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.

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