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The Arbitration Clock, & What it Means for the Rotation

Mike Rizzo has said that the Nats are "totally comfortable" with the in-house candidates for the fourth and fifth starters' jobs, and perhaps that is to be expected. The trade game is about leverage, hiding one's concerns, etc, and desperate buyers don't make strong sellers. But for the sake of this debate, let's take Rizzo at face value and assume no new candidates enter the rotation mix between now and April 6.

So, that leaves us with two candidates for the last two spots -- and because of their strong spring performances, it seems pretty obvious. Shairon Martis deserves one of the spots. Jordan Zimmermann deserves the other.

Martis: 19 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 11 K
Zimmermann: 14-1/3 IP, 13 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 20 K

But it's a little more complicated than throwing both pitchers immediately into the mix...

The Nationals have already said they will open the season with a four-man rotation. Therefore, they will not need to select a fifth starter until April 20.

Now comes the complicated part. You've probably heard the logic about starting Zimmermann in Class AAA this year to delay his arbitration clock. Financially, of course, this makes sense. Players begin to accrue major league service time once the rosters are set at the start of April. So, tick tick tick, the days add up. Once a player has reached three years of service time, he becomes eligible for arbitration. And that's when his salary skyrockets. For those first three years, salaries are under team control -- and thus, the best-value commodity in baseball.

If Zimmermann started the year with the Nats and remained with the team non-stop for the next three years, he would be eligible for arbitration after the 2011 season. That's pretty clear-cut. But the alternative is not. If the team wants to delay Zimmermann's first arbitration year until after 2012, it's not as simple as keeping him in the minors for a week or two. (Until, say, April 20.)

Why? It's because of something called the "Super-Two" provision. (You can read an explanation from BP's Thomas Gorman here.) In essence, under MLB rules, a player can be eligible for arbitration with JUST LESS than three years of service time -- say, something like 2.92 yrs -- under the following circumstance:

From MLB rules: "[A] player can be classified as a "Super Two" and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season."

So let's say Zimmermann starts the year in Class AAA. The Nats will have to figure out a date when they can promote Zimmermann and keep him out of that top 17 percent. The safest bet is something like early June. But last year, the Reds -- trying to delay Jay Bruce's arbitration clock -- promoted him to the big leagues on May 27, 2008. The Brewers, acting likewise, promoted Ryan Braun to the big leagues on May 25, 2007.

It's a complicated, inexact math problem. But it's the rationale for why the Nats might start Martis in the rotation as the fourth starter, and then, use a stop-gap No. 5 starter for a month until they can promote Zimmermann. What do you think: Is it a worthwhile strategy?

By Chico Harlan  |  March 25, 2009; 8:35 AM ET
 
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Comments

I don't see Flores striking out 150 times. He struck out 78 times in 301 ABs last year. He would need about 600 ABs to strike out 150 times if he hits (or misses) at the same rate. Presumably he will be a little better and catchers rarely bat 600 times anyway. His AB ceiling is probably 450 and if he racks up 150 Ks, he's had a bad season.

This arb clock stuff with JZimm does not interest me. If he's one of their best 5 starters, get him to the big leagues and pitch him.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 25, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Playing this arbitration game is crap! This team needs to find players that can help them win games and stop with all of the arbitration clock games.

If the FO is so worried about $$ - they shouldn't have bought the team. This is a game but it's not a toy!

Either a player can cut it on the Major league level or he can't. The future is not a given. If the Nats have someone in camp who they think can help this team win, he needs to be at Nats park and not some Godforsaken minor league outpost.

"You play to WIN the game!" and he wasn't referencing the arbitration game!

FRANK 20

Posted by: tradervic1313 | March 25, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of strikeouts, did anyone read George Kell's obituary in the Post today? Talk about a great hitter in a different era. He never struck out more than 37 times in one season over his 15 year career. Most of his seasons he was below 20. It makes you think about the "all or nothing" approach of the modern hitter. I wonder if we'll see a return to this type of hitting in the post-steroid period.

#4

Posted by: db423 | March 25, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

The one thing that can be gained from holding Zimmermann back until April 20 is delaying his free agent status. If he were to come up on April 20, he would not have six years of service time until after the 2015 season.

If he starts the 2009 season on the major league roster and spends the next six seasons on it, he is a free agent after the 2014 season. If they delay it roughly two weeks, he would only have approximately 5 years and 150 days at the end of the 2014 season ... not enough for free agency. He would become a free agent after the 2015 season.

The arbitration issue is the more immediate consideration but free agency is a longer term one.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 25, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Good post, Chico. Thank you for clarifying how arbitration factors into this decision. Hate to say it, but, given that the Lerners are cheap, we probably won't see Zimmerman until May or June.

Posted by: kfisher32 | March 25, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Arbitration's an important factor, but the bigger one is probably 40-man space. There's some dead weight on there, but they can send Zimmerman back to the minors no problem without having to cut anyone

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 25, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

A Restaurant Review
by Chico Harlan
September 19, 2008

"The State of the Nationals (from the Zone)

Whoever designed the interior of the ESPN Zone restaurant had a certain leaning toward pyromania; reminders of flames are everywhere. A flame-like logo hangs above the kitchen. The orange-gradient words, "EN FUEGO," form an incendiary warning along one wall. (A warning about the cooking? The hot sports action? Unclear.)...."

http://tinyurl.com/9gb4uq


Posted by: spamcastin | March 25, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

The other important element is that it makes it easier (read: cheaper) to sign a player long-term, in the event that he merits such a move. The closer a player is to arb and FA, the less incentive he has to sign a long-term deal. This is part of why Zimmerman has never been resigned and is unlikely to at anything resembling a discount, because back in 2005-06 the team promoted him with no concern for his arb clock, got him within a season and a half of arb by the time the team had an owner, and most of the incentive to sign long term was gone.

Posted by: sbiel2 | March 25, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

i'm more worried about zimmermann's workload than his arbitration clock. health is the trump card. just ask shawn hill.

Posted by: longterm | March 25, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather not hear about this business side of baseball because it takes away some of the magic. But it's certainly relevant.

As a fan, it really doesn't concern me one way or the other. I rather like the idea of hiding him until a little later in the season if we can get by without him.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 25, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

"I'd rather not hear about this business side of baseball because it takes away some of the magic."

You need to work on your time machine then. Set it to about 1860, and you should be ok with the sport!

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 25, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Reporter sets out to tap fanaticism with Chipotle restaurant chain

Thursday, August 24, 2006

By Chico Harlan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A young couple walked down the shaded side of Forbes Avenue last Wednesday afternoon with plans to pull their red four-door out of its metered spot, drive north and go swimming. They'd drawn it up that way, at least, until 4:18 that day, when they met some short-haired vagrant on a street corner (OK, me), and two minutes later, they were passengers in my car, strangers on a spontaneous journey toward the faraway horizon, all in raging pursuit of a chain fast-food restaurant that's said to serve some enormous burritos.

Twenty minutes passed before we burst free from the great heat of Oakland rush-hour traffic and bore down on our destination -- Chipotle Mexican Grill, in Kent, Ohio, some 101 miles away. A four-hour round trip. Either a new low for humanity or a new high for lime cilantro rice and shredded, braised beef.

http://tinyurl.com/c3xz9c

Posted by: spamcastin | March 25, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

... I'm not as passionate about the issue as say, #4 and tradervic, but I agree with their basic premise. All the talk about arbitration years and percentages and top performers is a power play devised to do business, not to play baseball. It is upsetting for me especially, that players have been forced into that system, by guys like Scott Boras et al.

... I realise for the Lerner's, it IS a business; all I ask of them is to realise and act like they understand, for the fans - that's you and me - it's baseball, and our bottom line is wins, not a profit.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 25, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

So if Angelos puts Wieters in the Minors for a couple of months does Angelos get described as Cheap or is there some other type of adjective for him?

People, this is nothing new.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 25, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

'Law: Five Guys, assuming that's "major."'

That's the first thing I've ever agreed with Keith Law about, good find.

However, now we have to start eviscerating him about all his food picks.

Posted by: Section506 | March 25, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The thing is that the wins can (I'll stop short of saying 'will') come when teams make such business considerations.

By making a financial decision today when the team is highly unlikey to be competing for the World Series, there (theoretically) would be more financial flexibility to add players in the future where the ability for the Nats to compete would (theoretically) be better.

I understand that fans want to see wins now but teams are always going to balance the present with the future. Especially rebuilding teams like the Nats.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 25, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't care less about the money. But I say throw someone like Cachin or Bergman in there (he hasn't been hit all spring, has he?) at #5. If our stopgap gets hot and stays hot, it lets us keep Smashmouth developing in the minors where he should be. Count me as among the nervous at having three >24 year pitchers in our rotation. Surely, we'll ruin at least one of them.

Posted by: softballgirl | March 25, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

that should be <24 year olds.

Posted by: softballgirl | March 25, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Baseball is a simple game. You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You try to hit the ball.

Yeah, Right!!!

Posted by: Catcher50 | March 25, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

"I understand that fans want to see wins now but teams are always going to balance the present with the future. Especially rebuilding teams like the Nats.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 25, 2009 9:20 AM"

... but there must be a reasonable balance - between business and baseball, between the now and the future. In the case of JZimm (or SS if he shows up), if he is as good as all indicators suggest, the fans have a right to see as much of him as possible. In other cases, your opposite point might be the reasonable way to go.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 25, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

[reposting and responding]

PHS, no "can it" instructions for you here. I also welcome clever posts, and I am free to scroll through whatever ranting or armchair postulating or doesn't happen to interest me.

Generally speaking, I could do without posts that feature ad hominem tactics, whether they target individuals or an entire fan base, but such tactics come with the territory on the Internet (hence my comment we don't have a choice about it) and historically they have tended to be much less common here than in other forums I've visited. That's part of the reason that I keep coming back here and have stopped visiting some other forums.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 25, 2009 8:35 AM

~~

... I am a member of the fan forum for the Montreal Canadiens which has a very real way to combat such distasteful things. They reserve the right to delete anyone’s subscription so that they can no longer post to the list. Here's how they put it:

“[forum name] encourages lively debate, but there is a zero-tolerance policy regarding racism, profanity and BEHAVIOUR THAT WE DEEM TO BE OFFENSIVE. We will, without warning, ban those who do not abide by this simple rule, so as to maximize the enjoyment of readers and participants of both sexes and all ages.”

... sounds like a plan to me.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 25, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I tend to agree with NatsNut on reading about this aspect of baseball, though it is relevant, as she noted. Wouldn't we need to set our clocks back to before the 1969/1970 season rather than to 1860 as far as not reading about this aspect of baseball?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 25, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing that, natscan. I appreciate those forums that not only state such guidelines but also put it into effect. Sounds like a good group.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 25, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"but there must be a reasonable balance - between business and baseball, between the now and the future"

Is two months really that much of a hardship in the bigger picture?

Posted by: Brian_ | March 25, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Dang. Online editing and subject-verb agreement clash again. Should have read put "them" into effect.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 25, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Forgive me for the LAC type post but, with the amount the payroll has been and will be this year, I don't think money a few years down the road should be an issue.

If the kid is ready put him in there, if he is not send him down.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 25, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

As a Sox fan I can tell you they play the arb game the same as any other club, and the Sox have mucho dinero to play with. All front offices are too worried about when they may have to start shelling out the big bucks for good players, not just smaller market teams. It's stupid I agree, but it is a game they all play.

Posted by: skippy1999 | March 25, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

The "pure" baseball considerations reinforce the financial. His innings need to be limited to protect his arm long-term, so might as well limit the innings at the front end and delay arb and free agency in the process.

We are awfully optimistic about the potential of a very young starting staff. Over the course of the season I doubt that a few starts by some replacement part starter off the scrap heap are going to hurt the record much.

Geezer

Posted by: utec | March 25, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"If the kid is ready put him in there, if he is not send him down."

I tend to agree with that, but the obvious question is: how do you know if he is ready?

Posted by: Section506 | March 25, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

"I tend to agree with NatsNut on reading about this aspect of baseball, though it is relevant, as she noted. Wouldn't we need to set our clocks back to before the 1969/1970 season rather than to 1860 as far as not reading about this aspect of baseball?"

Not a chance. If you want a really good book to educate yourself on the business of baseball, pick up the Lords of the Realm. I'm sure the library has a copy.

It starts out with about 10 pages of quotes about people ruing how much baseball is a business today -- one from about every five years from the 1870s onward.

Baseball always has been a business, and the romanticized notions of it from our childhoods is just wrong.

Sure, the money's larger today, but the general principles are all the same.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 25, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

"the fans have a right to see as much of him as possible."

Exactly. So send him down for two months now and gain six months of him in 5 years when he's a fully developed Cy Young-winning beast.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 25, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

>The "pure" baseball considerations reinforce the financial. His innings need to be limited to protect his arm long-term, so might as well limit the innings at the front end and delay arb and free agency in the process.

Geezer sums up the right answer perfectly above.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 25, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

"If the kid is ready put him in there, if he is not send him down."

I tend to agree with that, but the obvious question is: how do you know if he is ready?

Posted by: Section506 | March 25, 2009 9:40 AM
____________________________________________________________

That 506, is the $64,000 question. At some point you need to throw players in there and see if they can handle it. My concern is, if it is too early, it can mess a kid up if he flops, especially pitchers.

It's dicey, no doubt.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 25, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

The arbitration clock is a valid concern, but even more impactful is probably how many innings the Nats ask Zimmermann to accumulate this year. If he pitches well enough to remain a MLB starter all year, he will probably have pitched a minimum of 180 innings. I believe last year he pictched 133. That's more than a 33% jump. Conventional wisdom is that you would not want that big of a jump in one year.

In the minors it would be easier to limit him to 4-5 innings per start and 4-5 days rest between starts for the first two months. That might be enough to contain the risk of the stress on his body.

So in addition to the arbitration benefit, there might be a protect the investment benefit to sending him to the minors.

I'm also currious about Kip Wells. How is he progressing in minor league camp? Can he be that temporary starter?

Posted by: natbisquit | March 25, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, UncleT, but I was thinking of arbitration and free agency in particular.

In other news, I'm glad that Ms. Shipley dodged the ball the other day so that she could write the nice piece that appeared today.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 25, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

By making a financial decision today when the team is highly unlikey to be competing for the World Series, there (theoretically) would be more financial flexibility to add players in the future where the ability for the Nats to compete would (theoretically) be better.

Posted by: Brian_ | March 25, 2009 9:20 AM

Brian - Well said. This is a business decision that all teams make. This is the only time they have the financial leverage and it is prudent to use it. Plus, assuming he works out as well as we all hope, you want to have him under control when we are competitive instead of using him now when we are not. Bergmann or Balestar are reasonable stop gap measures for now that may not be popular, but are the right choice for the franchise.

As a fan, I am looking for the front office to build a playoff team, not an almost .500 team. This decision best serves us to move us towards that goal.

Posted by: NatsWin | March 25, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I never understood this argument about delaying the arbitration clock. It's like cutting off your nose despite your face. History show that rookie pitcher rarely stay up once they are up. So far John Lannan has been a special exception. Odds of Zimmermann and Martis not being sent down and brought back up a couple of times is very high. (See Cleveland 1st round pick Jeremy Sowers. He's a yo yo). Make your team better today. Worry about what could happen when and if it happens. Make the players force you to offer them contracts early. In my mind that's a good thing because they have proven their worth.

Posted by: ecmdfan | March 25, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

This is the reason players sign with Scott Boras, they are tire of getting screwed by the owners. I hope Zimm signs with Boras and makes them pay threw the NOSE.

Posted by: BAEBALLFAN | March 25, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

"How do you know if he's ready?"

By getting out ML hitters the 2nd and 3rd time you face them in a game. Arbitration clock notwithstanding, he has to get people out.

Last start probably 1st start in which pro ML hitters see him twice - bombed.

If he's bombed again, he is not ready for ML - send him down. Sure he pitched well previously, against alot of scrubinos.

PS As far as workload concerns, he's pitched 130+ innings the last 2 years - reasonable bump is 30 more innings. NOdalis Perez hurled 163 IP last year, so don't see where we'd have to worry about JZimmy doing the same.

Posted by: VladiHondo | March 25, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Just so that everyone's clear, the player's union generally supports the free-agency/aribtration structure of MLB as it is currently constituted. It allows proven veterans to make more money than guys that just showed up. Assuming that there's a fixed amount of money to go around (an obviously flawed assumption, but there is a finite limit on it somewhere), the MLBPA has an interest in securing the largest chunk of it possible for its most tenured and successful players. That means agreeing to limit the salaries of newcomers until they have joined the ranks of the proven and successful.

Thus, in my mind, there's no issue with this move (keeping a player in the minors to delay arbitration or free agent status) from a broad player perspective - this is exactly what the union knew would happen when they consented to the current labor agreement. To be frank, players like Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns, Nick Johnson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez benefit from this because there's more money to pay them, for better or worse.

Posted by: faNATic | March 25, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

he he. did you mean cutting of your nose *to spite* your face?

"...cutting off your nose despite your face."

Posted by: ecmdfan | March 25, 2009 9:57 AM

Posted by: NatsNut | March 25, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

"If the kid is ready put him in there, if he is not send him down."

I tend to agree with that, but the obvious question is: how do you know if he is ready?

Posted by: Section506 | March 25, 2009 9:40 AM

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

Collin Balester was ready last year, right? Really, it's easy knowing when a pitcher is ready. Easy as knowing when to pull a steak off the grill. Oh wait, thought I was Chico Harlan there for a sec....

Posted by: spamcastin | March 25, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Let's also not forget that Zimmermann is only in this position because the Nats are so poorly established. A reasonable baseball expectation at his age is AAA with a few spot starts and a September call up. Asking him to wait until June is still a big bonus for the kid.

Posted by: Section506 | March 25, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

This is the reason players sign with Scott Boras, they are tire of getting screwed by the owners. I hope Zimm signs with Boras and makes them pay threw the NOSE.

Posted by: BAEBALLFAN | March 25, 2009 9:59 AM
()()()()()()()()()()()()()()()

Are you out of your mind? Are you a season ticket holder?

With the CBA, you have a more equitable system, but overall the players who are above average in this league and make it to arbitration are set for life and the rest do well if they can stay at the MLB level.

A player that makes $8 million in his career including all the MLBPA share, etc and divide that by 40 and you get $200,000 per year. I don't feel sorry for a player that accumulates more than the average working stiff will make in his ENTIRE LIFE. I could live very well on $200K per year the rest of my life.

So Kearns made $8 mill last year and guaranteed $8 mill this year and basically the same for Nick Johnson. Are either of them going to give back any part of that money. If you or I were that bad or undependable or unable to work in our jobs, we would have been FIRED.

BORA$$ is what is wrong with the game of baseball.

If they could ever allow a true pay for performance system, than we would finally have something closer to the real world. Nothing is perfect.

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 25, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm having trouble determining your real purposes through your obnoxious shtick, Spam the Flam, but just in case you mean this in earnest:

"Collin Balester was ready last year, right?"

You've given a great example of how "ready" isn't so much an event as a transition.

Posted by: Section506 | March 25, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

If you want pay for performance, become a golf fan. The PGA Tour has a very logical payout structure based on where you place in each tournament in which you participate. If you play well, you're paid well, end of story.

Expecting that to ever occur in MLB, however, will only lead to disappointment. I'm a Nats fan, but barring any major revisions to the business aspect of the sport, I'm fine with accepting decisions that appear to rationally maximize the benefit to the team in the long run (the realistic time frame for us to be competitive), like postponing free agency or arbitration years.

Posted by: faNATic | March 25, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"I'm also currious about Kip Wells. How is he progressing in minor league camp? Can he be that temporary starter?"

Zimmermann's not on the 40-man roster - part of the reason they'd keep him in the minors to start would be to delay the roster move. So they're not going to put Wells on the 40-man to substitute start. That would be like ordering off the menu. Oops, thought I was Chico Harlan for a sec there...

Posted by: spamcastin | March 25, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"Bergmann or Balestar are reasonable stop gap measures for now that may not be popular, but are the right choice for the franchise."

Bergmann's not going to start in April. They haven't stretched him out at all this spring. Putting him in as a starter would be like throwing a tough piece of meat on the grill without marinating it first. Oops, thought I was Chico Harlan there for a sec...

Posted by: spamcastin | March 25, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Evidently SI is coming out with a Strasburg story, there is a teaser piece here:

http://www.federalbaseball.com/

Also an interesting piece on optimizing batting order can be found here:

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/3/17/795946/optimizing-your-lineup-by

(Basically, it says we should hit Nick second and Guzman 6th.)

Posted by: BobLHead | March 25, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Okay, can we ban spamcastin yet? Wasn't there a point to making us all register names?

Posted by: Section506 | March 25, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

"PS As far as workload concerns, he's pitched 130+ innings the last 2 years - reasonable bump is 30 more innings. NOdalis Perez hurled 163 IP last year, so don't see where we'd have to worry about JZimmy doing the same."

The problem with that is Odalis was a veteran he can handle that workload, his arm has endured that and more in the past. For Zimmermann its uncharted territory and that gets extremely dangerous, the reality is they don't reccomend more than 20-30 innings extra between years, so 160 would be the maximum we should want to see Zimmermann pitch between the minors and majors this season.

Posted by: Steveo11 | March 25, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"the reality is they don't reccomend more than 20-30 innings extra between years,"

Who is "they"?

I know Verducci's throwing it out there. But why is that suddenly CW?

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 25, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Also Uncle Teddy said it best, the best move for the fans is to lose two months of Zimmermann this year to gain 6 months in the future. As a fan I want to see Zimmermann on this team as long as possible and that move does just that. As someone who enjoys the business of baseball its the best move for the team.

Posted by: Steveo11 | March 25, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Zimmerman and Martis should obviously make the trip North and should be handled with care this team is a pitcher and a couple of consistent hitters away from being a five hundred club, and oh yeah they need a manager.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 25, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first. Start Zimmermann now.

Oops, thought I was Chico Harlan there for a sec...

Posted by: spamcastin | March 25, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Strasburg, Tracee has a new post up with readings.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 25, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Brian,

Nats have had enough time and fans have been patient enough....Logan, Fick, 2007 year and then 2008....Casto at 1st base......I think it is time to put the best possible team on the field at all times. Yes it might cost them more money in 5-7 years, yes they may lose players sooner IF THEY DO NOT PAY MARKET RATES......to bad, Lerners have already gotten enough of a free ride from DC and it's Fans.....The best players must play....no more Estrada starting in July and PLOP joking to first in July.....Those days are over. In my book if Zimmerman and Martis are the best then they play now. Fans who pay top $ for games in April....like I do with my season tickets....are paying to watch the best players period.

Posted by: JayBeee | March 25, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight. Here is a team that lost 102 games in 08, suffers from zero credibility within the league, the local media and the casual fan and they are worried about the arb clock because they might, just might have a ringer. Well if we are to use the Boz column as a barometer, JZIMM might just blow his arm out in year one, or two and then the future big payday is a moot point. Earth to LernerStans...., you have three ringers in your rotation and a possible #4 on the way (currently playing college ball) damn the cha-ching, give the people who pay the freight something to cheer about. If this situation existed for the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers, Cubs etc., do your think those clubs would be overly concerned with the arb clock? Its your future man, can't you see it?

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 25, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"more impactful is probably how many innings the Nats ask Zimmermann to accumulate this year. If he pitches well enough to remain a MLB starter all year, he will probably have pitched a minimum of 180 innings. I believe last year he pictched 133. That's more than a 33% jump. Conventional wisdom is that you would not want that big of a jump in one year.

In the minors it would be easier to limit him to 4-5 innings per start and 4-5 days rest between starts for the first two months. That might be enough to contain the risk of the stress on his body." Posted by: natbisquit | March 25, 2009 9:51 AM

Seems to me that would increase his chances of injury and reduce his effectiveness at the same time. You want a SP to build their stamina, not reduce it. If all he throws in the minors is 5 inn on 5 days rest he will be useless as a SP if called up. I suspect he will throw more innings in the minors if he is sent down than he would in the majors if he stays.

Posted by: timnew | March 25, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

So because Martis played in a couple games last year the whole arbitration thing doesn't apply to him? Am I getting that right? This rule is confusing.

Posted by: vash462 | March 25, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"Also an interesting piece on optimizing batting order can be found here:

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/3/17/795946/optimizing-your-lineup-by

(Basically, it says we should hit Nick second and Guzman 6th.)

Posted by: BobLHead | March 25, 2009 10:37 AM "

Remind me, Bob, who has been saying that incessantly here this offseason?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 25, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

JayBeee makes my point exactly. I wrote my post in a bit of haste as I was completely steamed when I read the article.

Believe me, I understand the business side of things and to a degree, I agree with the practice.

However, after shelling out Major League prices for 2 season tickets since they arrived, it's about time we the fans got some return on investment. Namely, put the best available team on the field and compete!

The business end will take care of itself. If they manage to build a QUALITY organization, the players will want to stay here.

FRANK 20

Posted by: tradervic1313 | March 25, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Ugh - glad I don't have to make these decisions. I think I might just have him start in a 5-man rotation and get on with it.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | March 25, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

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