Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Strasburg signs, now the disappointment comes

The Washington Nationals signed ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg to a $15.1 million deal at the draft deadline Monday. Now, they have to keep their fingers crossed. He is almost sure to disappoint, that is, if history keeps pace.

Thomas Boswell points out in his column:

Since 1965, when the draft began, only one pitcher taken in the top 18 spots in the first round has ever won 200 or more games (Kevin Brown). All-time greats? There's not one out of more than 300 such selections. Based on the history of high picks, Strasburg should be viewed as having a good chance to become a very good pitcher. But not more. No pitcher taken in the first four overall picks has ever won a Cy Young Award or made more than two all-star teams. Worst of all, major health concerns, such as the elbow surgery that top Nats prospect Jordan Zimmermann now needs, demonstrate the fragility of pitchers,

Mark Prior's name came up during the negotiations but that was a mistake. Prior was a bust, ravaged up by injuries. It was a waste of the $10.5 million deal he signed in 2001.

Today, Washington players and fans can celebrate the Strasburg signing. The organization has a pitcher who might be something special. History says no, but one can always hope.

BTW, the threats of Strasburg not signing and sitting out the season were bogus. When Washington announced an offer past Prior's $10.5 million, Strasburg had to sign. Had he turned down the offer, it would have been one of the most stupid economic decisions in the history of America.


Because he had nowhere else to go. Forget the Independent leagues, forget Japan. Strasburg would have lost millions and would have awoken every day knowing an injury would make that money go away.

Also, Washington couldn't take Strasburg next year, unless he agreed to be drafted the Nats. So either Kansas City, Pittsburgh or San Diego would have probably drafted him. The Lerner family, which owns the Nats, is one of baseball's wealthiest and can afford to gamble on this deal. The other teams could not.

Whatever team drafted Strasburg next year would have a huge negotiating advantage. He could sit out a second season but now he would possibly be losing money - tens of millions - when he hit free agency in his early 30s instead of late 20s. He would have had no other option, except accepting the deal.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

When it goes wrong

Here is the link to a great story about a pitching prospect who made the wrong choices in negotiations.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The price you pay

The Chicago Cubs handed the Pirates one of the worst losses in franchise history Friday, 17-2. It was 14-0 after two innings and the Pirates played like an amateur team. Starting pitcher Charlie Morton could not have been worse, unless he threw underhanded. The offense stunk again.

Welcome to the post-trade Pirates.

The big question is how many of you can take the rebuilding process if there are more games like this one? You see, that is the problem with rebuilding. Even if you agree with the way Neal Huntington traded away major league talent for future victories, the price you pay are games like the one with the Cubs.

Other rebuilding plans went awry because the pressure to get a win, any win, was so great that the plans were scrapped before they had time to flourish. General managers, fearing for their jobs, dove into the free-agent market, overpaying for players they hoped would add to the win total.

It didn't work.

So this is what you have to put up with in a rebuilding era, games such as this. Whether Huntington has the guts to stay with it for another two or three years will determine whether the Pirates actually have a chance to be competitive.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thoughts on the Pirates

Watched a feature on Pirates top prospect Pedro Alvarez (left) and was surprised to see that he appears to have gained some weight. He has a pear-shaped body and a large backside. While the extra weight has not seemed to bother Alvarez's hitting or fielding, the Pirates should get him on a weight plan this winter.

The Pirates should be concerned that Kevin Hart did not meet with the media following his Pittsburgh debut. According to the John Perrotto of Piratesreport.com, Hart avoided talking to the press after the game. So what, you say? So this. The Pirates are at the bottom of the league in attendance and as football season intensifies, the crowds will shrink. The Pirates need all the exposure they can get with these new players and Hart not talking to the media makes fans upset and makes Hart look like he has an attitude problem.

This season is shaping as an important one for manager John Russell. The Pirates could lose 100 games this season, the locker room is filled with inexperienced players and most might not be sure exactly how to conduct themselves on and off the field. I won't judge Russell on wins and losses. I will judge him on how the Pirates respond to his coaching and how hard they play. It's the only legitimate way to evaluate Russell.

The Pirates' bullpen is aweful. One of the ways this team can improve next season is to rebuild the bullpen, most likely through free agency because the minors don't appear to have anyone ready to make the next step.