Washington Nationals: Top 5 Stories Of 2009. No. 1...Stephen Strasburg Signs.

1Stephen Strasburg Signs.

The biggest story of the year in NatsTown™ wasn't that the Washington Nationals drafted Stephen Strasburg #1 overall in the '09 First-Year Player Draft on June 9th, (his selection had been a foregone conclusion for over a year before the selection was made), no, the big news was that in the final moments before the August 18th midnight deadline to sign '09 draft picks, (11:58:43 on 8/17/09 to be exact, DC team President Stan Kasten joked in several publications that the Nationals, "...didn't even need that last minute..."), the Washington Nationals signed Stephen Strasburg to a record-setting $15M dollar deal, making the 21-year-old right-hander out of San Diego State University the highest paid prospect in baseball history. 

Here's how the deal broke down, according to LA Times' bloggers Bill Shaikin and Dylan Hernandez's article entitled, "Strasburg's contract numbers":

"The signing bonus is $7.5 million, payable in three installments of $2.5 million each. The first payment is due 15 days after the contract is approved. The second payment is due Jan. 10, 2010. The third payment is due Jan. 10, 2011.

"Strasburg gets a prorated share of the minimum major league salary of $400,000 this season. He is guaranteed $2 million in 2010, $2.5 million in 2011 and $3 million in 2012."

(cont.)...

Strasburg was introduced to the DC Faithful several days later in a press conference on the third base line in Nationals Park, telling the gathered media and fans that he would be pitching in DC when the organization thought he was ready, and all Strasburg wanted to do was, "...come in here and help this team win ballgames," though as Dave Nichols from the Nats News Network wrote here at Federal Baseball.com, in an article entitled, "Washington Nationals Introduce Stephen Strasburg to Media; Fans Proclaim NatsTown = Stras' burg", Strasburg was, "...starting to get a taste of what his signing means to the fans of DC." 

Strasburg told those present at the introductory news conference that his Coach at SDSU, former Padre great Tony Gwynn had advised him that, whether he was playing in college, the majors or the Olympics, "The game is the same," but as Strasburg learned quickly, "All of this [media, fans] is a little different." Just how different would become clear to the 21-year-old right-hander in his first workout with the team, if it hadn't been hammered home during his final college campaign, when Strasburg's first warm-up throws of the year were extensively covered. Washington Post writer Amy Shipley reported that Strasburg seemed less than comfortable with the attention. As Strasburg told the gathered media:

"'I thought I'd get a little bit of peace out here on the field, but you guys are following me everywhere,' Strasburg said later. 'It's something I guess I gotta deal with. I guess it just goes with the territory.'"

Strasburg's first Florida Instruction League outing was broadcast live on ESPN, (the first time I've ever seen such a thing...Did they do this for David Price?), and his first Arizona Fall League in a few weeks is bound to receive even more scrutiny, but Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told ESPN.com's Buster Olney, as reported in an blog post entitled, "The Tigers must address Cabrera", that all Strasburg wants is, "...to be treated like everyone else," which, Mr. Rizzo assured the pitcher, "...is not going to happen." Mr. Rizzo tells Mr. Olney what advise he's offered the young pitcher:

"'I've told him, 'You're going to be the center of attention.' He's come to grips with it, I think, and he's getting more comfortable with it. He's a very shy person -- he's good in front of the camera, but there's a shyness to him. He's got tremendous confidence in his abilities, but his attitude is like, 'I haven't thrown a pitch in the major leagues, and I'm getting all this attention; I'm kind of embarrassed by it.'"

According to the announcer in a video of highlights from Strasburg's Instructional League debut included with MLB.com's David Villavicencio's article entitled, "Strasburg sees first game action as pro", there will be one more start in Florida, before the Phoenix Desert Dogs' starter makes his Arizona Fall League debut on October 16, 2009. I wonder how many people will be there for Strasburg's second debut...

Washington Nationals: Top 5 Stories Of 2009: 5-2...

• Washington Nationals: Top 5 Stories Of 2009. No. 5...Adam Dunn Signs With DC. - Federal Baseball

"'I definitely had doubts' about signing with the Nationals,' Dunn acknowledged. 'When all this first came about, I was saying, "Man, they lost 102 games last year," and this and that. [ellipses] Coming into this offseason, I was sold on playing for a contender, playing for a team that's already proven themselves.'"

• Washington Nationals: Top 5 Stories Of 2009. No. 4...Jim Bowden Resigns. - Federal Baseball

"'My resignation is based upon my realization that my ability to properly represent the Washington Nationals has been compromised because of false allegations contained in the press. I am disappointed by the media reports regarding investigations into any of my professional activities. There have been no charges made, and there has been no indication that parties have found any wrongdoing on my part...'"

• Washington Nationals: Top 5 Stories Of 2009. No. 3...Ryan Zimmerman's Hit Streak. - Federal Baseball

"I'll tell you, it makes you appreciate how much 56 really is," Zimmerman told Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, in an article entitled, "Zimmerman's Hit Streak Ends, but Nats Get Win", after his own streak had come to an end some 26 games away from Joe DiMaggio's mark, but DiMaggio's run is just one historical achievement of many in the New York Yankees' franchise lore, while Zimmerman's was one of the first positive stories out of DC since the team moved from Montreal in 2005. "He put us on the map a little bit with what he did," then-Nationals' skipper Manny Acta told the Washington Post's Mr. Harlan. 

• Washington Nationals: Top 5 Stories Of 2009. No. 2...Mike Rizzo Becomes Washington Nationals' Full-Time GM. - Federal Baseball

"Wednesday was, uh, not as good as Monday (when Washington signed Stephen Strasburg)...The information, the mis-information...was unfortunate, but, uh, it didn't effect me nearly as much as the people who knew me and were rooting for me, cause I knew on Tuesday that I had the job. The Wednesday stories were at first, it was a little comical, and then as the day drew on and it seem to kind of snowball into more of a for sure thing that I wasn't going to get the job, and uh, you know, family members and friends were a little more vocal in their displeasure..."

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