Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on the Washington Nationals’ disappointing 2015 season at a Monday Politico breakfast.
“First of all, they need to get rid of [Jonathan] Papelbon. Getting in fights with the most valuable player in the National League doesn’t strike me as a team-building exercise,” he asserted.
Back in September Papelbon, a relief pitcher for the Nats, heckled teammate and eventual 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper for not hustling down the line after hitting a lazy pop fly out. The razzing turned to skirmishing and Papelbon began choking Harper.
The Nationals suspended the 35-year-old right-handed reliever for his actions. Papelbon, joined by the MLBPA, subsequently filed a grievance against the Nationals. Yahoo Sports reported that the Nats owe Papelbon $11 million in 2016. A hearing on the matter is expected in the spring.
The senior senator from Kentucky found time to talk baseball on a Tuesday despite his busy schedule. McConnell opined on what the team needs to do during the off season and how they can turn things around to make the playoffs next year.
“I think they need a solid, good-hitting outfielder because Jayson Werth is getting older and not playing many games anymore. We could use another starter, although I think this young guy Lucas Giolito in the minors may be the answer to Jordan Zimmermann’s departure.”
McConnell added that he sometimes gets to watch the games with top political pundits George Will and Charles Krauthammer. He admitted, “they know a lot more about [baseball] than I do—and a lot more about other things than I do.”
Before last season some predicted that the Nationals would win over 100 games and dominate the National League. Instead they finished barely above .500 (83-79) and failed to make the playoffs.