Monday, May 11, 2009
Strasburg makes his case (again)
As Jon Heyman writes, the phenom just keeps on phenominating:
San Diego State phenom Stephen Strasburg's 17-strikeout, no-hitter against Air Force was well-timed, coming in his home finale. It also came in front of Nats GM Mike Rizzo and his entire staff. One scout in attendance said Strasburg didn't throw a pitch under 98 mph in the final inning. He is expected to shoot for $50 million after the Nats surely pick him first, and while no one's had a bad thing to say about him (supposedly, he could have gone to Harvard), the history of allegedly extraordinary high school and even college pitching prospects is fairly spotty, including David Clyde, Matt Harrington, Brien Taylor (who got hurt), Todd Van Poppel and many other alleged can't-miss prospects who missed. We've been over this ground before, but as long as "$50 million" keeps popping up, we need to keep shooting it down. Forget about Clyde and Harrington and Taylor and Van Poppel, all of whom were drafted out of high school. Look instead at the top college guys, most of whom were hailed at some point as the greatest college pitcher ever. Just in recent years we've seen Mark Prior and Bryan Bullington and Jered Weaver and Luke Hochevar ... It's not that they shouldn't have been drafted, but would anything of them been worth signing for anything close to $50 million?
To be worth $50 million out of the gate, a pitcher would have to give his club three or four good seasons in the majors before getting his next contract. Might Strasburg do that? Sure. That's not where the smart money is, though. Or even the Nationals' money.
I suspect that $50 million is simply a bargaining position unless Scott Boras has a pretty good idea that someone will spend that much (or nearly that much) on one tyro pitcher. Considering how much the Red Sox spent on Daisuke Matsuzaka a few years ago, I suppose anything's possible. But history suggests that Strasburg taking Major League Baseball by storm in 2009 or '10 is just one of many possibilities ... and not the most likely.
(More on Strasburg's no-hitter here.)