We're officially less than 80 hours from the deadline for teams to sign their 2010 draft picks, which means Nationals president Stan Kasten was in the mood to say even less than usual about the progress of the team's negotiations with No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper on Friday. But at least he promised that before starting his interview with reporters - and Kasten is a man of his word, which meant he was a man of few words on Friday.
But in the little he did say, Kasten sounded confident that the Nationals' negotiations with Harper's advisor, Scott Boras, would end successfully shortly before the deadline as Monday turns to Tuesday.
"We have some unsigned guys that we think there's been some progress on," Kasten said. "Nothing to report yet, but like I said, it's only Friday. Some of the negotiations haven't even begun yet. There's really nothing we can or should say until roughly 12:01 (on Tuesday morning)."
Kasten compared baseball's process of signing draft picks to the Kentucky Derby - months of preparation, followed by two minutes of action before it's over. And he sounded off on the need for baseball to revise the draft pick signing system when the collective bargaining agreement runs out after next year's World Series.
"The Kentucky Derby process is silly," Kasten said. "That's why it needs to be changed. I think everyone believes that, on both sides. Veteran players agree this doesn't serve any purpose. So I have no doubt it's going to be changed two years from now. There's no question about it. It makes an interesting dynamic for those players and teams making decisions now, considering the climate is likely to be a very different one in two years.
"It's really hard to tell a normal businessman that this is really how a big-time industry like ours runs. It's impossible to justify, and that's why I think it won't be continued."
Kasten, never one to pass up a swipe at reporters, even said the media has treated the signing deadline with more indifference this year, comparing the dearth of coverage around the Harper negotiations to the blow-by-blow reporting around the Nationals' attempt to sign Stephen Strasburg.
"This is the first question I've been asked about our draft since June," Kasten said. "I think everyone expects whatever happens, will happen Monday. I would've told you two months ago that there will be a lot of rhetoric from both sides all summer, and my advice to you would be to ignore all of it. But this year, I didn't even have to do that. You were ignoring it anyway. The charade, the Kabuki dance nature of all of this is just kind of silly. We can do better as an industry, and I think both sides recognize that."
Somewhere in there was a sideways compliment for reporters. Boy, this thing really has lost its teeth.