|Anything Goes: Pass on Strasburg|
Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on June 09, 2009
Yes.Â But not because he hasnâ€™t succeeded -- well, he wasnâ€™t awesome in high school and really came on this year, but, well, whatever, he was video game good this year -- or that the scouts donâ€™t love his stuff -- Keith Law rated his fastball as 80 on the 20-80 scale, which would equal Joba Chamberlain and Tim Lincecum.Â Stephen Strasburg has pretty much everything you want in a pitching prospect.Â His record is flawless.Â The stats and scouts agree, which is rare.
My reasoning is simple.Â Pitchers, especially young ones like Strasburg, are about as reliable for achieving projected greatness as New Coke.Â The wonderful Joe Posnanski laid out all the pitchers taken No. 1 since the 1970s. Not one ended up a star, and the book is still out on David Price.Â Â
With pitchers, the real obstacle to them becoming stars simply cannot be predicted, and thatâ€™s health, the one golden skill found among the very best in the sport.Â The Pittsburgh Pirates had no idea that Bryan Bullington would get hurt.Â The New York Yankees didnâ€™t expect Brien Taylor to mess up his arm in a bar room brawl.Â Things happen, and pitchers are so fragile, so delicate, that injuries can not only ruin them physically, but mentally as well.
Let me address the Boras angle, too.Â He wants $50 million.Â I cannot blame him.Â Anyone who complains about players getting big bonuses obviously thinks that baseball is above the rest of the world.Â Because Iâ€™m sure all of the accountants would hate to set their own salary demands or actually be able to make market value for their performance.Â Yeah, that would stink.Â Maybe weâ€™re just jealous of ballplayers, but trying to cap off the bonuses players can earn is just stupid and only serves to make the owners richer.Â Iâ€™ll stop here before we get too political.
Anyway, if I'm Boras, you are right I demand $50 million.Â If Strasburg were a free agent, heâ€™d get that.Â The Draft shouldn't change that.Â If he is worth $50 million, and someone wants to give it to him, it's cool with me.
But if Iâ€™m the Nationals, I have to wonder something.Â How real are the chances that Strasburg ends up being worth that $50 million?
Want the truth?Â The odds are low.Â Real low.Â Young pitchers arenâ€™t safe, especially ones who randomly find velocity, like Strasburg did.Â He didnâ€™t throw nearly as hard in high school, and no, Iâ€™m not accusing him of steroids.Â Itâ€™s far more likely he cured a hitch in his delivery or actually lifted a dumbbell.Â But more velocity equals more stress on the arm, and despite all reports to the contrary, Strasburg wasnâ€™t made by Skynet.Â Heâ€™s human, with human tissues, muscles and ligaments.Â Which means heâ€™s no safer a bet to stardom than any other pitcher that goes in the first round on Tuesday.
I can see Strasburg succeeding in the major leagues.Â I can see him pitching some this year at the big league level.Â I can see him winning Cy Young Awards.
But I can also see torn rotator cuffs, Tommy John surgeries and a career with fewer than 200 innings pitched at the big league level.
It really could go either way.
So, I said the Nationals should pass.Â But they wonâ€™t, and maybe they canâ€™t.Â I seriously doubt a team that used to be the Montreal freaking Expos has the guts to make a drastic move like passing on Strasburg.Â You see, even if the Nats told everyone that they â€śpassed on him because of the risks associated with young pitchers,â€ť people wouldnâ€™t stop and nod. Theyâ€™d accuse the Nationals of being cheap.Â
The Nationals arenâ€™t the kind of team that can break a mold because weâ€™re used to them sucking horribly, and generally, being cheap too.Â Teams like the Boston Red Sox can break molds because we know they employ smart people.Â Weâ€™ll be able to trust that the Red Sox arenâ€™t just being cheap.Â Such a thought would not exist if the Nationals were involved.
But if the Nationals donâ€™t take him -- which, come on, they are taking him -- I would applaud them.Â Iâ€™m fine with Boras wanting $50 million for his young pitcher.Â But Iâ€™m also fine -- more than fine -- with the Nationals taking Ackley and passing the switch to the Seattle Mariners.
They donâ€™t have to take the risk.
This article was sent in Saturday for a Tuesday publish, and it appears that the $50 million tag was off.Â If the bonus money required is less than $20 million, I am in favor of the Nationals taking him, but if itâ€™s over $20 million, they cannot do it.