CLEVELAND - JUNE 13: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals walks back to the dugout after warming up before the game against the Cleveland Indians on June 13, 2010 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
In an interview on June 8th, the morning of Stephen Strasburg's debut, the Washington Nationals' team President Stan Kasten told Chad Dukes of, "The LaVarr Arrington with Chad Dukes Show" on 106.7 The Fan in DC, that, "Last year, when [Scott Boras] was talking about [Stephen] Strasburg," the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick, in the months leading up to the pitcher signing a record 4-year/$15.1 million dollar deal with the team last August, "...[Boras] was not exaggerating. How 'bout that?"
According to Scott Boras, the agent for both Strasburg and the Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper, as quoted in an article this Sunday by Nick Carfado of the Boston Globe entitled, "Strasburg is a hurler with complete game", as much as he praised the then-20-year-old Strasburg following his dominant Junior year at San Diego State University, Boras now believes that, "...quite frankly, we undervalued Stephen,":
Scott Boras: "'Right now, we’re seeing something in baseball that’s finally coming to fruition. We’ve seen a player that, prior to reporting to the major league level — and they’re really not of value to you until they perform — has changed the marquee of a franchise, changed the perception of the franchise, added TV ratings, that has added great value.'"
Mr. Boras might have a point here. Strabsurg's debut, in front of a crowd of over 40,315, was followed the next day by a game against the same Pittsburgh Pirates which (in part due to the threat of rain), drew just 18,876. Or take for example the attendance at Progressive Field on Sunday for Strasburg's second start. In the previous two games, the Indians drew 22,041 on Friday night and 19,484 on Saturday to a park that according to ESPN.com's calculations, has drawn a league-worst average of 16,023, and Sunday sold tickets to 32,876.
Strasburg = box office.
And television ratings. Washington Post D.C.Sports Bog writer Dan Steinberg reported in a post-Strasmas post entitled, "Strasburg debut smashes MASN ratings record", that even with 40,000 strong in Nationals Park for Strasburg's debut, MASN drew an audience, "...more than three times higher than the previous best-rated Nats broadcast in franchise history, and almost 700 percent over the season-to-date average." Strasburg made an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. TBS picked up a random Nationals/Indians game just because Strasburg would be on the mound, and the MLB Network is scheduled air Friday's start against the White Sox outside of the DC market.
Scott Boras tells the Boston Globe's Nick Carfado that Strasburg was prepared to perform like this, under the intense spotlight, during his collegiate career, under Tony Gwynn's guidance, "'The preparation, that part of it, has been communicated to him..." by the Hall of Fame hitter and College of Southern Nevada baseball coach, "That’s why he has a chance to be really good at this, because he understood what was needed before he got here.'" After going (7-2) in 11 starts and 55.1 IP split between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse over which he gave up just 1 HR, 8 ER and 13 walks which recording 65 K's, Strasburg's now (2-0) in his first two major league starts, having allowed 2 HR's, 3 ER's, 6 hits and (today) 5 walks, while recording 22 K's in his first 12.1 innings pitched. It would appear Strasburg was properly prepared for the role.
In just two starts, Strasburg, "...has changed the marquee of a franchise, changed the perception of the franchise, added TV ratings, [and]...added great value." Was he undervalued as Mr. Boras tells the Boston Globe's Nick Carfado? Probably. Yes. Just as ESPN.com's Tim Keown explained in a feature article that ran in ESPN the Magazine prior to Strasburg being taken no.1 overall last June, (ESPN the Magazine, 6/15/09), in which Mr. Keown wrote that the Washington Nationals were a team that was, "....hurting in every way-- home attendance, television ratings, NL East standings," and the DC franchise, Mr. Keown wrote, was, "...irrelevant nationally, and only marginally relevant locally," but that could all change, he predicted, if the Nats drafted Strasburg with no. 1 pick and signed him, giving the Nationals, in Mr. Keown's words, "...the opportunity to get a once-in-a-generation talent, a pitcher who would be out of their range on the open market."
The Nationals' resisted the idea that Strasburg should get a contract like that which the Daisuke Matsuzaka's and Jose Contreras's of the world or even Aroldis Chapman after him, were given, and still signed him to the largest contract ever given to an MLB Draft pick, and they'll have to pay for Strasburg eventually a few years down the road if they want to keep him, but that decision is six years off now, maybe Nats fans should be more concerned about how the way Strasburg's turned out affects the team's negotiations with 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper, another once-in-a-generation talent who's only 17-years-old...What will Scott Boras ask for from the Nationals for Harper now? What will Harper get?