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A Few More Zimmerman Thoughts

I didn't have the space to get into this in the Ryan Zimmerman-contract story in the print edition this morning, but I'm guessing the Zimmerman camp is looking for a contract more in line with David Wright's deal with the Mets (six years, $55 million, signed in Aug. 2006). And if so, you can see why there is such pessimism over getting a deal done, since Jim Bowden all but telegraphed the fact their offer to Zimmerman is more in line with the Tulowitzki/McCann/Sizemore deals (let's say six years, $25 million-$30 million). That's a gap of, oh, $30 million bucks or so.

Would Zimmerman be justified asking for the Wright deal? Zimmerman is essentially the same age (23) and has virtually the same service time as Wright did when he signed his deal. And of course, they play the same position, in the same division, and hail from the same area. Looking at OPS+ (which adjusts for stadium effects), Wright posted a 139 and 133 in his first two seasons (and a monster 150 last year), versus 114 and 107 for Zimmerman's first two years. Zimmerman, however, is considered the superior defensive player.

But now, look at how the market has changed since the Wright deal was signed. Back then, the Mets were criticized for overpaying and setting a new market. Now, however, the Wright deal is starting to look like a shrewd move for the Mets. One thing about the contract jumps out: In 2008, Wright's fourth full season (or what would have been his first arbitration-eligible season), he will make $5 million. When the deal was signed, that seemed like a ridiculous amount of money for a player in that service class. But now, Ryan Howard (who is arguably Wright's equal as a player) is set to make twice that -- $10 million -- in his first arbitration-eligible season.

This is why it almost always benefits the player to wait. The downside, of course, is injury risk.

OK, moving on to other topics:

*A quiet morning in Viera thus far. Manager Manny Acta echoed the words of some of the Nationals' hitters who faced Shawn Hill in batting practice yesterday. Asked if Hill's first time facing live hitters was merely "good for a guy coming off elbow surgery" or "just plain good," Acta said, "That was good for anybody." Though it's a bad idea to read too much into the first day of live batting practice, it was encouraging for the Nationals to see Hill throw with such authority and command.

*Acta, who has known Odalis Perez for years (and who managed Perez in the Dominican winter league and the World Baseball Classic), said Perez is "in the best shape I've seen him in maybe 10 years."

*The Nationals will not play an intrasquad game before the Grapefruit League schedule begins on Wednesday, because their pitchers will not have had enough live batting practice sessions by then.

Weather today: 69 degrees and foggy. High of 83 this afternoon, with a 20 percent chance of rain.

Soundtrack: Lucinda Williams, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road." An old favorite, perfect for a Sunday morning.

By Dave Sheinin  |  February 24, 2008; 8:52 AM ET
 
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Next: Finally, a Healthy Catcher

Comments

When you're 23 and bulletproof, waiting seems like an easy choice, and indeed the odds are in Zimm's favor. But that's not the only consideration. Half a million dollars is good dough for any 23 yo, as Dave points out in the fifty-center, but it is not really life-changing. Five million, times several years, is. The difference between $0.5M and $5M is actually much greater than the difference between $5M and $10, not in dollars but in how it changes one's life (and one's family's lives).

And it makes a huge difference that he is so young (vs., say, us geezers), thanks to the magic of compound interest.

So he'd better not get hurt, is all I'm saying.

Posted by: CE | February 24, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

and am I the only one here who is uninhibitedly jazzed over Odalis Perez coming in looking studly?

Posted by: CE MIB | February 24, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I have a question about Wednesday's game. The fact that it's set to take place at 7PM would lead me to believe that it's meant to be broadcast somewhere, but I can't find anywhere that says it will be on the radio or TV. Does anyone know if it will be possible to watch/listen to it somehow? Thanks.

Posted by: jason | February 24, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Manny said Perez is "in the best shape I've seen him in maybe 10 years."

That's longer than he's been in MLB - 1998 was his first year with LA -- but in 2002, his best year, he was 15-10 in 32 starts, 3.00 ERA, and the only year (so far) his WHIP was under 1.0; 38 BBs, 155 Ks; All Star, btw.
Yeah, that's more than I expect, but it's February, I can dream.

Posted by: Mr IB | February 24, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm relaxed about the Zimmerman situation and will remain so for two more years. We control him for the next four, and the jury is still out on whether he will be a major offensive threat or just above average. There is plenty of time.

I have serious doubts about Bret Boone. His last solid season was in 2004 and he's 39 years old. I can't imagine him starting on OD.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | February 24, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Jason, as far as I can tell, Gameday Audio doesn't start until next week for some reason.

Posted by: CE | February 24, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

411 says,

"swanni, you need to repeat the fifth grade or whatever grade it was where you should have learned some reading comprehension skills. You are responding to a post where Dave explains how the team is willing to sign Zim at market rate (presumably David Wright numbers) but he is unwilling to sign."

Dave says,

I'm guessing the Zimmerman camp is looking for a contract more in line with David Wright's deal with the Mets (six years, $55 million, signed in Aug. 2006). And if so, you can see why there is such pessimism over getting a deal done, since Jim Bowden all but telegraphed the fact their offer to Zimmerman is more in line with the Tulowitzki/McCann/Sizemore deals (let's say six years, $25 million-$30 million). That's a gap of, oh, $30 million bucks or so

I am fine calling them Cheap, but many of you all like to call it smart (like it is your cash?). Time will tell but one thing is for sure, Zim is going to remember this game of chicken and it is going to get ugly a few years down the road when he is a Free Agent and Nats want a home town discount on his demands. My view is Nats are being penny wise and pound foolish and after a few years of arbitration he is going to be unhappy and making more money then he is asking for now.


Dave Says "

Posted by: JayB | February 24, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Is Flores in yet?

Posted by: Greg in Miramichi,Canada | February 24, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"...Wednesday's game...7PM...radio or TV..."

"Gameday Audio doesn't start until next week"

If you go to the multimedia page you only seem to be taken to the end of October, but you can then pull down the calendar and pick next Wednesday to see what is coming up... The only thing listed for the WSH@FLA game is Alternate Audio(H) (which would usually be Spanish) no other TV or Radio...

Posted by: OldGuy | February 24, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Oh and thank you Dave, you have done a great job this past 10 days. Your competition at the Times seems to have pushed the Post to improve coverage. The Times is still winning the columnist, Dead Tree story, photo, and daily video events but you have won the Blog event hands down for the Wpost.

I wish WPost had a beat writer, Photo/Video guy and an experienced columnist on ground at Spring Training. It clearly works for the Times and like the Nats outfield situation, competition will produce better results for us all!

Posted by: JayB | February 24, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the additional info, Dave. I was wondering about Wright parallels after I read the piece in the "dead tree" edition this morning.

Speaking of which, carrying over a bit:

Nice piece in today's Metro section on a "dry run" for the ballpark plumbing, AKA "Super Flush."

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 24, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

To Greg in Miramichi, Canada: Thanks for reminding me of something I forgot to include. Jesus Flores is, indeed, here today.

To JayB: Thanks. As you all know, Svrluga arrives here on Monday, at which point I'm going to hit the road and visit some other camps. Also, talked to Boswell yesterday and he should be here in a few days as well.

Posted by: Dave Sheinin | February 24, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I second the thanks for your good work in the absence of Barry.

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 24, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Dave-

I read on Nationals Pride that the Lerners recently gave Acta a bonus check.

I hadnt seen this previously. Do you know the details?

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | February 24, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

the piece that drives me crazy about JimBo's comments is the "we control him for four years" which would put Zimm at 27, in his prime, and ripe for him to leave DC, which would be catastrophic. Players will stay in a situation if they feel like they are supported by management, and Bowden is going to great lengths to erode that relationship

Posted by: NatsPrideJB | February 24, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"Dave-

I read on Nationals Pride that the Lerners recently gave Acta a bonus check.

I hadnt seen this previously. Do you know the details?"

I'm not Dave, but I read his story on the Lerners giving the bonus to Acta in the print edition of the Post earlier this week. So I bet he knows about it....

Posted by: Section 419+1 | February 24, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Why is Dave taking Bowden's comments as gospel?

Has Zim's agent confirmed that the Nats would agree to a Sizemore/Tulo-like deal now?

Posted by: swanni | February 24, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Bowdens comments = gospel...funny

I can just see Preacher Bowden riding along in his segway on the way to church

Why would an agent confirm a teams reasonable offer compared to similar players if they are asking for more?

That would make Zim look greedy.

If the team hadnt made an offer, then I'd expect a response from the agent.

Posted by: Los Doce Ocho | February 24, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Your First Weekend Of Spring Training Media Schedule (since I was on the MLB Media site anyway):

Key:
HA - Home Audio
AA - Away Audio
HAA - Home Alternate Audio
(No TV is listed for any game)

2/27 - @FLA - HAA
2/28 - vs GU - none
2/29 - vs FLA - HA
3/1 - vs BAL - HA & AA
3/2 - @ BAL - AA
3/2 - @ HOU - none

Posted by: OldGuy | February 24, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Lucinda Williams, nice choice.

We've got tickets to one of the games at SCS next month. I've read that the food there was the wrost in Florida, at least as of 2006. Has there been any ipmrovement?

Posted by: Twinbrook | February 24, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

responding to +½St., from last thread, when he said

"I don't know what that means for Belliard or Lopez (i.e. which gets traded), but I really do believe they have jumped to a pretty serious conclusion on Bret Boone."

... maybe you'll be proven right about Bret starting at 2B; maybe we'll all be proven right about Nick starting at 1B. If so, maybe we'll then sit back and watch as Ronnie B. and Dmitri are traded.

... if that happens, it won't take much of a backward glance to last year, when both of them - fan faves if ever the Nats had any - were signed to hefty contracts. Those signings satisfied fans' desire and helped secure fans' support for the FO.

... how much time will it take then for that fan support to dwindle if both Ronnie and Dmitri are sacrificed for a wonky 1B and a nepotistic 2B?

Posted by: natscan reduxit | February 24, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Dave Says,

"Also, talked to Boswell yesterday and he should be here in a few days as well."

BOZ HAS VISA TROUBLES TOO?!?? I could tell from his writings he was living kind of far out there but......

Posted by: JayB | February 24, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

... Ryan Z. has all the talent -read: all the justification - to ask for D. Wright's numbers. But alas: he toils in relative obscurity in D.C. whereas Mrs. Wright's little boy, David, plays with the big kids in NYC. No contest. It isn't only Hank Steinbrenner which puts the country's number one city on the MLB map.

... on a side note: how sweet it is to hear (read) Manny commenting on baseball instead of JimBow.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | February 24, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Nick vs. Dmitri -- the post above seems to indicate that Natscan reduxit believes Dmitri is the fans' choice. I'm not sure that's true. Nick Johnson has many fans in the ballpark too. I understand that Nick has had some health issues, but Dmitri Young isn't exactly an Ironman out there either. He disappeared in September.

At this point the Nats I would count as fan favorites are Zimmerman and Cordero. Maybe Patterson too. In my opinion, you're not going to have a fan revolt if Dmitri Young is on the bench or traded.

Posted by: Ray | February 24, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

"To Greg in Miramichi, Canada: Thanks for reminding me of something I forgot to include. Jesus Flores is, indeed, here today.."

... for today's geography lesson, here's the deal. Miramichi is just up the road from me in Fredericton, oh about two hours. From there, we can get over to the island (Prince Edward Island) to visit Jeeves, another couple of hours. It's all part of Maritime Canada, and we're taking over.

... no need to wonder any more about the love and affection Expos fans had for their team.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | February 24, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"seems to indicate that Natscan reduxit believes Dmitri is the fans' choice. I'm not sure that's true."

Hi Ray,

... what I meant by that is that Nats fans developed a real love and affection for Dmitri last year, the likes of which could not have been anticipated when he started ST in the minor-league camp. It's an appreciation which clearly has taken root in the hearts and minds of fans, at least on this blog.
... I'm not saying he is the fans choice for 1B this year; I'm saying that he enjoys great fan support which might make it hard to accept if he is traded too soon.

Posted by: natscan reduxit | February 24, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Love Lucinda Williams - one of my favorites, saw her at Wolftrap last summer - fantastic.

Totally disagree with everyone who thinks not signing Zimmerman is going to make him unhappy. He's CHOOSING to not sign, for his own good. He's betting that a) he'll stay healthy and b) produce even better.

Ryan Howard isn't mad at the Phillies for not locking him up, is he? He just got $10m! Why would he be mad?

Not taking the Nats' very fair offer is going to make Zimmerman millions of dollars. Why would that make him mad???

After this season, they will either lock him up at the new market rates based on '08 season and recent comps or go to arb. Either way Zimm gets at least a 10x raise next year. I don't know about you, but under no circumstances would that make me mad.

PS - How is offering 6 years at $25-30m "cheap"?

Posted by: Avar | February 24, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Apologies, but random post... I'm trying to drum up or force some answers earlier rather than later... The team has publicly announced that parking will be in extremely short supply. They note that parking will be provided for season ticket holders, but this is a little dubious. Parking is available for season ticket holders to PURCHASE for a minimum of $1300 per spot. I'm very concerned that parking and grid lock looking for parking will be much worse than anticipated b/c many season ticket holders will not want to spend the extra money on spots. As a season ticket holder myself, I plan to use metro. That said, have you heard any mention of an express metro from Springfield or Vienna this year much like was used for opening day last season (MD lines too of course)? It would be great if these regular expresses were run during the work week for home games at regular proscribed times. For example, it would be nice to know that I could easily get to a 7pm game if I meet an express metro at King St.at 6:00pm. Talk about a breeze! Perhaps stops at Springfield, King, Pentagon, and L'Enfant en route to the Navy Yard for example? Not that I'm partial to the Blue line or anything :-) But one express line before and after games would be wonderful.

Posted by: Section 312 | February 24, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Here is an ESPN schedule which mentions when games will be on XM:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/schedules

Accordig to that, the Nats will not be on XM until a week from Monday.

As for fan favorites, do keep in mind that Nick was a fan favorite in both 2005 and 2006. As for Zimmerman, CP gives a good analysis of why the offers aren't necessarily that great, although you can't blame them for trying.

As for Odalis Perez being in shape, it seems that at the beginning of Spring Training, every player is described either as being Jabba the Hut, or Apollo descended from Mt. Olympus. I hope it is true, and that he has a career year. I just wait for the exhibition games to begin.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | February 24, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Parking?? Yeah, let's raise *that* horse from the dead again. It's been, what, a whole week since we beat it into the ground.

Posted by: Sorry, but I'm just gonna take the bus. | February 24, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

OldGuy, thanks for the Gameday Audio find -- I didn't see that.
Alt _might_ be the Spring Training feed from Viera, I guess. Spanish will do, too, but either way, thanks.

Posted by: CE | February 24, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"Fan revolt" -- take a deep breath. Nobody is going to storm the bastille if DaMeat starts, and Nicky, whom we *would* miss, gets to go to NYY or someplace else. We like Nick, but it's not like AZ non-tendering Luis Gonzales (and that franchise didn't exactly crash and burn afterwards).
I remember the Giants fans being exuberant over getting Kevin Mitchell in 1987. "He's going to be the third baseman for the rest of the millenium!!" Got moved to the outfield, had some really good years, but traded to Seattle in 91, mostly as an attitude with injuries.
Four years is a long, long time in baseball.

Posted by: Mr. IB | February 24, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I'd probably be sad to see that happen, but "catastrophic" is panicky.
***********
the piece that drives me crazy about JimBo's comments is the "we control him for four years" which would put Zimm at 27, in his prime, and ripe for him to leave DC, which would be catastrophic.
Posted by: NatsPrideJB | February 24, 2008 10:36 AM

Posted by: CE | February 24, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Manny on Boone and the competition among infielders Felipe Lopez, Ronnie Belliard and Cristian Guzman: "Bret is not actually competing with all of those guys. He is competing against himself first. He wants to find out if it is still there. He is competing against himself, and obviously before competing with any of those guys, he's got to overcome that and make sure he is ready to go and compete at the level that he used to."

Posted by: Anonymous | February 24, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Here was a discussion yesterday on a Mets blog about Lastings Milledge's first day with the Nats:

http://mets.lohudblogs.com/2008/02/22/mets-chat-room-lastings-going-down-memory-lane/

I love the way that some of the fans are defending him, while others want to get in shots so they can come to grips with the trade. This will be one of the best stories of the NL East this season- who got the better of this trade?

Posted by: Positively Half St. | February 24, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

For locals who can pick up the signal, here's a link to info for spring training games on 3WT radio:

http://www.3wtradio.com/?sid=1313107&nid=26

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 24, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The Milledge trade, Positively Half St. , is a no-brainer (in my humble opinion). The Nats won hand down. Unless Minaya tosses in Pelfrey and Fernando Martinez, I'll never forgive the Sizemore, Philips and Lee trade for essentially nothing. However, Milledge helps just a little.
Hi Greg from Miramachi. Maritimers are well represented. Where are you Quebecers?

Posted by: Jeeves | February 24, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

natsfan1a-

Excellent. First radio game on Friday. I will certainly be listening to that one.

Posted by: Positively Half St. | February 24, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Like others, I would love to see Zimm locked up now. But I understand his and his agent's strategy to put up some numbers this year to improve their negotiating position. That's when we get to see if the Lerners are cheap. I think they'll come through.

Posted by: Geezer | February 24, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

So I guess I gotta light a candle for Zimmerman after every Mass to keep him healthy? :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | February 24, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

New post.

Posted by: natsfan1a | February 24, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

What a difference a year makes...
Last year, we had 30 plus audtions for a five man roster. The starting pitching resembled a MASH unit.

Now we have options on the mound (though this isn't a pristine starting five, there are a lot of young arms that are impressive.

Last year we had one first baseman with pins and rods and another who we only felt comfortable enough with to offer a minor league contract. Now we have a nice competition where we may keep one and get something nice in return for the other one.

We have a more athletic outfield.

We still have questions and I suppose we always will. But I truly think things are progressing in a very positive manner.

Now if they can only figure out the parking fiasco (although building a MLS soccer field-along with a nice foot bridge- across the Annocostia River could solve that problem.

Posted by: TimDz | February 24, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

A team trying to build a fan base that just moved into a brand new stadium, but only has 18K season tix holders in one of the largest, wealthiest markets in the USA needs to sign its marquee player - if nothing else than to get the fence sitters to buy some 20, 41, and 81 game plans. There's got to be an untapped market out there that is not being reached - heck, those 2.75 M people in 2005 came from somewhere - the Nats need to figure out how to get them -- and 500K more people (or at least sold tickets) into the fold ASAP. Signing Zim would help.

Posted by: natswriter | February 24, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

And who could forget -- Travis Lee.
We could, looks like.

***************
Last year we had one first baseman with pins and rods and another who we only felt comfortable enough with to offer a minor league contract. Now we have a nice competition where we may keep one and get something nice in return for the other one.

Posted by: TimDz | February 24, 2008 04:13 PM

Posted by: CE | February 24, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

do wright by zim!

Posted by: cabraman | February 24, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

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