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Kasten on Strasburg-Ovechkin

We've all been using the comparison for month, despite the fact that Stephen Strasburg has way more teeth than Alex Ovechkin, but now that Strasburg's been signed, it sort of becomes more obvious that this comparison won't work. For one thing, it's still unclear whether Strasburg likes tight tees and bad techno. Also, Ovechkin is flashy, captivating, witty, accented, a born entertainer and a highlight machine. We have no idea whether Strasburg is any of those things, but he almost certainly will never pitch from a prone position.

Plus, he'd only play once every five days, and all that.

Anyhow, here was Stan Kasten to LaVar and Dukes yesterday, when asked about the comparison.

"You know it's different, it's different in baseball," Kasten said. "Unlike the NBA, where you can draft Shaquille and you go to the Finals, that's just not the way baseball is. Baseball needs 25 guys up here, and you need 200 guys in the minors to get the 25 guys up here. It's just different.

"I do think though to the extent people need a statement made, it's one more statement, like the statement we made when we pursued free agents this offseason, like the statement we made when we signed Ryan Zimmerman. So it's another important credibility builder with our fans, it's a credibility builder in the clubhouse, and it's only one pitcher, you need five of them at least to go through a whole season, but there's no question that the good teams have that number one horse, and we think this is a kid who in time has the potential to develop into that. Not yet, not today, maybe not next year, but in time has the potential to be that kind of pitcher."

And then Kasten continued.

"I know the hype perhaps helped Stephen get a better contract than he might have otherwise, but the hype has not been good to him otherwise, because no one could live up to the hype that he's had. It's impossible. And I want to tell you for sure, we don't need him to. We don't believe the hype. We think he's a great kid with enormous potential, but right now it's just potential. We recognize that. Our job is to help him develop it. We do not expect him to turn the franchise around because nobody could, so to that extent we all need to tamp our expectations down to a more realistic level, but realistically he has a chance to be a real horse in our rotation."

And this, in fact, sounded awfully familiar. Just like the Caps did in 2004, the Nats have to find a way to use their new star to sell merchandise and tickets without naming him the savior. Here was George McPhee, right after Ovechkin was drafted.

Ovechkin "is not going to be the centerpiece, he's going to be one guy on the team," McPhee said. "We're not going to put him in over his head. We're going to give him the ice time he earns and make him accountable like everybody else is."

Ted Leonsis was a bit more effusive; "time will tell whether this was the right decision, but right now it feels pretty good," he said. "When he stood next to me [on stage], I honestly could feel his heart pumping, which is what everyone has been saying about him -- his engine runs at higher RPMs."

"He has a confidence and inner glow that radiates success," Leonsis also said, to George Solomon. "He has great individual talent, but his teammates love him. I hope he can be a leader for us."

(See more on the comparison from Capitals Kremlin.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 19, 2009; 11:21 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Nats  
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Strasburg is an Ovechkin that plays once a week.

So that makes him more like.. Nylander?

Posted by: Semvechkin | August 19, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Can Strasburg take a hit & crush men?

Posted by: Max231 | August 19, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Well, he can throw a ball at their skulls at 100 MPH, though it would not be very sporting.

All the Stasburg is the Nats' Ovechkin talk is silly.

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | August 19, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Strasburg wont win an MVP or Cy Young award thru his whole career, let alone two in his first four years. Let's stop this silly comparison. I pray SS plays well but a more rational comparison in this town would be Lavar Arrington....a ballyhooed, freakish prospect coming out of college who provides us a few good/above avg seasons. If he turns into a MVP then all the better but let's cease this nonsense putting him on the Ovechkin bus.

Posted by: fushezzi | August 19, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

fushezzi is correct. This comparison isn't even CLOSE. Stratsburg will most likely never be an MVP, let alone back to back.

Yes it's a different sport. Yes it is the same situation where a #1 pick is going to a basement team. NO he is no where near to baseball what OV is to hockey.

Don't forget we had another #1 pick named Kwame Brown..

Posted by: Mtortora | August 19, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Awfully glad to see that Gibbs' "up here" has proliferated across DC sports.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | August 19, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, c'mon, next year's draft pick Bryce Harper will be the Nats' Alex Ovechkin.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 19, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

And boy, ain't the San Diego State cap cool lookin? That's a sweet lid. Have to get one, and rock the red of the new recruit.

Posted by: doclinkin | August 19, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Fernando Valenzuela, Vida Blue, Mark Fidrych, Dwight Gooden, Nolan Ryan are but a few names that come to mind in baseball where a pitcher had an electric impact on their teams and the sport. Nats are desperate for a marquee face of the franchise -- Zim appears to be too workman-like to fill the role as the team's marketing centerpiece --so I don't find the Ovechkin comparison quite that far-fetched. Both are star young players around whom championship teams and dreams can be built. Instant credibility for fans and to potential free agents. Still a lot to prove but we're not talking Greg Joly here.

Posted by: McKinley2 | August 20, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Greg Joly, now that is old school! Also, best to be forgotton unless you are a friend or family of Joly!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | August 20, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

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