Stephen Strasburg sounds too good to be true. But you can't find too many baseball talent evaluators who will tell you the Washington Nationals should run away from the San Diego State flame-thrower in Tuesday's amateur draft.
Except for one reason: money.
The Nats haven't done much right this season and last year failed to sign their top pick, Missouri righty Aaron Crow, who is back in this year's draft. So what makes anyone think they could sign Strasburg, who throws in the high 90s and who has been gunned at 103 mph a few times this season? For one, Nats owner Ted Lerner, is one of the richest men in America. If agent Scott Boras is asking for a Daisuke Matsuzaka contract, a $50 million or so bonus, the Lerner family has the means to do it. As to who the Nats have on their negotiating team to match wits with Boras, is another matter all together.
Boras has negotiated with Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo on Stephen Drew when Rizzo was an assistant GM in Arizona and those talks went well. Boras has also had a favorable relationship with Lerner during the Mark Teixeira talks this offseason, but Teixeira spurned Washington's $188 million and signed with the Yankees.
The Nats will really have a tough time winning on this one. Either they chose him No. 1 and don't sign him or they chose him and they sign him to a ridiculous contract and hope he pans out as an All-Star or superstar, because that's what you're paying him to be.
Here's one man who feels the Nats should run away:
"If I were the Nationals I'd think long and hard about taking him," said one long-time former scouting director. "I've seen the kid pitch and he's the real deal, but he's throwing against who he's throwing against. This idea of having him go eight to the majors could really set a poor example. It wouldn't be a great situation for all of their other young pitchers the Nationals have up there now who have to do their time in the minors. The Nats have no reason to rush this kid to the big leagues other than public relations, exciting the fans and putting people in the seats. Those are all the wrong reasons for doing it."
And then who would you run away to?
North Carolina's Dustin Ackley, a first baseman/outfielder? He's a Boras client as well.
There are a number of other good picks like Arizona State righty Mike Leake, or Vanderbilt lefty Mike Minor, or University of California outfielder Brett Jackson that a team could be justified in picking high. But the focus will again be on the Nation's Capital when the Nats make their pick.
For a while selecting Strasburg will be perceived as a great move by a team that has had nothing good written or said about it all season. But once the reality of negotiations settles in this one isn't going to be pretty. Boras is already exploring Japan, an Independent League, as possible alternatives if Strasburg doesn't get his price.
On a local level, according to research done by former University of Vermont publicist Bruce Bosley, a New England player has been selected in the draft in the first three rounds in 32 of the 43 years of the draft since its inception in 1965. Joe Coleman of Natick was the first New England player taken. Also, a New England product has been taken in the first three rounds every year since 1991, including 20 first round picks.
Two Boston College players - catcher Tony Sanchez and righty pitcher/first baseman Mike Belfiore and URI righty Mike Smith as well as Clemson lefty Chris Dwyer of Swampscott, have a chance to go in the first two rounds.
Other New England players Bosley and Baseball America notes who will or could be drafted include C Myckie Lugbauer and outfielder Billy Cather of Maine, lefties Joe Serafin and Justin Albert of Vermont, righty Kyle McKenzie of Thayer Academy, outfielder Mike Yastrzemski of St. John's Prep in Danvers, UConn righty Dan Maloney, URI righty Nick Greenwood and shortstop Dan Rheault, lefty Chris Gloor of Quinnipiac, outfielder Nick Santomauro of Dartmouth, righty Mitchell Clegg of UM and first baseman Jeff Hanson of Sacred Heart.
Billerica native Tom Glavine's agent, Gregg Clifton, said today he's still in the thinking stage of whether he'll actually file a grievance against the Atlanta Braves for releasing the future Hall of Fame pitcher last week. Glavine, with 305 career wins, had pitched 11 scoreless rehab innings before being told he was being let go. Clifton argues that the Braves got rid of Glavine for financial reasons and not performance, which if proved, could penalize the Braves. Glavine was due to earn $1 million in a bonus if he threw one pitch with the Braves. Never got that chance.