The talk is of how much money Stephen Strasburg will demand; the talk is of his likelihood to perform in the major leagues as a can’t-miss prospect where so many others have indeed, missed. But there is disproportionate silence on what matters most about this draft and this prospect, on this one day.
It is the first task in a quite a while that the Washington Nationals absolutely can’t fail at. Today is a day for hope.
Fan promotions, team management, spelling, timekeeping, kosher menu items, fireworks—they have all gone spectacularly wrong this year for the Nationals. Strasburg, even with his $50 million dollar request on the table, is the one thing the Nationals have to get right. It is impossible not to.
The Nationals face a great penalty if they do not sign Strasburg, in part because of their failure to sign last year’s top prospect, Aaron Crow. Considering that they almost have to give in to his request to abdicate themselves from local and national media scorn, Strasburg, a mound maestro the likes of which many scouts have never seen, can comfortably become a defensive cornerstone for years to come.
He doesn’t have to be the second coming of Satchel Paige; Strasburg needs only to provide the Nats a better chance of winning a game with five runs scored. We’re not looking for the all-time strikeout leader or a multiple Cy Young award winner. Washington only needs a reliable starter to bolster a burgeoning offensive unit that will continue to improve.
The appropriate perspective to take on the Washington Nationals is that things can’t get much worse. Signing Strasburg, regardless of the price tag, is the team’s first step in their commitment to things getting better.