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Gwynn On Strasburg

At Nationals Park, they're also trying to play a game tonight. Looks like it'll happen, too. Just about 10 minutes ago, groundskeepers started removing the tarp. The first pitch is scheduled for 8:50 p.m.

Meantime, here is what SDSU coach Tony Gwynn said about Stephen Strasburg.


(On Strasburg's contract negotiations.) I hope the signing process goes quickly, because I think the kid wants to play. He wants to be a big league pitcher. And I hope he can get this thing done so he can go to work, because I know that's what he really wants to do.

(On whether he is major league ready.) Nobody is major league ready right now. If they put him out there he'll be able to compete because, like I said, he's got this baseball savvy. He knows hitters are going to be trying to make a point -- he knows major leaguers especially are going to be trying to make a point, letting him know how difficult it is to be successful at the big league level. If he is able to get there before the year is out I think he'll compete. I still think there are lessons you have to learn. You have to go through some adversity, and he quite frankly hasn't had a whole lot here in the last couple years. You know, I think you have to kind of take your lumps in order to learn how to be a major league pitcher, but at the next level there are going to be guys who've seen 100 mph fastballs, guys who've seen really good sliders. And he's going to have to learn how to get guys out by getting more balls over the plate, and you just don't have that, you have to learn that. He'll be a willing pupil, he'll learn that, and I think he'll have success.

(On the track record for pitching phenoms.) Maybe the right guy hasn't been in that situation. I don't know. I don't have the answer. I just know that there's an awful lot of scrutiny on that No. 1 guy, and being that No. 1 guy, there are expectations that come with that. I think Stephen is a guy who can handle that. That remains to be seen, but I've watched him the last three years. I've especially watched closely this year, because if there was ever a year where it was gonna go to your head, this year was gonna be that year. And it didn't. He just went about his business like he always does.

(On expectations) I told him last summer, before he went off to summer ball and the Olympics, that he was gonna be the most talked about player in college baseball next year. And with that there are some responsibilities that come. Things that you have been doing have been great, and you will have to continue to do those things. Like this expectation is gonna follow you. It's gonna follow you into this next year, into the draft and beyond. You know, again, he could have backed away from that. He could have said, 'Coach, I don't know if I'm ready. Could you talk to the press for me?' He didn't do that. He stepped right up to the challenge. So I expect him to do the same thing here. And for him this is kind of the ultimate challenge, because to get where he wants to go he's gonna have to perform. And I'm a believer. (Chuckles.) I'm a believer. For a 20-year-old to do the things he did this year and now be the first player taken in the draft, believe me, I know Nationals fans are going to expect a lot, and I don't know if that's fair or not, but that is what comes with that job. Hopefully he'll embrace it and go out and show people why all the fuss.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 9, 2009; 8:23 PM ET
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Ok - uncle. Hooray Strasburg!

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 9, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Holy smokes what a day in NatsTown.

The talking heads are saying the Nats done good. But were we shortsighted in drafting a guy because he's close to the majors? Closers have tiny shelf lives, right?

Nieves behind the plate not Bard. Go Detwiler!

Posted by: nattaboy | June 9, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I posted this by mistake on an earlier post but, please people, be real. Does anyone really know enough to criticize (or praise) the Storen pick? Have you seen him pitch? Would you know what you were seeing if you saw him pitch?

You have to make assumptions and show a little faith. It makes sense to pick a college pitcher, presumably pretty close to being ready for the bigs, who can work as a reliever. Good luck, is all I can say.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 9, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

JiM - I'd like to nominate this one for POD . . .
I don't know ... a reliever with control who can fire 95 mph strikes ... what would we do with him?

(this year ...)

(... next week)

(... tonight)

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 9, 2009 7:32 PM |

Posted by: lowcountry | June 9, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

That the Nats took a fellow with the #10 pick who is/can be a reliever makes sense to me. It's not like they are having alot of success with the guys they have now in the bullpen. Give this kid some time in the minors and may he makes it to big club before the season is over. For that matter maybe Strasburg gets called up by September also.

Posted by: bigmook | June 9, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

When I grow up I want to be as smart as the posters on this blog.

It must be so nice to be psychic. Not only that but they're smarter than all the scouts and cross-checkers, scouting director and GM too. Wow, I'm impressed.

I realize I'm in the minority but I actually work on the assumption that Rizzo and his staff know more about the players in the draft than I do.

Now I can sit back and prepare to be flamed 3 or 4 dozen times because the posters here (for the most part) are not the slightest interested in discussion or debate. Rather they're much happier with personal attacks.

As someone else has already written tonight, have you seen all the draftees play? If not, what are you using to justify your opinions?

Posted by: grforbes | June 9, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Chico - why is Nieves playing instead of Bard? Is Bard also "day-to-day"?

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | June 9, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse


You may get flamed but, I agree. It takes a special sort of mind to assume that experts with hours of video and full time job watching it know less than you because you know how to type 'google'.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 9, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Baseball America's top 25 prospects:

Storen - #36

Baseball Prospectus has Storen #44
Minor League Ball (Sickels) - Storen #20

I dont watch the prospects, but these guys do. In some cases (like BA) these writers are plucked to be in MLB scouting departments.

Does a team with a .290 winning percentage really need to draft a possible closer? And with the 10th overall pick? Why not take Bullock with the 50th pick instead and use the 10th on White or a comparable starting pitcher?

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | June 9, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse


Appeal to authority canard aside, I for one don't think I know better. What I know is:

Every mock draft I saw (which are also put together by experts, you'd imagine) had Storen well below several other pitchers who were still available (particularly Matzek and White) - most rankings had Storen as a late teens-early twenties pick, to say nothing of Grant Green, who was clearly one of the top 3 position players in the draft, and who plays a defensively premium position of need.

Rizzo made a strong case in the days leading up that they'd take the best player available regardless of signability.

At no point has he yet said "He was highest on our board other than Strasburg." As his interviews have gone on, he's started saying "he's the best closer in the draft" and "we had him very high" - neither of those are quite saying "he was the best player available."

Many experts had Storen rated as a "signability" pick - a guy who would sign readily for slot money. Most mocks had the Nats taking Storen for that reason.

Again, I'm not saying at all that he's a bad player, or a bad pick. What I'm saying is that this is again a case of the Nats saying one thing and doing another - this isn't the first case and probably won't be the last. For me, if they had said up front "we intend to take the overall budget into consideration and we're going to improve the ballclub within the budget we have to get guys signed," at least then they'd have been clear. It gets tiresome to see them opt for the financially frugal option time and again. I'm hoping Storen turns out to be Mariano Rivera and Papelbon combined and I'm hoping he's the Nats closer for the next 10 years and maybe he will be, but this is yet another Nats Management Fail, imo. Not THAT they took him, but HOW they took him - and that again they treat their hardcore fans as if they are sheep to be led around by the nose. Maybe you're ok with sitting back and saying "Hey, make whatever decision you want - I'm rooting for the laundry," but I'm becoming less and less inclined to want to do that.

Most likely, you'll root your way, I'll root mine.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 9, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse


But there in lies the rub. Green plays a premium position but not one scout thinks he'll stick there. Now does he have the pop to stick at 2b? 3b?

Funnily I was hoping we'd sign Mier who is a real SS, but so it goes.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 9, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Soundbloke - I don't think that's true - some scouts seem to think he'll move, but I've heard others say he'll be comfortably average defensively at SS. With a bat like that, moving him to 2b would also have been a fit - if you're not drafting on signability, you take him at 10 and get your closer at 50.

But really, my gripe isn't that they didn't take Green (ok, it is a little, much like it was last year about not taking Smoak), but it's really about talking "BPA" when they mean "best player who will sign for slot."

Silver lining: This means they're taking a Strasburg-or-bust approach to the signing strategy - they're saving money in the high rounds to dedicate to the SS war chest.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 9, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

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