Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Big & Unexpected News
Driving home from work late this afternoon listening to the radio, WTOP teases "Big & Unexpected News concerning The Washington Nationals today. More in sports after this!"
"Big & Unexpected News"?
What could that be? If there was a trade, WTOP would have mentioned that. Right?
So it had to be something else. And it had to be serious. Racking my brain while driving down the road--impatiently waiting for the commercials to end--the first thing that came to my mind: Baseball Operations was completely overhauled? A New General Manager was named? But why would Ownership do that so close to the beginning of the season?
No, that wouldn't make sense.
So what is this Big & Unexpected News?
And when Jonathan Warner reported on WTOP that Our Washington Nationals had cut ties with Shawn Hill, I was stunned. Absolutely Stunned!! Incredulous might be a very close second. No, I didn't see that coming and probably not many others as well. So why would Baseball Operations do that?
Clearly, Shawn Hill's physical issues have delayed and set back his career for five years now. But his upside is so good. Why Now is the question that needs to be answered? Is it that important to release Shawn at this very moment?
There are so many questions that I would love to ask.
Are you telling me that Hill has nothing left in the tank worth getting excited about anymore? Are you telling me a team that lost over 100 Games last season, can't take a flyer on someone scheduled to make $750,000 in 2009? Are you telling me it's time to jettison anyone with lingering doubts? Shawn Hill is not John Patterson. Even when hurting, Hill has been effective. No one has ever denied his talent. Only that physical pain has consistently taken that exceptional talent away.
Granted, this release of Shawn Hill is a very aggressive move, especially coming so close to the start of the regular season. A franchise that wants to move on--and beyond. This unexpected release means that Collin Balester and Shairon Martis have better shots now at the starting rotation in 2009. And it also means that Washington will only have to give severance pay (1/6th of Hill's arbitrated 2009 earnings) by letting him walk this very day. Today being the last possible moment any team can release a player and only be responsible for a portion of their salary.
Saddened is the only other word that expresses my feelings. Shawn Hill is one of the good guys. One of those players you always root for. And he's been very gracious and kind to The African Queen and I for a few years now. Always willing to chat and give his honest feelings in conversation. Shawn Hill has been enjoyable getting to know, just a little bit, as a Washington Baseball Player. And that makes this decision today by Our Washington Nationals even harder to take.
Our hearts go out to Shawn today. We care about Shawn Hill and hope that today's termination by Our Washington Nationals is just another slight setback for a still young man trying to find his way in the games of Major League Baseball.
No, I really didn't see this coming. For me, this announcement teased by WTOP this afternoon really was "Big & Unexpected News". As for The African Queen upon hearing the news: "I guess the chess match continues and a King Of The Hill has just fallen."
P.S.--Those Roster Games continued even more so after Shawn Hill was released this morning. This afternoon Washington announced the signing of left-handed reliever Joe Beimel to a one-year guaranteed deal. A pretty solid signing. A move that solidifies Washington's Bullpen and might allow Manny Acta to carry an ever more younger and inexperienced starting staff--believing veteran experience in the back of the bullpen could save many games. Over the past three years, Beimel has churned out some solid relief work for The Los Angeles Dodgers. Immediately, Joe becomes The Set-Up Man for Our Washington Nationals, taking the 40-Man Roster Spot from Shawn Hill.
P.P.S.--Nick Johnson the sole Montreal Expo remaining from The Inaugural Season of Our Washington Nationals.