Results tagged ‘ Strasburg ’

Dissecting Strasburg


Last week, SI raised
the question of whether Bryce Harper was the Lebron James of baseball.


The same comparison
has been made to Stephen Strasburg.


Is Strasburg truly
the Next Big Thing?


Can he
“save” the Nationals franchise?


Is it worth stashing
him away in fantasy?

to the Stephen Strasburg Show, a true story about a San Diego State
right-hander who became the most hyped Draft pick in modern baseball history.

series got underway Tuesday, when Washington did the inevitable by selecting
Strasburg first overall in the 2009 Draft.

the drama begins.

Boras, his "adviser" (non-legal term for agent), is demanding a contract in the
neighborhood of six years and $50 million, unprecedented for an amateur player.
The sooner both parties shake hands, the sooner we'll see Strasburg in a
Nationals uniform.

if negotiations go down to the Aug 17. deadline, there's still a chance he
reaches D.C. by September.

who knows? Maybe even sooner. Maybe Strasburg bypasses the Minors entirely and
goes right into the Nationals rotation.

happened before.

draft picks have advanced directly to the Major Leagues without playing in the
Minors. A good chunk of them came in the '70s. The most recent example was
Xavier Nady in 2000. 

Nady spent the next three years in the Padres farm system working his way back.
The Nationals may ultimately decide that the risk of rushing their franchise
face just to pitch a few meaningless games (and satisfy a few fantasy geeks)
isn't worth the reward.

means that unless some agreement gets squared away before August -- an unlikely
event, given the typical pace of Boras negotiations -- it's probably best to
leave Strasburg on the waiver wire in standard, one-year mixed leagues.

leagues are a whole 'nother ballgame, though. Strasburg is clearly a giant name
when it comes to future fantasy planning, but it's worth taking history into
consideration before assigning him any long-term value.

track record for pitchers drafted first overall doesn't exactly bode well for
Strasburg's Hall of Fame aspirations. The No. 1 pitcher club includes:


2007  David
Price           Tampa Bay

2006  Luke
Hochevar     Kansas City

2002  Bryan Bullington   

1997  Matt
Anderson      Detroit

1996  Kris
Benson          Pittsburgh

1994  Paul
Wilson           New York (N)

1991  Brien
Taylor          New York (A)

1989  Ben
McDonald      Baltimore

1988  Andy
Benes          San Diego

1983  Tim
Belcher          Minnesota

1981  Mike
Moore          Seattle

1976  Floyd
Bannister     Houston

1973  David
Clyde          Texas

safe to say Bullington, Anderson, Wilson, Benson, Taylor and Clyde all wound up
being major disappointments. And since Price and Hochevar are just now getting
their feet wet, it's also safe to say that not a single No. 1 pitcher in the
last 20 years has come close to expectations. Not one.

that mean Strasburg, by virtue of his membership, is destined to fall short of
expectations? No. Each pitcher handles pressure differently, as they do on the

it's not a great sign.


The best Strasburg comparison might very
well be a No. 2 pick overall -- namely, right-hander Mark Prior. Were it not
for Minnesota's pursuit of hometown hero Joe Mauer, the former Cubs hurler
surely would have been taken first. Prior starred at USC, and his arrival was
highly anticipated at Wrigley Field, just as Strasburg's debut will undoubtedly
stir up all sorts of excitement in the nation's capital. Strasburg soon turns
21, the same age Prior was upon making his big league debut. Both share roughly
the same height and weight.

importantly, both were believed to have flawless mechanics entering Draft day.

as Cubs fans and one-time Cubs skipper Dusty Baker learned later, there is no
such thing as flawless mechanics. Injuries would wind up transforming Prior
from one of the game's promising young starters into a shell of his former

Prior's downfall and the history of No. 1 picks serve as cautionary tales.
While nobody will dispute Strasburg's poise and immense potential, the fact is
that he's a pitcher.

Lebron dribbles,
passes, shoots, blocks and rebounds for a living.

If he violently threw a ball at
full speed several dozen times each week, he wouldn’t be Lebron James.


Alex Cushing,

Rookie trio strikes chord

r_wells.jpgThree rookie starters — Randy Wells, Vin Mazzaro and Antonio Bastardo — all took giant steps forward Tuesday.

But unlike Mazzaro and Bastardo, who made their big league debuts, Wells continued to gain steam in his fifth start. The Cubs righty took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before surrendering a single to Chipper Jones.

The only downside was the Cubs bullpen letting his seven-inning gem go to waste, as the lead evaporated under the consistently inconsistent closer, Kevin Gregg, leaving Wells winless on the year, at 0-2. This, despite a Zack Greinke-esque stretch in which he’s notched a startling 1.69 era and a 27/7 K/BB ratio since being called up on May 8. In other words, the only thing keeping Wells from being owned everywhere right now are his teammates, something not lost on Cubs management. Word out of Chi-town is that Sean Marshall will be the odd man out once Rich Harden gets healthy — not Wells. So while the 26-year-old Illinois native may have arrived to the The Show late, his timing couldn’t be better, with the Cubs playing well below expectations and looking for all the help they can get. This might be your last chance to snatch up Wells, who is emerging as one of the season’s top surprise arms.

It came as no big surprise that Mazzaro — the third member of Oakland’s holy trinity of pitching prospects that includes Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill — kicked off his Major League career with six scoreless innings against the White Sox. For one, the White Sox lineup was without their biggest bat in Carlos Quentin.  Second, the 22-year-old righty had little left to prove at Triple-A Sacramento, where he put together a 2.38 ERA in 56 2/3 innings, thanks to sound command (44/17 K/BB ratio) and a devastating sinker (2 HR allowed, 1.71 ground-out-to-air-out ratio).  Facing hitters in the upper Minors gives Mazzaro an edge over Anderson and Cahill, who have been forced to learn on the fly in Oakland’s patchwork rotation. Growing pains can be expected along the way, but another few outings like Tuesday could make him a popular waiver-wire target.

Bastardo belongs in the same boat, especially after passing his first test with flying colors by tossing six strong innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball against the Padres.  The Phillies rotation already had issues when Brett Myers was healthy. Now facing the possibility of losing him for the remainder of 2009, the club thinks Bastardo can jumpstart their scuffling staff, and for good reason.  The 23-year-old control artist was extremely effective across two Minor League levels this season, ringing up a 1.82 ERA and 51/10 K/BB ratio in 47 2/3 innings. Granted, a good chunk of that work came at Double-A Reading, so it remains to be seen whether his deceptive tricks will fly in Philly. Questions about his stamina also need to be answered. Still, Tuesday gives reason to believe Bastardo could be take the rotation spot and run with it.

— Alex Cushing,