitcher.''
Rizzo didn't mention this, but Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson, who were rocked in Games 2 and 3, respectively, would have started games, anyway.
It's surprising anyone would be so angry over another team's decision to protect its own player, but it shouldn't be surprising the execs did it anonymously. Besides it being poor form to criticize a rival, had they put their name to the criticisms Rizzo promises he would have confronted the speaker or speakers at the GM meetings in November.