Nationals: It’s No. 10, not No. 1
The Nationals could be in a position to make some serious Fireworks this Tuesday, and I’m not talking about the kind that could burn a Fire Chief. No, Tuesday is draft day-and a special draft day at that. The Nationals, by virtue of having the worst record in the bigs last year and being unable to sign last year’s first round pick, will pick twice in the Top 10 tomorrow. So while Mr. Stephen Strasburg is both far and away the best pitcher available and is destined to be drafted by the Nationals #1 overall, it’s the fact that the Nationals can sign a second stud this year that makes this make or break. Strasburg, all by himself, would probably come in next year and have a shot at winning 18-20 games-which would make the Nationals about the 5th worst team in the league. Signing two starting pitchers that come in and produce? Well now you’re talking 30ish wins, the ability to maybe turn some of your lower end starters into bullpen guys and maybe you’re making a little noise. Given that the Nats aren’t going to finish any better than about 29th this year, Pencil them in for another Top 3 pick in next years draft and, with a little luck, a very serious pitching staff come 2011.
Strasburg is the given-it’s the guy they take next that is the difference between having a slightly better team and maybe a good team. Pay attention young Nationals fans-this is the year. This is when they have their chance. This is when you can look back in a few years and say “oh yeah, the moment they signed Stras and __________ I knew they’d have a chance.”
You laugh. I can hear you. But the basement isn’t as far away as the rest of the league thinks it is, and tomorrow’s draft could be the first steps up the steps to the ground floor.
So who will #10 be? Well Mike Leake seems to be someone the Baltimore Sun says they can sign. MLB.com also says the Nats will try and go cheap with #10, shooting for Drew Storen out of Stanford. Mr Rizzo over at Nats park says they aren’t playing that game-they are looking for a good player, not just one they can sign.
I’ve also seen Alex White on a few sites, but the real problem is this: There are too many players to keep track of. Unlike football, baseball pulls from college teams, players from other countries and a lot of high school players as well. Couple that with the fact that truly rabid fans will pay for info on players for their fantasy league (meaning you have to pay for a subscription to some web site to get any info) and it’s hard to get a read on just who is that good after the first few guys. Thankfully the Nationals pay for people to figure this all out, and hopefully they’ve done their homework.
It’s a powerful day for the Washington baseball team tomorrow, and those going to the game will be invited to a party of sorts. Let’s hope that the Nationals give us something to cheer about.