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Here's why one writer voted for Max Scherzer over Jacob deGrom for NL Cy Young

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USA Today

Here's why one writer voted for Max Scherzer over Jacob deGrom for NL Cy Young

Jacob deGrom could've been a unanimous Cy Young award winner Wednesday. Instead, he won with 29 of 30 first-place votes.

The only voter who chose not to give deGrom a first-place vote was John Maffei of the San Deigo Union-Tribune

"What is stunning to me is the blowback from the fans, especially in New York," wrote Maffei. "Dozens of emails — some venomous — ranging from 'hey dumbass,' 'incompetent,' 'idiot,' 'moron' and 'clown.' Several called for my head, my job."

Shocking. Keyboard warriors furiously typing out their frustration and overreacting to something they didn't like.  

Maffei joined Steve Somers of WFAN in New York as well, which ended up being the shortest interview in the history of interviews.

Maffei points out that he chose to vote for Scherzer over deGrom for many reasons. One being, despite a 1.70 ERA over 217 innings, he had 10 wins and nine losses.

After he talked with other baseball experts, looked at Scherzer's 2.53 ERA and his historic 300-strikeout season — making him one of only 17 pitchers to do that since 1900 — Maffei says his vote was swayed in the direction of the Nats' ace.

One thing's for sure, Maffei may not have made any friends in New York, but he's made plenty of new ones in Washington. 

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What’s next for Trea Turner? Running (a lot) more

What’s next for Trea Turner? Running (a lot) more

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A few years back, Trea Turner went out for a slice of pizza. He was part of a small group hitting a spot in the DMV when the mayhem began. Other diners noticed the beard and well-coiffed hair, the wide shoulders and distinctive laugh. They had stumbled into a pizza shop occupied by Bryce Harper.

Turner was in the background. His wiry frame and boyish face allowed him to snap the moment and add to social media because he went unrecognized.

“I still go under the radar quite a bit, so I don’t have to deal with that,” Turner told NBC Sports Washington. “Sometimes I’m not jealous. Going out in public places and not being able to have a normal meal, normal slice of pizza is not always fun. If you get recognized you’re doing something right, though, in my mind. It’s kind of a plus and minus.

“Everyone deals with it different. Some people don’t want to be in the spotlight. Some people do. I think it just depends who you are. Just be yourself. Be happy and be yourself. if somebody does recognize me, try to enjoy that and say hello and do everything you can to kind of share in that experience, if they don’t, I get a chance to be by myself.”

Recognition of Turner was expected two seasons ago. Early 2017 projections for National League MVP candidates included him as an option, if a distant one. A late-June, 96-mph fastball hit his wrist, fracturing it. Turner’s season stalled.

He’s settled in now, coming off a season where he played all 162 games. His 4.1 WAR in 2018 was a significant return on his $3.725 million salary. Turner is 25 years old, arbitration eligible for the next three years, and part of what has become a dynamic swindle by Mike Rizzo. Turner arrived as the player to be named later in a three-team deal which cost the Nationals outfielder Steven Souza Jr. Souza has produced 5.8 WAR since; Turner 10.6. That doesn’t include Joe Ross, also acquired in the trade, in the equation.

Turner is searching for further uptick in his value this season. Nationals manager Davey Martinez wants Turner to reach 70, 80, even 90 steal attempts. Running that often has become an outlier. Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield led MLB with 55 stolen base attempts last season.

If Turner has a stock line, it’s that, “You can’t steal first base.” So, he starts there when asked about such an ambitious attempts total. He adds his hitting approach needs to remain quality and patient. The latter can often be a fight for him. Turner grapples with each hitter’s constant struggle: when to be patient, when are you too patient and into a bad count because of it, when to just let it loose. Turner hit a career-high 19 homers last season. But, his on-base percentage was .344.

Once he reaches first, whether to go is can be a matter of situation or flow.

“I think the score dictates a lot of things,” Turner told NBC Sports Washington. “Last year, we were behind quite a bit in games, so it’s hard to steal bases -- you don’t want to give them an extra out. I think the season dictates that. If we play good baseball, there will be a lot of opportunities for everyone across the board. We’ll see, is my answer. I would like to attempt 80 or 90.

“For me, it’s very fluid,” Turner continued. “Just like hitting would be or fielding would be. Sometimes you go through funks where sometimes, ‘Oh, I don’t feel good stealing base.’ Sometimes you feel like you can steal off anybody. For me, it’s very fluid, it’s just like the other facets of the game. I think when you get older you learn when to push it or pull back based on the score of the game or what your coach would like you to do.”

Referencing the coach made Turner smile. This manager wants him to go. Often.

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Nationals reportedly have no plans to give Bryce Harper a mega-deal comparable to Manny Machado’s

Nationals reportedly have no plans to give Bryce Harper a mega-deal comparable to Manny Machado’s

Bryce Harper is going to sign with a team any minute now, right?

The momentum for him finally inking a deal somewhere is real with Manny Machado agreeing to a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres Tuesday. But when it comes to matching that or beating it for Harper, according to a report from MLB.com, the Nationals have no interest in playing.

Before the end of the 2018 season, the Nats presented Harper and his agent Scott Boras a 10-year, $300 million offer to which they declined. That deal appears to be no longer on the table. From MLB.com:

Sources told MLB.com on Wednesday that the Nationals have no plans to give Harper a mega-deal comparable to Machado’s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres, likely ending any chance for Washington’s longtime face of the franchise to remain with the club.

This week at Spring Training, the Nationals said they were operating with the team they have now. In the offseason, they made a number of other big moves - including signing marquee pitcher Patrick Corbin - that leave their roster in good shape even if Harper doesn't come back.

According to MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman, Harper is believed to have turned down multiple offers over $300 million in recent weeks with the Phillies, San Francisco Giants and the Nats still in the mix.

But according to USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale, the Padres are out of the Harper sweepstake completely. 

Whether or not Harper gets a long-term deal like Machado's with Philly remains to be seen. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told MLB.com he doesn't want to spend all the team's money in one place. 

"We have to remember that there will be other free agents after this offseason," he said. "There will be plenty of opportunities in the future to spend money and to make our team better. We cannot allow ourselves to be put in a position where we have to do something at all costs. There’s a significant cost that we’re willing to pay to add, but we have to be willing to walk away at some point.”

If Harper does ink a deal with the Phillies close to the offer Rizzo and the Nats presented him with, don't expect the 26-year-old to receive a warm welcome when the Nats host the Phillies April 2-3.

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