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Zimmerman's glove

So last night Ronnie Belliard went 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles and Dmitri Young got his normal two hits in four at-bats and drove in a couple and Ryan Zimmerman chipped in by going 3 for 5 with three RBI.

But even as the Nationals' offense seems to get rolling (thank you, Reds), let's talk a little bit about defense - particularly that of Ryan Zimmerman.

Manny Acta made many pledges in the offseason before he managed his first major league game, but one was that the defense would improve. "We won't be dead-last in defense again," he said, and after a rough start (thank you, Josh "Five errors in 25 chances" Wilson), they have calmed down. The Nationals have committed 72 errors in 108 games, the seventh-most in the National League. Their fielding percentage of .982 is 11th-best in the league. Most important, perhaps, they have allowed 28 unearned runs - and that's tied with the Cubs and Padres for fewest in the N.L. (Florida has allowed a shocking 62 unearned runs.)

So let's turn to the defensive anchor, Zimmerman. Two nights ago, he committed two errors. That gives him 17 for the year, two more than he had in his entire rookie campaign - and there's two months to go. I had thought that he was tied with Miguel Cabrera for the most errors by a third baseman, which he is. But he's also tied for the most errors for anybody at any position in the N.L. His fielding percentage of .950 is 17th among all third baseman in baseball.

But it's more complex. Zimmerman has been involved in 28 double plays -- six more than any other third baseman in baseball -- and don't think that's not because he gets in on balls or gets to balls to his left much better than most guys.

Defense, though, is very difficult to analyze statistically. I think you get an appreciation for -- or disdain for -- an individual's defense when watching every night. Zimmerman's supporters use this argument. Last night, Zimmerman made one ridiculous play - a smash just to his left on which he performed what is becoming his signature move, getting his glove on it and then whipping his arm back, absorbing the speed and making his hands much softer. I asked him if he knew he had it. "No," he said. "I had no clue." A testament to his instincts, I suppose.

Zimmerman also made a play on a bunt in the eighth inning on catcher David Ross. Watching a replay of Zimmerman charging and flinging the ball to retire Ross, Dmitri Young said in the clubhouse, "If it's me, I'm bunting toward Fick."

Acta has been emphatic of his support of Zimmerman's defense, even as the unexpectedly high error total has mounted. He said it again last night.

"He's the best," Acta said. "If I'm biased, it's because I get to see him every day. I really could care less about the amount of errors he has. To me he's the best there is."

There are others who agree he's close. Baseball America, as we pointed out yesterday here, had him as the second-best defensive third baseman in the N.L. behind Scott Rolen, and beginning tonight, we'll have a direct compare-and-contrast thing going on at RFK Stadium.

To be sure, Zimmerman is throwing to Dmitri Young at first, and that's going to cost him a couple of errors over the course of the year. But he also has rushed some throws. So I guess my question is this: How do you evalute Zimmerman's defensive season?

Chew on that, and I'll pass on the gamer about Mike Bacsik and Walter Johnson Day (talked to Mrs. Carolyn Thomas and Hank, Johnson's daughter and grandson, and they were having a great time), and then following up the post from yesterday, the official John Patterson update in the notebook. The podcast is here, and with that, I'll get you lineups from the ballpark. Hope you're able to get out to RFK over the weekend. Only 25 more games left in the old dump. (Did I say that? I meant "palace.")

By Barry Svrluga  |  August 3, 2007; 10:49 AM ET
 
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Next: Detwiler update

Comments

Dump this. (Oh, I guess we are.)

Plenty to chew on between now and first pitch. I'm gonna print this out and stuff it into the baseball bag. Thanks, Barry.

Posted by: Hendo | August 3, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

From the last thread

ESJ:

The young pups need more low pressure innings in AAA before we throw them into the rotation next year. Detwiler particularly needs to show that he can stay healthy for a six month professional season before we talk about him as a big league rotation guy. I'm in the minority on this, but the Nats have dug up enough guys (Bacsik, Bowie, Simontacchi, Redding) to be competitive with out rushing the young guys. I feel differently about hitters though. I would get those guys up to AAA as fast as possible and if they produce, bring 'em up.
As far as JP, the fact remains that he is the only guy under contractual control who has shown he has #1 starter big league stuff. His body language and the "nasty" on his glove irritate me too, but they need to be patient with him given their lack of proven pitching.

Posted by: #4 | August 3, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Could it be that Zimm last year was so keyed up to play in his first full major league season that his senses and instincts were extra sharp, but he realized afterwards that the mental effort required, if he were to continue it every year, would burn him out faster? I just get the feeling that there have been several ground balls that this season he missed by centimeters, whereas last year he somehow managed to spear them?

"Old Dump" is fine with me. "Palace Dump" is better. :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | August 3, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I agree #4. No way you put Detweiler ahead of Bacsik right now. That is not to overestimate his last few outings - but he is showing that he can take the ball every fifth day and get major league hitters out. That much remains to be seen with the prospects (including Lannan and Hanrahan)at this point.

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | August 3, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't care one bit about Zim's errors either. You're dead on when you say it's different when you just watch the kid. He sparkles and dazzles like nobody's business, shucking and jiving all over that field. His fielding is simply awesome.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 3, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I was never a hard core baseball fan until the Nats came to town, so I'm definitely biased toward Zimm and his ability to leap and contort his body to get to those scalded balls, and still make the throw to first. Seems pretty darn amazing to me. But is this more than other above-average third basemen can do? The tone of Bob Carpenter's voice on those plays would sure make you think so!

Posted by: JennX | August 3, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

As has been pointed out before (Moneyball), the problem with the "error" statistic is that you have to do something right before you can make an error. If I playes 162 games at 3rd base, I might end up with fewer errors than Zim, because all of the plays he makes look routine I wouldn't be within 5 feet of. Basically, you have to get to the ball in order to make the error.

Just watching him every night tells you everything you need to know about his defense. He's a stud.

Out of curiosity, how many of his 17 errors are thowing and how many are fielding, I wonder?

Posted by: Matt | August 3, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

JennX asks (in the previous thread): "Shouldn't there be a middle-ground of pitchers who can go 4/5 innings, or 2 innings a few nights in a row?"

Yes. They're called (drum roll, please)....middle relievers. On Nats, this is generally Handsome Billy Traber or Chris Schroder.

They fill in when the starter gets knocked out of the box early, or the bullpen needs a rest.

Posted by: joebleux | August 3, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

3rd baseman always have more errors than anyone else because they get the most erratic hops of any position on the field. The only thing that's worried me a bit is the number of throwing errors he's committed. Does anyone have a breakdown on that - fielding v throwing? The throwing error he made Wednesday night seemed to be a lack of concentration. My guess is that this season has been mentally taxing for him. He's been asked to do a lot for a 22 year old. My guess is that it will improve as he matures. Overall his fielding is the least of the Nats' worries.

Posted by: #4 | August 3, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

RFK may be "run-down" and seen its better days. And perhaps we should be referring to it as "historic RFK." But it is the place where I saw my first major league game (Senators vs. Pilots), the place where Aurelio Rodriquez handed me three baseballs before a game, and the home of all too few other memories. I cherish the place and will always give it a nod of respect. I remember the rush when I first returned to it in 2005 and once again seeing it laid-out for baseball.
In many respects, RFK stands as a physical metaphor for baseball in DC. Its condition today is somewhat woeful - but, for most of us, it is the home of the only hometown baseball memories we have. Let's tip our hat to those as we move on (and up!)

Posted by: lowcountrynatsfan | August 3, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Zimm is a top notch defensive 3b. He makes more plays then most 3b, and as he ages and gains more experience, and gets tougher mentally, he will make fewer and fewer errors on routine plays. You have to cut him some slack due to his youth and the fact that Nick Johnson is a superior defensive 1b comparted to Young.

Posted by: CT | August 3, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

With the high profile of Zim, you would think that the Post would know that he's not Ryan Church. But this morning, the Post put Zim's picture under Church's name.

Oops.

Posted by: Ashburn | August 3, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

JennX,

I'd put Zimmerman's best moments on the field above "other above-average third basemen". And a much better authority on the subject than I am would seem to agree.

I saw an interview on MASN a few weeks ago where a retired third baseman said (paraphrasing, not quoting because I don't remember the exact words) that he thought Ryan Zimmerman had the potential to become a better third baseman than he had been in his playing days.

That former third baseman was Brooks Robinson.

--- --- --- ---

I was never a hard core baseball fan until the Nats came to town, so I'm definitely biased toward Zimm and his ability to leap and contort his body to get to those scalded balls, and still make the throw to first. Seems pretty darn amazing to me. But is this more than other above-average third basemen can do? The tone of Bob Carpenter's voice on those plays would sure make you think so!

Posted by: JennX | August 3, 2007 11:19 AM

Posted by: Section 502 (was watching TV) | August 3, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

... Zimm is the soul of this team, if Dmitri is its heart. He is one of those guys who seem to slow down his progress at every level in order to play at his best at that point while simultaneously progressing to the next level as quickly as possible.

... but I want to note this: Barry has written about both Ryan's late offensive surge while doing the above piece on his defensive abilities. Fair enough ... every position player is rightly judged on how well he plays his position AND on how well he does at the plate. ... All except the pitcher.

... in the previous thread there was considerable talk about how modern pitchers are developed, and how that compares to previous decades. So my question is this: how did it ever come about that the pitcher was let off the offensive hook, such that a good hitting pitcher has become an anomaly? Is it simply because of their reduced AB's or is there more to it than that?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 3, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

#4, and lowcountry...

I agree with you about getting some of the younger guys some seasoning before hitting the bigs, but remember I'm talking about competition for starting slots in NEXT year's rotation.

I'm curious if we really will see Detwiler in the bigs this September.

I think we need to have at least ONE grizzly veteran to help guide the really young guys, is that role Patterson? Bacsik? Maybe a FA signee...

THE PLAN is truly all about pitching, we've been talking WAY too much about position players lately. When we have strong young arms throughout the system then we'll really see how THE PLAN works.

If I had to guess on the staring rotation for April '08 I'd say;

1. Bergmann
2. Hill
3. Bacsik
4. Chico
5. Lannan

Ready in the minors;
Hanrahan (AAA)
Detwiler (AA)
Balester (AAA)

My guess is Patterson isn't in the organization next year, but that is based on absoutely NO facts whatsoever.

Posted by: estuartj | August 3, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Ryan's been subject to air-mailing an easy throw here and there since he got here. It doesn't worry me too much; I'm positive he'll figure this out.

I wonder if he picked this up from Vinny Castilla -- on easy plays, Vinnie would release the ball very quickly, but lollipop it (always on target, though).

Posted by: joebleux | August 3, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I realize that national media outlets don't pay much attention to last-place teams, but isn't the fact that this modestly talented bunch, with all the injuries they've had, has managed to win games at 4 out of 9 pace (for 2/3 of the season) an amazing tale? I wonder what other teams would have done with injuries to practically every starting pitcher, the starting SS, etc. etc.

Posted by: Hey Barry | August 3, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

joebleux: Right... I did acknowledge the middle reliever role, but these seem to go more like 2/3 innings, not 4/5. And when they do go 2/3 innings they are out for a couple games to recover. I have no stats at hand to back this up, just what I recall reading/hearing in various places. It just sounds a little wussy to me. :)

Posted by: JennX | August 3, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Early on, several throws to Dmitri at first by Zimm were not dug out or missed. Dmitri has improved quite a bit since, but I'd say you could attribute a few of those errors on the receiving end. That said, I agree that Zimm is at or near the top of the list when it comes to defensive 3rd basement. On another note, I just heard Pat Gillick (phillies GM) on XM radios baseball this morning show, saying how he prefers playing teams like the Braves, Mets & Marlins, and not the Pirates or Nationals as they seem to let down when playing those two teams. Just some fodder for the bulletin board, pass that along to the fellas Barry!!

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | August 3, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Is there a conspiracy against Tim Redding? Why is his name on nobody's list?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 3, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Re: Zimm's glove - absolutely one of the best at getting to balls that others wouldn't, and getting to them in a position to actually make a play. The double-play he started a couple nights ago made me cringe but he got it; the force-out at second on Wed that just missed getting the guy at first wouldn't have even been attempted by any other MLB 3-bagger.

His throwing on routine plays has been the biggest/only issue, and I'd love to see
a) how many errors were on throws? aa - to first base vs. 2nd or home?
b) how many were with others on base (my guess is few) vs. no one
c) how many have been with 2 outs versus others;
d) how many have actually came around to score?

Without seeing the results, my experience is most were a) throws to first, with b) no one on base, and c) two outs or one, and very few have come around to score (thanks in part to some timely pitching and Saul Rivera or Billy Traber not coming in to let the runners in).

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 3, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Hey Barry;

Are the Nats as bad as everyone keeps telling us they are?

Nats Record this year;

4/2-5/3 9-19
5/3-6/3 14-15 (23-34 overall)
6/3-7/3 10-16 (33-50 overall)
7/3-8/3 15-10 (48-60 overall)

So since May 3rd the Nats are 39-41.

Take away the terrible start to the season, and we are a .500 team.

Give us back Johnson, Guzman and maybe just half the DL days for the starting rotation and how good are these guys really?

Posted by: estuartj | August 3, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

JennX, I don't necessarily that these guys couldn't go longer or more often, it's just that that's not how modern baseball is set up (much to the anguish of Don Sutton et. al.).

The "ideal" is that your starters goes 6/7, and then you go to your 7/8/9 guys (Rivera, Rausch, Cordero).

If your middle relievers are pitching more than once in a while, then things aren't going to (lower case) plan.

Posted by: joebleux | August 3, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Natscan -

To answer your question about pitchers and hitting: it's the advent of the DH. In most high end amateur circles and particularly in college, pitchers are discouraged from becoming good hitters because they don't need to be. Coaches don't want to "take away from their focus on pitching." I for one think it's ridiculous. I could go on another screed about how our cultural values the specialist too much over the generalist, but that's for another day (and another blog probably).

Posted by: #4 | August 3, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Joebleux & JennX

Before we go too far on the "Bashing Modern Pitching" bandwagon lets remember how we got here...

For countless years we would overuse and abuse pitchers arms until they broke down, blew out or just faded away. The few guys like Johnson, Sutton, Nolan Ryan, etc, etc, etc. who could do it became Hall of Famers, and other guys (ie most humans) can't pitch 150 throws a game in a 4 man rotation (anyone remember those days?).

Baseball organizations arent' dumb, they know how to husband their assets for maximum value and the game has adjusted accordingly - thus the pullpen specialists, one-out lefties, closers, set-up guy(s) and the more traditional long relievers.

Posted by: estuartj | August 3, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I think everyone agrees that Zimm is magic at third, its actually not much of a debate at all when you watch him play. The only thing he needs to fix is his tendency to let the ball sail when he has too much time on a throw. I was at the game last night and saw that stab he made to catch that rocket that came at it him, it was freakin awesome.

As for next years rotation, doesn't anyone else think we'll have a FA in the mix?

Posted by: G-town | August 3, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

JennX:
In my experience, middle relievers generally come in a couple molds -

1) a set-up guy, good for 25 pitches max;

2) a situational specialist (typically leftie) for 1-3 critical at-bats - e.g., Mike Stanton for years was the prototype;

3) a converted starter who either couldn't crack the team's rotation (usually a good problem to have with a good staff) or does better when called upon without days of planning/preparation (could be good, could be not so good) - e.g., Lavale Speigner is the first kind but better examples come from the Padres now or Yanks of late 90s.

4) a closer with the killer mentality to slam the door shut and shorten the game for the team - e.g., Trevor Hoffman, Chief, Mariano Rivera, Gagne is his prime).

There's a totally different mentality coming out of the bullpen, since preparation is so different and the tasks are different. Relievers need to be able to warm up quickly, and generally have fewer types of MLB quality pitches in their arsenal (2-3 pitches instead of 3-4 for a starter).

Nearly all were starters through HS until time in the minors because they were so good, but that trend has changed in the last 20 years as we discussed earlier. I could go on forever, so i'll stop now.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 3, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Oops, sorry - meant to keep the post to middle relievers and not Closers since most people already know about them.

Every bullpen and manager REALLY values the reliever who can go 4-5 innings on a moment's notice just in case the starter can't make it past the 2nd inning (see Arroyo on Wed and Clemens last night).

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 3, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Also to the hitting v. pitching thing, over the years, hitters have gotten better at hitting, and pitchers have gotten better at pitching. They're both very very hard things to do at the MLB level. So the likelihood of your being any good at either of those things is already miniscule. The likelihood of you being good at one and "just ok" at the other is even smaller, and with the ever-increasing pool of talent (overseas expansion), the denominator keeps getting smaller and smaller. I do think that there will come a time that a bunch of teams will have a Brooks Kieschnick kinda guy -- ok off the bench (250/300/400) and middle relief or lefty specialist. That lets you fill 2 "spare parts" slots with 1 guy, and gives you another roster spot to use.

Posted by: section 406 | August 3, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Sec 506 AM-

I was wondering why more teams looking for starting pitching didn't inquire about Redding after the number of quality starts he posted in July. If Redding keeps pitching strong the next few outings, I wonder if JimBo will test him out on the waiver wire to see if he will clear, then try to find a team looking for starting pitching. He might be this years Livan/August trade. Thoughts?

__________________________________________
Is there a conspiracy against Tim Redding? Why is his name on nobody's list?

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 3, 2007 11:58 AM

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | August 3, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all for these clarifications. I guess I am more questioning baseball analysts (TV/radio/print) who portray relievers as overly taxed if they've had even a couple of short outings in a row. And maybe I don't know what the heck I'm talking about because I've never pitched. Maybe it IS extremely taxing to pitch 2 innings 2 nights in a row!

(Also, full disclosure-- while I follow pro baseball more than any other sport, I PLAY soccer. So it's quite possible that I'm somehow expecting baseball players to be as physically tough and have as much endurance as someone playing 90 minutes of soccer. Can y'all imagine Ray King on the soccer field?!)

Posted by: JennX | August 3, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I was at the game July 19 (10 inning win v. Rockies) and Zimm make two questionable plays in the ninth that could have easily gone for errors. Neither did, and I think it's because most 3b wouldn't have even tried to make a throw to 1st - if they had even gotten to the ball at all. So I think there is some truth to the notion that some of his errors come on plays he makes that other's can't. But still, I've seen him rush some throws.

I think experience does have something to do with it - like a rookie QB who needs to learn sometimes you should throw the ball away or take a sack instead of forcing a throw. Maybe sometimes Zimm should just be glad he stopped the ball from leaving infield and not bother with the throw.

Posted by: B-dogg | August 3, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"The few guys like Johnson, Sutton, Nolan Ryan, etc, etc, etc. who could do it became Hall of Famers, and other guys (ie most humans) can't pitch 150 throws a game in a 4 man rotation (anyone remember those days?)."

This is an interesting comment, but every pitcher, not just Johnson, Sutton, and Ryan went in a four man rotation. All pitchers threw many more innings and had longer careers with fewer trips to the DL. It wasn't just HOFs who did it.

The pitch count part of the comment though has some validity. I don't have hard facts on this, but my sense is that before 1980 or so, hitters were much more aggressive than they are now. I always notice this on ESPN Classic broadcasts. Games went quicker and pitchers threw fewer pitches as a result. I still think pitchers are babied, but this is one legitimate factor in the decline of complete games.

Posted by: #4 | August 3, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"That lets you fill 2 "spare parts" slots with 1 guy,"

... interesting Sect419. I think there are a few more examples of this that we can identify.

... a number of managers have used, or are still using, starters out of their turn as pinch runners.

... and how often have we seen bench players sent in to throw a couple AB's when the game has already been long gone, so to save a bullpen arm or two?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

If a pitcher couldn't hack the strain of pitching 150+ on 3 days rest he would be out of baseball, tough for him and tough for the team.
Maybe the current system is too "easy" on pitchers, but the old way was murder.

Posted by: estuartj | August 3, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure I just saw Chad Cordero walk by me in Ballston...

Posted by: 1938FratStreet | August 3, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure I just saw Chad Cordero walk by me in Ballston...

Posted by: 1938FratStreet | August 3, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure I just saw Chad Cordero walk by me in Ballston...

Posted by: 1938FratStreet | August 3, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Zim's errors breakdown:

Fielding - 4
Throwing - 11
Catching - 2 (both were relays coming in from the outfield that skipped passed him)

Home - 10
Away - 7

And sorry, but I don't have data telling me how many throws were to first/second/home or if they were too high or in the dirt.

Posted by: e | August 3, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

"Can y'all imagine Ray King on the soccer field?!"

No, but I COULD imagine Jon Rauch as a goalkeeper. Not a very fast one, maybe, but a really intimidating one, nonetheless! :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | August 3, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

another problem with fielding stats is that there is really no equivalent to "power" numbers for hitters (eg slugging) or pitchers (eg Ks). There's no stat for highlight defense, which is where guys like Zimm would stand out. there have been attempts, like how many balls they get to, vs. league avg. for the position, but that's so dependent on who's pitching it's no real use.

Posted by: a line drive in the box score | August 3, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone has played a better third base in a Washington uniform since Eddie Yost caught everything he could reach at Griffith Stadium in the fifties.

Posted by: Natstivity1959 | August 3, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Re: Redding August trade.

Good thought. You would think that Ray King would also be on offer for a waiver deal. If Hill, Bergmann and Patterson are all back by September, something needs to be done to clear the rotation logjam a bit.

Also, might they skip a start or two for Chico one the rosters expand to keep his innings down? Just a thought.

Posted by: bdrube | August 3, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Anyone here no where I can get a Walter Johnson jersey? My Googlefu is failing me.

Posted by: Uppie | August 3, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

"I'm pretty sure I just saw Chad Cordero walk by me in Ballston...

"Posted by: 1938FratStreet | August 3, 2007 12:58 PM "

It makes my heart glad to see "Chad Cordero" in front of "walk by" instead of behind for once.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 3, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Couple of comments:

1. Can you imagine Ray King on a soccer field? Answer...Can you imagine a soccer player attempting to catch an object that weighs 5 oz and is 9 inches in circumference from 90 feet away at about 150mph? Or if you're King...60 ft. 6" away?

2. Much of the change in pitchers' mindset (and I find it difficult to assign any mind to a pitcher, but that is simply prejudice from behind the plate) goes back to HS or youth ball. I see 14 year olds throwing curves and sliders. By the time they are 17, they are throwing stuff that will tear their arm up. Ironically, in many cases these kids can simply overpower batters with heat. Their answer: Well, I'll just have TJ surgery and will be stronger after that.

3. As to Zimm's errors. Please remember that we once had a first baseman named Ossie Bluege, who had an almost perfect fielding average...and a range of a foot and a half.

Posted by: Catcher50 | August 3, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

1938FratStreet: Which one of you is walking in circles, yourself or Chad Cordero?

Posted by: Section 419 | August 3, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Zimm has been spectular in the field this year (and his bat is catching up)! However, the majority of his zingers (average of 10 feet over who's on first)have come from fielding routine grounder with plenty of time to make the throw. I believe, along with most of you all, that this will change for the better with maturity and experience.

72 wins!! LETS GO NATS

Posted by: Section 417 Row Seat 9 | August 3, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I suggest that team fielding percentage is the wrong one to look at. A more accurate portrayal IMO is "defensive efficiency rating", which measures the balls put into play that are turned into outs. The Nats rank 3rd in the NL in that category. A defensive stiff that doesn't get to any balls may not get many errors (and, thus, have a high fielding percentage), but there will be a lot of base hits due to lack of range or ability to make the tough plays.

Posted by: Deez Nats | August 3, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

My question for the day. Why would teams fail to claim someone off waivers and then immediately trade one of their players for them???? If they wanted them, why didn't they claim off waivers for free??? What am I missing? Take Livo last year, if the DBacks wanted him, why didn't they claim him off waivers instead of giving up two prospects for him?? I don't get it.

Posted by: mlwagnercpa | August 3, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"1. Can you imagine Ray King on a soccer field? Answer...Can you imagine a soccer player attempting to catch an object that weighs 5 oz and is 9 inches in circumference from 90 feet away at about 150mph? Or if you're King...60 ft. 6" away?"

Baseball and soccer: Apples and oranges. Both are fruits, both are delicious and worth savoring.

Posted by: Juan-John | August 3, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"As for next years rotation, doesn't anyone else think we'll have a FA in the mix?"

I think the free agent focus needs to be on outfielders--center and right. Kearns and Church can platoon in left. The starters the team has found will do just fine, they've shown. Given that the Nats will most likely choose not to become extremely active in the FA market, to delve into a significant pitching addition would take away from addressing the more obvious offensive needs.

Posted by: GoNats | August 3, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Can y'all imagine Ray King on the soccer field?!"

Yes. Yes, I can. And I'm going to stop right now. It's too painful. (On the hill, by contrast, he's my guy, for all the reasons stated by others.)

"No, but I COULD imagine Jon Rauch as a goalkeeper."

Or goaltender, in another sport. Natscan, think you could deke Rauch?

Posted by: Hendo | August 3, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Point taken, Catcher50, though I was being more than a little facetious while specifically talking about the issue of endurance. I personally can't throw, catch, or hit a baseball, and marvel at even the folks I see down on the Mall who can!

419: Still giggling at your comment! :)

Posted by: JennX | August 3, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

It is my understanding that if a team claims a player off waivers, the original team has three choices: 1) take the player off waivers and keep them on the roster 2) take the player off waivers and attempt to make a trade with the team claiming said player or 3) let the other team pick up the player. So JimBo could put any players on waivers just to see if they are not claimed after three days, but if another team tries to claim the player the Nats would just rescind the waivers.

___________________________________________
My question for the day. Why would teams fail to claim someone off waivers and then immediately trade one of their players for them????
Posted by: mlwagnercpa | August 3, 2007 01:57 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | August 3, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

It is my understanding that if a team claims a player off waivers, the original team has three choices: 1) take the player off waivers and keep them on the roster 2) take the player off waivers and attempt to make a trade with the team claiming said player or 3) let the other team pick up the player. So JimBo could put any players on waivers just to see if they are not claimed after three days, but if another team tries to claim the player the Nats would just rescind the waivers.

___________________________________________
My question for the day. Why would teams fail to claim someone off waivers and then immediately trade one of their players for them????
Posted by: mlwagnercpa | August 3, 2007 01:57 PM

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | August 3, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Re: Zim's errors

I'm not worried about misplaying grounders occasionally (Wed nite he couldn't come up with an in between hop), the problems are with the throwing (see Wed nite air mail special). If he handles this the way he handles everything else, he'll work on it until he gets it right. No reason to believe he won't do this. Manny's strength is that he'll make sure Zim works on it but not let us know about it.

Posted by: Section 418 | August 3, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"Or goaltender, in another sport. Natscan, think you could deke Rauch?"

... let's see now - Jon Rauch: ten feet tall, with a wing spread of fifteen.

... no, I couldn't; goaltenders who can cover both posts at once are the bane of my existence.

... but while I've got you all here, I'm still wondering about why pitchers who learned to pitch throughout their youth (and hence, to keep within a pitch count et al), but who now ply their trade at the highest level of the game, cannot learn to hit, or run up the pitch count of the opposing pitcher during their AB, or to bunt on cue. It doesn't seem logical to me that at the MLB level, these guys for the majority of times, have to be swish, swish, swish and out.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 3, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"It doesn't seem logical to me that at the MLB level, these guys for the majority of times, have to be swish, swish, swish and out."

Dude, now you've got me missing Livo...

Posted by: Juan-John | August 3, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"If they wanted them, why didn't they claim off waivers for free??? What am I missing? Take Livo last year, if the DBacks wanted him, why didn't they claim him off waivers instead of giving up two prospects for him?? I don't get it."

I THINK that if you claim someone off waivers you have to make an offer for him that the other team can then reject and withdraw him. If that understanding is correct, then that means the D'backs thought Hernandez was worth giving up two prospects for. Judging by their team this year, they might have been right, for them.

The other problem with waiting to claim someone off waivers is that you have to wait until the lower-ranked teams clear him, lessening your chances of snagging someone good.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 3, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

NeedANatsFix: My question for the day. Why would teams fail to claim someone off waivers and then immediately trade one of their players for them????

Because most times waivers lead to trades, not waiver sales, & I don't think most GMs actually think that claiming someone will mean they'll get him for the waiver price. The days when 20K or 50K (or whatever the waiver price is now) means something to a team are long gone. The only time when an actual claim might have some meaning is when a team uses a claim to stop a higher-placed rival from picking up a player after the trade deadline. Example--if the Dbacks tried to move Livan to the Mets now, Schuerholz might claim him first as long as the Braves are behind the Mets.

Posted by: Section 418 | August 3, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

To answer the waiver claim question: teams can pull back their players off waivers if they like. If the DBacks had claimed Livo, the Nats could have pulled him off waivers and the DBacks would have never ended up with him at all, because they couldn't have traded for him or gotten him on waivers if the Nats had pulled him back.

Posted by: Ray | August 3, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

JennX,

Former Philadelphia Phillie (and current ESPN analyst) John Kruk was once approached by a woman who raised the issue of his spare tire and the cigarette he was smoking, considering he was a professional athlete. Kruk's reply was, "I ain't an athlete, lady, I'm a baseball player."

And Michael Jordan found baseball a much harder sport to play than basketball, but not physically. While basketball required better aerobic conditioning, he said, the mental aspects of the game went far beyond anything he'd ever done in the ACC or NBA.

--- --- --- ---

So it's quite possible that I'm somehow expecting baseball players to be as physically tough and have as much endurance as someone playing 90 minutes of soccer. Can y'all imagine Ray King on the soccer field?!)

Posted by: JennX | August 3, 2007 12:28 PM

Posted by: Section 502 (more quotes) | August 3, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

e: Thanks for the e5 breakdown

DeezNats: good call on the Defensive Efficiency Ratio (Rate).

I'm most curious about Redding too. Remember he was a "can't miss" in the Houston system and has shown talent here.

Natscan: the logic is that the rest of the guys who are batting for more than 3 pitches are VERY good and hitting a MLB pitcher is truly one of the toughest things in sports.

506: lmao!
It makes my heart glad to see "Chad Cordero" in front of "walk by" instead of behind for once.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 3, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I think some of you are confusing putting a player on waivers with the trade waiver process. Unless I am mistaken, the way the trade waiver process works is (say with last year's Livo deal): The Nats put Livo on waivers, meaning that each team in MLB has a chance to "claim" him, and then they have a certain amount of time to work out a deal with the Nats, and if a deal isn't worked out, then Livo would have to stay with us for the rest of the year. If all teams in MLB pass on him, then he has offically "passed through waivers", and the Nats can trade him to whomever they want. May times teams will "claim" a player with no intention of trading for him just so he doesn't pass through waivers and end up on a division rival. I hope 1- that makes sense, and 2- I'm right.

Posted by: Matt | August 3, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

That's also why July 31st is the "Non-waiver trade deadline". Meaning after that day, any trades have to be via the trade waiver process. I think.

Posted by: Matt | August 3, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Aha!

http://www.baseballamerica.com/help/faq.html#waive

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 3, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Right, that's for the regular Waivers process, not Trade Waivers.

===================================
Aha!

http://www.baseballamerica.com/help/faq.html#waive

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving)

Posted by: Matt | August 3, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I have been thinking about the Zimm thing a bit. I hope he figures out what is causing all the excess errors, and expect he will, but I think if you subtract the errors from all the great plays he makes -- it seems like at least one a game -- we come out way ahead.

On waivers, I think the team waiving the player can pull him back when he is claimed for the waiver price, which then can lead to negotiations. In fact, I think sometimes it is used to flush out who may be interested in a player.

Posted by: markfromark | August 3, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I should have added "I think" to that last statement...

Posted by: Matt | August 3, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Natscan, I think the subject of non-hitting pitchers were touched on once or twice in the last thread, but here are my thoughts.

1. The American League. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany, no matter what George Will or anybody else says. Designated hitter. Feh.

2. Tom Glavine is still active. When he retires from the field of play, he can surely -- and, I hope will -- give bunting clinics.

3. It is fun to look up at a Zambrano and say "Wow, there's a good-hitting pitcher!" Baseball broadcasters would lose this valuable filler material if the normal run of pitchers hit as well as the normal run of other players.

Posted by: Hendo | August 3, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

"It doesn't seem logical to me that at the MLB level, these guys for the majority of times, have to be swish, swish, swish and out."

I agree.

Posted by: Billy Bean | August 3, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

This is a response to last night's entry in the journal. I was busy last night and again this morning and so I am posting it in both places in hopes it will be read.

Yes, it's "obviously a frustrating situation" for Patterson, and your blog, Barry, and your followers, with your mean-spirited, back-stabbing comments and innuendo have helped to make it that way. In 2005 all the fans were behind Patterson and he felt their support and believed he pitched better because of it. For possibly the first time in his career, he felt appreciated. Is he now seeing the true colors of these same fans who are willing, and even eager, to kick him when he is down? I sincerely hope not, but one has to wonder. I don't doubt that he is not eager to talk to the press after the many unkind - to put it charitably - things they have written about him lately. And Barry Svrluga has led the pack. I was glad to read what Bowden said: ..."When...you're hurt, it's not your fault, and you tend to be criticized by the media and by fans..." Jim Bowden knows the truth about John Patterson's injury - that it's not his fault, that he is doing everything he can to become healthy, and he should not be castigated for it.

Posted by: jpsfanandproudofit | August 3, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back jpsfanandproudofit!

You're completely off-base.

Posted by: Section 506 (After moving) | August 3, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

we missed you!

AND we hope JP comes back and lives up to his obvious potential.

----
Welcome back jpsfanandproudofit!

You're completely off-base.

Posted by: ShawNatsFan | August 3, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Back on topic. Is it my imagination, or does Zimmerman in fact go after every stinkin' ball he sees? (As Lopez and Belliard also seem to do, but here at "Ryan 24/7" we have our priorities.)

Zimmerman has accepted 339 chances in 107 games, committing 17 errors.

Now let's look at Zimm's comps. Ha ha, only kidding, there aren't any!

Not within 10% of him, anyway. The Wright kid from New York, he of the Bristol and SI props, is second in total chances accepted (TC), with 12 errors in 291 tries.

Rounding out the top five in TC:

Inge (Detroit) - 288 chances, 13 errors
Beltre (Seattle) - 277 chances, 11 errors
Feliz (San Francisco) - 273 chances, 4 errors

"Aha!" I hear you cry. Yeah, Feliz is good, and seemingly improving with age (he's 32 this season). And he hits all right (.251 / .292 / .431).

But before we succumb to the temptation to get all spun up, consider:

1. Feliz had 21 errors in 330 chances over 159 games last season, a .955 percentage.

2. All Zimm has to do is reject the 17 toughest chances, and he's perfect. That ain't how it works in baseball, however; shy away from the tough ones, and you start to shy at 'em all. Zimm's not that kind of guy anyway.

3. To drive home the moral, let's take our top five in TC, and subtract their errors (E) from the sum of their putouts and assists (PO+A) to arrive at what we'll call their net effectiveness count (NEC).

Zimmerman: 322 PO+A less 17 E equals 305 NEC
Wright: 279 - 12 = 267
Inge: 275 - 13 = 262
Beltre: 266 - 11 = 255
Feliz: 269 - 4 = 265

So, Zimm, no need to dodge bullets to jack up your glove numbers. At the hot corner in the 2007 edition of MLB, you're the best there is.

Posted by: Hendo | August 3, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Good one, Herndo! I'm giving you the "I'm not worthy" gesture over here on H Street NW.

I've been making this case for a while to my roommate and others who groan at Zimm's air-mailed throws-- if he didn't go for it ALL THE TIME, there wouldn't be those throws, but there also wouldn't be the repeated brilliant plays and ohmygoshcanyoubelievehecaughtthatandgottheoutatfirst type plays that we've all come to know and love. Thanks for giving me the stats to back that up. ;)

Posted by: JennX | August 3, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Next Years Rotation

As I stated before (but forgot about Redding, thanks 506) I think we have 6 pitchers competing for 2 spots with Bergmann, Hill and Chico guaranteed spots (baring injury).

I think you'll see on "older" veteran selected and one "kid" so the rotation would look something like this;

1. Patterson/Bacsik/Redding/Free Agent?
2. Bergmann
3. Hill
4. Chico
5. Lannan/Hanrahan/Balester/Detwiler?

It will also be interesting to see how good the bullpen is next year, with 7 spots available I think you'll see;

1. Cordero (2.60 ERA)
2. Rauch (3.70 ERA)
3. Colome (2.76 ERA)
4. Rivera (3.46 ERA)
5. Ayala (2.70 ERA)
6. Schroder (1.25 ERA)
7. Bowie(4.39)/King (4.67)/Traber (4.91)/Wagner (5.74)/Carrasco (2.00 in AAA)

Posted by: estuartj | August 3, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"if he didn't go for it ALL THE TIME, there wouldn't be those throws, but there also wouldn't be the repeated brilliant plays and ohmygoshcanyoubelievehecaughtthatandgottheoutatfirst type plays that we've all come to know and love."

Yup, yup. I second the motion.

Posted by: Juan-John | August 3, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

jpsfanandproudofit:

... what you say is all well and good, except ... JP like all professional athletes make enough money in one contract to set me (and many like me) up for a couple of lifetimes. For that kind of remuneration, he and all the others must accept that I as a fan, enjoy the privilege of speaking my mind about whatever situation comes about. Certainly he might be injured to the extent his career may be over. That would be a shame, but I am a fan of the team, not just of JP, and as such I have the right to comment on what JP's situation might mean to the team, even if it appears to downplay its importance to Patterson himself.

... it has nothing to do with personalities; it has everything to do with being a baseball fan. And every baseball player knows that's the way it is. Suck it up or not - it's his call.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | August 3, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Good analysis, Hendo. The problem is that Zim hasn't made his errors on his 17 toughest chances--in fact, he made not have made errors on any of his 17 toughest chances. That's what he needs to fix. The great ones make the hard plays AND the easy ones. Am I overly optimistic to think that in a while you'll be able to mention Zim & Brooks in the same sentence & not be embarrassed?

FYI, total chances accepted as a measure of performance is skewed by the fact that the foul area at RFK is bigger than most of the other parks (significantly bigger, in some cases), so a Nat 3B would likely get more (relatively easy) chances.

Posted by: Section 418 | August 3, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention that most of our trash talk about JP isn't about what kind of person he is, it's about his ability to pitch.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 3, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

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