I am very glad the Dodgers are out of the evil hands of Frank McCourt. A man who took a franchise that had been to the playoffs once in the eight years before he owned them, and ran them into the ground of going to the playoffs four years in the eight he did. Baseball simply can’t tolerate an owner who is going to take a once proud franchise quadruple the number of playoffs appearances they have. Baseball likes its poor owners to be much worse than that. Just look at Peter Angelos to understand how a poor owner should operate in baseball.
This isn’t about where the Dodgers have been or even where they are going this is about a man that I became very familiar with as a Washington Nationals fan, Stan Kasten. The man with the plan. Unfortunately for all of us that plan has been forgotten by a lot of baseball writers in this town. The plan as Kasten laid it out was for the Nats to not spend money on free agents and to add pieces through the draft and trades. The only two problems with that were the Nationals farm system was so bare that it would take years before it even reached the level of respectable, and they had no talent at the major league level to trade for prospects.
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I want to start out by saying that my every post will not be about one player. At any rate, recently I wrote about a brief tale of my favorite pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. I noticed from the start of his career that he was a talented pitcher, but it seems to me that he has gone under the radar. I also noted how he is, as is my understanding, okay with the fact that he is under the radar. He may not be under the radar for long though if he continues to do what he does on the mound. Zimmermann is a thrill to watch, he is a power pitcher, and bulldog on the mound. Bottom line, he doesn’t take crap from anyone when going about his business.
I wrote about Jordan Zimmermann the other day, and somehow I had been oblivious to the fact that he was going to make a start today. Regardless, I did not exactly have a late pass because twitter makes information move faster then… Zimmermann got off to a quick start today, getting outs at a seemingly alarming rate. Alarming for the Mets anyway, but that is not my problem and I do not know if it is possible for me to care any less about how they felt about it. Also, get used to it. Anyway, Zimmermann would go 6 innings today, giving up only 2 hits (a single and a double), 0 earned runs, picking up 2 strike outs, and simply looking dominant on the mound. Werth hit another home run for the spring and a Ryan Zimmerman sac fly would provide Zimmermann with 2 runs of support. Simply fantastic. Now, I know this is spring training and that this game is meaningless. I think this game says how ready for the season Jordan Zimmermann is and we are.
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Last night after recording another episode of the Citizens of Natstown podcast we sat around discussing baseball and watching the Washington Nationals 30 in 30 special on MLB Network. During the program there was a commercial for Brandon Phillips. The basic point of the commercial was that Brandon Phillips is always smiling and is just happy to be playing baseball. I had to admit that I don’t like Brandon Phillips. All his smiling and celebrating gets on my nerves.
I remember a game against the Nationals where Brandon Phillips scored a run by bowling over Wil Nieves and then getting up and thumbing his chest like a linebacker who had just sacked the quaterback. Later on in the game Brandon Phillips ended up with a baseball in the ribs like he should have. It is one thing to get beaten it is another thing entirely to let the opponent enjoy doing it.
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When I look at a player, I look at what he does for the team. I have to admit that my main concern is with the team, not the player. However, I would be lying if I said there was no attachment to some players on the Nationals roster that have managed to endear themselves to me over the years. Obviously, Ryan Zimmerman is one player on the Nationals that everyone loves and his departure would leave all of Natstown in shambles. There are other players too that have earned a spot in the hearts of fans of the Nationals in recent years. Danny Espinosa, Stephen Strasburg, Roger Bernadina, Jayson Werth (for some) and a new comer on the rise Steve Lombardozzi have earned or are earning spots in the hearts of the fans. There are a few guys, who go under the radar, however. I am not sure why this is or what is different about these players, but Jordan Zimmermann is a great example of a player who goes under the radar even though he had the best year of any pitcher on the Nationals in 2011. I have said it a dozen times, Jordan Zimmermann is the best kept secret in Major League Baseball.
Jordan Zimmermann made his Major League Debut on April 20th, 2009 and was an odd sort of microcosm of Jordan Zimmermann. He would make his MLB debut against the Atlanta Braves, pitching 6 innings giving up 2 runs, striking out 3, allowing 1 walk, and of course earning the win. A good performance, but not anything that would make headlines. Before Jordan was able to pitch that day though, he had to wait out the forces of nature. A 2 hour rain delay would halt the debut of who the organization referred to as “the other Zimmermann” and some fans referred to as (some still refer to him this way) as “baby Zim.” The rain delay had a standard effect, Nationals park was emptied and only the true fans stuck around for it. Jordan is the kind of guy who prefers to remain under the radar and it was as if Mother Nature knew that and wanted to help ease him into his first Major League start. Unlikely, but the thought has occurred to me over the years. I was able to watch Jordan’s debut on T.V. while I was in my Junior year at Old Dominion University and something about it made me a fan of him. Perhaps it was when Jordan got the news that he would need Tommy John Surgery that he was completely forgotten about, but when he made his first start since surgery on August 26th, 2010 I was elated. The performance was not flattering, but the guy had just come back from major surgery and seeing him back on the mound was amazing. For the record, the team did not let that game be recorded as a loss either. The Nationals would win Jordan’s re-debut in extra innings against St. Louis and Jordan ultimately got a no decision pitching approximately 4 innings, if I recall correctly.
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One of the most fun things about a baseball season is that there is always a surprise. Right now there are teams favored to win the division and teams favored to make the playoffs, but every single year a team that people had counted out ends up making the playoffs. Last season had its fair share of surprises with both the Cardinals and Rays making the post season on the final day of the regular season, but the most surprising team of all in 2011 was the Arizona Diamondbacks.
I say this because the Diamondbacks were coming off a 100 loss season in which they led the league in strikeouts on offense and had no bullpen to speak of. They ended up getting career years out of Ryan Roberts, Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, and Daniel Hudson in route to winning the NL West. The NL West has been a merry-go-round of sorts when it comes to division winners and if looking for a surprise team perhaps it is best to start there.
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There is suddenly a lot of excitement around the baseball universe as tickets are starting to arrive on doorsteps and in mailboxes around the nation. This is the true first signal that the season is almost upon us. Having a ticket in hand for an event means that that event is going to be attended and more often than not it is going to be awesome.
I can’t really say how Opening Day is going to go this year for the Nationals but I do have to say there is a lot I am looking forward to. It has been a while since I have seen everyone and sure we had a few gatherings after the season ended but nothing like the weekly or bi-weekly meet-ups in the scoreboard walk. It has been a long time since I enjoyed a shack burger and cold Miller Lite while discussing opinions on the outcome of that day’s game.
It is going to feel good to do that again and now with the tickets in hand it truly feels like it will be happening much sooner than later. It really is hard not to be excited about the coming of the baseball season, and in my estimation Opening Day might be the best holiday of the year.
Hello everyone, it has been a while since my last post and for that I truly apologize. If there is one aspect of life I can truly improve upon it is my time management skills. I have spent a lot of time hanging out, watching games, talking sports, and just doing my own thing here and there. Anywho, the reason you all read anything from the All Stars here at Blown Save, Win is for our baseball chatter, so I am about 98% sure you have already stopped caring about my mindless banter, so lets get into it, shall we?
So, I have been thinking a lot about the outfield of the Washington Nationals. However, I will go on a round about journey to get to my point here, so hang for a minute. We have all heard it more times than we probably care to mention, you build a baseball team “up the middle.” Some might not necessarily know what that means. This means you build a team on the middle of the diamond. Pitching, infielders, and a center fielder. Corner positions are not to be forgotten, but for reasons I am probably not intelligent enough to comprehend, it is the middle of a baseball diamond that is the most important. Now, lets think about the Washington Nationals for a moment…. Starting pitching; well I think the Nationals have done an excellent job of building in this aspect, but I have been accused of being biased before so lets break it down a bit. Stephen Strasburg had a very quick track to the Major Leagues and he has had more than flashes of brilliance in all his starts. He has a plethora of pitches that have proven time and again that even the best hitters can be fooled. Needless to say, the face of the pitching staff in D.C. is Stephen Strasburg and while he may be a shy individual who prefers to go about his business with a lot of attention, he is undoubtedly the rock of the rotation (a big responsibility for a young man without a lot of Major League experience). Add Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and Edwin Jackson to back up Stephen Strasburg and suddenly the Nationals have an amazing pitching staff, but we have heard that a dozen times at this point. What exactly is my point?
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