Stephen Strasburg. If you have been listening closely it's a name you have been hearing in the baseball community for well over a year now. After all the hype and all the posturing, it all comes down to today, or more precisely, it comes down to the 11:59:59 pm deadline tonight.
Perhaps you have no interest in the draft, which is possible as I know a lot of people who don't follow the baseball draft. The arguments against it are all the same, “why should I care if I won't see this player again for nearly 3 years.” Or “college baseball isn't even on the same planet as the major leagues, this guy will never make it”. Both are valid arguments, however case in point players from college (and of course high school) do make the major leagues, or else we'd be watching the equivalent of an MLB fantasy camp meant for 50 year olds (although it would have been interesting to see if Cosmo Kramer could have punched out Mickey Mantle) play every year. But as I was saying, players do make it to the show, and in recent years players have managed to skyrocket to the majors seemingly quicker than ever before.
With the premium now placed on young, cheap talent, organizations have no interest in signing over the hill former stars like Kenny Lofton or Mike Piazza (slighty older example) to major league deals. I mean why should they when they can just call up a prospect making the league minimum, who can give them the same productivity at a fraction of the cost than say an aging veteran looking to hang around. In some cases we do have to wait, far more likely in the high school players scenario, but more often that not we may see a college player in the majors a year after they were drafted. However with Strasburg, when he signs, and yes that means I believe he will sign tonight, we may see him in the majors before the 2009 season even ends.
It's no surprise the Nationals and Strasburg are taking this long to complete a deal. It's just how Scott Boras rolls, not to mention most other top draft picks. Strasburg being a special case however, seeing as most scouts called him the greatest collegiate pitcher of all time, was obviously going to wait until the last second to sign. And honestly I don't understand all the negative press he gets regarding this decision by the fans and the media.
I don't know if its jealousy or misplaced anger that causes the fans to turn on someone like Strasburg for asking for $50 million dollars. And I say misplaced anger because I think a lot of people are angry at Strasburg's agent Scott Boras, but choose to take it out on Strasburg instead. US born players are the only ones subject to a draft, a draft that puts a cap on how much money they can sign for, by cutting off the free market and making said player have to negotiate with just one team. Yet if you are born in Latin American or in Asia, you can have every team bid for your services and sign for the most money possible. Now why should players born in the US not receive the same right?
Scott Boras happened to float the $50 million dollar figure out to the media, knowing his player was never going to sign for that much. But it is his job to set the ceiling high, and then have the Nationals meet him somewhere in the middle. Mark Prior currently has the highest signing bonus for a draftee ever, at $10.5 million. Strasburg had a better college career than Prior, so he should obviously get more. And once you factor in inflation, we are already looking at a contract somewhere near $20 million dollars. Which is about how much money I expect him to sign for.
So again I ask, why the hate? If you were in that position, wouldn't you try to get as much money as possible? Why is it such a crime that Strasburg try to make even a fraction of what his open market value is from some billionaire owner? Unlike most sports, Strasburg won't be a free agent in just a few years. In baseball a player must have 6 years of MLB service time before he is an unrestricted free agent. That means for a player in his early 20s, he won't be able to get a big pay day until the prime of his career is nearly over. So why shouldn't he be able to try to get as much money upfront as possible, especially considering how physically demanding his position is.
I know people like to say, “he hasn't earned it”. Nonsense, of course he has earned it. He earned the right by putting in the time and effort to be the number one draft pick in the United States. Once he takes the mound for the Nationals he will make them a ton of money due to merchandise and ticket sales. So why shouldn't he get a cut? He has earned that right, just like the Nationals have earned the right to say “no we won't pay it”. In my opinion Strasburg (or any other first round pick) is foolish not to sign if they are already playing in college. But it is their right to choose, he does have options here. I still feel he will sign, and when he does he and the Nationals will both be better off then they are right now.
Now let's move on to all the news surrounding the world of major league baseball. I try to incorporate as many teams as possible in this, so if I missed something let me know or just be patient, I'll get to it:
Around the League
- The Texas Rangers took posession of the American League Wild Card spot with a series win vs. Boston this weekend. Boston was lucky they didn't get swept. I'm really enjoying watching this team play, and it would be nice to see some new blood in the American League postseason picture. As expected, Julio Borbon and Neftali Feliz have had immediate impacts in the race.
- What do the Tigers do with Magglio Ordonez? Fangraphs breaks down the Tigers dilemma.
- It is pretty obvious to Mets fans that they won' be seeing the postseason thanks to a billion injuries, so why is karma adding insult to injury? Hopefully David Wright doesn't have any lingering effects and can return to action at some point this season.
- Maybe Alex Rodriguez or David Ortiz should have hired whoever is advising Bronson Arroyo. He already has his story straight in case he test positive for steroids. IMO, he knows he's on the 2003 list, and since he's not important enough to out by whoever is leaking the names, he mine as well cover his ass now.
- Speaking of steroids, David Ortiz lashed out against the media, fans and basically anyone else who pointed a finger at him. Poor poor Papi. Also of note he recently hired Kevin Youkilis to be his bodyguard. Beware of the flying helmet.
- Overrated? Maybe not so much, as Derek Jeter became the all time hits leader for short stops in the history of baseball passing Luis Aparicio on Sunday. For those wondering, yes Cal Ripken had over 3,000 hits, but remember he moved to third base late in his career (instead of the bench where he belonged). Perhaps the fans and media in New York do go a bit overboard with their love for Derek. He doesn't hit for much power and his defense (prior to this year) was always among the worst in baseball. But he is an offensive force for a player at his position.
- This may be surprising to you, but I managed to find a well written Rick Reilly column. Although this article basically writes its
elf, he still does a nice job by bringing it to the front page of ESPN.com. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Camp Sundown.
- Fantasy killer BJ Upton was in the news last week, and it wasn't positive for the Rays. If the Rays choose to move Upton this offseason, he should (despite his putrid stats this year) fetch a nice return.
- Jemele Hill sucks. I'll leave it to my friends at Thebiglead.com to explain why.
- What do you think of the new MLB helments?
- I can't post the link since it requires you to be an ESPN insider, but for the sake of a good debate, is Todd Helton a HOFer? I think he still has some work to do.
- Although the Nationals may get a big boost to their future rotation when Strasburg signs tonight, they will still have to deal with the loss of RHP Jordan Zimmerman.
- Whitesox GM Kenny Williams broke the law, and endangered the fine citizens of Seattle. Why didn't he just have President Obama have that ticket magically disappear?
- Worst closer in baseball this year? Brade Lidge come on down…..Bob Barker and the Philly fans want to tell you how much you suck.
- Best offensive ballpark in the majors, Colorado. Worst…San Diego. However what lies in between may surprise you.
- To keep track of all the signing's so far, be sure to check out the database over at baseballamerica.com. Or just click here.
- And finally to prove how immature I really am….I will now refer to Kevin Youkilis aka Rick Porcello's bitch as Kevin Weiner (scroll down to background to see why) .
- How about a little contest for those who stuck around to read this whole blog? If anyone can name the person who said the quote below, I'll allow them to write something or provide me with a story of their choosing to include in a future blog entry. This quote is somewhat old, but it's still funny (my apologizes to the fine city of Cleveland):
“To tell the truth, I'm not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I'm excited going to Cleveland, I'd punch myself in the face, because I'm lying.”
So that's it from me. I'll be on little sleep tomorrow since I'll be checking out all the signing results from tonight. If I had to guess I'd say all but one first round pick signs, and that would be Tyler Matzek whom Colorado selected 11th overall. Although the Rockies still had a great draft this year, Matzek would make it that much better. Questions or comments can be sent to JosephGallo@sportstalkbuzz.com. See you next week.
About the Author
Written by Joseph Gallo