Wrap-Up Edition. The Month In Strasburg "News"...
Strasburg Concern #1 - A "Rudderless Organization"
On July 14, 2009, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell quoted the Washington Nationals' 2009 1st Round pick, right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg, in an article entitled, "Strasburg waiting to hear from Nats", saying that he had no opinion of the Nationals' decision to replace former Manager Manny Acta with then-bench manager Jim Riggleman because he, "...was not familiar with either of them." Strasburg, according to Mr. Boswell, said, "I don't even follow [his hometown] Padres much."
Ten days after the article quoted above, on 7/24/04, Mr. Boswell's colleague, Washington Post writer Chico Harlan started an article entitled, "Nats' GM Uncertainties a Concern for Strasburg", by writing that a "source familiar with the negotiations" believed, "...the team's efforts to sign the high-profile pitcher could be undermined by several high-profile questions about the team's leadership," or, more specifically, the fact that the Nationals, having fired Manny Acta, were left with an "Interim Manager" and an "Acting" GM, since Mike Rizzo had never actually been promoted to the job in title, though he had been, since March, carrying out the duties specific to the position. Is it possible that Mr. Boswell's initial inquiry led Strasburg to take a closer look at what was going on in DC...? Or is Scott Boras just exploiting the uncertainty?...
Mr. Harlan writes that his source talked about the, "Strasburg Camp hav(ing) expressed concern to Washington's managing principal owner, Ted Lerner," describing the Nationals as , "...what the source called a 'rudderless' organization," and the same source said, "...Washington's system of interim leadership is a point of particular worry for Strasburg", (who 10 days earlier, as quoted in Mr. Boswell's article, "...was not really familiar" with the Nationals), "...because the right-hander's development will be entrusted to a yet-undetermined pitching philosophy." (ed.note - "Can we all agree not to mention that Riggleman had a rookie Kerry Wood, then 21, pitch 166.2 innings in 1998, the year before he had Tommy John surgery?")...The next line from the source, however, had a particularly familiar sting for anyone who followed last year's negotiations with the Nationals' 1st Round pick, Aaron Crow, as Mr. Harlan quotes the Strasburg "source" questioning the Nationals' reluctance to choose a direction:
"'They're setting a record about not selecting a GM,' the source said. 'Why would you ever want to go to an unknown? They're the only team in baseball that offers an unknown.'"
(ed. note - "Echoes: Aaron Crow telling Eric SanInocencio of Blogtalkradio.com's Baseball Digest Daily Live, "I just think any of the other 29 teams would have handled it a lot better.")
The Nationals' principal owner, Mark Lerner, expressed the team's position on the "interim" situation in an interview with MLB.com's Bill Ladson entitled, "Q&A with Nationals owner Mark Lerner", where he told Mr. Ladson, (a day before the most recent comments from the "Strasburg Camp"):
"We admire and appreciate the stability (Rizzo and Riggleman have) brought to the team as well as their depth of knowledge and valuable guidance. However, let me be clear. We have a responsibility to conduct a proper search for both positions, and that may entail going beyond our own gates. We will not be rushed or pressured into a decision that so significantly affects our future. In the end, whoever is appointed manager and general manager, they will be the best."
?'s For The Nationals And The DC Faithful...
• Isn't the the possibility of losing Strasburg because the Nationals can't commit reason enough to speed things along? Not to "rush or pressure" you, but maybe?
• Is this just Boras using the media? Using the Nationals instability to his advantage? Since the only direct Strasburg quote has him saying he doesn't really know the Nationals' personnel, can we assume the other quotes are coming from Mr. Boras...?
Strasburg Concern #2: Strasburg Hasn't Heard From The Nationals.
The quotes above that I found interesting, were not what everyone else pulled from Mr. Boswell's article a few weeks back, however, the focus for most had been on Strasburg stating that he hadn't, "...heard from the Nationals" since he was drafted and given a minor league contract, which, Mr. Boswell wrote, was a "...technicality that prevents him from becoming a free agent." Mr. Boswell also quickly explained in the article that though, "...the Nationals haven't spoken directly to Strasburg,":
"...acting general manager Mike Rizzo has been in frequent contact for weeks with Strasburg's agent, Scott Boras, according to Nationals President Stan Kasten."
The "Acting" DC GM Mike Rizzo responded directly to a similar story which came out a little over a week after Mr. Boswell's piece was published. ESPN.com's Pedro Gomez had written, in an article entitled, "Source: Nats, Strasburg not close", that "a source close to the negotiations" was claiming that the Nationals were, "...not on pace to sign top overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg." Mr. Rizzo's response, as quoted by Gomez:
"'There are a lot of things that are happening behind the scenes that nobody is going to know about because we're not going to talk about it,' Nationals interim general manager Mike Rizzo said, according to the Washington Post."
Rizzo added that the team will not be negotiating 'through the media.'"
Whether or not the Nationals want to be negotiating with Scott Boras and Stephen Strasburg 'through' the media, they already are and were from day one. In fact, it's so much in the media that no less an authority than the Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig felt the need to weigh in on (interfere with?) the negotiations during the recently completed All-Star Festivities, telling AP Sports writer Ronald Blum, in an article entitled, "Selig predicts 'meaningful offer to Strasburg", that:
"(The Nationals are) very sincere about signing Strasburg, and I'm hopeful that they will, and I know they're going to make him a very meaningful offer," Selig said. "Now, what happens from there is going to be up to Mr. Boras and Mr. Strasburg and what they want to do, and what the Nationals want to do."
Why is Mr. Selig talking about the Nationals' negotiations with Boras and Strasburg? Didn't you do enough to the Expos and by appointing Jim Bowden in DC? Right now, the Nationals are giving Strasburg a million reasons to avoid signing with DC...How many millions will it take to make him want to?