National's blooger Will Yoder and I exchanged questions about our respective teams.
1. Is Ryan Zimmerman the best 3rd baseman in the NL?
2. How good can Ian Desmond be?
He certainly was last year, just a slight bit better than Evan Longoria. It's hard for me to truly claim he is the best yet simply be cause he has only had one great year. If he continues to put up numbers like he did last year though, the title is his for the taking. His glove ranks amongst the best in baseball, his bat seems to get better every year, and he seems to continue to have a flare for the dramatic. It was just a few weeks ago when he came off the bench, sitting out due to an injured hamstring, and hit a game winning home run We just need him to finally get healthy.
Not as good as Jim Bowden would try to convince you he can! When Desmond made his pro debut he was described by the then Nationals general manager as a "Derek Jeter like talent," the only things they had in common being shortstops and young. Desmond will be a good player, but probably never an all-star. I project him being an above average defender who will hit between .280-300 with 15-20 homers a year. He has the athletic potential to do more, but i just don't see him ever putting it together considering how much time it has taken him to even get this far.
3. Is Jordan Zimmerman on track to pitch in 2010?
He is, Zimmermann began his throwing sessions in spring training. The Nationals have had to convince him to hold himself back, in his first bullpen session in March Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty told him to throw at 70%. The first pitch he unleashed was a 90's fastball to which new catcher Ivan Rodriguez commented, "now that's gas." He is likely to start pitching in August and may make it to the Majors by September. While 2010 by in large will be a wash for him, 2011 will boast both Strasburg and Zimmermann in the rotation.
4. What are the real expectations for Strasburg?
Expectations for Strasburg are limitless. He has yet to struggle at anything the Nationals have thrown at him, and the only reason he isn't in the majors right now is contractual. The Nationals look to save around $18 million by keeping him in the minors until late May, and they seem hell bent on doing it. In terms of comparison for Strasburg, I think it's very possible to see him put up Mark Prior type numbers in his first several years...let's just hope he doesn't get hurt.
5. Are you hoping for Bryce Harper or someone else?
I am in love with Harper's talent. Week after week, however, a new story comes out about his poor make-up. I'm not one to mind having an idiot on my team. Mantle, A-Rod, Ty Cobb, they had behavior problems and got it done, so why cant' Harper? It seems, however, that Mike Rizzo doesn't agree with me on make-up, so the Nationals quite realistically could look to take someone else.
Another danger of drafting Harper is that as a 17-year-old he could very easily demand an outrageous sum from whoever drafts him, and if he doesn't get it he can go back to college and still only be 18 next year. After spending all the money they did on Strasburg last summer, I don't know if they'll do it again.
6. Are the fans supportive of the team as they rebuild?
In a word, no. Baseball fans are supportive of the Nationals but unfortunately with the absence of the sport for several decades Washington has become a football, and now hockey, town. The club has set record lows in attendance twice in the last week, which directly correlates with the Capitals being in the playoffs. My guess though is that once the Nationals become a competitor, the fans will come.