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A Scout's Take on Zimmermann, Nats

Just got off the phone with a scout for a National League team who was on hand Monday night for Jordan Zimmermann's long-awaited big league debut for the Nationals, and thought his impressions of the kid would interest some folks here. Let me just say: This particular scout is not prone to over-hyping anyone, and he certainly has never spoken this glowingly about any Nationals player, as best I can recall:

"I really like him. Everybody talks about his velocity, but I like the potential for both of his breaking balls. His slider is very good. Once he finds his true velocity, I think he'll eventually pitch at 92 [mph] wth two very good breaking balls. His change up is his worst pitch, but he has the potential to be a true four-pitch pitcher.

"I had him topped out at 95, but he was really comfortable at 92, 93, and I think that's where he's going to settle in. The one thing that bothers me in his delivery is [that] he flies open a little bit. And his command in the strike zone -- he throws a lot of strikes, but they weren't all necessarily quality strikes. He was getting hit hardest on his fastballs. His fastball command was a little less consistent than I'm sure he would've liked.

"I think he's going to be a solid rotation guy -- or maybe better than that. He has the potential to be a [number] 1 or 2. If I had to pencil him right now, I'd call him a 2. But I tell you, if they draft [Stephen] Strasburg and get him signed, and if this kid [Zimmermann] does what he's supposed to do, that's a hell of a back-to-back. If they come up with a third pitcher, they're the Florida Marlins. They could really have something here."

By Dave Sheinin  |  April 22, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
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The NNatural!

Posted by: leetee1955 | April 22, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Nice sliver lining post Dave. Very interesting evaluation. Let's just hope the big "if" they mentioned comes to fruition.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | April 22, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Ffingers crossed here.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 22, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Great, Chico, go ahead, make us drool... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | April 22, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

It's rather comical watching/reading all these Expos fans getting all giddy.

Can't wait to see it all come crashing down (again).

Posted by: Os_Exec | April 22, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

It's Sheinin making us drool this time. Just sayin.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 22, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, there's a great story in the NY Times today about handwringing at the new stadiums over empty expensive seats near home plate ("It looks so bad on TV!!") Sounds familiar, no?

Posted by: Bethesdangit | April 22, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse


Given the track record of one Angelos, Peter, I'd say the likelihood of the O's crashing down is greater. Though I suppose they'd have to rise first... then crash. But I look forward to watching the Orioles continue to flounder until an ownership change. Once that glorious day comes I will gladly re-enter Camden Yards from time to time. Great place to watch a ball game. Shame Angelos defiles it and everything he touches.

It sounds like Dave's scout is seeing the start of the kind of resurgence Stan Kasten led down in ATL... Nationals: Worst to first in 2010?

Hmm... maybe too hopeful. But the Nats will contend long before the perennial AL East doormats do.

Posted by: outsider6 | April 22, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

For us to go worst-to-first next year, we'd have to finish worst this year.
I'm holding out hope that we can climb out of the cellar and win 70+.

Posted by: usmc53 | April 22, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

That scout basically summarized what I thought...

But seriously, he missed some spots, especially up in the zone. And there was a lot of lateral and natural movement to his fastballs. One thing I question is when batters see him more and with his opening up early, to what extent will they be able to recognize his slider and lay off of it.

Posted by: dclifer | April 22, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which, order now:


Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 22, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

That related to outsider's troll riposte, of course. Daggone postus interruptus.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 22, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Ignore O's Exec. AKA Poopy McPoop. He's a troll and a dumbass to boot.

Now that the college basketball season is over and he is done stirring it up on Terps Insider, he's now coming over to stir it up on the NJ.

Please don't feed him.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 22, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The Nationals are like a matter what happens I can't stay mad at them. They always come up with something to make me smile. When it looks like they will have a historically bad season in '07, they get a new owner to get excited about. Then they finish better than expected. When I get frustrated with the piss-poor signings of the 07/08 offseason, they open a new stadium with a walk-off HR. When they have the worst record in MLB, they make (what I thought at the time) a great trade and sign a big-name FA. When they start the season looking historically bad, they sign Zim to a long-term deal. When their bullpen looks terrible, they show us JZimm. When they don't sign their first round pick...well, it's going to take me a while to move past that mistake.

Point is, like a girlfriend, I can't stay mad at this franchise despite its many mistakes and/or flaws. Also like a serious relationship, I hope this relationship lasts forever with rings around our fingers; and I pray I don't get left heartbroken...

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | April 22, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

1a1: LOVE that!

Lifer: It was his first start! He's not a finished product by far; when a veteran scout says this kid is a #2 and borderline #1, that's a mouthful. As for his opening up early, that'll have a greater impact on control and those pooorly located strikes than on the ability of hitters to pick up his pitches.

There really is the potential here for some exciting days in the not too distant future. Go Nats!

Posted by: outsider6 | April 22, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Stasburg, Zimmermann, Hill, Lannan, and Olsen would be a great rotation ... [rats] no Hill, but Matis may do very nicely as well.

Back on the Hanrahan front, I don't know if he will ever be a top closer in this league, but there is every reason to believe he will be an above average reliever. Maybe he will settle back in as a middle inning guy, but right now he is being asked to be our closer. Try not to judge his results as compared to Eckersley, Lee Smith or Gossage (or even Dibble). None of them are currently options on this team. If Joel can't hold the job we're probably going to a committee and that seldom works out in the long run.

Posted by: natbiscuits | April 22, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I don't normally do this, but I suggest you may want to give Marc Hulett over at Fangraphs a little grief about his post comparing the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons rotation to the Nats:

"The Scranton club has a rotation that might give the Washington Nationals club a run for its money. Included in the rotation are five pitchers with MLB experience: Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Kei Igawa, Jason Johnson and Alfredo Aceves. "

Seriously, how many writers have given Jordan Zimmermann a legit shot at NL ROY? Hughes still may be more highly regarded, but at least there is a basis for doubt about whether he is what he was supposed to be 2 years ago.

Lannan has a track record of effectiveness in the majors (including some All MLB rookie teams). Ian Kennedy "might" be a 3d starter if he gets traded to the NL, according to Hulett. Igawa v. a 200+ IP Scott Olsen? Aceves v. Martis? Even the Crab has had two short but effective outings recently, which is not quite as much as Johnson at his best - 6 years ago!

I'm not a googly eyed optimist about this rotation, but to post that after 5 quality starts and 2 good 5 inning efforts is just unthinking and below fangraphs normal quality.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | April 22, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Z'mann is definitely impressive, and even though he missed some spots, I think the movement of his fastball made up for the mistakes he made. That's all. (I was also a tad bummed because he's on my fantasy team and was sensing a shut-out!!!)

Posted by: dclifer | April 22, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

In his article today, Mr Chico recounts: "With a healthy Nick Johnson, a hot Ryan Zimmerman and a towering Adam Dunn, the offense qualifies as the team's greatest"

No disrespect to any of those guys but aren't you forgetting about the Lil Ole number 5 hitter who happens to be batting .341? You now Elijah They Call me Mr Dukes?
Just wondering.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 22, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

BTW Sometimes you get lucky and slide thru the fire unscorched. But for all intents and purposes, last night was another blown save for H. And he really should be relieved of closing duties. They guy aint up to it. Next time the Nats won't be so lucky. Get him outta there now while he's not hurting rather than wait for the next meltdown.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 22, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Give Lannan some credit!!! This may be the September rotation:


Posted by: dmacman88 | April 22, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Strasburg/Zimmermann/Lannan could be a real nice trio to build around. Maybe one or two out of Detwiler/Smoker/Willems/McGeary pan out. Then you need to bring in an "elder statesman" stud a la Maddux to the Braves, and you've got something really serious going. Any thoughts on who that could be?

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | April 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Dove: There are no "almost" blown saves. Heart Attack held the lead he was given... As someone said earlier, most closers are edge-of-your-seat scary. Heart Attack is no exception. And he's a baby like ZNN, Lannan, in terms of his new role. He's pretty much been a starter his whole career. Give him time...

Posted by: outsider6 | April 22, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse


You are certainly entitled to your opinion about Hanrahan as a closer and you may well be right.

But, I'm hoping that this is a confidence boost for him and he goes on a little run of saves to make up for the ones he blew and then some.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 22, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"Give him time..."

Like the Yankees did for Mariano Rivera, who blew 4 out his first 9 save opportunities; like the Astros did for Brad Lidge who blew 5 of his first 6; like the Padres did for Trevor Hoffman who blew 3 of his first 8.

Who else is on this staff that you see closing for the 2010 Nat's World Series squad?

Posted by: joebleux | April 22, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Dove: There are no "almost" blown saves.

Disagree. Sometimes an out is not really an out. And those that can learn from situations like that without having to be burned, are the ones that prosper. You may close your eyes and make it across the street but I wouldn't recommend it a 2nd time. BTW that game ending shot to Hernandez was no gimmie. That was similar to 2 balls he dropped and made errors on in the home opener. That baby was a rocket.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 22, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I love scouts.

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 22, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen anything yet that would convince me that Olsen belongs in the future rotation among guys like Lannan, Zimmermann, Strasburg, Martis. I tend to think one from the pool of Smoker/Detwiler/Ballester/McGeary would fill that void.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | April 22, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

An out really is an out. No, really.

That doesn't mean, as you rightly observe, there aren't tons of learning opportunities each time he trots out there with a tie game or a lead on the line. A fact Manny and Randy are sure to bring up later with Heart Attack and every other kid on the team.

But an out really is an out. I checked. Rule 6.05 and 7.08. You can look it up. :)

Posted by: outsider6 | April 22, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Buster Olney has some interesting stuff to say about the Nats, Boras and Strasburg here:

Posted by: BobLHead | April 22, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Joel "TrashCan"rahan.

Posted by: longterm | April 22, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

BTW Sometimes you get lucky and slide thru the fire unscorched. But for all intents and purposes, last night was another blown save for H. And he really should be relieved of closing duties. They guy aint up to it. Next time the Nats won't be so lucky. Get him outta there now while he's not hurting rather than wait for the next meltdown.

Posted by: dovelevine | April 22, 2009 2:47 PM
Are you a pitching coach? I'm not either.

JHanrahan did a good job after taking over for Rauch last season. He looked good in the WBC. He has looked shakey in 2009 for the Nats and as strange as it sounds he is the best option for now.

Can Joel rebound? Yes. He just got 2 Saves in a row and with confidence a closer will get better.

Look at Lidge in Houston vs. Philly. Confidence.

Posted by: dmacman88 | April 22, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

If they are serious about winning baseball then they can't continue to make errors, smart baseball is all about fundamentals and lately this team has been sorely lacking in that category, from botched rundowns to missing cutoff men to making the first or thrid out in an inning with boneheaded steal attempts the Nationals will make you say "what in the hell are they thinking".The national league east maybe the toughest division in all of baseball sans the AL east so if this team wants to remain competitive and hold fan interest over the long haul of a baseball season then they have to play smarter and oh yeah a note Rizzo and the Lerners; it might help if you sign your draft picks especially your #1 draft pick.

Posted by: dargregmag | April 22, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"Yes Joel Can"rahan.

Posted by: BobLHead | April 22, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

It's Sheinin making us drool this time. Just sayin.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 22, 2009 2:04 PM

Speak for yourself, lady. I only have drool for JORDAN.


Posted by: Scooter_ | April 22, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

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