One thing that has bothered me since I retired after the 1996 season is the way pro baseball pitchers have been handled--or should I say mishandled.
Not many people will ever be blessed with the skills necessary to pitch at the Major League level. When the Washington Nationals drafted and signed Stephen Strasburg, it marked a new beginning for them and the start of Stephen's pro career.
He is a very special young pitcher, just like Tim Lincecum, Tommy Hanson, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
Some of the hype surrounding those players has been expected, but some of these pitchers, I feel, were pressed into big league action before they were ready. I truly believe that pitch counts are way overrated and great mechanics, not throwing across your body, repeating your delivery and protecting your arm are way too overlooked in today's game.
Were Kerry Wood and/or Mark Prior rushed to the bigs? Were they too young, or were they not taught properly? We may never know that answer.
My idol growing up, and even when I made it to the pros, was Nolan Ryan - why? - not just because he had a great fastball, but he also had the mechanics to last well into his 40s.
The same goes for Greg Maddux. I wish the same for all of today's pitchers, including Stephen Strasburg. I don't think age should dictate when you should be put in the Big Leagues.
Tim Lincecum made 13 minor league starts and threw 65 innings before finishing the 2007 season with SF by making 24 big league starts and throwing another 150 innings. Tommy Hanson of the Braves made 75 minor league starts and threw 430 innings before coming up this year at 22.
I don't think age should dictate when you are ready to pitch in the Major Leagues, but I'm quite certain great mechanics should.
Let's give Stephen Strasburg and every other young pitcher the tools necessary to last as long as Nolan Ryan or Greg Maddux - That way we can all enjoy them all for a very long time...