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Strasburg Is Everywhere -- And Coming To A Team Near You

By now, chances are good that every last American with a reporter's notebook, a blog, or both has taken the opportunity to write about Stephen Strasburg. (Examples below.) We're about one day shy from this. Various mock drafts have the San Diego State right-hander, available for selection in tonight's MLB draft, going... well let's see here, first, first, first, first and first.

That said, there's plenty of thought-provoking stuff to cover here, and it extends not from if/when he's drafted No. 1, but how/when he signs. I want to particularly highlight Sheinin's story, which sets up the negotiations between agent Scott Boras and Nats president Stan Kasten. They have an interesting, complex history, and here they'll collide on an issue that threatens to establish a new precedent for amateur ballplayers.

Boras wants to blow up the system.

Kasten insists on honoring the system.

BORAS: "The international market has always been a link to the value of the extraordinarily gifted draft pick. The fact is, we now have international baseball players who have never played in the major leagues dictating what the market is for talent. We have non-major leaguers getting value points. That means that the need for talent without major league certification is at a level it's never been at before, which tells you about the demand."

KASTEN: "We intend to be aggressive, and we have every intention of signing the pick. We know what [top picks] have made [in the past]. We know the risks associated with any draft pick, much less a pitcher. It's why they get what they get. And we're going to be consistent with that. And if [a contract agreement] doesn't happen, and we have to take the second pick next year [as compensation], so be it."

I'll blog a bit later about pick No. 10 -- fascinating for different reasons -- but in the meantime, here is some additional Strasburg reading.

Boswell calls himself a "Strasburg booster" -- but only if the price isn't totally loony. (About $15 million sounds right.)

Even Outside the Lines weighs in.

SI's Jon Heyman, too, gives some thoughts on the upcoming negotiations, and writes of Strasburg's eventual dollar figure, "the guesses of baseball executives generally range from the low- to mid-$20 millions, up to one National League executive predicting $30 million."

The New York Times's Alan Schwarz reminds everybody of the context here. More often than not, the best amateur pitchers don't pan out. He writes, "Three high school pitchers during [the last 20 years] also were electric enough to prompt best-ever hyperbole: Todd Van Poppel in 1990, Brien Taylor in 1991 and Matt White in 1996. Van Poppel won just 40 games in a meandering career, and Taylor and White descended into the moat of the minor leagues, never to be heard from again. Strasburg, who turns 21 next month, is in fact the sixth once-in-a-lifetime pitcher of his own short lifetime. But this has barely distracted the raving scouts, whose job is to look forward, not back. This time, they mean it. Really."

Let's end with more hype. Tampa's David Price says of Strasburg, "He's got better stuff than I do."

By Chico Harlan  |  June 9, 2009; 8:19 AM ET
 
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Next: Strategy With The Tenth Overall Pick

Comments

Life is basically a gamble, so why wouldn't the LernerStanK go a few rounds on the Roulette Wheel? Just a hunch but if past perfomance is any indication "its not part of thier DNA".

Folks we are in for the ride of our lives for the next six weeks, according to Thom Loverro of the other daily in town, if this deal doesn't get done the Nats must surrender thier major league charter and join the Pioneer League.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 9, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

I would pick the best bat for number one. The history of "phenom" pitches makes my choice the obvious one (to me). That being said, if Strasburg is picked and signed, I hopes he works out. If not, I equally hope that all the flamers on ths blog, will live with it and not attempt to blur their incessant advocacy for Strasburg by railing against the NATS leadership for "making such a dumb move."

Sec 204 Row H Seat 11

Posted by: adhardwick | June 9, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"Boras wants to blow up the system."

Fascinating, except that if the Lords of Baseball (who coined that phrase?) deem the system to be the system, and the MLBPA does nothing, it is what it is. The real genius is how MLB skirts around this self-created system with the "training facilities" in the DR. Are there other "training facilities" coming in other geos? Will there be trading agreements with leagues in the Far East?

So good luck to Mr. Boras. In the meantime, what does tonight's lineup look like?

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 9, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Two quick thoughts on this day of days:

1) The Nats can engage Boras directly in his "market-talk." If we look truly at the market - all indications are that Strasburg signs about or below Prior salary. Across MLB, attendance is down, TV and advertising revenues are down, even off-season free agent salaries were down (see, Adam Dunn). It is about time for Scotty to be reminded (as most of the rest of us have) that markets are not simply progressive institutions.

I would offer Strasburg the $4.5 million that Crow did not get last year - there is some really nice ironical symmetry in that figure.

2. Given the overall economic situation in general and that of MLB in particular, I think the longer negotiations extend the more it plays into the hands of the Nats - especially if we could win a few games in the interim. Make the signing of 9B the priority - get it done quickly and then you can play with Scotty until August.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 9, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps Harold Parrott's 1976 book is the source of the phrase?

http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2002/apr/dodgers/

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 9, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

natsfan1a1: possible, but wondering if Bill Madden (NY Daily News) pre-dates that.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 9, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

natsfan1a1: found it...

http://books.google.com/books?id=afQVWhAm1TEC&pg=PA309&lpg=PA309&dq=%22lords+of+baseball%22+%22dick+young%22&source=bl&ots=kQYpBzBZt9&sig=ssfbYAKkLo7Jtog4NcAeAGPMdTI&hl=en&ei=tWEuSpPDHIKItge_8rmNDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 9, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I think the rest of David Price's quote in the last link is interesting. He says that he's still trying to get back to how he pitched during his final year at Vanderbilt (and indeed, he seems to have a lot more control problems now than he did then). Maybe Strasburg should consider the potential impact of not pitching in a live game between now and next spring. Maybe it's too late for that now.

Posted by: jcj5y | June 9, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

FWIW, I think you guys are wrong on taking the best bat available - the bast bat doesn't have the ceiling that Strasburg has. Strasburg is far and away the bast player in this draft. It;s a huge mistake if the Nats take anyone else at #1. In fact, they can have my seats if they don't take Strasburg.

As for negotiations, Boras and the economy. Scott Boras doesn't care about the economy when he is representing a player like Strasburg. Strasburg is a once in a lifetime talent - if you listen to anyone.

What MLB should do is have more control over who they allow to be agents. I have no problem with Boras getting as much money for his client as possible - but when an agent says he wants to blow up the system, I think MLB needs to figure out a way to censure him. MLB does license its agents, so, they do have some control. I think that they need to figure out a way to control the bonuses, but still be fair to players. It'd make sense to me that teams would have a signing budget based on a % of MLB revenues with a floor and a ceiling that has a 3 year rolling average.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 9, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Do NOT pick Strasburg. Boras has every intention of holding up the Nats without a gun and driving the number so high that the Nats will be embarrased again. Boswell has been back and forth on this. He is crazy to think that he will settle for 15 million.

Posted by: MKadyman | June 9, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Good legwork, joem! Didn't think to look at my copy of the Baseball Dictionary.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 9, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Sign Strasburg, have him for at least six years, then hope he comes to like D.C. and the Nats enough to resist the siren calls of the two AL East evil empires (who are playing each other tonight in Boston), as well as the Mets and Dodgers, when those six years are up.

Posted by: VPaterno | June 9, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

The fact that I used to read Dick Young all the time just points to my...(ahem)...experience.

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 9, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

MKadyman: The Nats have to sign Strasburg they don't have a choice. The Lerners and Kasten chance being run out of DC if they don't, after last year's debacle surrounding Aaron Crowe the nationals have to show the fans they're serious about winning and Strasburg legitimizes the franchise and proves to the fan base that building a winning team is a number one priority.I agree that the price Boras is asking is crazy but they almost have to sign this kid.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 9, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I would pick the best bat for number one. The history of "phenom" pitches makes my choice the obvious one (to me). That being said, if Strasburg is picked and signed, I hopes he works out. If not, I equally hope that all the flamers on ths blog, will live with it and not attempt to blur their incessant advocacy for Strasburg by railing against the NATS leadership for "making such a dumb move."

Sec 204 Row H Seat 11

Posted by: adhardwick | June 9, 2009 8:53 AM

I'm with you, adhardwick. When I read Boswell's reasons for not breaking the bank on Strasburg, I reach another conclusion. Go with the bat!

But, it seems obvious that the decision has been made. They're going to pick Strasburg. So, I hope we get lucky and Strasburg pans out. But I don't expect it.

Mostly, I'm excited to see who we pick up in the later rounds. Hopefully, we'll find another trio of pitchers like Zimmermann, Lannan and Martis.

Posted by: hacmanindc | June 9, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Please, Stan, just shut up and do you what you need to do to sign the player. Boras isn't listening to your bluster, and he's not afraid of you. And your remaining "fans" don't care about the snake oil Plan you are trying to sell any more, they care about results. Just get it done.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 9, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Not if we listen to Tony Gwynn. He is merely a very good college pitcher who is going to need to learn how to get major League hitters out with pitches in the strike zone.
____________________________
As for negotiations, Boras and the economy. Scott Boras doesn't care about the economy when he is representing a player like Strasburg. Strasburg is a once in a lifetime talent - if you listen to anyone.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 9, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I suspect that they will take their baseball team with them if we run them out of town. I'd very much hate to see that - but given my circumstances, Charleston is a lovely spot for MLB.
___________________________
The Nats have to sign Strasburg they don't have a choice. The Lerners and Kasten chance being run out of DC if they don't

Posted by: lowcountry | June 9, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

This is for those who think it is foolish to pick a pitcher as an overall #1, based on 40 years of MLB draft experience.

Let's say pitchers were taken with the top pick in 15 or 20 of those years, and most of them flopped. That means the Nats should avoid taking Strasburg? It's like saying that a a batter who starts off the season hitting .200 by going 4 for 20 will never be any good. Let's do at least another 100 years of the draft, and then reach a conclusion about what kinds of picks to avoid.

Posted by: EdDC | June 9, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

As was pointed out on previous threads, and in a couple of the articles linked above, the Dice-K comparison, and even the Contreras comparison, don't hold water. The Nats will have to pay, and I think they will. It will not be for Dice-K money, though. Both Dice-K and Contreras pitched in leagues with far more juice than the NCAA as a whole, much less the Mountain West Conference, so their stats mean far more. I don't think get 50 million, if that is even the opening salvo from Boras, but I think he'll double Prior's deal.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | June 9, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or does it seem contradictory to have a slot system in a league that doesn't have a salary cap?

Boras, despite his gouging intentions, has a strong argument on principle.

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 9, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Okay - progNATStication time:

Strasburg signs well before the deadline.

Total cost - $20-25 million (over slot but under Dice-K). Boras gives Nats a Texeira discount.

Contract terms - major league deal, guaranteed September appearance, right to proofread name on front AND back of jersey. (OK - maybe not that last one.)

To make room, Meat Hook either gets DFA'd or his diabetes "flares up" enough to require the 60-day DL.

Posted by: diogenes_quixote | June 9, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

The slot system helps frugal owners adhere to a principle that benefits them. The slot helps them in negotiations, and provides a justification (excuse) for the owners when they walk away from signing a pick.

Conversely, the slot system helps aggressive clubs that are intent on improving themselves, since above-slot guys can slip to them. Rick Porcello is an example from the 2007 draft, who signed for much more at #27 overall than the Nats' #6 pick, Ross Detwiler, who came in at slot.

This whole slot thing needs to be reformed.

Posted by: EdDC | June 9, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Why not have Boras/Strasburg agree to $20 million, but with the bulk of it coming 5, 6 years from now, based on his health and performance?

Posted by: Juan-John | June 9, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only one laughing that the Nats got themselves in this "signability" predicament by not fielding a Major League level team.
Personally I hope they give Strasburg 50 million and Lerner gets pissed and starts to actually care that he has to give this much money to a college kid as "punishment" for their mistakes over the last few years.
Just an interesting thought, don't you think next year's #1 overall (which we will probably get) will also want Strasburg money? Not saying he's going to get it, but... this is the predicament you get yourself in when you are dead last.

Posted by: PNatsFan | June 9, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

CiL,

I agree with you, the "Plan" man just needs to stop the yappin' and get it done. It's funny how he flaps his gums on stuff like this but, season ticket numbers and a doo doo brown product on the field year after year gets us nothing but the sound of crickets.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 9, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Interesting situation.

The Nats failed to sign Croaw last year, so either they are desperados to get their man this year OR they have done it before will do it again, if the price is not right.

Boras has the super prospect, but the kid's ability to grab a super high Dollar amount next year should the Nats not ink him may be less likely due to general econimc realities, and a year on the shelf for this kid is a year that he does not get the clock ticking to arbitration and get his stats counting for his legacy and such.

My guess is that he will go at 35-40% higher than the highest prior draft deal. We'll see. Either way he aint gonna sign until August 15th at the deadline.

Posted by: dfh21 | June 9, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

@ Juan-John

Because Boras would never take that risk with a young arm. He's too clever. Our owners are however, not.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 9, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I just love the way all the yahoos here are constantly saying "Where is Stan?" and then as soon as a quote from him appears anywhere they immediately start opining that Stan needs to stop his yapping. It's as predictable as sunrise, sunset but nowhere near as breathtakingly awesome.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 9, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

The nice thing is that because the Lerners are SO cheap, there is enough money floating around this organization that we can really afford to take this risk.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 9, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Last years draft was not like this years. Crow made a huge mistake in the long run because with this year's talent pool his draft position has dropped. I think in the long run the Crow no-sign decision may turn out to be one of the best decisions the organization has made. I agree that it does put more pressure to sign Stras given that the fans will be pissed if it happens again.

Posted by: Tom8 | June 9, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"The nice thing is that because the Lerners are SO cheap, there is enough money floating around this organization that we can really afford to take this risk."

It's more like they are SO rich and usually make so few mistakes in spending their money that they can really afford to take such a big risk in such an extraordinary situation as this one without destroying the franchise should it not pan out.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 9, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

nunof1

You speak the truth. This attitude will disappear as we get less aweful as a team.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 9, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Alas, the bad luck/dumb carelessness is now extending to coverage issues.

In the Post's front-page photo caption (by the way, that slideshow thing sucks, and is one of the single biggest irritants of my day. It doesn't show long enough to view anything):

"After Nationals pick pitcher Stephen Strasburg in today's draft, landmark negobiations begin."

Posted by: Section506 | June 9, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

EdDC @ June 9, 2009 10:31 AM:

"Conversely, the slot system helps aggressive clubs that are intent on improving themselves, since above-slot guys can slip to them. Rick Porcello is an example from the 2007 draft, who signed for much more at #27 overall than the Nats' #6 pick, Ross Detwiler, who came in at slot."


EdDC, don't you think it's pretty funny how Stan loved to make comparisons between the Nats and the Tigers before the '07 season started, in order to try to insulate the organization from what was predicted to be the worst season ever? Those comparisons mystersiously stopped, however, once it came time to draft players. Verlander is another great example of how the Tigers' aggressiveness in the draft has helped them turn things around.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 9, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

nunof,

The Lerner's and Kasten love lemming's like yourself. Close your eyes and blindly follow.

I just can't believe that you don't see that this organization is national media punchline right now.

The Lerner's and Kasten need to open the check book and start spending, and the time is NOW.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 9, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"The Lerner's and Kasten need to open the check book and start spending, and the time is NOW."

When did I ever say they shouldn't do that?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 9, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"don't you think it's pretty funny how Stan loved to make comparisons between the Nats and the Tigers before the '07 season started, in order to try to insulate the organization from what was predicted to be the worst season ever? Those comparisons mystersiously stopped, however, once it came time to draft players."

Maybe that was because he heard you guys saying he needed to stop his yapping.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 9, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

ABM: I know you are, but what am I? Seriously, why don't you just give it a rest. Or go update your own blog if you need to take out some frustration on others.

"I just love the way all the yahoos here are constantly saying "Where is Stan?" and then as soon as a quote from him appears anywhere they immediately start opining that Stan needs to stop his yapping. It's as predictable as sunrise, sunset but nowhere near as breathtakingly awesome."

Posted by: nunof1 | June 9, 2009 11:01 AM

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 9, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

CoverageisLacking, I'm not this ABM person and I don't have a blog. Figure it out.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 9, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

That sounds like a cue for a show tune. Yay! Or not. But there is a new post up.

---

It's as predictable as sunrise, sunset but nowhere near as breathtakingly awesome.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 9, 2009 11:01 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 9, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@juan-john: Why not have Boras/Strasburg agree to $20 million, but with the bulk of it coming 5, 6 years from now, based on his health and performance?


from minorleagueball.com: If it’s structured to where most of the money comes in the last 2 years of the deal, with opt-outs for arbitration, Boras would be putting himself in a tough spot on deciding whether or not to take the last opt-out if he’s a true ace by that point. Prior opted out of a year of his draft contract, but was only scheduled to make a little over $2 mil, way less than Strasburg would under this deal.


wow, this amateur GMing online isn't so easy...

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | June 9, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Unless negobiations are where one side comes up with a figure so wacky that causes the other side to be gob-smacked.

---

"After Nationals pick pitcher Stephen Strasburg in today's draft, landmark negobiations begin."

Posted by: Section506 | June 9, 2009 11:17 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 9, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

There really ought to be a way to bridge the gap, with a contract that is loaded with incentives. There's no way the Nats try to stall his progress just to save a few bucks. So, if he gets into the Nats' rotation, he gets paid a serious major league salary, plus bonuses that would accrue if he lives up to the best-ever hype. If he does, $50 million would be cheap.

Posted by: fischy | June 9, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that people are still debating here whether to pick Strasburg. I think that horse is out of the barn.

The Nats need to establish the team as credible. Waiving a phantom $200 mil at Horse Face Teixera who had no intention of signing here at any price didn't do it because the Nats never followed up signing anyone of note until they found they could get Dunn on the cheap. Dunn should have been signed to a longer contract much sooner. If they spend $50 million to sign Strasburg and he is a bust, at least they demonstrate they are credible and not a half-stepping cheapskate team combing the waiver wire for the next Dmitri Young, Terrel Young or Wily Mo Pena. Negotiate in good faith, get the best deal you can Stan. But SIGN STRASBURG. More than a pitching prospect is at stake.

Posted by: raymitten | June 9, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Why can't teams in MLB negotiate with prospective no. 1 overall picks like you do in the NFL -- before the draft. So you can ink your guy right then and there and play one or 2 off of each other in the months leading up to the draft? Don't tell me it's b/c SS is an "amateur". Please, he's had an agent (oops, sorry, an "advisor") for how long now?

Posted by: cdstej | June 9, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Alright, I know I'm going to be sorry I posted this, but I'm still trying to figure where the facts are that say that the Lerners are "cheap." Which free agent is it that actually would have signed here that you think they should have paid? What, we'd be 17 and 38 if only we had signed Randy Wolf? Do you actually think, given a choice, that Hudson was going to sign here? I hate the way the team has been run since the second year of MLB ownership right through the Lerner/Kasten "era," but really folks, who is it that you think they should have signed that they failed to sign? Is it legit to criticize getting the best deal possible when signing Dunn? The only draft pick of significance that they have failed to sign is Crow. What do you think they should have paid him?

Posted by: truke | June 9, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if the Lerners are cheap or not...

But the facts are the facts. They have not spent any free agent money since they took over the team. Sure they signed Dunn (at a bargain price) when no one else wanted him, And added Beimel too. They spent $5M on LoDuca, but that was money not well spent...

Would Wolf have improved the team, I don't have a crystal ball, but probably not. But maybe, maybe one night when we were running a 23yo pitcher out there, Wolf would have thrown 8 1/3 and stopped a losing streak. Probably not. More importantly, they sat on their hands in the Winter of 2006 and again in 2007, when they could have been filling in with useful players, instead. They did nothing.

As for O-Hudson, Boswell reported that he failed his Nats physical. He sure looks unable to play if you ask me.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 9, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

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