26 August, 2005

Nats - the Zimmerman Project (revised)

Confirmed as the Nats representatives in this year's Arizona Fall League:

Pitchers: Josh Karp and Chris Schroder
Infielders: Larry Broadway, Brendan Harris and Ryan Zimmerman.

So, it looks like the "Zimmerman project" - converting the Nats third baseman of the future into the shortstop of now - will continue in the Arizona sunshine. "Dutch" was the Nats number one pick in this year's amateur draft. The ideal pick: a smooth swinging infielder with local connections. The club - or at least General Manager Jim Bowden - obviously want to fast track Zimmerman. Great idea on paper. Local boy makes good is great newspaper copy.

From all accounts he has the ability - I won't use the word "tools".

Yet to be convinced in this burgh with the Zimmerman Plan (revised). I don't doubt that Zimmerman can cut it at short, but the plan since before draft day was to cultivate him as a third baseman to spell Vinny Castilla after the latter's contract expires at the end of the 2006 season. Now it seems Bowden wants "Dutch" to replace the sagging Cristian Guzman at short.

Zimmerman did play short in High School, but at UVa played third all the time. That's a four year gap.

Third to short is not the easiest of moves. It's possibly easier than short to third where you need to get used to reaction plays. Range and arm are probably the keys at short. A good third sacker is likely to have the arm. The question is more of whether you can instil the right instincts and read of the game necessary for shortstop. Not quite like learning how to ride a bike again.

I like the idea if the Nats tried it out in Instructional League or even Spring Training 2006. What strikes me as hasty is the announcement that he plays short from here on in and at the same time hint very strongly that he gets the September callup.

I want the guy to succeed. What I don't like seeing is tinkering by the outgoing GM. Looks like fiddling whilst Rome burns. I don't want the Nats to mess with their valuable investment for the future. Then again, if he succeeds then that will show a lot for the guy's character. Of course, character is what wins ball games.

Read Rocket's view on Project Zimmerman.


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