Tag:Stephen Strasburg
Posted on: March 14, 2010 7:14 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2010 7:15 pm
 

From Florida to Arizona, Chapman to Strasburg

VIERA, Fla. -- Aroldis Chapman is the guy everyone wants to see in Arizona. Stephen Strasburg is the guy everyone wants to see in Florida.

Imagine if they were both in the same spring training camp.

"I spent a lot of time imagining that," Nationals president Stan Kasten said with a smile.

The Nationals were one of a few teams that went deep into the bidding for Chapman, along with the A's, the Marlins and the Reds, who eventually got the deal done for $30.25 million over six years. The Nationals' final bid was for about $25 million.

"I give [Reds general manager] Walt Jocketty a lot of credit," Nats GM Mike Rizzo said.


Strasburg made his second start of the spring today, overcoming strong winds to throw three scoreless innings against the Cardinals. In two starts, the 21-year-old right-hander has pitched five scoreless innings, impressing just about everyone who has seen him.

The Nationals will almost certainly have him start his pro career in the minor leagues, but they see him joining their rotation soon. And they still dream of what it would have been like to have had Chapman in that rotation, too.

"It would have been an excellent 1-2 punch," Rizzo said.

*****

One question I had about Chapman: If he's as good as advertised, what happened to the big-spending teams? Nothing against the Reds, A's, Marlins and Nationals, but couldn't the Yankees or Red Sox have blown them out of the water?

One possible answer is that the big-money teams weren't as impressed. The other, though, is that Chapman told teams he was very focused on getting to the big leagues quickly, and was most interested in going to a team that would give him that chance.

*****

I missed Chapman's first start for the Reds, because I had to be at the Brewers camp that day. I missed Jason Heyward, because he didn't play either of the times I saw the Braves.

I wasn't about to miss a chance to see Strasburg. He doesn't disappoint, even if his velocity today wasn't as good as it can be (94-96 mph). As one of the scouts watching said, he shows two legitimate strikeout pitches (fastball and breaking ball), and he's willing to throw the breaking ball at any time.

*****

Livan Hernandez, who followed Strasburg, has a chance to open the season in the Nationals rotation. But what was more interesting to me is what Hernandez, who left Cuba in 1995, had to say about Chapman, who left last year.

While first saying that the decision on whether to have Chapman start in the big leagues is up to the Reds front office, Hernandez said that he thinks any Cuban defector can benefit from time in the minor leagues.

"I think the language will be the most difficult thing for him," Hernandez said.

Hernandez spent all of the 1996 season and part of the 1997 season in the minors.

"I think it helped me a lot," he said. "I think [Chapman] is going to be all right. But the game here is different from Cuba."

And what about Reds fans, who are so anxious to see the guy the Reds gave all that money to?

"Their fans can wait a little bit," Hernandez said.
Posted on: August 18, 2009 12:12 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2009 12:12 pm
 

A big National risk? Maybe not

Shocking, wasn't it, that Stephen Strasburg would sign at "11:58 and 43 seconds," as Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters early this morning. Shocking that Strasburg would break a draft record, but not really break much ground in Scott Boras's never-ending battle to get American-born drafted players paid the way foreign-born undrafted players are.

As colleague Scott Miller wrote , the Strasburg deal is win-win for both sides.

But here's the other thing: History shows it may not even be that big a risk.

According to information provided by Jim Callis of Baseball America , before this year there were 15 players who signed out of the draft and received big-league contracts of $5 million or more. Of those 15, the only one who hasn't yet played in the big leagues is Pedro Alvarez (2008 Pirates) -- and he no doubt will.

Of the 14 who have played in the big leagues, the one with the least distinguished career was Eric Munson (1999 Tigers). He made it through parts of eight seasons in the majors, including one year with 19 home runs, but with a career average of .214, we'll call him a $6.75 million bust.

That's one to-be-determined, and one bust. And 13 signings that have worked out well.

And that bodes well for Strasburg ($15.107 million), and also for Dustin Ackley (who signed for $7.5 million with the Mariners) and Jacob Turner ($5.5 million with the Tigers).

Here's the list, with quick comments:

1998: J.D. Drew, Cardinals, $7 million (all figures are the guaranteed value of the big-league contract): 12 big-league seasons and counting. A solid big-league player for first-division teams.

Pat Burrell, Phillies, $8 million: 870 career RBIs in 9 1/2 seasons, and counting.

1999: Josh Beckett, Marlins, $7 million: Four years later, he won them a World Series. Then he went to Boston and won another one.

Eric Munson, Tigers, $6.75 million: The one bust of the group.

2001: Mark Prior, Cubs, $10.5 million: Two years later, he was an 18-game winner, and nearly got the Cubs to the World Series. That's worth $10.5 million.

Mark Teixeira, Rangers, $9.5 million: Hit 153 home runs in 4 1/2 years with the Rangers, then got them Elvis Andrus, Neftali Perez et al in a trade.

2003: Delmon Young, Devil Rays, $5.8 million: Good enough to get the Rays Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza in a trade. That's good enough.

2004: Jeff Niemann, $5.2 million, Devil Rays: Slowed by injuries early, but he's a 10-game winner for Tampa Bay this year.

Stephen Drew, $5.5 million, Diamondbacks: Inconsistent, but his career is still off to a good start.

2005: Mike Pelfrey, Mets, $5.25 million: A 13-game winner last year, and 200 innings, too? Try to find that for $5.25 million.

2006: Luke Hochevar, Royals, $5.25 million: Yes, they'd have been better off with Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw or Kyle Drabek, all picked behind him in the first round. But Hochevar is developing into a solid big-league starter.

Andrew Miller, Tigers, $5.45 million: Hasn't done much yet, but without drafting (and paying) him, the Tigers don't get Miguel Cabrera in a trade. Therefore, he was worth it.

2007: David Price, Rays, $8.5 million: Those four outs in Game 7 against the Red Sox were worth $8.5 million all by themselves.

Rick Porcello, Tigers, $7 million: 20 years old, 10 big-league wins.

2008: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates, $6.355 million: Still in Double-A, but ranked second on Baseball America's latest Prospect Hot Sheet .


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