Jim Bowden: 'The Ownership Stepped Up'
Fox Sports analyst Jim Bowden was on the Web today discussing the Stephen Strasburg signing, and I thought he offered a pleasantly objective lens from which to view this morning's events.
"This is the best college pitcher that I've ever seen," Bowden said. "I mean, this is a guy that throws 100 miles an hour. He's got a plus-plus fastball, a plus breaking ball, a plus change-up, a smooth delivery. This is the best pitching prospect probably ever drafted in Major League Baseball. Now, whether he makes it or not's gonna depend upon health. We all saw what happened to Mark Prior, we saw what happened to Ben McDonald, but this guy's a little bit special, he's got tremendous makeup.
"This was a really good sign by the Lerner family, Stan Kasten and Mike Rizzo. It was a deal that they got $15 million over four years, $7.5 million in the signing bonus. And look, this was a guy that went 13-1 this year with a 1.32 ERA, 195 punch-outs in 109 innings, only 54 hits, including a no hitter on May 8 against Air Force when he punched out 17 guys. This is a dominating pitcher, and I'm telling you what, if he can stay healthy, there's no reason why he can't be a No. 1 starter in the big leagues."
Of course, this is the same guy who thought there was no reason Daniel Cabrera couldn't be a No. 11 starter in the big leagues, but he's now an analyst, not an executive, so I'll take this as expert gospel. Bowden also said Strasburg has the mechanics to stay healthy, though he acknowledged that arm soundness seems to hinge on dumb luck.
"It's part of baseball injuries, and you can't control that," Bowden said. "Everybody hopes they get a Glavine or a Smoltz or a Maddux that pitches for 10 years and you can win divisional titles. And certainly Washington hopes they get that with Strasburg, but they had to sign Strasburg after not signing Crow last year. The ownership stepped up in Washington, they got it done. This is the beginning of the turnaround for the Nationals, who get him this year and now they've already set the price for next year when they get another Scott Boras client in, yes, Bryce Harper from Las Vegas."
Well, maybe, Jim. But bear in mind that the Nats are now just 3 games back of the Royals and within striking distance of at least three other teams. It's not necessarily the Nats' fate to finish in 30th place every season.
As for the issue of maturity; well, he Bowden has no doubts about Strasburg being too immature. On this, if on nothing else, I will trust Jim Bowden.
"This guy has the poise as a 10-year veteran in the big leagues," Bowden said. "He's got the poise, the mechanics. Really if they want to run him to the big leagues this September they can. I would think because of service time they'd prefer to wait til next year, but he's capable right now of pitching in the big leagues."
Hard to think of a stronger endorsement than that.
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