Nationals Baseball: "Where's Zimmermann?" and "The Diminishing Strasburg Effect Revisited"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Where's Zimmermann?" and "The Diminishing Strasburg Effect Revisited"

Where's Zimmermann?

Seriously, where is ZNN because I need something to care about. Perhaps the Joe Q Natsfan (I guess a man cannot escape his destiny) is out there is hanging on every pitch, but this feels like slow death, doesn't it?

Usually at this time of year we could count on the Nats (and their star player "Reggie Tothemean") making some strides and playing some good baseball. They were 14-15 for August in both 2008 and 2009. This year the Nats offense is crashing (.232 / .285 / .411 line in August). The pitching is pretty bad (4.59 ERA, 5.21 from starters this month). Scratch that.

Another item of interest could be front office intrigue. Except for the Nats, there is no front office intrigue. Everyone will be back next year. End of story. I guess the Dunn contract deal is of interest but that's not something you check on daily.

What about satiating your baseball craving on young players being brought up or getting their first real extended try out? Nope. We've been watching Desmond play all year. He's having a nice August so far, .340/ .386 / .528, but I think he'd have to keep up this level of play into September for fans to really get excited about him again. Bernadina has also been playing a ton for a while now and frankly has been proving he shouldn't be. Plus he's not young. So unless the Nats start playing Justin Maxwell all the time (just for fun - because he hasn't proven himself any better than Bernadina) or for some reason bring up Danny Espinoza and make him a starter, there isn't anything fresh or new here.

All the Nats have in terms of on-field intrigue is pitchers coming back from injury. Marquis is back and has looked terrible. Olsen is back and has had mixed results. That's sort of interesting but we know what the best case scenario is for Marquis (average) and have no real faith in Olsen. The interest is in the young guys, Detwiler and especially Zimmermann, who many fans expect to immediately bounce back into #2 form. I don't necessarily agree but I think we're all interested to see how he looks. The Nats are eyeing a return for him in the next two weeks or so. He can't come back soon enough.

The Diminishing Strasburg Effect Revisited

I'm right. You're (possibly) wrong. (depends what you thought before)

I went to a Strasburg game last Tuesday (of course I get his worst game EVA) and thought - "Hey, it seems kind of empty". It was. 26K showed up. Significantly better than a non-Strasburg weekday night game? Sure. Probably 10K more at least but not a sell-out. Perhaps though there was trepidation about him actually pitching, given his last second bailout the last time he was scheduled to start. Surely his next start - a Sunday game getting toward the tail-end of school's out season - would be better.

21, 695

That's actually the lowest Sunday game turnout since May 9th. I don't live in DC so maybe someone can come up with an explanation but for now it looks like they are running out of the casual fans just going to the park to see Strasburg pitch.


bdrube said...

I agree with you points. I was at Strasburg's Sunday start and couldn't believe how empty the stadium was. Sure, it was a gloomy day in which rain threatened, but way more than 21K tickets were purchased in advance for his early starts.

BUT, I also couldn't help noticing that the Braves drew only 16K last night to watch their first place team cruise to an easy win over a hapless opponent. I'd like to think that if the Nats ever manage to get to mid-August sitting in first place that the stadium will be PACKED.

Harper said...

I've thought about the Braves situation before and I think they have a perfect storm of problems that lead to their perennially strangely low attendance. It's a commuter fanbase in a city with limited mass transit and terrible traffic. Winning is nothing new to the fanbasem there is not "wow" factor to their current situation. The park location is not in an area that encourages hanging out pre- or post-game. The park itself is one of the most blah of the new parks.

The latter two would apply to the Nats but the former two wouldn't. The first time the Nats are winners it should be super exciting and new for everyone and mass transit should lead them straight to the door.

Hoo said...

The Braves have 2 interesting stories: Cox's last year and Heyward's debut.

But yeah, the Nats are boring. The most interesting thing is a) ZimN's torrid hot streak and making a strong case for another silver slugger award and b) Stras.

Morse/Bernadina are showing why they Nats need another OF. I do think Desmond is nice. B/c even if he doesn't keep up the bat in September, he's shown enough with the bat to be given SS in 2011. I'd rather spend the money at 2b or RF instead of SS.

The bright side is the Nats will get real interesting real quick when folks like the prospects to steal at bats from folks like Nieves (who I really like but he's not the future).

Boy the rotation picture really got dark in a hurry. Detweiler injured, Olsen inconsistent with a maturity problem and Marquis just sucks. I think one of the interesting storylines will be how big a hole Marquis can pitch himself into in regard to making the 2011 rotation. Suddenly, Stras, Znn, Lanna, Maya + FA/Wang/Det/Atilano/Mock doesn't seem too crazy.

Harper said...

Both of those Atlanta stories are tough to translate into daily attendance gains. Hell, the Nats with Strasburg, a generational talent, can't keep up the interest for half a season and that's only once every 5 games.

I will say this about Morse and Bernadina. I think they'd be GREAT 4th and 5th OFs. I do think Desmond has pretty much solidified his spot for 2011 too, and I don't see a complete collapse coming as long as he's batting ahead of Zimm.

I keep saying that the rotation is not a strength until we see these guys pitch for a couple months. As far as I'm concerned the Nats can count on Strasburg in the front, Lannan in the mid to back and nothing else. Not yet.

Hoo said...

Harper gets results:

Wilson Ramos" called up, available today

Catcher Wilson Ramos, the highly regarded prospect the Nationals acquired from the Minnesota Twins for closer Matt Capps, will join the Nationals for tonight's game in Atlanta, according to a team source. Backup catcher Wil Nieves will tend to his pregnant wife, Yormarie, who is expected to give birth this weekend.

Ramos, 23, was rated the No. 58 prospect in baseball before the season by Baseball America

Harper said...

Sweet. Though really it depends on if he plays at all. I'm thinking he's just here for the weekend as a back-up then back again until Sept. call-ups. Maybe he'll start once?

Isaac, your bartender said...

I was at the Tuesday night game. My thought on the attendance was that not only was it signficantly above a Tuesday night against the Marlins, but that the sections that were sold were full. In other words, almost all people who had tickets were there. I've been at games in my section (314) with much higher listed attendance, but many more empty (but clearly sold) seats.

As for Sunday, I was shocked. Clearly, the crappy weather played a role (as has the Nats crappy play), but I was expecting at least 30k for a Sunday, Strasburg start. His next home start is against St. Louis, so I would expect significantly more, but who knows at this point.

Anonymous said...

DC weather has been rainy for the past week. Also, the Redskins preseason home opener was Friday night, which syphons away interest when the BB team has been mired in last since June. Frankly, its amazing that the Nats regularly draw 20,000+ to see them lose. Strasburg skipping his startr AFTER the Nats sold 40,000 tickets was terrible PR. Those fans should have been comped to another game later in the season, hjust like a rainout. Ownership is still lernering. Not exactly Bill Veeck, if you catch my drift.

Harper said...

Isaac / Anon - I guess my Tuesday night expectations were probably a little high. I was basing it off that 40K number of the past two Strasburg Tuesday nighters, really we'd seen before that the "10K more than average" number had been coming into play more and more. I should have expected that more reasonable number.

The Sunday attendance is a head scratcher though. I just don't buy rain and the Skins being seen on the field in the previous 3 days being reasonable explanations for the lowest attendance in months.