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Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen to start in Class AA Harrisburg

The inevitable became official this morning when the Nationals optioned phenom Stephen Strasburg to Class AA Harrisburg, meaning baseball's best pitching prospect will not join the Nationals until late spring or midsummer. Joining him in Harrisburg will be closer Drew Storen, a fellow 2009 nfirst-round draft pick whom the Nationals reassigned to minor league camp.

"I felt like I had an opportunity, a chance" to make the majors out of camp, Strasburg said. But the Nationals made a prudent decision, both for his development and for the business of baseball. The Nationals will save millions by keeping Stasburg in the minors to begin the regular season.

"It's a business," Strasburg said. "That's all I got to say. It's not the perfect situation. But it's their decision."

Despite the overwhelming evidence, gathered all spring, that Strasburg would be headed to the minors to begin the year, Strasburg held out hope he would start in the majors.

"They didn't tell me anything until towards the end here," Strasburg said. "There's always that thought in my head. Everybody is competing for a job here. I felt like I was included, but you know, it's all good. I'm going to go down to Harrisburg and learn what I need to learn and be ready to be called up, hopefully soon."

The Nationals also optioned Matt Chico, who had been competing for the final spot in the rotation, to Class AAA Syracuse. The Nationals reassigned catcher Jamie Burke and pitcher Doug Slaten to minor league camp.

Much more later.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 20, 2010; 8:47 AM ET
 
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Next: Mapping out Stephen Strasburg's season

Comments

Strasburg sounded pretty unhappy.

Someone who just pocketed $17 million (less taxes) shouldn't complain about baseball being a business. There are worse things than spending a couple of months in the minor leagues.

He can choose either to be bitter about it or to spend his time sharpening some skills. He'll be in the majors soon enough. Hopefully with a good attitude.

Posted by: Meridian1 | March 20, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Disappointed that Storen was sent down... the bull pen needs the help... Capps has looked rough enough to the point where you would seriously have to consider Bruney the potential closer out of the chute.

But, looking forward to an early June day when Strasburg and Storen get the call at the same time and become THE prominent pieces of the rotation and bullpen. Storen will still likely be pushing for the closer role by the end of the 2010 season...

But April and May (as usual) could be rough... just glad that unlike the usual, we still have something to look forward to seeing after the standard rough start...

Go Nats!

Posted by: Ghost7 | March 20, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Strasburg really sounds that bitter. Besides words can sound much different when you don't have the context of the individuals tone of voice and body language. I'm sure he's disappointed a bit, but EVERYONE knew this was coming including him.

He's going to go down and dominate in AA and AAA, and when he comes up in May/June he'll never go back. He knows that too.

Posted by: autobits | March 20, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Unexpectedly, the release of Elijah Dukes has taken some of the bloom of the spring for me. When I thought of this year's team, I pictured the Dukes that seemed to be aborning two years ago,not the one from last year, and it made everything seem promising. Now, the negatives loom larger. With Duke's departure, they have no particularly distinguished player in a spot where the team star often plays. Morgan may be brittle. The left fielder can't field very well. The first baseman is learning the position, and couldn't play his previous position at all. The new second baseman is just a fill-in. The shortstop of the future makes too many errors. The catcher of the future is hurt a lot, and the catcher of the present is on the downside. Most of the pitchers can't get people out, and, in particular, people who were not good or were injured last year do not seem to have gotten better, or healthier. Ryan Zimmerman and the 8 deficients. All this talk about how clever the Nats are being by sending their new players down so they get another year of control rings hollow if the team continues to stink. The saved salary will not offset the collapsing attendance. Elijah Dukes was not the only aspect of this team that faced a pivotal season.

So, the season needs to hurry up and start so I can stop stewing.

Posted by: markfromark | March 20, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Shoulda kept both--they earned it, but obviously a financial decision.

He's gonna be limited anyway in the cold weather at Harrisburg, why not just give him an innings cap and make him the fifth starter here?

Storen means probably at least two of the losers competing for the rotation will make the pen, Batista being almost a given, the other I don't know.

You're right, April and May are going to suck...

http://www.realgm.com/boards/viewforum.php?f=124

Posted by: CJArlington | March 20, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Mark, I'm with you on much of your concern but I really do not understand the consternation about Elijah Dukes.

He wasn't getting the job done, and there was really no reason to suspect he would be any good this season. He can't deal with curve balls, everyone in the NL knows this and knows how to pitch to him. He can't field very well at all. For every exceptional throw he would make there was a fly ball he didn't get to, a base hit he didn't run down quickly enough or an errant throw. He was poor on the basepaths. My goodness, he stole 3 last year and got caught 10 times.

Like many, I really, really wanted the guy to succeed. But it wasn't happening, and his priorities this winter were on things other than baseball (right or wrong, I can't say, but that's how he prioritized things).

So IMHO, if Dukes was still here, this team would be 100% as bad as it is now. At least instead of wasting AB's on Dukes, we can offer AB's to someone who might take advantage of them.

And the Nat's FO really has little choice but to send Strasburg down for a couple months. It's not their fault that the rules of MLB make keeping him on the farm for 2 months an easy decision. If the FO did bring him north, and start his arbitration clock and free agency clock ticking a year earlier than otherwise, they'd be getting ripped about that decision a few years down the road.

If keeping him down for two months really does free up $18MM over 3 years (as speculated in NJ a few days ago), and this money is used to pay for talent, this should help get us towards title contention sooner.

And yes, having Strasburg in DC in April will boost interest, excitement and energy in the Nats, plus make them a little better. But they're going to stink anyway. So the downside of bringing Strasburg north seems to far outweigh the upside.

Regardless, we don't have a pretty picture now. And yet, very much looking forward to April 5.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 20, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I am with Sunderland on all points, except that I do NOT expect the ownership to use the 18 mil for new talent. They will continue to be cheap. Even so, both for player development and for an extra year of control, SS should be in the minors for a couple of months.

We are going to stink in April and May, at the very least, and I will be right there opening day! GO NATS!

Posted by: NatsFly | March 20, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I hope Chico makes it through options.

Could this mean English makes the team as a lefty reliever?

Too bad for Potomac...:(

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 20, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and congratulations to Dmitri Young for a fine career. He announced his retirement this week. Really enjoyed having him on the team in 2008 (?). My how time flies.

Posted by: natbiscuits | March 20, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap...

The team mascot should be the mini-me version of the San Diego chicken. Can you hear it?? Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!

Posted by: howjensen | March 20, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Even to the Lerners, whose financial situation is admittedly quite beyond my understanding, I would imagine that the money they will save by keeping these guys out of arbitration and out of free agency for another year is a truly substantial sum, more than most Americans, even those who regard themselves as successful, will earn in their entire lifetimes of work. It may also increase the chances that both will become career Nationals even after they might have chosen to move on.

I think Storen may have more grounds to grind his teeth over this than Strasburg. Storen didn't hold out and extort such a grand sum from the Lerners just to sign, instead enthusiastically joining the Nats the day after he was drafted and making life easy on our management, and his play certainly earned him a slot on the roster if that had been the only factor to consider. Such a good attitude ought to be worth something.

But those who call the Lerners cheap ought to step back and look at things with a little bit more objective eye. No, they haven't been spreading their cash around like the Yankees, but then nobody else ever has, either. They signed Strasburg for three times what any other draft pick ever got and have made some boldly large offers to various free agents but just got outbid -- by the Yanks -- a couple of times. That doesn't sound cheap to me.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 20, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

dang it. I wanted to see SS down here in Potomac! This stinks! (well not really, but I was at least a hoping to get a ticket to one of his games here)

And I like how people with no money complain about people with lots of it, being responsible with their money. Would spending wildly make this a good team? How many extra parts might we have? And, wouldn't that put the Nats on the Redskins schedule of championship contending?

I think the answers are clearly no, a couple (maybe), and YES.

Personally, I prefer what I've seen so far. The Lerner's are not following Snyder's style of spending like a mad man, nor the late Mr. Polin's good intentioned, overpaying for bad results spending. The Lerner's seem, so far, much more likely to be taking Uncle Teddy's plan to heart. Drop as much old, middling talent as possible, get as much youth and potential as possible, and develop them. Know you are going to stink up the joint for a while, but once the "kids" mature, you end up with an Ovie, Semin, Green, Backstorm, Varley, etc.

So ask yourself this. Would you rather the Nats spend stupidly like Snyder, or smartly like Ted? We all want SS to be a huge success and to be a Nat for life, though that's very unlikely. But if he's likely not to be here when FA hits for him, then they should max out his time here. And, more importantly, he needs time to learn what he needs to learn, and the minors is the best place to do that, period.

Unless we're still a 90 loss team in 2014, I'm not jumping off the train. I'm enjoying the scenery and will enjoy when the Nats are successful that much more for having been patient enough for them to gut and rebuild a termite infested mess. And considering last year's house cleaning, there have to be some roadbumps ahead.

Posted by: Rogueone | March 20, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The $$ reasons really suck, I hate that aspect of baseball holding studs back. Let them play where they belong. I get it but it's bs.

Posted by: bms46and2 | March 20, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"WOOHOO!!"

- Harrisburg Senators Financial Manager

Posted by: Kev29 | March 20, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Rogueone,

The Lerners are not cheap.

They just spend wisely.

Strasburg knows that this is a business decision.

We shall see him in June.

The game yesterday shows that he can be hit by MLB hitters. He will benefit by his time in the minors.

Chico going to AAA indicates that he just has yet to regain his form. I would like to see him make it back.

Posted by: gmuhokie2009 | March 20, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

For all those bemoaning Strasburg not going to Potomac, it's pretty much a sure thing that he'll start one of the games during the Senators' series at Bowie April 12-14. Get your tickets quickly.

Posted by: nats24 | March 20, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I love that Strasburg is pissed about starting the year in AA - shows that he's a competitor and wants the ball right away. I bet Rizzo doesn't mind the rook showing some fire as well.

I'm only surprised that he didn't go to the P-Nats.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 20, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow Potomac is so screwed. They had to be completely blindsided by this. They were all but selling opening day ticket packages all based on Stras pitching. Vedy Interesting.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 20, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

SS knew he was going to the farm for a few months. And to those calling out the Lerners on being cheap, this is NOT one of those examples to hang your hat on...

Any ownership group with GOOD business sense would do the same thing. Unfortunately, if the Lerners pocket the money saved (I think they refer to it as "retirement of debt") instead of using it to get better players, THAT would be cause for the cheap cat calls to begin again.

Posted by: TimDz | March 20, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

They signed Strasburg for three times what any other draft pick ever got....
Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 20, 2010 11:09 AM
____________________________________

SS signed for 15/17 million? The largest prior to that was 10.5 million...Good thing you aren't the Lerners...You SUCK at math.

Posted by: TimDz | March 20, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey Adam or knowledgable NJers,

I'm leaving for Florida today for a week. Anybody know if minor league games are open to the public? All else being equal, I believe I'd rather watch SS twirling against minor leaguers than the likes of Scott Olsen, Matt Capps, etc. working against major leaguers.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | March 20, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

We all knew this was coming for Strasburg, but like Kev29, I'm suprised it wasn't an assignment to Potomac (dammit).
Sending Storen to HAR along with Strasburg kind of suprises me as well - Thought he'd go to SYR. At least he's closer in proximity for a quick recall.
Chico to SYR is the right move; He needs to regain some consistency & arm strength before he's ready to return.

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"It's a business," Strasburg said. "That's all I got to say. It's not the perfect situation. But it's their decision."

His first spring training is not yet even over and Strasburg already sounds like another in a long line of Scott Boras' Punks.

Keep flapping your lips, son, when you get lit up for eight earned runs in two-and-two-thirds innings during an outing in Harrisburg.

Strasburg, you've got the arm and you've got the stuff.

Unfortunately, you're already a Hall of Shamer in the Boras Punk Attitude list of clients who need to shut their mouths and play the damn game.

Posted by: MarkinJC | March 20, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Harrisburg, where? A lot of us are new to the DC area. Would be nice if reporters remembered the basics -- like mentioning a state where a team plays.

Posted by: LittleSal | March 20, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

@BinM: If I'm not mistaken (big assumption there) AA is where the best prospects go, so seeing how SS pans out against the other teams best prospects will be interesting. Besides that, Syracuse in March and April is freaking COLD.

@ MarkinJC: You must be A) pretty astute at reading between the lines or B) making outrageous assumptions.
I'll go with B...

Posted by: TimDz | March 20, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

FergusonFoont - The Lerners are cheap, there's many examples of this. But as TimDz points out, this is not one of them.

Yes they are building through the draft. But they aren't always drafting the best available players - these guys would cost too much to sign. There's been plenty of examples of this.

They went after Texeria and Dunn, yes. They made a solid offer to Chapman, and lost. OK.

But they've could have, and should have signed some quality pitching this ear, and didn't. They knew their outfield was weak coming into this season (regardless of the Dukes situation) and they did nothing about it.

In spite of Rizzo's best efforts, we still have a below average bench, below average billpen, a below average rotation and below average defense.

Hopes for this year are pinned not just on Strasburg, but on a slew of pitchers trying to comeback from surgery. This is not a formula that has a track record of success.

The Lerners are most definitely cheap. Rizzo is hamstrung by this. If the Lerners were not so cheap, we wouldn't be looking back at two 100 loss seasons, and looking ahead to another dismal season.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 20, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

The other day on 'Nats Insider' a blogger said something to the effect (after Desmond made an error) "Well, what do you expect". Those weren't the exact words, but the derisive message was clear. It was Desmond's first error of the spring. The shortstop has made some spectacular plays this spring, but this 'fan' jumped on the single error. Today, markfromark talked about the shortstop of the future making too many errors. (he's now made two).
Granted, in the minors, Desmond made too many careless errors, but it wasn't due to lack of talent. He has a great arm, terrific range, and soft hands. Give the kid a break. Oh, and yesterday's error, according to a report on the game I read, was a tough chance. True, Guzman wouldn't have made that error, but he wouldn't have been anywhere in the vicinity of the ball in the first place.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | March 20, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

@dove: It was pure speculation that Strasburg would start the year at POT; That speculation probably sold more than a few more ticket packages. Saying that they're 'screwed' & 'blindsided' by the decision to start him in HAR is an over-statement, imo, but you're entitled to it.
The P-Nats should have a pretty interesting team this year, even without Strasburg, and have drawn decent crowds in the past couple of years.

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Harrisburg, where? A lot of us are new to the DC area. Would be nice if reporters remembered the basics -- like mentioning a state where a team plays.
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
Once upon a time, kids were supposed to learn the state capitals in elementary school.

Not any more, apparently.

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 20, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@TimDZ: You're correct. AA-ball is where the top-flight prospects tend to make their jump from. In the case of Storen in particular, I'd like to see him facing MLB experienced 4-A players in SYR, rather than the 'prospects' in AA ball.

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Agreed Bin. Storen did fairly well at AA last September, huh.
10 games
12.1 innings
9 saves
3 hits & 6 walks
12 K's
0 Runs allowed
BAA - .077

Like others, I would have preferred to see the Nat's reward Storen's attitude and effort last year and keep him on the active roster.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 20, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland: I think Storen will get added to the 40/25-man roster soon enough, given the questionable competition to date.

Posted by: BinM | March 20, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

@BinM: Forgot to add that about Storen. AA Ball for him is a case of "been there/done that." Thanks for keeping me honest...

Posted by: TimDz | March 20, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

dang it. I wanted to see SS down here in Potomac! This stinks! (well not really, but I was at least a hoping to get a ticket to one of his games here)

And I like how people with no money complain about people with lots of it, being responsible with their money. Would spending wildly make this a good team? How many extra parts might we have? And, wouldn't that put the Nats on the Redskins schedule of championship contending?

I think the answers are clearly no, a couple (maybe), and YES.

Personally, I prefer what I've seen so far. The Lerner's are not following Snyder's style of spending like a mad man, nor the late Mr. Polin's good intentioned, overpaying for bad results spending. The Lerner's seem, so far, much more likely to be taking Uncle Teddy's plan to heart. Drop as much old, middling talent as possible, get as much youth and potential as possible, and develop them. Know you are going to stink up the joint for a while, but once the "kids" mature, you end up with an Ovie, Semin, Green, Backstorm, Varley, etc.

So ask yourself this. Would you rather the Nats spend stupidly like Snyder, or smartly like Ted? We all want SS to be a huge success and to be a Nat for life, though that's very unlikely. But if he's likely not to be here when FA hits for him, then they should max out his time here. And, more importantly, he needs time to learn what he needs to learn, and the minors is the best place to do that, period.

Unless we're still a 90 loss team in 2014, I'm not jumping off the train. I'm enjoying the scenery and will enjoy when the Nats are successful that much more for having been patient enough for them to gut and rebuild a termite infested mess. And considering last year's house cleaning, there have to be some roadbumps ahead.

Posted by: Rogueone | March 20, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

This is one of the best posts that I have read in 2 plus years reading NJ. I feel exactly the same way. I just don't write as well as you. ;)The only thing I would add is that as a die hard Caps fan since 77 (I think), the early Caps were at least as bad as the recent Nats (if not worse), and that DOES make a difference as to how much I am enjoying their current success. I have faith that at some point in the not too distant future, we will all experience the same thing with the Nats.
GO NATS!!!!

Posted by: chris88 | March 20, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Harrisburg PA. And in all fairness, that is a pretty common name, so it isn't a matter of knowing or not knowing a state cap.

Posted by: NatsFly | March 20, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh please. You're on an efffing computer--look it up.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 20, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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