Bryce Harper will require surgery on his thumb to repair ligament damage he sustained sliding into third base on Friday. Though the Nationals will certainly miss their young, burgeoning phenom, the feeling around the water cooler is that the team is at least better suited to deal with a protracted DL stint this season than they were last year, so says Alex Skillin from the MLB blog at SB Nation:
Rizzo hoped Harper and the rest of the Nationals would avoid injury, of course, but signed McLouth especially as insurance for just such a scenario. McLouth is no Harper, but the 32-year-old reinvigorated his career over the past two years in Baltimore. He can play all three outfield positions, is a decent base stealer, and has performed well against righties throughout his career, batting .258/.345/.439.Pairing McLouth with a player who can mash lefties might just help the Nats recoup some of the value they are losing with Harper's injury.
Tyler Drenon echoes that sentiment, while speculating that the Nationals could use Steven Souza Jr. as the other half of a left/right platoon with McLouth:
While McLouth is something of a household name from his time in Pittsburgh and his resurgence with the Orioles last year, many casual fans might not have heard of Souza. Federal Baseball ranked him sixth in the Nats' system and Baseball America rated him tenth. It's taken some time for Souza to reach the majors after being draft in the third round of the 2007 draft, but he was hitting .303/.439/.515 for Syracuse and batted .300/.396/.557 with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 77 games for Double-A Harrisburg in 2013.
Scott Pianowski of Roto Arcade takes a look at the Harper injury from a fantasy baseball perspective:
Harper has become a pet player during his brief career, a fantasy commodity that some owners can't seem to stop reaching for. Harper's Yahoo ADP was a lofty 10.4 this year, despite the fact that he's never posted legitimate first-round numbers before. Owners want it for Harper so badly; they pine for the day when Harper can be Cassidy to Mike Trout's Sundance. Owners want to be there when it all clicks for Washington's franchise player. Prospect hounds ache to be validated for every pro-Harper stance they had prior to his debut in 2012.
To bottow a phrase from Tracy Flick, you're not voting for Bryce Harper on draft day – you're voting for yourself.
Meanwhile, Keith Law at ESPN takes a couple of anecdotal instances and turns that mole hill right into a mountain, insisting that disagreements between manager Matt Williams and Bryce Harper are some sort of indicator of a larger, systemic problem between Harper and the Nationals (subscription required):
Williams' tirade on "lack of hustle," directed at a player who is hustle incarnate, was a low point for the Nationals this season, but Harper's injury, which came as he tried to stretch a double into a triple by -- wait for it -- hustling, is a new nadir.
Jerry Crasnick took a look at how the Harper injury could impact the race for the NL East:
Godspeed and a quick recovery, Mr. Harper. The world of baseball is better with you in it than it is with you sitting in the dugout.