Nationals Today – 1/17

Untitled-2Nationals Today is a new daily column that will bring you the top three-to-four stories about the Washington Nationals, and from time to time the rest of Major League Baseball. We hope that in time readers will find this a good source for a quick daily check-in for morning Nationals reading. 


Chris Jenkins of Sign On San Diego writes a marvelous piece which gives us an inside look at how Stephen Strasburg is handling his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Strasburg, who recently stated that he is in the best shape of his life, has been lifting daily to assure that he is even stronger when he is finally cleared to throw for the first time. He is limiting his lifting to his legs, as do most pitchers undergoing arm rehab, to ensure that he builds power and velocity from his lower half, not his elbow. 

Still, as Jenkins shows us, it is hard for Strasburg to hold himself in check when all he wants to do is thrust himself further than he has ever gone before. The 22-year-old had finally reached his dream before a terrifying instant put all that in jeopardy, even if just for a moment. Like any competitor Strasburg is on a mission to get back what he once had, but it will take patience. To balance that, Strasburg has made a pact with himself that he will not pick up a baseball until he is cleared to throw one. For the kid that was blessed with a natural ability to throw, it seems only fitting:

“I’m saving picking up a baseball until I start throwing it,” Strasburg told Jenkins. 

Yunesky Maya the Y Factor

Mike Henderson of Nationals Daily News looks at the potential for Yunesky Maya in 2011. The Cuban refugee was signed by the Nationals last spring and at the time was considered to be a pretty hot commodity. Since however, the 29-year-olds stock has plummeted as the once considered best pitcher in Cuba fell flat on his face in his first North American season.

Henderson however examines what could happen if Maya actually lives up to his early expectations this season and becomes a high quality starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. 

Votto Signs $38 Million Extension

Arguably the best first baseman in baseball not named Pujols, Joey Votto, just signed a three-year $38 million extension to stay in Cincinnati through 2014. Votto, the reigning National League MVP, likely left a lot of money on the table with this deal that will only net him a little over $12 million annually. The slugger batted .324/.424/.600 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI in 2010, and has earned at least four Wins Above Replacement in each of the last three seasons. When you compare this deal to the 6-year $120 million extension Troy Tulowitzki signed this winter, the reigning MVP is making peanuts. 

Votto had the same rookie season as Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman and now will hit free-agency at the same time (assuming no extension is put in place for Zimmerman). Zimmerman signed a deal two years earlier than Votto which earned him $45 over five seasons. So while he is earning more total than Votto, he will be earning less annually, at least until the final year. This will make it all the more interesting when these two hit free-agency at the same time, and it will certainly make 2014 one of the hottest years in free agency in recent memory. 

You would think by now that Ohioans would want to lock up their young MVP talent to more than three year extensions, there is no telling if Votto will take his talents to South Beach.

Yesterday’s posts from The Nats Blog:
Washington’s All Time War Grid
Thoughts on the Nationals Rotation Going Into Spring Training