On Wednesday, I suggested that Mike Rizzo is perhaps the only person in the world who passionately feels that the Nats are doing the right thing with Stephen Strasburg.
I was obviously wrong. Scott Boras is also on board. (In truth, he has been since May, as this Kilgore piece shows.)
As this debate has taken over ESPN airwaves in recent days, several commentators wondered out loud whether Boras was actually driving the Nats’ Shutdown Strategy. So Mike and Mike had the super agent on Thursday morning, and asked about his role. (Full audio here.)
“Certainly when you represent players, we have conversations with the players, [which] we want the teams to be aware of, and then they call,” Boras said. “And Mike Rizzo’s a general manager. We began the career of Stephen with Mike and his staff. And Mike’s philosophy always was the health of the player will be protected.
“And we knew this because Stephen Strasburg was a year younger than most draft picks when he signed,” Boras continued. “And so this was a concern of ours, to make sure that his body had matured and he had the strength, the core strength, the leg strength to withstand a Major League season. And we knew that Stephen’s talent was going to get him to the Major Leagues in very, very quick order.
“So consequently we had a caution flag about this going in, because he was so good so young and his body was not yet mature. And you have to remember, too, that the reputation of an organization and a general manager is at hand here. These men have careers. They want players to know that they care, and they monitor things.
“And I think that in Mike Rizzo’s case, he said I’m going to go at the forefront. He looked at all the information. We don’t make these decisions. We’re not the employer, we’re not the ones that do this. But certainly they sat down, and all we asked was that they look at expert medical opinion.”
If you ask me, Scott Boras arguing that “the reputation of an organization and a general manager is at hand here” might be the most striking thing anyone has yet said about this entire situation.
Before the interview ended, Boras was asked what Strasburg wants.
“Well, Stephen wants to pitch, of course,” his agent said. “But again, he put his [career in the] hands of a doctor, a doctor that has saved his career. He must follow his advice. He knows the protocols. He knows what the doctors say.
“And obviously when you’re looking into this, they’ve done the research. And Stephen — like general managers, like attorneys for players — we’re not doctors. We have to follow expert medical advice. And the question always is, how can you justify if anything were ever to happen to this player, if you went against expert medical advice?”
Boras had much more to say on the matter, including an extended rumination about the career of one of his former clients, Steve Avery. Leo Mazzone, you might recall, trumpeted his handling of the Braves’ young starters on Wednesday.
“He was a dominant pitcher between the ages of 21 and 23,” Boras said. “He did not throw 200 innings after the age of 23. He threw only 130 innings between the ages of 26 and 29. His ERA was never less than 4.50 after the age of 25. And the answer to that is that he was taxed so greatly.”
Boras went on to suggest that baseball, as a whole, needs to do better by its young pitchers, even those who have not had Tommy John surgery.
“Again, I’m talking healthy young pitchers,” he said. “The expectancy that we have to have is for the betterment of the game. And the betterment of the game is that we want these great young talents to be in our game a long time. And we want them to go out and have storied careers.
“And the reality of it is that we do, we do in the game have to monitor and look at information. I’ve got all kinds of studies about the number of innings pitched before the age of 24, on healthy pitchers. And you’ll find that the number of players that pitch over 600 innings in the Major Leagues prior to the age of 23, that their chances of having a career past the age of 30 are dramatically decreased.”
Boras also strongly suggested that the legion of analysts now offering opinions on what the Nats should do might want to cool their jets.
“You notice that coaches and that former players who are evaluators, they’re not around when these players are hurt,” Boras said. “What’s interesting to me, [is] that these medical experts, no one questions their ability to fix the player, to make the player perform again. They all know that doctors are required for that.
“But yet the very same doctors who are giving protocol as to what will make the player healthy and assure his return to being the stable player that he once was before the injury, all of the sudden everyone has an expert medical opinion without having the appropriate training and/or expertise.”
So yeah. That’s a vote for Rizzo.
Rick Sutcliffe has a plan for Strasburg
Dennis Eckersley says the Nats have to pitch Strasburg
Stephen A. Smith says it’s disgraceful
Kevin Millar asks the Nats to look Strasburg in the eyes
Jake Peavy says it blows his mind
Leo Mazzone says the Nats are pathetic