Posted on: June 9, 2010 3:16 pm

Nats' plan could end Strasburg's season early

Nationals fans should enjoy Stephen Strasburg while they can -- it looks like his season is going to be a short one.

According to a Twitter post by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Washington manager Jim Riggleman said on the radio today that Strasburg will pitch every five days, not every five games. The Nationals will juggle the rotation around off days to keep their young star on regular rest.

Back in spring training, Riggleman told Kilgore that the Nationals' strict policy to protect young pitchers is that nobody will be allowed to pitch more than 120 percent of the innings they threw the previous year, no matter where those innings were pitched. Kilgore calculated then that between his college season, the Arizona Fall League and the Instructional League, Strasburg logged about 132 innings last season, which would make his maximum this season 158.

After seeing today's news, I sat down with a calendar. Strasburg burned 55 1/3 innings in the minors before being called up and seven more in his debut. That leaves him with about 96 more innings to pitch this year. If he were to pitch seven innings every time he started (he won't, but let's just take a best-case scenario -- or maybe a worst-case scenario, depending on your perspective), that's 12 more starts.

In that case, Strasburg would run out of innings Aug. 7, nearly two months before the end of the season.

If Strasburg is filling seats and keeping fans' attention on the Nationals, there will surely be a lot of pressure on the team not to shelve their main attraction. Riggleman managed the Cubs during Kerry Wood's rookie year, and has always felt guilty that he might have overworked Wood and caused the arm problems that derailed his career (it should be noted that Wood has said he does not blame Riggleman).

Could be a tough call for the Nationals, but you have to think their top priority will be protecting their investment long-term.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 9, 2010 2:18 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2010 2:28 pm

Pirates' Lincoln to debut tonight

There is going to be another big pitching debut at Nationals Park tonight, this time with the spotlight on the visitors.

The day after Stephen Strasburg's much-hyped first start, the Pirates called up former first round pick Brad Lincoln and plan to start him against the Nationals tonight. The right-hander (who bats lefty) was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft out of the University of Houston.

Lincoln, 25, was 6-2 with a 3.16 ERA for Triple-A Indianapolis, and his promotion was just a matter of time. His turn in the rotation in Indianapolis was supposed to be Tuesday, and for a while it looked like he would be pitted against Strasburg, but the Pirates elected to avoid a situation in which their prospect would have been an afterthought. (The Pirates, of course, deny that was the reason, but who could blame them?)

The Pirates' rotation can certainly use a boost -- Pittsburgh's starters have a collective 5.77 ERA, worst in the majors by more than half a run.

The Pirates are also expected to promote outfielder Jose Tabata. They cleared two roster spots after Tuesday night's game by optioning first baseman Jeff Clement to Triple-A and designating reliever Jack Taschner for assignment.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: Tabata promotion now official

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 9, 2010 1:52 pm

Cleveland to get Strasburg bump

The Nationals confirmed this morning that Stephen Strasburg will indeed make his second career start on Sunday in Cleveland.

The Indians report that tickets are moving fast for the game -- they sold 1,000 between midnight and noon Wednesday, and about 19,000 total have been sold for the game. Nobody could use the boost more than the Indians, who are dead last in major league attendance at 15,527 per game.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 9, 2010 12:46 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2010 12:49 pm

Orioles' skipper list includes Valentine, Wedge

The Orioles plan to interview former major league managers Bobby Valentine and Eric Wedge and have contacted several other potential candidates for their managerial opening, according to the Baltimore Sun .

The Orioles, who have the worst record in baseball and are already 22 games out of first, fired Dave Trembley last week. The team is being managed on an interim basis by Juan Samuel.

"We're starting the process, sort of the vetting process. We're not expecting anything soon. I'm not sure how the timetable is going to play out myself," Orioles president Andy MacPhail told the Sun. "I've never been through one of these in-season. We'll do our due diligence and work through it, but I'm not expecting anything quickly."

Valentine took the Mets to the World Series in 2000 and also won a title in Japan in 2005. He's currently an analyst for ESPN. Valentine's somewhat cantankerous personality has rubbed some people in the game the wrong way over the years, but given his track record (he has a .510 winning percentage in 15 years managing in the majors) it's surprising he hasn't been given another chance to manage by now.

Wedge managed the Indians for seven years before being given his walking papers at the end of last season.

Samuel will be considered to retain the Orioles' job. Other names that have been connected to the search include Buck Showalter, Bob Melvin and Clint Hurdle.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Tags: Orioles
Posted on: June 9, 2010 12:20 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2010 5:57 pm

Yankees to pursue Lee?

According to the New York Post's George King , the Mariners are expecting the Yankees to be among the bidders if they shop left-hander Cliff Lee before the deadline.

Lee was traded to Seattle in the offseason and is in the final year of his contract. The Mariners hoped to contend and convince Lee to sign long-term, but with their season in the ditch they will almost certainly opt to cash him in. Lee is making $9 million this season.

A source told King the Mariners have been scouting the Yankees' minor league system extensively and will ask for shortstop Eduardo Nunez and a catcher.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: The New York Daily News says the Yankees are not interested in adding a starter, according to a team source.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 9, 2010 11:58 am

Phillies sign top pick

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Enquirer reports via Twitter that the Phillies have come to terms with first-round pick Jesse Biddle, a high school left-hander from Philadelphia. Biddle will join the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team immediately.

-- David Andriesen
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 9, 2010 11:44 am

Mets rotation news

The Mets have flopped R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese in the rotation. Niese will go Thursday against the Padres and Dickey on Friday against the Orioles. The move gives knuckleballer Dickey extra rest.

Right-hander John Maine, who has been on the disabled list since May 22 with shoulder tendinitis, is coming along faster than expected and could be back in the Mets' rotation as soon as next week. He threw a simulated game yesterday and will make a minor league rehab appearance this weekend.

Manager Jerry Manuel told reporters that when Maine returns, Hisanori Takahashi is headed back to the bullpen.

"We like Takahashi as a pitcher," Manuel said "[But] we think we have lost something in the bullpen when he's a starter, so that's a scenario that could work if and when John Maine is healthy and we feel he's ready to be part of the rotation."

-- David Andriesen

Posted on: June 9, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: June 9, 2010 12:48 pm

Chicago wins award for awkwardness

On Friday, the Cubs and White Sox will open their Chicago showdown series with something new at stake -- a trophy that will go to the winner of the series each season. It was announced with much fanfare on April 26.

Less than a week later, an oil pipeline burst under the Gulf of Mexico.

What does that have to do with a trophy in Chicago? The trophy is called the BP Crosstown Cup, and it's sponsored for the next three years by British Petroleum. The sponsorship agreement is staying in place, but the Cubs have scaled back the unveiling of the cup at Wrigley Field before Friday's game.

"We're trying to stand behind our sponsor, but at the same time be respectful of what's happening off the ballfield," Cubs spokesman Kevin Saghy told the Chicago Sun-Times .

-- David Andriesen

Category: MLB
Tags: Cubs, White Sox
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