Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is Strasburg the Savior for Baseball in the Nation’s Capital?

Have you ever read a story about an individual that regretted winning the lottery? It’s a sad tale of how they succumb to the demands of their new found wealth. The Washington Nationals are in a similar situation following the 2009 Amateur Baseball Draft, as they chose San Diego State University pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the first overall choice in the draft. And now, the big question for them is do they have enough money to sign him to a contract.

His agent Scott Boras has gone on record with various media outlets that it will take a record-breaking offer to secure Strasburg’s signature. His collegiate numbers this season are very impressive, as Strasburg went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA and lead the Aztecs to their first NCAA postseason berth since 1991. His primary pitch is a fastball that has been clocked by Baseball America at 102 MPH. This year, Strasburg lead Division-1 pitchers with 195 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched.

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Before too long, the Nats will need to sign him. Besides the congressional hearing on steroids, there hasn’t been much buzz about baseball in the nation’s capital. Last year, National fans had to endure a 102-loss season, and signing Strasburg could show that the team’s luck might be changing in the right direction. Having him on the hill every fourth day could generate income from added attendance at the ballpark. The Nationals are currently rank 27th in MLB attendance, and this despite playing in a recently-built stadium.

ESPN’s Peter Gammons has gone on record that he believes the Nationals will eventually sign Strasburg to a record contract (in the range of $15-18 million) later this summer.

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The major league playing career of the #1 overall pick hasn’t been successful, as only 40 percent of them have been chosen to an All-Star Game. None have been selected to the Hall of Fame, but three active former #1 choices (Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and Chipper Jones) certainly have the credentials for consideration.

The Nationals must decide if taxing Strasburg’s arm in meaningless September games is worth it for everyone involved. They don’t want him becoming another David Clyde, who was rushed to the majors by the Texas Rangers seeking to keep fans in their seats. His star shined brightly for a short time before arm injuries ended his career. Team management must institute a plan to bring Strasburg along, and that must include how many innings he can pitch for the remainder of the season.

Either way, the Nationals upcoming decision should be a costly one for them.

Written By Thomas Conroy

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