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Boras refutes Mazzone on Strasburg

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Boras refutes Mazzone on Strasburg

On Wednesday morning, ESPN 980's Mike and Mike had on a special guest to weigh in on the Stephen Strasburg innings limit. Former Braves' pitching coach Leo Mazzone was asked about the decision to shut down the Nationals ace as he once mentored one of the best starting rotations in MLB history, a group that some have compared to the current one in Washington as far as youth and talent.

Mazzone ripped the Nationals and called their plan "pathetic," siding with the argument that the team should hold nothing back in trying to win a World Series this season.

And the reason I say that, Ive got the experience. Youngsters like Steve Avery when he was 21 taking us to a World Series with a group of kids, with Smoltz and Glavine and Avery and Pete Smith and one veteran guy, Leibrandt. Prior to Maddux in 93 in 91 and 92 these guys all pitched 200-plus innings. Ok? And everybody had long careers."

To many, the immediate problem jumping out of this particular statement was the citing of Steve Avery. Avery was a tremendous young pitcher who had success early on in his career, but faded after the age of 23 and was out of the league by the age of 29. He never had Tommy John surgery as Strasburg has had, but he isn't exactly a prime example of a lengthy major league pitching career.

One thing Strasburg and Avery do have in common is their agent as Scott Boras once represented Avery some 20 years ago. Boras decided to call in to Mike and Mike the very next morning and spent much of his time on the Avery and Strasburg comparison. Coincidence? Probably not.

"I've heard a lot of things over the years, I've heard about the great Atlanta Braves pitching staff and all of their performances," he said. "Well I represented Steve Avery and I'm sitting there watching his career end at 28 or 29 years of age who was a brilliant pitcher."

Boras cites his own research of the workload for pitchers between the ages of 21 and 23, how the Braves' rotation exemplifies the right way to handle arms and, in the case of Avery, the wrong way. He points out Tom Glavine (431.2) and John Smoltz (503.1) threw far less innings in what he called their "formative years" than Steve Avery (713.1).

The Braves picked Avery 3rd overall in the 1988 draft and he didn't make the majors until 1990. He threw 99.0 innings his first season and then jumped all the way to 210.1 innings the following season. Boras is now glad that a team like the Nationals know better than to increase a pitchers workload that significantly.

"They want players to know that they care and they monitor these things," he said of Mike Rizzo and the Natioanls' brass.

With the specific numbers he cites and the length he took to explain, it sounds like the downfall of Steve Avery is still fresh in Boras' mind. It is safe to say he doesn't want it to happen again to another young pitcher, even as the ace of a team looking primed for contention.

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Reports: White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox, not Nationals

Reports: White Sox trade Chris Sale to Red Sox, not Nationals

The Nationals missed out on a major trade target when news broke this afternoon that the White Sox had traded ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox. 

The report comes from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. 

Washington had been the frontrunner to land Sale as recently as this morning. And as recently as 30 minutes ago, the Nationals vs. Red Sox contest seemed like it could go either way.

But apparently the Nats couldn't match Boston's offer of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech plus two minor leaguers, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network. 

Now, the dream rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Sale won't happen. 

The trade for Sale was so close, it could impact other potential deals for the Nationals. The team reportedly explored trading Gio Gonzalez to the Yankees if Sale indeed ended up in Washington. 

MORE NATIONALS: Report: Nats exploring trading Gio to Yankees

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MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Nationals exploring trading Gio Gonzalez to Yankees

MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Nationals exploring trading Gio Gonzalez to Yankees

Here's an interesting report for Nationals fans to keep an eye on: If Washington lands White Sox ace Chris Sale, they may trade left Gio Gonazlez to the Yankees. 

From Rich Mancuso of New York Sports Day:

A reliable National League source early this morning at the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings confirmed that the Washington Nationals are close to a deal with the New York Yankees that would send lefthander Gio Gonzalez to the Bronx. In return the Yankees would send the Nationals two minor league prospects and maybe another player.

Mancuso stipulates that the trade agreement, which is not yet official, would be contingent upon the Nationals acquiring Sale. 

Gonzalez, 31, is in the last year of his contact with Washington after arriving in 2012 from Oakland. He finished the 2016 season with an 11-11 record, 4.57 ERA and 171 strikeouts. 

UPDATE 1:34 p.m.: The Nationals lost on out Sale, who was instead traded to the Red Sox. 

MORE NATIONALS: Syndergaard already tired of Sale to Nationals hype