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The Full Mike Rizzo Draft Commentary

Here is the pre-draft Q&A with Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo. (Quick side question, chicken-egg style. What came first, Scott Boras or the term 'Signability'?)

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Q: How important is this draft for you?

It's been well chronicled, it's a very important draft because whenever you pick in the top of the rounds in every round it's really important. Picking first and 10th is, I guess, historic because it's never been done before and it's very important.

Q: How tough is the No. 10 pick?

We go through our process and our process is a very painstaking, tedious process of breaking down the tools, plugging in things such as make up, off-the-field habits. We interview players, there's psychological test, there's vision tests, there's the interview with players. There's a lot of things that go into each and every pick that we put on the board and the order we do. It's a painstaking type of evaluation process and whenever you have 10 or 12 let's call them top-flight evaluators with their own idea and egos, it often gets very colorful and very exciting in there, in the evaluation process

Q: Because you did not sign Aaron Crow last year, and because you don't get compensation for pick No. 10 if he doesn't sign this time around, does signability become a factor in how you make your draft list?

It really has not. We put the board together in a way where we base the preferential list of the board on by talent, ability and how much impact potential they can have in your organization. Many, many factors go into the way we put the board together, but we're not drafting on signability.

Q: What's your assessment of this draft class?

You know, I would say it's probably an average talent pool this year. I think it's really weighted heavily on pitching this year. The position player pool is much, much thinner than certainly last year's draft was. It's probably the thinnest it's been in the last several years

Q: How have these meetings been different for you than any other for you in years past?

The biggest difference - and it was a big difference - was I haven't seen the amount of players that I have in the past. So I'll be much more relying on listening and hearing what the people around you are saying, kind of gathering information and putting it all together and then making a decision based on information gathered rather than me personally seeing a player. I've seen certainly the top 20 or so players in the draft. But once you get beyond that you've got to trust your people and we've got a great staff of guys over there and I'm confident with the way the board is set up now.

Q: Has that been hard for you, given your background in scouting?

It's different than I've had in my career so far, yeah.

Q: You were saying at least a few weeks back that you were hoping to see in person not just the guys you take at No. 1 and No. 10, but also at No. 50. Do you think that will be the case?

I think that's possible. The way the board is set up they strategically placed me in position where I have seen the 50. Of course, you never know how the boards are going to fall and the players are going to be picked up. But especially this year it's going to be a very interesting draft, especially at the top couple of rounds.

Q: How much give and take is there between you and Dana Brown, the director of scouting?

Well certainly Dana is the director of scouting. He's running the draft room and he's running the draft. I give him my input. There's no unilateral decisions. It's a team effort, and we take input from every aspect and try to make the best decision.

Q: How much disagreement occurs in the draft room?

A lot of disagreement goes on. There's a lot of opinions. And there's a lot of talented evaluators who have been doing it for a long time. Sometimes there's big divides and sometimes there are very small divides. It's a process. We go to video, we study the videos and we study reports and you get it from all different aspects of a player, trying to make a decision. Sometimes it comes down to, if the room is split and someone had to break the tie, and it's usually the higher up in the system you are, you get to break the tie.

Q: At this point, how much work is left to do?

We still have a lot of work. There's 1,600 players that will be drafted this year. I think we have close to 800 names on our board. We're still in the process of going through each and every individual player and putting them on a list in our preferential order. We start everyday and go back to it probably three or four times a day, the top 90, and we'll look at that. We're constantly tweaking that and trying to make sure that list is exactly the way we want it for Tuesday.

Q: Is your top 10 set now?

The top 10 is probably - I would say we're pretty comfortable with the top 10, but it's always subject to change. We're at that point now where we're getting closer to getting it set. In years past, and especially this year, it won't be perfectly set until Tuesday.

Q: You said that Steven Strasburg, barring any injury, would be your No. 1 pick. Is it safe now to say he's going to go No. 1, no ands, ifs or buts?

I don't want to talk about any one individual player now. The board has been set up. When Tuesday comes, we'll certainly have time to talk about who we take.

Q: How often do you talk to other teams to see who they are going to take?

Teams are really reluctant. It's not like what I perceive the NBA to be like or the NFL to be like. Teams are very reluctant to let you know who they are going to take. They usually give you a couple of variables. You really don't know what teams are going to do until they do it. It's a different type of draft here because the lists among the 30 baseball teams are very, very different. There's very little consensus.

Q: What is your philosophy about what's most effective in running a draft room? And are you looking to put a personal touch on this draft?

In the previous two drafts that were here, Jim allowed me to put my personal touches. We certainly have a philosophy, if you will, and a procedure of how I like to do things. Dana Brown's philosophy and mine meshed very well right at the start. So it's not anything that we're on off the board and doing it against he way he wants to do it. We do have philosophy and there's a procedural way of putting the board together. It's worked well for me in the past, and I don't see any need to change it.

Q: Anything specific about that philosophy or those procedures?

I think the bottom line is to get people around you that are really talented and really good and we've done that since I've been brought over here, the Lerner have given us the resources to get some of the brightest minds in baseball. And that's the most important part of it, having the people around you that have their own opinions and can rationally and intelligently express their views and their philosophies and how they like to see it and really take your ego out of the room and just get the best player in each and every round to help the Nationals. That's the philosophy and that's the foundation of the success we've had. And I think we've hit that so far.

Q: Any secret to mediating or managing the egos?

First of all you have to go into the room and have the respect of the people. You are going to be asked to break ties and times, and you can't have thin skin. In the draft room you better have your facts straight and you better have a thick skin. There are times where you're going to trampled on a little bit and argued with and there's a lot of back and forth. It's a unique process. At the end of the day, we all have to be comfortable with where we're at and all be on board. I always say there's no second-guessing after we put the board together. If you haven't made your opinion clear and put your neck on the line for that player, you have no right to second guess afterwards.

Q: How much does the board change during the draft or is most of your work basically done?

The big term we have during the draft, because things are so fluid in the draft room, our big term is 'honor the board.' It takes us 10 days to put that board together. When things start going fast you have to employ certain strategies and be light on your feet but you always have to look at the board and say, 'We have spent all year getting the board the way it is.' It makes little sense to me to go off the board and take a flier on a guy when you've put so much time into putting the board together the way it is.

Q: Any downside to having No. 1 pick when there is a unanimous No. 1?

No there's no downside to it. No downside whatsoever. The only downside is how you got the No. 1 pick the year before.

Q: You've spent months preparing for the draft, but how quickly do you transition to contract negotiations?

That's always part of the thought process, is turning right form selecting the players to signing the players. There's no exception this year. We thought about a whole list of players and how we're going to sign them, what the budge is going to be, that type of thing. That's been our mind for a long time.

Q: How is the scouting, the evaluation part of your new job rank with your other responsibilities?

I think the general manager is, I think, the most important portion of his job is evaluating talent be it on the amateur level or the professional level or the major league level . That's how you acquire players and build teams. So I think it's the most important portion of a general manger's job. If you're not an evaluators as a general manager, you better have people below you who you trust who are evaluators.

Q: Is the scouting portion of the job most fun for you?

For me it certainly is. Evaluating players, being the ballpark and the evaluation of players has always been closest to my heart. I think I've learn the other portions of it through mentors like Stan Kasten, Joe Garagiola Jr., to the point where I feel very comfortable with that. But always my first love is scouting the player.

Q: When you look at the top 50 or so, how many players can make an immediate impact?

That's a really hard question, a really hard question to answer. There's so many variable that come into it. It's a tough question on a generic level to answer.

Q: How does this draft shake out in that regard?

I would say right now it's an average impact draft. I think there's several players up to that can make a good and great impact in the major leagues. As far as the talent level over all in inventory and depth. I think it's an average type of year.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 8, 2009; 7:57 AM ET
 
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Comments

Thanks, Chico.

Posted by: JohninMpls | June 8, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

1) Of course signability is a consideration: you can't make a blanket statement that it's not, e.g., if a prospect says that he's going Div I regardless of the draft, then that has to impact your decision. The question is: at what point is signability not a consideration? What are the IF/THEN statements?

2) "There's 1,600 players that will be drafted this year. I think we have close to 800 names on our board. We're still in the process of going through each and every individual player and putting them on a list in our preferential order."

WHAT?!?!? In the age of Moneyball, you mean to tell us that you're not finished with your draft board?!?! The draft is WHEN?!?!?!?

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 8, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Boras is gonna wait and watch with his client acting as the innocent victim. No telling how comical this will all become. Lerners and StanK have no clue what the backlash will be if this goes down as another Nats debacle. I for one, keep thinking maybe Bozwell is on to something and this Strasburg thing might not pan out. Sort of like flipping a coin, should I buy 1000 shares of GM stock or 1000 shares of MSFT. Say I went with 1000 shares of GM 12 months ago, how do you think that worked out?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 8, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

To me, the signability thing has a very simple litmus test. Most draft mocks now have Grant Green falling to (and usually past the Nats) at #10. Green is a fully-developed college bat, who plays a position of need, who would be the best player available at #10. However, he's another Boras client, so there are always signability concerns. A board that has the Nats passing on a guy who's posted two years worth of 1.000+ OPS in a year where Rizzo says the player position is that thin ought to be questioned strongly on the signability issues.

And yes, I know there are questions about whether or not he can stay at ss. To me, that depends entirely on your frame of reference. Except for Espinosa, Green would come in as the best defensive SS in the organization. Besides that, an Ian-Kinsler-like move to 2b would be acceptable as well, since it's clear we need help there, too.

He may not have all that sexy "projectability" that scouts rave about, but he hits enough to step in in a year or two and be an ML-average player at worst, I think. The only reason not to take him if he's there at #10 is that you're worried you won't be able to sign two Boras clients. That's a legit concern, but if you're saying and you mean "We're not drafting on signability" then I don't see how you let him drop past you at #10 (*ahem* Justin-Smoak-OPSing-947-in-AA-ball *ahem*).

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 8, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Signability is a funny word.

Last year's top pick, Aaron Crow, had top credentials with a 13-0 record in a major conference. He had the 96 mph fastball, topping at 98. He was regarded by many as the draft's top pitcher, and won the designation as the College Pitcher of the Year. He could have been ready for the rotation along about now, if he had been signed.

However, Crow wanted $4.5 million, so he was deemed not signable by the Nats. Other teams would have sprung for that amount of money (it's just Lo Duca or Filipe money after all, and you get the draftee for six years).

So how would you assess that player's signability? Signable? Not signable? How would you assess Strasburg's signability, or the 10th pick this year? Everyone is signable, for a price.

Posted by: EdDC | June 8, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

i like the idea of espinosa/green pairing up the middle also.

i don't want to read about signability issues regarding the draft. if i do, it should be because a player is falling to us because it's another team's problem.

Posted by: longterm | June 8, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't think "signability" isn't really an in-the-eye-of-the-beholder kind of concept, Ed. To me, "signability" is code for "wants to sign above slot." Crow slid to the Nats at 9 last year precisely because he was saying prior to the draft that he wanted an "out of the box" deal (i.e. above slot). If you aren't drafting on signability (i.e. only drafting people who will accept slot money), then you pick him and take the risk (as the Nats did) that you might not get him signed.

And I refuse to be baited into a "should they have signed that guy" question - I've tired that topic out long ago. =)

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 8, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Nice one, Chico. Interesting to see how it differs from the NFL draft.

Posted by: Juan-John | June 8, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Oops, double-negative - I don't think signability is an eye-of-the, etc. it should have read.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 8, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

6 months ago i'd been so happy to think now we had a shot at a strasburg/green ticket. now it's staring us in the face and we are gonna blink.

Posted by: longterm | June 8, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

To be fair, I think Green was a little overrated when he was the consensus #2 in the fall. He does seem much more Ian Kinsler than Tulowitzki/Longoria to me, but still, in a down year for position prospects, he seems like a real value at #10 if he's there.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 8, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

since MLB has no salary cap, why is there such a big deal made about "slot"?

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 8, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

The Nats are in a no-win situation. Assuming they sign SS and he bombs, he becomes another footnote (a la Ben McDonald, Brien Taylor, Mark Prior, etc ..). If he has moderate/good success (which, as Boz has pointed out, is the best case record of former overall #1 pitchers) then they get no credit for picking the no-brainer #1 selection. Unfortunately, the likelihood that he turns into the next Clemens or Ryan is fairly remote based on past history (again, see Boz) so it seems highly likely the pick will be wasted. Unfortunately, they are not in a position to pass on him and if they don't sign him, all hell will break loose. Too bad they can't trade or sign/trade b/c this one has disaster written all over it.

Posted by: terrapin31590us | June 8, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Kinsler > Tulo's bat. Tulo > Kinsler's glove. Inanimate Metal Rod > Kinsler's glove.

Curious, how does Green compare to Gordon Beckham, who went jsut before Crow last year, to my chagrin?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 8, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Highway295Revisited,

It's not a question of judging whether Crow should have been signed by the Nats or not. The question for me is what does signability mean? For example, does it mean you set a reasonable budget for the pick (slot or maybe a little above) and not go over it, no matter what the credentials of the player? If so, what should that budget be for the Nats?

Let's look at the 2007 draft. The Nats got a decent pitcher in Detwiler for slot money. Rick Porcello fell to the Tigers at #27 because he had Scott Boras as an agent. He was not signable, to most clubs, but he was signable obviously to the Tigers. Porcello looks like the real deal to Detroit now (and Detroit is not exactly a booming econmy right now).

What strategy would you advocate for the Nats? Extend yourself for these young kids? Or stick to your budget? I am just trying to understand what signability means to you. To me, signability is in the eye of the beholder in many ways, and I advocate a much more aggressive strategy for this rebuilding club than what they have shown thus far.

See the below Wikipedia article on Rick Porcello:

Fredrick Alfred "Rick" Porcello III (born December 27, 1988) is a Major League Baseball rookie pitcher for the Detroit Tigers.[1] He was drafted #27 overall in the first round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft.[2] Porcello has been described as an "ace" who could be a "bona fide No. 1 starter."[3] He is currently the youngest player in the major leagues.[4]
Porcello had been projected by Sports Illustrated to be among the first few picks in the 2007 draft. His choice of agent Scott Boras to represent him may have scared away other teams and knocked him down to the 27th spot.[5] The Tigers signed Porcello to a $7.29 million, four-year deal with two one-year options. The total contract is worth $11.1 million, making Porcello the highest-paid high schooler ever.[6] He also received a $3.5 million signing bonus, the second largest bonus ever given out by the Tigers, surpassed only by the $3.55 million given to 2006 first round pick Andrew Miller.[citation needed]

Posted by: EdDC | June 8, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

terrapin31590us: I agree with almost everything you said, except, "they are not in a position to pass on him." I think they are. It's just not an easily defensible position, especially when you're seen as an organization that not only can't win, you can't spell your own name on your jerseys.

If Boras really wants $50 million or close to it for this kid, I think you have to pass. 1) History says he'll likely not be worth it in the end and 2) how do you pay him more than Ryan Zimmerman, after he's given you several years of quality play in the big leagues?

A smart, tough organization would be willing to pass because it would be able to prove it to be a wise decision in the end, with its other picks, other player moves and general performance. Since the Nats can't show that yet, they would be in a brutal period. I'm not sure they can handle that.

In the end, they should simply do the right thing, which obviously isn't that simple. Put away the hype and simply decide, "Do we really want to spend that much money on a guy with no professional experience, as compared to what we're paying our current top talent?" The answer they come up with should make the decision for them.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 8, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

EdDC, I agree that the Nats need to be aggressive, but there are limits. Look at the example you cited. Porcello signed for a total package of $11.1 million. That's a long way from $50 million. Yes, he looks like a great prospect now but look at Andrew Miller, the guy who had the top signing bonus from the Tigers before Porcello. He's now with the Marlins, fighting off arm problems and has a career mark of 13-18, 5.53. He's only 25, so he could get better, but so far it's hard to say he's justified that bonus.

I think if they think Boras is going to want somewhere around $40-50 million, as has been reported, then you pass. But if you pass, you need to show the fans that you aren't just pocketing that money you didn't spend on a draft pick, you use it somewhere else.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 8, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Not really worth a waste of breath because it's already a foregone conclusion but the Nats should NOT take Strasberg--Period. The guy will definitely blow his arm out--Cmon its the Nats. Anyway, its already been well documented that top pitchers never pan out. History and the percentages don't lie. Learn from them.
Get a shortstop or first baseman like they did Zimmerman or even a solid outfielder and start solidifying the defense with players who will be around.
With that said, welcome to DC Mr S.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 8, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

If Green has the potential to be anything like Ian Kinsler..then we have to take him. I dont know if yall noticed, but Kinsler is awesome.

With that said we Definitely need help up the middle- CF, SS, and 2nd.

Hell we dont really even have a legit 2nd base prospect in our whole system.

As for catcher, Derrick Norris is tearing it up at Hagerstown, but apparently he he's not polished yet in calling games/catching the ball.

Posted by: Cartaldo | June 8, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

give the kid his $15 million so we can find out if he's worth the hype. i still say stick him in the minors for a full year though.

Posted by: longterm | June 8, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

we need help in every position but 3rd. drafting for need isn't an issue with the nats.

Posted by: longterm | June 8, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"we need help in every position but 3rd. drafting for need isn't an issue with the nats."

My first thought to this comment was "your wrong"...but on second thought, you are absolutely correct.

We suck all over.

Putting the rotation/potential aside as well as the bullpen.

Lets think about our pos. players and their respective futures.

C- Flores was hitting the ball great before we lost him for the season, so we still dont quite know yet about him. Future- Derek Norris is tearing it up at Hagerstown.

1B- Nick Johnson will/ should be traded soon. Future - Chris Marrero looks awesome

2B- Anderson Hernandez is a bum/ not the future. Future -Dont know of any 2B dudes in our system. (obviously could move a SS over to this spot)

SS- Guzman is awful at D, is old and is also a bum. Future - There are couple of prospects coming up the pipe in Ian Desmond and some other dudes.

3B - Ryan Zimmerman = the Truth,.

OF- Dunn is sweet, but who knows how long we will have him for- also blows at Defense.

Willingham/Kearns = not the future.

Dukes = injury prone..

And from what I can tell there is no sweet Corner OF or CF prospect in our system right now..if there was he would probably have been called up. People talk about Michael Burgess...but hes hitting like .210 right now. To bad Bernadina got injured this year, I would have liked to see how he played.

Im probably missed talking about some pos. propects, but whatever- we are 15-40, Im not going to spend to much time looking up the farm system.

Posted by: Cartaldo | June 8, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Ed, as I said above, to me, "signability" is code for "at or near slot" - if explicitly NOT drafting on "signability," as Rizzo says they are not, then you are willing to take the best player available at a given spot, regardless of what his pre-draft rumored demands are. If you do that, you are also committing yourself to going over slot (significantly if necessary) to get the deal done. If you're picking a guy and using the rumored demands, then you're taking "signability" into consideration.

It's not a definitional question - it's a threshold question - either you are factoring in rumored contract demands into your decision-making process, or you are not. Either one of those is ok, but if you come out publicly and say "We're not drafting based on signability," then I don't want to hear how Grant Green "wasn't the guy highest on our board" if he's still there at #10.

With that said, I think there are a lot of good reasons for the Nats to NOT factor signability in at all - Forbes has them as making significant money this year, and the differences between signing a player and not signing him is usually less than they just paid Daniel Cabrera. So, pony it up and give fans something to hope for.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 8, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The $50 million tossed out there is just a scary Scott Boras starting number, so that when Strasburg signs for "only" 20 million, everyone breathes a sigh of relief (while Scott and the kid laugh all the way to the bank). So don't get scared off by that absurd number.

Porcello's package of $11.1 million over four years (with two one-year options) is something that Nats and their loyal fans would be wary of, and back off from. I understand that, but Porcello at that amount is a much better deal than a veteran pitcher at that amount (for example, Oliver Perez, a losing pitcher lifetime, got a 3 year deal at $36 million from the Mets).

The kids can be your best bargains, but you have to be willing to spend to get those bargains, and you have to be willing to write off some bad signings along the way. And for the true MLB teams (not the Nats), Porcello is a steal at that amount, given his potential.

Hey, there's risk in all players. Even the vets bomb. No risk, no reward, right Uncle Teddy?


Posted by: EdDC | June 8, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

There is no way this kid will get 50 million bucks. The MLBPA will never ever let that happen. 15 sounds more like it, and its absolutely worth the risk.

Longterm: As of right now, I'd say we're pretty much set at third, catcher, and left field (if thats where Dukes is going to play). I think they have high hopes for Chris Marrero to take over first base. They have an outfield prospect in single A they are pretty high on too. I think everywhere else is up for grabs, and if he falls that far, they'd be foolish not to move on Grant Green.

Posted by: kingtutts | June 8, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

How quickly we forget Milledge.

Posted by: soundbloke | June 8, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

soundbloke, some may say they're actually "remembering" him when not mentioning him... ;)

interesting that, considering all of the defensive issues this team has, there have been more nationals 'web gems' on espn than any other team this season.

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (teams)
Washington 17
Texas 14
New York Mets 14
Philadelphia 13
Tampa Bay 13
Cincinnati 13
Pittsburgh 13

(btw, zimmerman is tied for 3rd with 5 appearances, behind wright (8) and inge (7).

Posted by: sec231 | June 8, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Which means that even when he ends the season with fewer errors, Zimmerman will lose the gold glove to Wright, again.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | June 8, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"How quickly we forget Milledge."

Posted by: soundbloke | June 8, 2009 12:16 PM

I must say that firing Jim Bowden the best move that Natstown has made all season.

Posted by: Cartaldo | June 8, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Random Stat of the Day: Ryan Zimmerman is the only third baseman in MLB this year to handle all of his team's chances at that position.

Posted by: joebleux | June 8, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Natsguy,

If you were so smart you would realize that management and the team look like a bunch of idiots for paying Kearns and Willingham, and even Olson.

Career minor leaguers? Back in the olden days many guys spent 9 years in the minors before coming up.

Gee, wouldn't it make more sense to bring someone up who is doing really well against the creme della creme of your "prospects" like Padilla? Or Martin? The appear to be ***MOTIVATED*** to do well, to help their team win. That's all that I ask for. It would be far more entertaining to see them play, root for them knowing they are trying their best ... at this point. Instead of watching someone who is making far too much money underachieve.

What planet are you from that you would deny these guys a chance, a shot?

If you think about it you're the one reading WAAAY TOO many stats, minor league scouting reports, player's history. I'm looking for motivation to do well **NOW**. You won't even give a guy a chance unless he is one of your "prospects". What have they done for the Nats lately, other than Zimmerman I.

Posted by: periculum | June 8, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

"How quickly we forget Milledge."

Posted by: soundbloke | June 8, 2009 12:16 PM

I must say that firing Jim Bowden the best move that Natstown has made all season.

Posted by: Cartaldo | June 8, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I can forgive the Nats for drafting Strasburg - and ultimately being unable to sign him. Oh, it's a huge sin te be sure - especially 2 years in a row. But...

If they pass on Strasburg, and take someone else at #1, they can have the rest of my tickets for the season. And forget about the 2010 renewal.

Posted by: comish4lif | June 8, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I think the Nats have oddly blundered themselves into a decent bargaining position with regard to SS. We're pretty much at rock bottom; if we fail to sign SS, it's not that much more of a drop.

On the other hand, he's pretty much at the peak of his bonus potential. There's no way he wants to sit out a year if the negotiations fail.

There'll be a lot of posturing, of course, but I bet SS signs for about $15M (way overpriced, but probably worth the PR for the Nats).

Posted by: joebleux | June 8, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

The problem is also time. I would hate to see the Nats and Boras go toe-to-toe until midnight on August 15th. Draft him, offer him 15 million the next minute and hope that Boras isn't being so totally unrealistic as to believe that the Nats, who will get the second pick next year if they don't sign him, will pay whatever ungodly amount of money Boras throws out.

Yeah, it would be poor PR if they don't manage to sign him, but I don't think you can blame the Nats if Boras says 50 million, sticks to it, and the Nats refuse to pony up. Then, next year, when the Nats have the #1 and #2 picks, you can draft him again if he manages to stay in shape while away from the game.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | June 8, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I think the Nats will ultimately sign SS, but I would love to see them take a hard line with him and his agent. Put the offer on the table now: $18M to sign by June 15th, $17M by July 1st, $16M by Aug 1st and $15M at the deadline. And BTW, we are going to publically release this offer on July 15th if you still haven't signed.

Let Boras explain to the public that his client has been offered one of the richest contracts ever in baseball during an economic recession that has seen unemployment rates sky rocket towards double digits, but they are too greedy to take it.

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | June 8, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

test

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 8, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh geez.

Our friend priculum is at it again. He was afraid no one would see his crass, unnecessary personal attack from the last post in response to Natsguy's opinion from LAST NIGHT! So he reposted here...

Priculum: "creme DELLA creme"? Really? And you call other people stupid?

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Cavalier83

If the Nats draft Strasburg but do not sign him, they will need the player's permission to draft him the following year.

The Nats have been trying to get Crow's permission to draft him at #10, but so far no luck.

Posted by: EdDC | June 8, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Need--I think that is a great point about the greed factor.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | June 8, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, after I posted that, I remembered the process...Ah well.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | June 8, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the interview, Chico. I won't weigh in on what the Nats should do because (1) I'm not a GM and don't play one on tv and (2) I don't think that they would act on my advice if I did do so. But y'all have fun with it.

Moving on, thanks for that interesting web gem note, 231.

Speaking of bombing, as Ed was (how about that Segway, gang?), a high point of the day for me yesterday was seeing the slow pitch softball Long Haul Bombers tee off before the game began. Seems like the event could have been better promoted, unless I missed something. If only the home 9 could have sent out a few bombs as well. I don't drink but I did drown my sorrows in chocolate gelato. mmmm...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

One way to make a web gem is play a ball poorly, scramble at the last minute, lunge, and have it land in your glove. another is to develop a reputation for throwing to the wrong base and poorly, so that people run on your arm. Finally, bad throws make for great scoops by the first baseman. I'd say the nats probably do excell at most of these.
-----------------
soundbloke, some may say they're actually "remembering" him when not mentioning him... ;)

interesting that, considering all of the defensive issues this team has, there have been more nationals 'web gems' on espn than any other team this season.

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (teams)
Washington 17
Texas 14
New York Mets 14
Philadelphia 13
Tampa Bay 13
Cincinnati 13
Pittsburgh 13

(btw, zimmerman is tied for 3rd with 5 appearances, behind wright (8) and inge (7).

Posted by: sec231 | June 8, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 8, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I think they will sign SS. But these owners are going to expect a lot more from the spigot ... and fast for the money they are putting out. They are a decent business family that has been in the area for decades. They have seen the team do better when it was owned by Major League Baseball! Sure a lot was done to make the team attractive first to a potential owner, and then to the city.

But, in the end they look at teams like the Devil Rays, the Marlins, even the Diamondbacks who as franchises are far newer than this one. They look at the history of this franchise and see the really high quality players that came up and then were let go for financial reasons. You can get away with the excuse that there was a transition from the Bowden, resurrect some of Natsguys' former prospects who have had some adversity and are now considered risky to acquire. But that should not equate to the bottom of the barrel, record-breaking worst ever won loss records? Even if they tend to be frugal toward FA's, and unproven "prospects".

Its a learning process both for the ownership and apparently for management who should by now, already know the ropes? Management appears to be struggling to find players who can competently and consistently do the "basics" without screwing up. If you were an owner would you hand your hard earned cash to these people without some proof that "the plan" is the right approach?

I'm not sure, but it doesn't feel like this can be like a franchise that is NY, that can make colossal blunders ... and then fix them the following year with a major free agent signing. Even if it is one of the largest major markets, a lot of that appears to be under the control of Angelos (TV/Radio) who probably would like to see the team fail.

They need a management team that understands the problems from ownership on down; managing both up (ownership) and down (scouts/players/coaches) the organization and scaling outward into stadium issues, local media/TV issues, MiLB franchises, etc. I just don't see that with Kasten's team.


Posted by: periculum | June 8, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Sorry 1a1 to juxtapose like that. no disrespect intended.

Guz actually is a good example of a guyw ith subpar range who ends up with a fair amount of web gems because he makes spectacular looking plays at the fringe of his range that normal SS can more easily make. Same Derek Jeter (nice to use Jeter and Guz in the same paragraph).

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 8, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Sure looks to me like Gonzalez continues to hit ... and he may be the better fielder at shortstop. Its why I think Guzman makes the best trade bait for a non-pitcher. I don't see any reason not to throw in some pitching "prospects" to see improvement in the teams as rapidly as possible. Without ending up with players who are close to the end of their careers age wise.

Posted by: periculum | June 8, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009

To outsider6:

How about a curb sandwich?

Posted by: periculum | June 8, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Periculum,

In the "olden days" players sometimes spent 10 years in the minors because they all signed out of high school, there were only 16 teams, and the reserve clause existed. Like I said do your research and read your history. JD Martin and Seth Bynum are purely organizational players. I don't know about Padilla, but I'm willing to bet he's in the same boat.

In the real world I'm all about giving people a chance. In a world where the minimum salary is several hundred thousand, not so much. If a player hasn't made it by year 8 or nine in this day and age they are not worth the shot otherwise they would have been acquired in the rule 5 draft.

Posted by: natsguy | June 8, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Outsider6: Sometime home of a "brain" that spends most of its time as a lazy ex-military lamer and wannabees who aspire to be the next big-time expert pricdic beisball scout but lacks even the dim flicker of sentience needed to qualify.

Posted by: periculum | June 8, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Pric ulum: maybe we could meet at the Red Porch for a beer and you could give that a shot... loser buys?

I love free beer. :)

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"In the "olden days" players sometimes spent 10 years in the minors because they all signed out of high school, there were only 16 teams, and the reserve clause existed. Like I said do your research and read your history."

They still sign an awful lot of guys out of high school. Start with Willems who is struggling. How long do you think it will take for him to make it up to AAA? Most of their prospects appear to be from high school and latin American. So, yes I do my research.

Look at reality. They will be lucky to win 2 games a month. As Boz put it, they aren't even as entertaining as the '62 mets. Why not bring up these guys and give them a chance while waiting for your "prospects" to percolate up? What do you have to lose?

Posted by: periculum | June 8, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"Pric ulum: maybe we could meet at the Red Porch for a beer and you could give that a shot... loser buys?"

Outslacker:

I'm sure your dentist will appreciate my services a-hole. He needs a new Maserati.

Posted by: periculum | June 8, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

and that's "retired" military lamer...

Oh, and I'm no scout. No aspirations to be -- just a fan. Like everyone else on this blog I'm just spouting off for fun. I enjoy the give and take of an honest debate and, for the most part, don't think the lesser of anyone who has a competing opinion.

I do have a problem with obnoxious blowhards who haven't any more of a clue about the actual operation of an MLB franchise than the rest of us but insist on berating others... know anyone like that Priculum?

Back to baseball: I think they're gonna draft 2 pitchers in those first 2 picks... there's no impact position player available (not my personal evaluation just one I read online).

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Can you gentlemen *please* not junk up our conversation with your own running squabble? You each claim you're trying to steer the conversation back to baseball, but insist on getting in one last jab.

This nonsense is unreadable.

Please.

Stop.

Posted by: Scooter_ | June 8, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

No problem, jca, and I didn't sense any disrespect at all.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Scooter: "Gentlemen"? I don't think we've earned that title. But I'll leave him alone for the rest of the day. It's just kinda fun to push his buttons and watch him go... good for a few laughs.

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

jca - Belliard is another who seems to get more web gems than either his playing time or his skill justify. Not this year, really, but in years past. Seems he'll boot several routine balls then make a play that leaves you scratching your head thinking "how'd he do that?"

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, Jon Heyman of SI weighs in on the Nats and Strasburg. He's definitely in the camp that Strasburg is the greatest thing ever (he even thinks $50 million could be a bargain rate) and that the Nats have to draft him and sign him:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/jon_heyman/06/08/strasburg.nationals/index.html

Posted by: baltova1 | June 8, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Look at it from the other end--does anyone believe that, looking at this draft in 2025, there will have been no Zimmerman-level talent available by pick 10? I doubt it. But guessing on who that will be, with your livelihood, if not whole career, on the line ... Who would get fired for drafting Strasburg? Whereas, NOT drafting him? Your guy had better be Chipper Jones, or at least Mike Piazza (who was drafted in the 110th round, or something like that).

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

A couple comments...

One... you can't draw any conclusions at all from what Rizzo said that would give you any indication of what the Nats might do in the draft. The draft is essentially the "infinite universe" paradigm: there are too many possible combinations to consider... including some relatively low probability (but plausible) ones that have Strasburg going third or fourth, and not first.

The magic for the Nats is not what they do with number 1 - they can pick anyone they want. The magic is at number 9A, and then in the subsequent rounds. There is no way that Rizzo is going to give any information in any public forum that will hint at all what they plan to do... and in terms of the value of that information, knowing what the Nats are going to do is a more valuable than knowing what what any other team is going to do, because they are always picking ahead of you.

Second, with a relatively small number of exceptions, it makes no sense at all to draft for specific on-the-field-today need, because none of these kids are going to play anytime soon in a roll that will make a difference before the middle of next season, at the very earliest. Even if you consider an elite draftee, such as Strasburg - and the Nats were able to sign him more or less right away... and decided he was ready to pitch in the majors - he's already got 12,000 miles on him this season... he couldn't appear but five or six times as a starter before they'd shut him down. That said, when you consider almost anyone else in the draft, you draft the best available, then trade the prospects for major leaguers to meet your immediate needs, or work in reverse, trade your current major leaguers for prospects. You're wasting your time looking at specific big-league needs and looking to fill them in the draft. Draftees are currency. Maximize the value of your system as far as talent goes, and then use it to trade for what you need.

Third... if Rizzo says it is an average draft, but that most of the talent is in pitchers... How is that a bad thing? What are teams always looking for? Pitchers. It is amazing what you can trade a pitching prospect for. Of course, as Boz says, drafting pitching is like taking your 401(k) to Vegas with you... but that's the nature of baseball.

Posted by: wigi | June 8, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"Can't act. Slightly bald. Also dances".
RKO's "scouting report" on Fred Astaire, according to Astaire.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Wigi.

You forgot to add
Fourth: You can't trade draft picks.

******************
With a relatively small number of exceptions, it makes no sense at all to draft for specific on-the-field-today need, because none of these kids are going to ... make a difference before the middle of next season, at the very earliest.
Posted by: wigi | June 8, 2009 2:21 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Sec3mysofa, you hit it on the head. You can make a great argument AGAINST picking Strasburg, but it's almost impossible to do it from the Nats' current position.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 8, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Ginger all of the steps backwards and in high heels. There's no crying in ballroom dancing... :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

and rainchecks are exchangable for any same-price regular season ticket that year, except the Red Sox series.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

uh, *did* all of the steps. Online editing. What can I say?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

and Piazza was drafted in the 62nd round, but the point is the same.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

and we get to keep all of the coins that we find under our seats, too, just like with the sofa cushions...

(from the department of non sequiturs)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, baltova. I think this was Boswell's point, though that horse was beaten beyond recognition--drafting first might have been a classic sucker trap. You can't draft him first, and you can't NOT draft him first.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Wait, you found coins under your seat?? All I found was a half-empty beer (or was it half-full?) with a hot dog wrapper in it. Tasted horrible.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

eeewww!!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Just think about what Heyman is saying: Strasburg is worth 3-5 times as much as Mark Prior was coming out of college. Putting aside inflation and putting aside Prior's demise, that's a ludicrous statement. Prior did win 18 games in his first full season; how does Strasburg top that to the extent that he justifies that much money?

It's bizarre. As a Nats fan, I should be excited to know that they've got a chance to get such an exciting talent. But when you factor in the money involved, I'm actually depressed. I expect Strasburg to have about the same results as the best of the previously hyped prospects, never live up to the hype and suck up millions of dollars that could have been used more wisely elswhere.

I wonder then what geniuses like Jon Heyman will be saying.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 8, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I hate to mention Stan and "the plan", but drafting pitching, pitching, and pitching was the MO in the building of the early 90's Braves... sounds like the thin position talent in this draft and the heavy pitching availability would tend to favor a team with 2 picks in the top 10.

And to follow up on other comments regarding Strasburg, I heard on ESPN yesterday that long time experts say the last pitcher as complete on draft day as SS was some guy named Seaver back in the 60s...

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

heyman also says "As a free agent, some estimate that Strasburg could garner something approaching $100 million".

heyman is either an idiot who is channeling Boras' PR spin verbatim, or he's a reasonably bright guy who's being paid really good money to channel Boras's PR spin verbatim.

Either way, [Eischen] heyman.

Posted by: joebleux | June 8, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Lets say you are Boras and Strasburg, its august 14th and the nationals latest offer is sitting at $15.8M. If you're Boras, can you possibly say to Strasburg, "Forget it; we wait a year and you'll get it next year."

Who in their right mind would do that? Strasburg's value is never going to be higher than it is right now, at this instant. He sits for a year and next year he's pitching in some worthless indy league and there's no way he gets the same money. Or he gets hurt, or he gets hit by a bus, or he suffers "arm fatigue" a week before the draft. Or one of a million things that can go wrong. He's not going to japan, or the D.R. or back for his senior season. No way.

No; the sensible thing is to take the *massive* amount of money on the table and start your career. If you start your arbitration clock today, then if you're really really that good you'll get to free agency and your CC Sabathia-esque contract that much sooner.

No matter what BS goes on with the PR machine that is Boras, there's just no way he can turn down that large an amount of money in the end.

(oh by the way, be prepared for every Jon Heyman piece at si.com to be Boras incorporated mouthpiece propaganda supporting whatever Boras wants to make public. See the entire Teixeira negotiations last winter for examples).

Posted by: tboss | June 8, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"One... you can't draw any conclusions at all from what Rizzo said that would give you any indication of what the Nats might do in the draft."

Yes you can. He has said exactly what they're going to do. Honor the board. They are preparing a ranked list of all the players they are interested in, from 1 (Strasburg) to 800 or something. As the draft proceeds, each time their turn to pick rolls around they will choose the highest ranked player left on their list who hasn't already been taken. It's as simple as that. That's what "honor the board" means. No audibles during the draft. Each selection will be best player available, as determined by the board they've put together going into the draft.

Then once the draft is done, they'll get to work trying to sign the players they've drafted. If you can believe what Rizzo has told interviewers, money or signability of particular players are not factors that have gone into preparing their board.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 8, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

That's my thinking as well ... but there sits Aaron Crow projected at number 3 - pitcher of all of 3 innings in the past 12 months.
____________________________
Who in their right mind would do that? Strasburg's value is never going to be higher than it is right now, at this instant. He sits for a year and next year he's pitching in some worthless indy league and there's no way he gets the same money. Or he gets hurt, or he gets hit by a bus, or he suffers "arm fatigue" a week before the draft. Or one of a million things that can go wrong

Posted by: lowcountry | June 8, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Heyman referring to Ted Lerner as "fully committed to winning" in the article brought me a chuckle.

So, bottom 5 payrolls every year and not signing a 1st round pick is committed to winning?

Interesting take on that, Jon.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 8, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"Who in their right mind would do that? Strasburg's value is never going to be higher than it is right now, at this instant. He sits for a year and next year he's pitching in some worthless indy league and there's no way he gets the same money."

To play the devil's advocate here, Crow will have improved his draft position despite this year's draft being pitcher-heavy.

Posted by: dclifer97 | June 8, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I get that the owners want to control costs but the truth is Boras has a point. The owners created this salary mess on their own: Dice-K cost Boston over $100M after all fees and salary. And he was 28 and unproven at the MLB level, same as SS. The point Boras makes about Strasburg's value on the open market is hard to dispute...

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

(From CBS.com)
Nationals closer: Joel Hanrahan has lost his job as closer for the second time this season, replaced by Mike MacDougal. In a related story, I rearranged my sock drawer over the weekend. The Nats are 15-40! Why do they even need a closer?

Exactly.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 8, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"We understand there's a chance we won't sign this player," Kasten said, without referring to Strasburg by name. "But we've decided pick No. 2 next year is preferable for us over taking the second player this year."

Wow! Talk about going in defeated. First I heard this. Can't believe it.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 8, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"To play the devil's advocate here, Crow will have improved his draft position despite this year's draft being pitcher-heavy.

Posted by: dclifer97 "

Sure; Crow gambled and seems to have won; i've seen his name anywhere from 3 to 5. So by delaying the start of his career a year he's bought himself a couple million dollars more probably (except if a team decides to play real hard ball with him, figuring he has no leverage besides another year of indy ball...)

But where does Strasburg go from here? He can go from #1 in 2009 to ... #2 next year (assuming he does NOT sign the paper to allow us to re-draft him?) Or perhaps he drops even further in a Porcello situation. He'd have the same fight next year as he does this year, except with nothing but risk factors ahead. He just finished the perfect college season. If he goes to indy ball and has a rough outing or is tired one day and is "only" throwing low-mid 90s ... who is gonna offer him even close to $15M?

Posted by: tboss | June 8, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Actually, outsider6, Boras' comparison of Strasburg to Dice-K is easy to dispute. Dice-K had spent six years in professional baseball in Japan, which is light years above college ball (actually above AAA ball, IMO). Dice-K's value in the market was based in large part on what other Japanese players had done after coming to America. His history has nothing in common with SS.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 8, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Actually, tboss, if Strasburg doesn't sign this year with the Nats, he almost definitely becomes the #3 pick, at best, next year. Because the Nats would get the #2 pick as compensation for not signing him and, barring a miraculous turnaround, they'll have the worst record this year and get the #1 pick.

Posted by: baltova1 | June 8, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

My favorite line from the story:

''I have buildings, not bull----''

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Also, am I the only one who keeps scrolling through the comments and thinking "we're drafting a shortstop at #1"? D'oh!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

1a1: Sorry... big "SS" versus little "ss"! :)

Baltova: Agree that Matsusaka was a success in Japan but I'm not sure his success was accorded the degree of respect you assign it. But I'm not saying SS (that's Strasburg, 1a1!) is worth $100M... but perhaps he's worth, based on the Dice-K model, the $20-30M that the pundits suggest?

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Stasburg can play shortstop WHILE he pitches. That's why his parents named him Stephen (although Boras was demanding they name him Scott).
______________________________
Also, am I the only one who keeps scrolling through the comments and thinking "we're drafting a shortstop at #1"? D'oh!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 |

Posted by: lowcountry | June 8, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Good one, lowcountry.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 8, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

outsider6, I think you and I are doing a better job of negotiating than we're going to see from the Lerners and Boras.

I'd agree to $20-30 million; a little high, but not totally insane. Deal?

Posted by: baltova1 | June 8, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm in. The guy looks like the real deal. If they're smart (both sides) they sign quick and get him in the minors. By late August he's up here, good will flowing all around. His debut is a sellout, angels appear, and the Nats run off a string of 14 straight wins.

Too much?

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

In order to get the kind of money we think SS and Boras want I would have to see a bigger sampling. It's San Diego Freaking State for god's sake. I can't just base it on a couple of CWS starts. As has been pointed out before DiceK had a much larger sampling against much better competition. So what if he overwhelms Mountain West hitters? Don't go higher the 15 million.

Posted by: bendersx6 | June 8, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"To play the devil's advocate here, Crow will have improved his draft position despite this year's draft being pitcher-heavy.

Posted by: dclifer97
______________________________________________________

Crow improved his draft position possibly, but what will that come out to in dollars and cents? He could have signed for the 3.8 million (or whatever amount it was) last year and may get a bit of a bump this year. With Strassburg, he will most likely end up at 17 million to 20 million on the table from the Nationals. If he passes that up for a year with some independent league team he is risking far more that Crow ended up risking.

Posted by: TimDz | June 8, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I dunno Bender... that's quite a gap between $15M and $50M. Like others have said here, the PR pressure on Lerner to get him is astounding. I'd suggest some of the $$ paid to SS will actually be an investment in fan confidence, not based at all on SS potential.

If they DON'T sign him I think they lose fan support for years to come. I'm an STH but even I'd have to re-consider what I'm spending if THEY don't start spending.

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

In spite of what Boras would like for folk to think, SS is not on the open market. Thats the point of the draft. And he won't be on the open market next year even if he sits out.

The Nats should come out the gate strong--maybe $25 million. The value of signing SS for the Nats goes beyond acquiring his talents--their credibility is on the line in this market. I hope they understand that.

I am just very glad that Rizzo and not Bowden is the point man on the negotiations. That right there improves the Nats chances.

Posted by: jfromPG | June 8, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

PG: Well said... a strong opening bid would show some respect and get things off on the right foot. Not to mention show the fans they're serious.

And agreed on Rizzo. The guy seems to have a solid rep among agents like Boras.

Posted by: outsider6 | June 8, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"(oh by the way, be prepared for every Jon Heyman piece at si.com to be Boras incorporated mouthpiece propaganda supporting whatever Boras wants to make public. See the entire Teixeira negotiations last winter for examples).


Posted by: tboss | June 8, 2009 2:55 PM |"
-----------------
It is sometimes fun to try to figure out which national writer is acting as the mouthpiece for which organization, or, in this case, agent. I love how he writes, but Peter Gammons channels the Red Sox line so much that you can figure out what they want people to know. Very similar to political writers (and I'll stop at that so we don't get into non baseball talk). Is Heymann West Coast? Where did he come from before SI?
---------------------------
Nunof1 - Yes, he will no doubt follow his board, but if he has Grant Green, Donovan Tate, and Alex White at ##11 - 13, doesn't that seem suspicious? That we may never know if those 3 go where they are supposed to, based on talent and neutral evaluators. But if they are there at #10, then would you agree that it would be suspicious if we passed?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 8, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I've been paging through the list of #1 picks over at si.com. Regarding Matt Anderson, the #1 pick for the Tigers in 1997:

"Anderson's career took a tragic turn when he participated in an octopus-throwing contest in an effort to win Detroit Red Wings playoff tickets. Anderson tore a muscle in his right armpit, losing his electric fastball forever."

See, this is why you can't pay a pitcher $50 M. They're all one octopus-throwing incident away from a career-ending injury...

Posted by: joebleux | June 8, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

@dovelevine.

the reason we are 15-40 has more to do with our bullpen's inability to pitch than probably anything else. that's why.

if we ignore our problems they'll stop making fun of us? is that his point?

cbs.sporstline is dribble.

Posted by: longterm | June 8, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Nats blowhard here.

I think Kastens comments are more of a bargaining ploy than anything else. Until a signing or August 15th nothing either side should be taken all that seriously.

Posted by: natsguy | June 8, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Boras also went into the DiceK negotiations asking for $100 million on top of the $51m posting fee, but backed down. Dice-K is getting somewhere aroudn $52m guaranteed over 6 years, counting an option that Boras did not want to give. In addition, the posting fee did not count against the salary cap, so there was a 40% discount on that fee for the Red Sox (then subject to the luxury tax) vs a MLB free agent.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 8, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

To me, Heyman's got the final word on SS (That's SuperSport, 1a1): "In light of all the past flame-outs, Strasburg still has to be considered a gamble -- though it's a gamble most executives believe the Nationals can ill afford not to take."

You may not want to pay him, you may be afraid of arm trouble, but you can't pass up the best pitching prospect since the last great pitching prospect and expect to be taken seriously as a franchise. If they had made the playoffs in '05 and if Crow was in the starting rotation and if Marrero were tearing it up in Syracuse and if they knew how to spell the name on the jersey correctly 100% of the time, maybe they could get away with a "well, we just felt that Ackley was a safer bet," but as it is, they don't really have a choice in the matter.

By the way, outsider, I think $20m may end up being the right number, but I don't think it's "based on Dice-K." Dice-K's really a poor comp for Strasburg for all the reasons baltova mentioned. A six-year track record of success in Japan (and I don't know how you count a career Japanese 2.95 ERA with 8.7 K/9 in over 1400 innings, but I call that success in a league that's AAA or better) seems a poor comp as compared to David Price or Mark Prior who were in far more similar positions.

For all this insanity about $50m, Jake Peavy, with two All-Star games, 75 wins and a Cy Young on his resume, got a three-year, $52 million deal last time around. So let's be serious about Strasburg's value - a $20m lottery ticket followed by exclusive rights to sign him for another $120m if he pans out? Sure. $50m up front and zero return if his 101mph fastball blows out his elbow? No thanks.

And by the way, in light of the octopus-throwing, no crab-cracking Baltimore trips for Strasburg, ok? It'd be natsluck that he'd slice the tendons on his throwing hand and never be able to spin a curveball again.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | June 8, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The reassuring part of Harlan's interview is Rizzo's comment that the Lerners have ponied up to pay for "some of the best baseball minds" who are now congregating in the Nats draft room.

I for one am reassured by this comment, knowing that the best minds are at work on behalf of the fans. The outcome has to be good, right? Look at the results so far . . .

Posted by: JohnRDC | June 8, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Just out of curiousity, do the high profile Boras guys ever sign extensions?

I mean, I know I'm getting way, way, way ahead of myself here. But let's say SS is drafted, signed, and is the real deal. He is Clemens 2.0. After six years, he's probably looking for Sabathia money on the free agent market, right? I can't see Boras letting a team sign a guy to an extension rather than letting him hit the market - so, even in the best case scenario, we really only get SS for six years...right?

Posted by: Section220 | June 8, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Tboss says: "Crow gambled and seems to have won; i've seen his name anywhere from 3 to 5. So by delaying the start of his career a year he's bought himself a couple million dollars more probably (except if a team decides to play real hard ball with him, figuring he has no leverage besides another year of indy ball...)"

I don't see it that way. Crow didn't gamble by telling the Nats to take a hike. What he did was make an 11th hour offer to the Nats that most clubs would have found reasonable for a pitcher with those kinds of credentials: $4.5 million. How was Crow to know that the Nats would just tell Crow to get lost? Crow and his agents' gamble was that any club in a serious building mode would need at least one #1 pitcher and probably more than one. I'll bet Crow and his agents were shocked when the Nats walked away from the deal by sticking with their $3.8 offer. The difference was chump change, which is appropriate (since the Nats are chumps).

I'm sure Crow would gladly have preferred to get experience and top coaching for that wasted year, and be ready just about now to join the starting rotation in the bigs. The lost year is worth more than an extra million or two. You are only young for a short time, and you can't just blow off a whole year when you are a top talent!

Posted by: EdDC | June 8, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Crow "gambled and won" purely in terms of signing dollars.

I'm certainly in the same belief that he made a huge career development mistake by wasting a year when he could have been working his way towards a MLB rotation spot right now. Now did Crow actually feel this way? I don't think so: 2 weeks after the debacle he gave a radio interview on Baseball America (I believe) and the intent of his tone led me to believe he didn't want to be here, he never had any intention of signing and would rather have been at any other franchise.

Perhaps that was all Bowden perhaps not. Perhaps the rumors of the Lerners "shutting off" negotiations at a certain amount are true (if you believe Bowden and Boswell in various forums over the past months). Perhaps the Lerner's have a similar gameplan for Strasburg; pick a number, stick with it and don't move. I hope not; it could be another embarassing summer.

Here's a radical thought I proposed at NFA; avoid the whole circus, draft Ackley #1 and best pitcher available (Leake?) at #10 and pay them both. You get both for probably 1/2 of what Strasburg costs, get two legitimate a-1 prospects and avoid the risk of Strasburg never panning out.

Posted by: tboss | June 8, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

@EdDC

Explain to me, if the "difference was chump change" to the NATS (or should have been according to you) why was it not "chump change" to Crow who could have avoided the "lost year". Obviously, the difference was "chump change" only to you which is easy enougj as it was and is not your money.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | June 8, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Sec 204

I already did explain it. Crow and his agents were shocked that the Nats did not meet the 4.5 million figure. They were sure the Nats would jump in at 11:59 or whatever, but the Nats never caved. So the Nats lost a potential #1 starter for the sake of $700,000, which truly is chump change.

Crow overestimated the Nats. If he had known how cheap they were, he would have been the first to cave.

As to the point that he never wanted to play for the Nats in the first place: why is that? They are a young club supposedly committed to building a winning club. Crow would have fit right in. The only reason I can think of for not wanted to play for the Nats is that he and his agents believed that the Nats are not committed to building a strong franchise.

But the better explanation is this: the agent made a pre-midnight offer that they felt would be accepted, and got knocked for a loop when the Nats let the clock run out. And yes, sec 204 is right--it is chump change for both the Lerners and for Aaron Crow. Let's hope tomorrow is a new day for our Nats!

Posted by: EdDC | June 8, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of how Crow's career pans out, he will be tainted forever and forced to wear the Scarlet Letter "H," for holdout of course.

I had never heard of Scott Boras until 1997 when he refused to allow J.D. Drew to sign for anything less than $10 million ($14 million in today's dollars).

The Phillies thought he was just posturing, but Boras held firm and the Phillies lost their man. He played for an independent team before being drafted by the Cardinals the next year.

Because of some significant injuries, he's played in 1259 of 1620 games possible (not counting his call-up year or this year), averaging just 18 homers per year.

He's been a good player, but is as fragile as Nick Johnson. $10 million of 1997 dollars? I don't think so.

But more than that, even these many years later, most fans don't think of "J.D. Drew;" rather, it's "J.D. Drew, that guy who held out for $10 million and cost the Phillies a draft pick."

I think that no matter how good Crow is as a major leaguer, he'll always be dogged by that holdout from last year.

Posted by: rushfari | June 8, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The other thing is, there is no way to say "This guy SHOULD be the (say) # 5 pick."

Enough knowledgeable people have different opinions about the 1600 or so players who might get drafted, that we can only guess where someone might EXPECT him to be drafted (and in SS's case, those expectations themselves create pressure to follow the herd), but the only thing that counts is reality--where DID he get drafted?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

so, EdDC, that's the thing: your speculation may or may not be accurate, but either way, it's just speculation.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

and rushfari, I disagree. I think it depends very much on what kind of career he has.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | June 8, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Sec3mysofa,

It's all speculation. All of it. Nobody knows what will happen. But you do improve your odds of success if you:

-sign your top draft picks
-sign some international kids, even if they are a little pricey (Nats don't do that)
-look into signing an international vet (Nats don't do that)
-trade for guys even if they make a decent salary (Nats don't do that, as the last one was Soriano, pre-Lerners)
-sign more than one free agent (Dunn is the only free agent under the few years of the Lerners who makes big money, and even his money is not huge by MLB standards)
-trade your free agent guys and some of the other surplus talent you build up, and get some future stars in return
-or simply let their contracts run out and get draft picks in return (including sandwich picks, of which the Nats have none).

Everything doesn't work all the time, but by trying in these areas, you can achieve success. It just takes a few bucks, which can be returned to the team with greater fan interest.

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

There'll be a lot of posturing, of course, but I bet SS signs for about $15M (way overpriced, but probably worth the PR for the Nats).

Posted by: joebleux | June 8, 2009 12:58 PM

$15M for SS, eh? Well, the price of valet parking at White Flint just went up.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 8, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

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