Stan Kasten on the Strasburg "frenzy"
With Stephen Strasburg poised to join a team that's been hovering around .500, one of the most popular questions has gone like this: Say the Nats remain in the mix for the National League wild card. Say Strasburg is dominating, but is nearing his pre-ordained innings limit. Say the Nats really need a win in early September, and Strasburg is sitting there, raring to go. What then?
Stan Kasten was asked a version of that question Wednesday on Toronto's The Fan 590, and he insisted the team would stick by its limits. (Listen here.)
"Yeah, absolutely. absolutely," Kasten said on Prime Time Sports. "Now, we may do things along the way. We may skip a start. We may keep his innings lower if we see that happening. I don't know what else we might do to manage the number, but we have a number in our head based on all the experience we can put together, and we're not going to go past it. We're not going to ruin, or take a chance at ruining, a 21 or 22 year old."
The host, Bob McCown, asked whether that number of innings was under 200.
"It's something like 150 or 160, including the minors, and he's got about 50 in the minors now," Kasten said. "So we're looking at between 100 and 110-ish or so in the majors. That's what we expect."
The other highlight came at the very beginning, when Kasten joked about the money the Nats are paying to Strasburg.
"You know what, I have to say, based on what we've seen so far, write this down," Kasten said. "You're not gonna hear me say this very often. Scott Boras was not exaggerating how good he is, how about that?"
"I'm sure next time you deal with him, that's a good rule of thumb to bring in there," co-host Stephen Brunt joked.
"Could be as soon as Monday by the way, yeah," Kasten said with a laugh.
So later in the interview, they revisited the number one pick, mentioning how Kasten had alluded to Boras client Bryce Harper.
"Well, I didn't actually allude to him," Kasten said. "Because Scott probably has five of the top six players in the draft, so who knows who it might be? I'm sure this: no matter who he is, if he's Scott's client, the negotiation will be delightful."
On how Tuesday will compare to other Nats moments: "Well, the first Opening Day, the return of baseball to Washington, that was big. The opening of the new stadium, that was big. But this is the first pure baseball event that has fans really focused on a bright team future, and that's what makes it significant. This team -- I think people were talking about in the offseason -- was getting closer, getting closer, are they ready to turn the corner? And we've had an encouraging first quarter, first third of the season. I think we thought the second half of the year was when we'd make a move, but it's coming a little faster than we were planning. And to get Stephen to come up in the midst of all this positive energy building up, along with all the other things that we have coming for us, it's just a great, a thrilling time. And as long as I've been around, I've never been around a frenzy quite like what we're experiencing here."
On how much the Nats' success affected Strasburg's call-up date: "The truth is, very little. Because players develop on a very individualized basis. There's no telling how long anyone is gonna take, and we weren't gonna bring him up until he was ready, until he had lived through some things, until he had a certain amount of experiences. And the other side of that, because he's only 21, we're monitoring his innings very closely. And if we get to the number at the end of august, we're gonna shut him down. Because right now, he has so much importance to the future of the franchise that we're gonna do what's in the kid's best interests, because ultimately that will be in the best interest of the franchise."
On whether they've kept Strasburg from Super Two status: "You know, my guess is yeah, but I also think that date passed weeks ago. Historically, that date would have been somewhere in mid-May. There were a number of considerations. I think we would feel more comfortable if he started at home. Three starts in AA, three starts in AAA, that pushes you into the middle of May already, and then upcoming was the next homestand. So it all kind of fell into place, even though we gave him five starts at each level. So that was one of the factors, but there were many many others, and nothing would have worked unless his performance had dictated that he's ready, and we think he is. Could he have pitched here Opening Day? I'm sure he could have. Does he still have more that he will learn? Yes, I'm sure there is. But we feel comfortable now letting him take his stuff up here and learn how to get Major League hitters out."
On whom they'll take on Monday: "Mike Rizzo, our GM, has made his decision, and I think they feel pretty good about it. And because we don't need to until we have to make that decision, we're not gonna announce it until Monday night. But all of you should be tuning in Monday night, because it's gonna be a very exciting time. We'll be the center of the baseball world Monday, and back again Tuesday to continue as the center of the baseball world."
(Many thanks to reader Russell for the tip.)
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