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The Slender Reed of Hope PDF Print E-mail
Bed Goes Up, Bed Goes Down
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Saturday, 28 August 2010 00:00

Stephen Strasburg.

There, I started it: this week's column.

I thought of a million other ways, including, "Does the name Brien Taylor mean anything to you?," and "I told you so."

Not that I wanted Strasburg to fail or endure difficulties, for certainly there is very little more that invigorates not just a local fan base, but baseball fans in general, than a hot young pitcher.

I mean, think Fernando Valenzuela or Mark Fydrich or even recently Tim Lincecum, all of whom generated enormous interest when they broke through, much like Strasburg.

MASN made it a point of sending emails advising subscribers that they would cover Strasburg's first start, which was certainly a good one, but not the best debut ever.

Since then The HOF collected a ball from that game, and there was talk after two starts that the youngster make the All Star team, a proposition so preposterous and silly that it almost came to fruition.

Just before the All Star Game voting was finalized this season, I found myself driving to ATT Park to work, and local radio host Mychael Urban has Chris Lincecum, father of Tim on his show for a weekly segment called "Father Knows Best."

Lincecum, who worked in Parts and Inventory at Boeing, coached his sons (Tim's brother Sean also received tutelidge), emphasizing the need for his boys to follow through (which is the source of the elder Lincecum placing a dollar bill at the foot of his son so Tim would reach for the money.

When asked about Strasburg and the mid-season classic, Chris Lincecum noted that Strasburg was exciting, and clearly noted he wished no ill on the the National, but he said that Strasburg was an arm injury waiting to happen, confirming his belief with, "just watch his follow through. He doesn't, and his arm is at risk."

Pretty prophetic for a non-baseball coach, and like Lincecum, I wish no ill on Strasburg.

On the other hand, it is likely a sobering fact to the bulk of fantasy owners who drafted the hard thrower anticipating he would be the core of their fantasy pitching from anywhere from this year, to the next ten, depending upon the format.

It also reminds me of when DiceK was new to the Red Sox and folks at one of Ron Shandler's First Pitch seminars insisted that Mastsuzaka was a $35 pitcher.

The bottom line is as much fun as it is to pluck an unknown player from the ranks of the minors and have a star for the coming years, the risks are great and the likelihood of instant gratification are minimal (Trace Wood once suggested to me that roughly one of every 20 prospects selected in our XFL league actually developed into an impact player, a la Hanley Ramirez, for example).

Meaning, as unsexy as it is to own say Mark Buehrle or to take a chance on Jonathan Sanchez, the flat out reality is the percentages that they will earn a profit, or have a breakthrough are far greater than with a Strasburg.

And, that is a tough lesson to embrace in life, let alone the fantasy universe. It does, however, mean boring is a lot better path to success than flash.

Maybe in 2013, a year removed from Tommy John surgery and a year of rehab in the pros, we can revisit.

In the mean time, I will suffer with Mike Minor or Madison Bumgarner, pitchers far lower on the cosmic scale than Strasburg, but pitchers with a lot better chance of delivering the goods I seek.

 

 

 

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