Young Guns

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2010

SI.cou had articles today about each of baseball’s top three pitching prospects: Steven Strasburg, Aroldis Chapman and Brian Matusz.  Spring Training is a time when every pitcher is a potential Cy Young award winner and every hitter is a potential silver slugger.  Still, it’s hard to find fault with any of these three young hurlers at this moment in history.

I’m too much of a cynic to be much of a fan of Spring Training.  In Spring Training every team is a potential pennant winner, but I’ve never been able to put aside the reality that by October only eight teams will be making the play-offs and most of them will be the teams that looked to be the best on March 1st.

I guess I should be excited about the fact that Spring Training means that the start of the regular season is right around the corner, and I am, but only to a degree.  I usually feel like Tantalus during Spring Training: the real games are almost close enough to touch, but there’s still a long five weeks of B.S. and bad sports writing to put up with before the real action starts.

More than any other time of the baseball season, the sports writers write the same cookie-cutter stories during Spring Training: the home team’s broad aspirations for the new season, the stars getting themselves ready for another dominating season, the young guys on the bubble trying to catch on.  Each season (or at least every few seasons) the names change, but the stories sure don’t.

Anyway, Chapman, Strasburg and Matusz give Reds, Nationals and Orioles fans something relatively tangible to hope for, and, lord knows, each of those fan bases need something to feel good about.  As a baseball fan, I’d sure like to see things go right for a change in Cincinnati, D.C and Baltimore.  They’re all due and then some.

The reality, of course, is that the odds are at least 50% percent that at least one of the three young aces will blow out his arm before really living up to his potential and will break a lot of hearts in the process.  That’s baseball.

Also, I wouldn’t trade any of the three for Tim Lincecum.  There’s a lot to be said for actually being an ace, as opposed to merely being the second coming of Herb Score (see Joe Posnanski’s article here).

That being said, the odds are probably strong that one of these three great prospects will, in fact, have a better career going forward from today than Lincecum will have.  The question, of course, is which one.  That’s the rub, and it remains to be seen.