Friday, March 27, 2009

See the Chosen One in Person


Yesterday, my brand new Sports Illustrated arrived, and I turned quickly to the feature on Steven Strasburg. Fascinating stuff.

I know I should leave MLB Draft stuff to Mr. Hindman and Mr. Grant and pretty much anyone else on the blog. I certainly don’t know my college/high school baseball players, but I am willing to say this guy is pretty good.

102 mph?

$50 million?

Consensus #1 pick?

How would you like to see him with your own eyeballs on Friday night?

Apparently he will be in Fort Worth on Friday night:
Strasburg’s next start will likely come this Friday, when SDSU leaves California for the first time this year and takes on TCU at 6:30 p.m. CT in Forth Worth, Texas.

I’m not going to lie. I wish I could make it. I can’t. But, you should. This kid is special.

Peter Gammons throws out the bold ideas of super-agent Scott Boras
…some club officials think that if Washington takes San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the first overall pick, Boras will ask for Daisuke Matsuzaka money (six years, approximately $50 million) or take him to Japan for a year, a threat that may scare Stan Kasten into selecting a lesser prospect.

Shocking, but not surprising. If there is one thing Scott Boras can do, it is claim boldly.

Since Washington has the top pick, the story is weighing heavily there. Here is the Washington Post summarizing things on their Nationals Blog:
Reading between the lines of the Gammons note, Boras appears to be preparing to use Strasburg, the exceptionally talented San Diego State right-hander, as a way of exploding the "slotting" system with which MLB has tried -- mostly unsuccessfully -- to reign in signing bonuses for draftees. It also appears Boras will be attempting to equate Strasburg not with previous No. 1 overall picks (Mark Prior holds the record for the biggest contract ever awarded a top pick, $10.5 million in 2001), but Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Japanese import (and Boras client) who signed a six-year, $52 million contract with the Boston Red Sox before the 2007 season. Such a stance would almost certainly invite MLB's involvement in the process and force a complete overhaul of the slotting system.

Boras's argument would be that, in terms of ability and immediate impact, Strasburg has more in common with Matsuzaka than, say, David Price, who was the last pitcher to be picked No. 1 overall (he got $8.8 million from Tampa Bay in 2007). Would the argument be valid? Right now, Strasburg is making a complete mockery of the college game, striking out an average of 19.4 batters per nine innings this season. His radar gun readings are consistently over 100 mph. ESPN's Buster Olney has quoted an unnamed scout as saying Strasburg, right now, would be as good a pitcher as A.J. Burnett -- who (dare we mention?) signed an $82.5 million contract with the Yankees this winter.

What makes this potential negotiation so fascinating is the fact Boras would have most, if not all, of the leverage -- thanks in part to the Nationals' failure to sign their top draft pick from last June, pitcher Aaron Crow. There would be a fan revolt in Washington if the Nationals fail again -- particularly when the prize is a once-in-a-lifetime talent such as Strasburg. On the other hand, the Nationals would little negotiating leverage beyond the threat of walking away from the table and forcing Strasburg to play a year in the independent leagues (or, as Gammons mentions, in Japan).

The Nationals have a new ballpark, and when building it had the understated attitude that those new revenue streams would allow them to field a more competitive team. Well, another winter has passed and while Adam Dunn is ok, that is not the payoff of a pre-stadium-building promise to their fans.

Then in 2008, they did not get their #1 pick signed. And now this?

How good is he? Consider some of these numbers
Strasburg received the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week award from Collegiate Baseball Magazine for the fourth consecutive week. This marks the seventh time in two years he has received the award.

The San Diego native has received that recognition more times than any other player in his career, beating out USC’s Mark Prior, who was recognized five times.

Strasburg is widely projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the next Major League Baseball draft and has been called “the greatest prospect ever” from numerous scouts, including ESPN’s Buster Onley.

Through his first five starts in 2009, the right-hander has amassed a 4-0 record with a 1.57 earned run average. He has struck out 74 batters over 34.1 innings, averaging a stunning 19.4 strikeouts per nine innings. The NCAA record for strikeouts per nine innings in an entire season is 16.8.

If you are curious, Here is the top of the first round for the June draft ..
First-Round Picks
1. Nationals
2. Mariners
3. Padres
4. Pirates
5. Orioles
6. Giants
7. Braves
8. Reds
9. Tigers
10. Nationals (for failure to sign 2008 first-rounder Aaron Crow)
11. Rockies
12. Royals
13. Athletics
14. Rangers
15. Indians

Although this video is over-produced, here Strasburg fans 23 Utah Utes:

Anyway, thought you might like to take that drive over and see him in person.

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