With deadline looming, Nats have a ways to go with Strasburg (cont.)
Boras has had a few star prospects who took the idle route, such as J.D. Drew and Luke Hochevar, and both earned extra dough by waiting a year. Drew spurned the Phillies' offer of about $3 million to sign with the Cardinals for $7 million, and Hochevar spurned the Dodgers' offer of about $3 million to ink a deal with the Royals that included a $3.5 million signing bonus and the ability to earn up to $7 million over four years. Others, like Stephen Drew and Max Scherzer of the Diamondbacks, waited 10 months to sign (that isn't an option this time as the deadline is Monday night).
However, none of the previous highly regarded draftees had an eight-figure offer to consider, as Strasburg surely does. And a case could be made that Strasburg's current leverage diminishes if he returns to the draft in 2010 one year older.
The call, ultimately, will be Strasburg's, Boras said. Some previous clients have insisted on signing, as highly regarded catcher Matt Wieters did when he accepted the Orioles' $5 million bonus. Boras is not believed to have felt that was the right offer, considering Wieters' all-around ability. That deal now does look like a tremendous bargain for the Orioles. But Wieters wanted to get on with his pro career.
People close to Strasburg say he wants to start his professional career as soon as possible, and Boras doesn't dispute that notion. But Boras is believed to see no great advantage to signing now, as he doesn't mind the idea of limiting Strasburg's innings to preserve his one-in-50-million arm. Strasburg threw 109 innings for the Aztecs last season, going 12-1 with a 1.32 ERA, allowing 65 hits, striking out 195 and walking 19 (that 10-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn't bad). Boras has widely praised Aztecs manager Tony Gwynn, the Hall of Famer, for limiting Strasburg's workload.
Boras has told confidants (and surely the Tigers many times) that he worries about the arm of another prodigy, Porcello, who's pitched 112 innings in the majors with the Tigers at age 20 (he's 10-7 with a 4.34 ERA). Boras worries about the possibility Porcello could repeat the career path of yet another Boras client, Steve Avery, who threw a lot of innings early in his career, including playoff innings, and burned out pretty young.
There is pressure on the Nationals, as they are still in line to lose 100 games this year, even after a recent eight-game winning streak. They recently lost promising right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who needs Tommy John elbow surgery, and suffered through a couple embarrassments, including the hiring and ultimate firing of Jim Bowden as GM. The Nationals also failed to sign their No. 1 pick last year, University of Missouri pitcher Aaron Crow, who went back in the pool and is now negotiating with the Royals, who also took him in the first round.
"They have to sign him," one competing executive said of the Nationals/Strasburg situation. "If they don't sign him, what are they in business for?"
Kasten has cited the history of past top signings, an indication of where they stand. But Boras sees Strasburg as a history-making case.
By midnight Monday, we will see whether history is repeated or overcome.
Around the majors
The Diamondbacks and Brewers have until this afternoon to work out a trade for Doug Davis, the former Brewer claimed by Milwaukee on Wednesday. Brewers GM Doug Melvin has publicly downplayed the possibility of a trade, but it makes little sense for the free-agent-to-be to stay in Arizona. And Milwaukee has a desperate need for a starter.
The Brewers certainly showed they are willing to shake things up again. Last year's late firing of manager Ned Yost was initiated by owner Mark Attanasio, but it is believed the decisions to fire longtime pitching coach Bill Castro, demote shortstop J.J. Hardy and designate Bill Hall were Melvin's. Castro could land elsewhere as a bullpen coach or be back with the Brewers in another capacity next year. Hardy probably needed the wakeup call, and his replacement, Alcides Escobar (Milwaukee's best overall prospect), could provide a spark. Chris Bosio is hoping to stay on as the fulltime pitching coach.
Even the Yankees think Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang are overpriced, with $16.5 million and $18.5 million to go, respectively. So unless the Reds are willing to pay a significant portion of their contracts, they are probably stuck with them. Both pitchers have cleared waivers, thanks to those contracts. Arroyo also probably didn't help his trade value with comments to USA Today about how many drugs he and other baseball players take.
The purpose of these comments isn't known. But there have been hints Arroyo suspects he may be on the list of 2003 survey failures, and perhaps he is trying to get ahead of the story. Arroyo went a little over the top with his remarks, especially invoking the name of serial killer Ted Bundy, saying, "I can see where guys like Hank Aaron and some of the old-timers have a beef with it. But as far as looking at Manny Ramirez like he's Ted Bundy, you're out of your mind."
Some around the Nationals believe acting GM Mike Rizzo might get the fulltime job. The other candidates are highly regarded club executives Jed Hoyer of Boston and Jerry DiPoto of Arizona. An announcement may come soon.
The Yankees are 21-6 since the break. Boston remains a favorite to make the playoffs, but Texas is definitely a threat. Neftali Feliz (13 K's in 6 2/3 innings) has been brilliant.
Not enough has been said about the terrific job Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is doing.
CC Sabathia's first 10-strikeout night came at the expense of Ichiro. In Sabathia's supposedly off year, he's 13-7 with a 3.64 ERA. He may be heading toward a finish similar to last year's with Milwaukee.
Jerry Hairston Jr. (.389) was a nice pickup for the Yankees.
I am starting to believe in Marlins magic. Though, judging by the crowds, you wonder whether their fans do. They've now won six of seven, yet the crowds are still sparse (announced as 14,047 Thursday night).
The Twitter continues at: http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman.
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