June 8, 2009

No Pressure Steve

Roughly 24 hours from now, San Diego State RHP Stephen Strasburg (aka "The Messiah") will be selected by your Washington Nationals as the first overall pick in the 2009 MLB amateur draft. By virtue of being the greatest collegiate pitcher since Mark Prior/Ben McDonald/Christy Mathewson, Strasburg will be in line to recieve a guaranteed contract totaling somewhere between $15M and the last Chrysler bailout. But that's no reason to think you'll see him take the field for the Nats in '09. Why should he?

Draftees have until August 15th to sign their contracts, and Stephen (via Scott Boras) figures to use every second of that leverage against the team. Again, why not? He's not going to blow out his arm between June 9th and August 15th, and there's really no advantage to him signing early unless the Nats lock Stan Kasten in a closet and throw out an opening bid of $35M, reduced by $500,000 every day Strasburg remains unsigned. (Don't hold your breath for that one.) By August he'll be at least two months removed from organized baseball after having pitched a pretty heavy load for SDSU. The odds of him adding a couple dozen MLB innings to his resume are not good.

But more than that, why should Stephen Strasburg be in a rush to join this organization? The big league team is slouching toward historic awfulness. Double-A Harrisburg (where he'd likely start his career) is just as bad. It's a continent away from his home and family, and the second he sets pen to paper all those ridiculous expectations floating around in the ether, "Frontline starter," "All-Star," "Cy Young winner," "Hall of Famer" will begin to crystalize.

If Strasburg doesn't immediately pitch a perfect game, reverse global warming and successfully implement a two-state solution in the Middle East, there will be no shortage of former boosters ready to label him a bust, the next in a long line of failed No. 1 picks. Who needs that? For comparison, look just up the road in Bal'mer. Orioles catcher Matt Weiters was a top 5 pick, the consensus best position player prospect in baseball. He dominated the minor leagues, and debuted to more fanfare than anyone since Ichiro crossed the Pacific. Now he's hitting .140ish. And he'll get a much longer leash than Strasburg.

2009 is a lost season for the Nationals, and not "Lost" in a good, mysterious tropical island kind of way. Think Sleestaks. Do you really want your memories of this baseball wasteland to include an overworked struggling Stephen Strasburg? Odds are neither does he. Welcome to Washington, Stephen. We'll see you next year.


Meera said...

Have a great day.. very nice

Tobby said...

I liked it too.