August 9, 2009

Zimmermann to Andrews to Strasburg

You may not know this, but the NTP gang has been inconspicuously absent from Nationals Park since the Randy Johnson rainout of June 3, 2009. Two plus months of not subjecting ourselves to live Nats baseball. Well, that all ended this weekend. On Friday NTP Dave was in attendance to see the fellers take their sixth straight game (with an able assist from the first base ump.)

Last night I journeyed down SoCap in search of bobbleheads and managed to snag a win in the bargain. Seven in a row is seven in a row, but all is not sunshine and lollipops for the Nationals. Garrett Mock was effective, but he pitched worse than his final line and there's no starting pitching relief on the horizon. John Smoltz, anyone?

The latest news on Jordan Zimmermann only compounds the problem. In case you've somehow missed the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from across the Natmosphere, J-Z's most recent MRI "caused concern" with the Nats crack (cracked? quack?) medical team. This sparked a referral to Dr. James Andrews, which "caused concern" among Nats fans. Now, no visit with Dr. Andrews is ever just a pleasant social call, but there's no sense organizing the mass suicides until Zim'nn's surgery is actually a "complete success and he should be ready for Spring Training." In the meantime I'm more interested in the impact of this news on the Strasburg negotiations.

Buster Olney, based on what appears to be nothing at all, is reporting that "real doubts are beginning to emerge that the Nats will be able to sign Stephen Strasburg." First of all, this is just lousy sentence construction, either by B.O. or MLB Trade Rumors. I can't believe anyone doubts that the Nats are able to sign Strasburg, the only question is whether they're willing to meet his price. "Nats unwilling to sign Strasburg" would be a better encapsulation. But I digress..

There are two potential lessons to be drawn from Jordan Zimmermann's current predicament that could impact the Strasburg signing in very different ways.

Lesson #1: Talented young team-controlled starting pitching is a commodity of unparalleled value, and the more of it you have the better off you are.

Lesson #2: Even the best pitchers are one elbow twinge away from a potentially career-altering visit with James Andrews.

Taking lesson one to heart would suggest that the Nats should pay the freight for the most talented amateur pitcher of the decade and hope for the best. Heeding lesson two would cause the team to avoid committing record setting sums of money a twenty one-year old right arm, no matter what its pedigree. The next eight days just got a little more interesting.

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