Smoltz sees pattern in Kasten's work
Nats president stocking team much like he did with Braves
WASHINGTON -- Red Sox right-hander John Smoltz said on Tuesday that he knows what team president Stan Kasten is trying to do when it comes to rebuilding the Nationals: Stock the team with young pitchers.
Smoltz should know. He worked for Kasten for 15 years as a member of the Braves, and he watched Kasten build a dynasty by trading for Smoltz and drafting Tom Glavine in the late 1980s. Those two ended up helping the Braves reach the postseason for 14 consecutive seasons.
Kasten is trying to do the same thing with the Nationals, who already have a young solid rotation that includes John Lannan, Craig Stammen and Jordan Zimmermann. Kasten is also hoping the Steven Strasburg, the team's first-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, will be part of the mix soon.
"I haven't followed the team as much, but I know the mind-set of what Stan is trying to do, and that is to duplicate what happened in Atlanta," Smoltz said. "He wants to have a good young staff and try to keep them together."
When told that that some of the Nationals pitchers were going to be shut down in September to rest their arms, Smoltz disagreed with the philosophy. He noted that the Braves' rotations of the late 1980s and early '90s had no restrictions. By having no restrictions, according to Smoltz, it made the staff better. He said young pitchers should have the mind-set to pitch all season.
"Well, I'm not a fan of [shutting down pitchers]," Smoltz said. "That, to me, is becoming the new age theory for whatever belief that people have -- this is the way to protect the future of the arms. I totally do not agree. I think there are so many contributing factors to it. If a young pitcher has good mechanics and the mind-set to work at it, there is no reason why he can't compete at this level. I'm just not a big fan of being shut down, because I think the philosophy has come about to say you have but so many throws in your arm. I know there's data and statistics nowadays, but I think the mind-set is more important."
Smoltz is now in the twilight of his career and he said he has more of an appreciation for Kasten than he did when they were together in Atlanta.
"When I look back, I appreciate Stan a lot more. When you are going through it, you don't have time to look at everything that was going on," Smoltz said. "Through it all and through all he had to do -- running three teams -- he had a lot of decisions to make. I think he understands the determination of a player. It goes far beyond the chronological age."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.