Tag:Ryan Zimmermann
Posted on: October 6, 2011 7:35 pm
 

R.I.P: 2011 Washington Nationals

NationalsBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series... 

Team name: Washington Nationals
Record: 80-81, third place, 21.5 GB
Manager: Jim Riggleman/Davey Johnson
Best hitter: Mike Morse -- .303/.360/.550, 31 HR, 95 RBI
Best pitcher: Jordan Zimmermann -- 8-11, 161 1/3 IP, 3.18 ERA, 31 BB, 124 K

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Nats were exactly 13-13 at the end of April, and it was a trend that continued all the way through the first half, with the club jumping out to a 46-46 record in the first half. It was an unexpected surge for Washington, who was expected to continue along its growth, but at a slower clip. It was quite the impressive display, especially since the club didn't have Stephen Strasburg and big-ticket signing Jayson Werth struggling to a .215/.319/.362 first half, along with Ian Desmond (.223/.264/.308).

The second half saw the return of Strasburg and Chien-Ming Wang along with rebounds from Werth and Desmond. But those improvements didn't show up on the field, with a 34-35 record. In essence the team was exactly the same. Players who fell off in the second-half include Danny Espinosa, Laynce Nix, Livan Hernandez and Zimmermann, who was shut down at the end of August.

2012 AUDIT

The Nationals are in a pretty good position for 2012. Stephen Strasburg is back from Tommy John surgery and looking as electric as ever. Paired with Jordan Zimmermann, Washington has a strong one-two punch in the rotation. Offensively, the team is coming along and with a rebound year from Jayson Werth could be sneaky-good. This is a team on the rise, and the Nats smell blood in the NL East.

FREE AGENTS

Rick Ankiel, CF
Todd Coffey, RP
Alex Cora, IF
Jonny Gomes, OF
Livan Hernandez, SP
Laynce Nix, OF
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Chien-Ming Wang, SP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Bring back Davey Johnson as manager. He wants to come back and there's no reason not to keep Johnson. The team seemed to respond to him and he has enormous cachet. Plus, and this is just speculation, but he would probably sign a cheaper deal than any of the other big-name managers available.
  • Sign Prince Fielder. While Albert Pujols would be a great get, Fielder is younger and frankly, more gettable. It would be the splash Washington needs to make the fan base perk up and put the club in prime position to contend in the next several years. The Nats have long said that the money will be there when it's time to compete. Owner Ted Lerner time to step up. The club will have limited flexibility if there is no payroll bump. If Lerner is miserly with his money, the rest of the moves here still should occur, but Adam LaRoche would simply remain as first baseman.
  • What to do with incumbent first baseman LaRoche if the team can sign Fielder? Tough call. His trade value is near zero and coming off the bench isn't a great idea. Washington either needs to bite the bullet and chew up the remaining $9 million on his deal ($8 million due in 2012, $1 million buyout in 2013 on a $10 million mutual option), or trade him in a swap of hefty contracts.
  • In the R.I.P. piece for the Tampa Bay Rays, I said that the Rays need to trade B.J. Upton to the Nats for Ian Desmond and Roger Bernadina. (Washington would likely also need to give up a solid minor-leaguer.) This would fulfill Washington's need for a center fielder, and Upton could fetch some nice compensatory picks if he has a great year and departs town as a free agent.
  • Moving Desmond allows the Nationals to put second baseman Danny Espinosa back at his natural spot of shortstop, and reports suggest Espinosa could be an even better fielder than Desmond. To fill the second-base vacancy, Washington can promote Stephen Lombardozzi.
  • The rest of the team's needs have to be fulfilled for small money, short years or through internal replacements from the minors with Upton, Fielder and Jayson Werth occupying a big chunk of payroll. The bench needs some fortification on offense. Adam Kennedy, Jerry Hairston Jr., Kelly Johnson, or Mark DeRosa would all make sense.
  • Extend Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is one of the best third baseman -- no, one of the best players -- in the game. He's a free agent after 2013, and the Nats simply cannot let him go.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 8:17 pm
 

Zimmerman revamps throwing mechanics

Zimmerman

By Evan Brunell

Ryan Zimmerman did something unusual earlier this season -- he changed his throwing mechanics on the fly.

Throwing more over-the-top than sidearm, the new motion has allowed Zimmerman to reduce the stress on his core, transferring it to his legs. Given that Zimmerman had ab surgery earlier this season, which knocked him out for just over two months, any change that reduces stress on the core is good news. And Zimmerman feels he's a better player for it, too.

“It’s more consistent and it’s more efficient,” Zimmerman told the Washington Post. “It’s going to help the longevity – I plan on being a third baseman for a long time, and when I’m done, being one of the best third basemen who played for a long time. A lot of people have a couple good years. There’s nothing bad about that – it’s hard to have one good year. If you do little things to change your style through your career, and it’s going to help you be a better player for a longer time, that’s the goal. That definitely is one of the reasons I did it.”

Zimmerman struggled to control his throwing early on, making four throwing errors in a span of 10 games at once and looking awkward in delivering tosses. He's warmed up, though, and has committed just two throwing errors since the start of August.

“The first month or so was tough,” Zimmerman said. “Any time, learning anything new is tough. To do it in front of 30,000 people every night is a little bit more awkward. You know people are watching. That’s a thing I had to do, and I’m proud of the way I worked and get better at it. It’s not that I felt uncomfortable. But my level of comfort might not have been as high. But now, I think I’m more comfortable now that I was before.”

With a batting line of .294/.354/.462 on the year, it hasn't been one of Zimmerman's best seasons. It still ranks as great numbers out of the hot corner, especially when paired with his excellent defense that has only gotten better.

“I’m very happy with how far I’ve come this year,” Zimmerman said. “Now I can kind of carry this momentum and use it in the offseason to be even better next year. From where I was to where I am now, I’m very happy with the way it’s gone.”

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com