Friday, August 05, 2005

Bowden Puts 'Pressure' on the Veterans

Reading over the Nats news released over the last couple of days, I found these two gems by our esteemed GM Jim Bowden. First, in the Examiner:

Memo to vets: start producing Every offensive player is underachieving ... we don't want to watch another month of this. We didn't make a trade, so maybe we call up a guy like Tony Blanco, Ryan Zimmerman or Brandon Watson from the minors. You always want the vets to right themselves and have a great month of August. We're only two games out, but we've got to score runs and figure out a way to hit. Otherwise we have to bring up young players and energize the lineup. This team lacked not just run production but energy the last month. We need to turn it around sooner rather than later or the season will be later. And then the vets will be in the dugout watching the young players. We can lose as many games with young players from the farm system as we are with the vets.

And then the identical sentiment in the Post:
The Nationals' considerable offensive slump during their month-long slide will have General Manager Jim Bowden scouring the team's farm system next week, wondering if there is any sort of solution available in the minors. One distinct possibility: First-round draft pick Ryan Zimmerman, just two months removed from his career at the University of Virginia, could be in Washington before too long. "My preference, from my development heart, is '06," Bowden said prior to yesterday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "I really don't want to do '05. But is he on my mind every hour on the hour? Yes."
While I don't necessarily disagree with the concept of seeing what is down on the farm, Bowden's statements are all bluster that don't put the long term interests of the Nationals at the forefront. Specifically with regards to Dutch Zimmerman. Zimmerman is not ready for the majors at this point. He may be ready defensively, but he's not there with the bat ... yet. Zimmerman is the future 3B for the Nationals, but make no mistake, he's not Alex Rodriguez or Ken Griffey Jr or Albert Pujols or even Miguel Cabrera with the bat. Those 4 guys were quickly promoted to the majors at ages ranging from 19 to 21 primarily because they were ready with the bat (and in Griffey's case, the glove as well). Zimmerman is only 21 and entering his first extended experience with wood bats as a professional against professional pitchers. He needs to time to become comfortable with the bat and ideally turn his doubles power into something more accustomed to a corner IF spot. He's not going to do that against major league pitchers who tend to eat young hitters alive. The last thing you want to do is mess with Dutch's development when it is not necessary. Additionally, why would you want to start his arbitration clock so soon after drafting him? If he comes to the major leagues this year, he enters free agency at 27/28 years old. Traditionally, the prime of a player's career. Waiting one year might not seem like alot right now, but it certainly will pay dividends 4-5 years down the road when the Nationals can control Dutch's contract at a time when he should be entering the best part of his career. Give Tony Blanco the shot, he's the Rule 5 guy. He needs to be on the big league roster (when not on the DL). Let him prove his worth and provide the pressure on the veterans.

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