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Down The Line

August 24, 2008|Bill Shaikin

The Washington Nationals recently had a 12-game losing streak and the Oakland A's a 10-game losing streak. The comparison ends there.

The A's are 8-26 since the All-Star break, but at least their plan is clear. It might work or it might not, but the A's have acquired 20 prospects since the end of last season by trading pitchers Rich Harden, Dan Haren, Joe Blanton and Chad Gaudin, outfielders Nick Swisher and Mark Kotsay and infielder Marco Scutaro.

The Nationals are 10-24 since the break, with a muddled plan. They have stressed youth since the franchise arrived from Montreal for the 2005 season, but the only young pitcher they have developed is John Lannan.

This could be a National disaster

They did not sign their first-round pick this year. They did sign two journeymen -- shortstop Cristian Guzman and first baseman Dmitri Young -- to two-year contract extensions.

They are so bad that they could be in position to select San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg -- the only college player on the U.S. Olympic team -- with the first pick in next year's draft. They could put him into their rotation immediately, considering they have given Odalis Perez 24 starts this year.

In last place, the Angels?

The Angels spent the least of any team in signing draft picks this year -- $1.7 million, according to Baseball America, or less than half of what they're paying middle reliever Darren Oliver.

The Angels did not have a first-round pick -- they forfeited it to the Minnesota Twins for signing Torii Hunter -- and they did not sign two of their top five selections. They could have five premium picks next year -- their first-round choice, and two compensation picks each for the probable losses of Francisco Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira -- and signing them all could cost $10 million, or more.

"We're built on homegrown products. We've got to sign guys," scouting director Eddie Bane said. "We don't want to become an organization that buys guys from other clubs."

Looks good on the Cy Young resume

The San Diego Padres' Jake Peavy led the National League with 19 victories last season. The Arizona Diamondbacks' Brandon Webb has 19 this season.

The Cleveland Indians' Cliff Lee leads the American League with 18, so each league could have a 20-game winner before Sept. 1.

The last time that happened, according to STATS LLC -- 1980. The Baltimore Orioles' Steve Stone won 21 by Sept. 1, and 25 in all. The Philadelphia Phillies' Steve Carlton won 20 by Sept. 1, and 24 in all.

There's a big bat on every base

The Florida Marlins could become the first team in major league history with each infielder hitting 25 home runs. It's up to third baseman Jorge Cantu, who has 22.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has 28 and second baseman Dan Uggla has 27, with first baseman Mike Jacobs at 25.

The Chicago Cubs, with the best record in the NL, have no player with 25 home runs. Neither do the Twins, in first place in the AL Central.

This year's curse: TV overexposure

This could be the first time that the Cubs make the playoffs and the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox do not since 1989.

That was so long ago that Clayton Kershaw was 1 year old -- and the Cubs' starting pitcher in Game 1 of the playoffs was Greg Maddux.

-- Bill Shaikin

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