Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Before it is official

Before Stephen Strasburg is selected by the Washington Nationals with the first pick of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft this evening, I'd like to say a few things. We've enjoyed following Strasburg all year. He has had a remarkable career, and now he's overexposed and hyped-to-the-max. He's a superstar, and he hasn't started his professional career yet. It's well-deserved hype, don't get me wrong. He is quite possibly the best amateur pitching prospect...ever.

So, before what I'm about to outline happens, I want to get it out in the open. I'm going to issue a gigantic "I told you so", and I won't be ashamed to point to this post.

Stephen Strasburg is going to suffer shoulder and elbow injuries. He's not going to be Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, or Greg Maddux. He might be worth the value of his gigantic contract that will sign with the Nationals, because he might have enough bullets in his young arm, but he will not have a long, fruitful and injury-free career. If he gets to where CC Sabathia is today, having pitched tons of innings without any significant arm injury, then I will be very surprised and question my own intelligence. Here are the facts:

(1) Stephen Strasburg's arm action is long and whippy
(2) He has a substantial timing problem, meaning his arm isn't cocked and loaded when his leading foot plants.
(3) His follow-thru is piss poor. This increases the load on the shoulder and elbow over time.
(4) His glove-side arm flies open, slightly.
(5) He throws 100 mph
(6) The Washington Nationals won't change anything I just listed, for fear of hurting him, or making him lose his velocity, or being genuinely ridiculed for screwing up a "can't-miss" prospect.

It is the last fact that leads me to believe that Stephen Strasburg can miss. God knows I love him, the velocity, the Ks, the makeup and demeanor. Since he's so young, and didn't have a heavy workload as a youngster, it is entirely possible that he has a great career for the Nationals before hitting paydirt in free agency. But, as I said before, I dislike his mechanics a great deal and would wager that the Nats are just going to let him pitch as he always had. Why fix what isn't broken yet? Makes sense, I suppose. But ultimately I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that I expect Stephen Strasburg to have the same career trajectory as the last "can't-miss" college pitching prospect, Mark Prior.

Ridicule me if I'm wrong. I'd be delighted if I was. But I don't think that I am.

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