What a concept. Just as kids have pitch counts in Little League so they don’t ruin their arms, young adults appear to need inning counts in the majors so they don’t become Rob Dibble or Mitch Williams, none of whom ever threw more than 110 innings in their careers as closers.
Strasburg, as mature as he looks for his age with the facial hair and his über-serious approach to his craft, is still building his arm strength. His shoulder, labrum and rotator cuff — every ligament, really — is still getting used to violently throwing the baseball after having quadrupled his workload in a year, to a projected 160-plus innings from pitching just 44 innings a year ago.
We use “invest” all the time in sports, but do we really understand its intrinsic meaning? Developing Strasburg into the horse of the best staff in baseball for just this moment is small-prism thinking; he should be that guy for years, continually getting better with age until his joints and limbs hit natural expiration dates.
Who wouldn’t want that, including Boras? The agent has taken a measure of grief for a line in an earlier column I had written about Strasburg. I quote him saying he and Rizzo had put the Nats together. Having the benefit of listening to the tape several times, two sentences should have been put together, which would have read, “When Rizzo and I put this team together with eight or nine of my guys on the team . . .” It sounds like semantics, but Boras was clearly making a point about how many times he’d negotiated with the Nationals general manager – not taking credit for their roster.
Bottom line, the takeaway from that column should have been that the guy actually trusted Rizzo not to behave like Mazzone did with Avery, overtaxing his arm at a young age until he was out of baseball by 29.
“Look, I had two guys who were brilliant young pitchers at a very young age – Alex Fernandez and Steve Avery,” Boras said. “They both have children. They both have families. And you know what? If I had this information and the clubs had this information, I think we may have done things differently.”
Everybody has agendas, but I really think Boras wants to ensure he never neglect a client’s arm again with what he knows now.
He’s not running the Nationals; I think this Strasburg situation is running Boras – ragged. He’s tired of explaining what Rizzo is also blue in the face explaining: that this isn’t about baseball or a town that has had neither a big-revenue sport championship parade in two decades nor a baseball playoff game since 1933.
It’s about a kid, who had a tendon pulled from his thigh two years ago surgically attached to his right elbow, rehabbing the right and logical way – not the wrong-headed, emotional way.
Let’s stop the debate and enjoy Strasburg while he lasts this season with a comforting thought: He’s coming back healthy next season. Before the crapshoot of another postseason begins, that should be enough for now.
For Mike Wise’s previous columns go to washingtonpost.com/wise.