Stephen Strasburg Should Start the Year in a National's Uniform

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2010

VIERA, FL - MARCH 09:  Starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals warms up in the bullpen before facing the Detroit Tigers at Space Coast Stadium on March 9, 2010 in Viera, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

I'm not ready to call Stephen Strasburg the next big thing. 

For every Tim Lincecum, there are many more Mark Priors. 

This situation is about more than just Strasburg's talent. This is about the Washington Nationals as a franchise. 

They made the move to D.C. in hopes of moving into a bigger market and increasing their fanbase. However, the baseball success has not followed. Lets be honest: it isn't hard to predict where the Nationals are going to finish in the standings. 

Then last offseason I saw a little sign of hope. They made an offer to Mark Teixeira. Teixeria clearly was the big prize of the free agent class and even though the Red Sox and Yankees were in pursuit as well, the Nats still took a shot. 

That shows me something.

That shows at least some signs of dedication to win and get better. From a business perspective it shows they are trying to put a better product on the field for their fans.

Well, we all know what happened with Teixeira and his impact on the Yankees. The Nationals still impressed me by picking up Adam Dunn as a consolation prize. Dunn is an elite power option that can drive in runs and all-in-all a positive move for the team. 

Another glimmer of hope for the Nationals was having the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft. Obviously the MLB draft isn't known for having the same immediate impact on a team as the NFL Draft would or even the NBA Draft. This year, however, was different.

The top prospect was Stephen Strasburg.

Almost every sports fan has seen his highlights on ESPN. We've seen Strasburg baffling hitters with a fireball fastball and a devastating breaking ball. He has an intimidating 6'4'' 220 pound frame and ESPN had already elevated him above all other prospects.

The Nationals drafted and signed Strasburg, and then the questions began. When will we see him in the Majors?

Strasburg has been putting on a show in spring training. Granted, Spring training success hasn't always equaled regular season success, but it is showing that the talent is for real.

And yet most reports are suggesting that Strasburg will start the season in the minors. Some have gone as far to suggest this situation is about the money that would have to be paid to Strasburg if he started the season in the MLB.

If this is the case, then the Nationals need to decide what direction they are going. They are willing to shell out the money for Teixeira, and rightfully so, yet they aren't willing to put a kid with all the talent in the world out on the field?  

Thanks to ESPN, Strasburg already has the ability to fill seats in Nationals Stadium. He has the potential to be the face of your franchise.

Yes, I know all the rules about young arms and how you have to "protect" them. Yes, I know all about how you don't want to impact him mentally by putting him in a situation he isn't ready for. However, I think Strasburg isn't just another young arm.

This kid has been in the spotlight. He has been on ESPN already. He has had the microphones in his face.

Lets be honest, I don't think the D.C. media is going to be all over this kid like the Boston, New York, or Philadelphia media would if he struggled early. They would be happy just to see someone that can do something special. 

Strasburg isn't going to win the Cy Young this year. He isn't going to lead Washington to the World Series. He probably isn't going to even get them out of last place in the NL East.

He is going to fill seats. He is going to sell jerseys. He is going to get the Washington Nationals some exposure. 

Let Stephen Strasburg do what you drafted him to do, Washington. Give him the ball on your home opener and let the kid do what he does best. 

Most importantly, show your fans that you are dedicated to them and turning the Washington Nationals franchise around.