National Bailout: Strasburg to the Rescue?

Mike AcostaContributor IJune 7, 2009

Tuesday marks the MLB draft, where the Washington Nationals are expected to make collegiate pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg the first overall pick. 

The buzz around the Washington, D.C., area is that Strasburg could be the Nationals' ace pitcher for years to come. It could even be the beginning of an golden era for the dismal Washington franchise.

However, let's take a close look at the Washington Nationals team before we make the claim that Strasburg will be the next 300-game winner or even bring some fame to D.C. the way Tim Lincecum has done for San Francisco.

The Nationals currently are 15-40 and potentially on pace for another 100-plus-loss season (102 in 2008). 

This past offseason, the team, led by team president Stan Kasten, spent millions to bring in power hitter Adam Dunn. This move could have put the Nationals behind the curve for years, and, furthermore, could have an effect on the upcoming Strasburg negotiations.

Let's go back to the 2008 draft. The Nationals selected one of the top pitchers in college baseball with the No. 9 pick overall, Aaron Crow. After a long, drawn-out negotiation process, the Nationals failed to sign Crow to a contract and lost him.

Crow will be eligible for the 2009 draft and is anticipated to go higher this year. 

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Now my point is, had the Nationals used at least part of the $20 million spent on Dunn for Crow, wouldn't they be in a better position for the future? 

A potential pitching rotation led by John Lannan, Jordan Zimmerman and Shairon Martis with Ross Detweiler and Crow could have been potentially as promising as what is being seen in Tampa. Then you add a once-in-a-lifetime player like Strasburg to this group and Washington could have had one of the best young pitching staffs in the majors.

Unfortunately, Stan Kasten fell into the mindset that instant offense equals immediate success. The amount the Nationals are paying a .255 hitter with 61 strikeouts is enough to make any Washington fan sigh. 

To make matters worse, the most exciting news for the Washington Nationals recently was Manny Acta's announcement of another change at the closer position. 

Unfortunately, a Nationals closer is like an honest politician in D.C. You rarely see one, and when you do you're disappointed. If the Nationals really want to make a valuable investment for their fans, they better be prepared for Strasburg's contract demands and his bulldog agent, Scott Boras.   

There is no guarantee that Strasburg will be the savior of the Nationals franchise, or that he will ever pitch a game in D.C., but there is no question this baseball team is in dire need of a franchise pitcher. They won't find another pitcher more qualified, or downright willing to bring excitement to this city. 

As the Nationals formulate their bailout plan for Tuesday, fans anxiously await the details. Will the Nats agree to open the vault doors to young Strasburg?

This team is lightyears from being ready to compete for an NL East title, but with Strasburg in the system the Nats would at the least have the power to draw more people to Nationals' Park.