Sure its exciting that the Washington Nationals have Stephen Strasburg, the next Mark Prior or David Price or Doc Gooden or whatever. That is great news. The sad thing is that they possibly could’ve had 2 such prospects if they wanted to pony up the cash for Aroldis Chapman like the Cincinnati Reds did. Chapman, as a Cuban defector, was a free agent available to anyone in the league and in the end it seemed like the Nationals and the Reds were the last two in the running for his services, but the Nationals felt that they didn’t want to spend $30+ million for 6 years on an unproven commodity. It was the safe call, it was also the inexpensive call…and it very well might be the wrong call.
Of course one should never draw conclusions from one, split squad spring training game against lesser bats but in just looking at the way Chapman pitched I am going to do just that. Seriously, he doesn’t look like he will be waiting around to start in the show for long. What did he do in his first MLB start in spring training? Here’s what, allow me to paraphrase Dave Brown in Big League Stew’s wrap up of Chapman’s start in some bullet points for you:
- He threw 26 pitches, 15 for strikes and his control got better as he pitched more.
- At least one pitch reached 100 mph.
- He can throw sliders with two different breaks.
- He unexpectedly cuts his fastball
- He once followed up a pitch in the upper 90s with an 80-mph change-up.
- He struck out three Royals batters in two scoreless innings.
Meanwhile, with Strasburg set to pitch at 1pm today, what have the Washington Nationals combined to do thus far this preseason? Oh, only 61 runs given up in 50 innings, a 1.22 runs an inning average and just over 10 runs a game allowed. Gee, you think the Nationals could have afforded to spend $5 million a year on second possible pitching savior now? Ya think? Do you think they wished they had his arm right now when the entire staff is sucking more than a room full of Dysons? Its not like he is Daniel Cabrera, he actually HAS control.
According to the Washington Post back in January,
…when the total value of the last Nationals offer approached $25-million, almost $10-million more than the Nats paid to sign No. 1-overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg, Washington had reached its limit.
I hope they didn’t take a pass on a chance at a dominant 1-2 pitching combination all because they didn’t want to hurt the ego of their young phenom. I hope they didn’t pass on the chance had having a dominant 1-2 pitching combination because of just 5 million more dollars, because if all worked out well his VORP would be through the fraking roof and well worth that gamble .
I know that the Nationals have “The Plan”™, I like “The Plan”™, but Chapman would’ve fit into the plan and this was a blown opportunity to possibly dramatically speed up “The Plan”™. He’s still a young player if you believe his papers, he has as much potential as our #1 draft pick and he wouldn’t have been so expensive that they couldn’t work around his salary if he failed.
Its a snap judgment, yes, but from what it looks like right now, the Nationals probably blew it being cheap.