February 21, 2012

Nate's Nats Notes - 2/21/12

So much for doing these periodically to keep on top of the smaller news items as they trickle out. Since last we spoke the Nationals have added Edwin Jackson and Brad Lidge, subtracted Mike Cameron, seen all but 3 players report to Spring Training well ahead of the full squad deadline, and gotten injury updates on the only two really injured Nats, 1B Chris Marrero and reliever Cole Kimball, neither of whom will be doing anything but rehabbing in Viera.

We've also gotten the obligatory feel-good quotes from a post-TJ Stephen Strasburg and a post-post-abduction Wilson Ramos. In other words, the early Spring Training non-news is in mid-season form. So let's get to it:

With a Long Enough Lever and a Firm Place to Stand... You Probably Still Won't Move Ryan Zimmerman Off Third Base - All-Star and Gold Glove winner Ryan Zimmerman quite understandably doesn't feel compelled to volunteer for a position change just because the Nationals drafted standout college 3B Anthony Rendon in the first round last year. I've always been surprised that there's a contingent of Nats fans that considers Zimm's move to 1B to be an inevitability, and sooner rather than later. Yes, he's had some injuries and having to develop a new throwing motion in mid-season was hair-raising, but the RZA is still one of the best there is at the hot corner, and at all of 27 years old there's no reason to think he'll be on the downside of his career any time soon.

Whether that career will continue to be in Washington remains an open question, with Ryan holding firm on a Spring Training deadline to complete a contract extension, and both sides saying nice things about wanting to get a deal done. Of course, just because Ryan doesn't want to talk once the games count, that doesn't mean that his agents and Mike Rizzo can't still spitball ideas back and forth. If they can come up with something that meets Zimm's parameters, an in-season extension should be cause for celebration, not disruption.

Rendon, for his part, is saying all the right things about keeping his head down, soaking in the big league experience and playing wherever Davey Johnson tells you to play.

I Switched to No. 20 to Honor Andrew Jackson - Speaking of Anthony Rendon, according to the Nationals.com official 40-man roster, he'll be wearing #6 this season, aka the number formerly worn by shortstop Ian Desmond. Desmond claims that he has no connection to the number and switched to #20 to honor Frank Robinson and Barry Sanders. That's all fine and good, but if he didn't make the rookie pay for his old number, he missed the boat.

Cameron's Latest Disaster Epic - You could say that Mike Cameron's retirement threw the Nats' CF situation into disarray, except that might lead you to believe that there has been a point in the last eight seasons when the Nats' CF situation wasn't in disarray. 

Harper spills some digital ink on the topic over at Nationals Baseball, and it's well worth a read. Short version: In eight seasons this team has been unable to identify and retain a centerfielder who can simultaneously hit and field competently without alienating his teammates and/or coaches, GM or owner. And that doesn't look likely to change in 2012.

160 And/Or Bust - From the beginning of his rehab it's been widely assumed that Stephen Strasburg will be on an innings-limit for 2012, and that limit will be approximately 160 innings (the Jordan Zimmermann Plan). What wasn't known was whether the team would try to tweak Strasburg's workload either by holding him out to start the season, going to a 6-man rotation, or some other shenanigans. Apparently the answer is a resounding "No". Strasburg will start the season in the rotation, pitch his 160-or-so innings, and take a seat.

Of course, should the S.S. Franchise feel the slightest discomfort or experience the tiniest setback, you'd better believe he'll be in extended Spring Training faster than you can say ulnar collateral ligament. But he survived his first bullpen session, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.