Terribly disappointing news for the Nationals came out yesterday, as the infamous Dr. James Andrews recommended Tommy John surgery for Jordan Zimmermann. JZimmThere isn’t much that you can do except shake your head. This truly changes the dynamic for next season, and for the worse. All along, I’ve been saying that the Nats had a chance to really surprise some people in 2010. Why? Well, assuming they sign Strasburg, there is him, team ace John Lannan, and Jordan Zimmermann. You’d only need 1 of the other prospects to pitch well in order to have a top rotation, 4 out of 5 guys pitching well. Now, you’re gonna have 2 pitchers with high expectations, everyone is a gamble. With only 5 men in a rotation, you’re talking 40% of starters instead of 60% being good, a huge difference.

Realistically, it isn’t jump off the ledge news. Tommy John surgery is actually very predictable these days, Mike Rizzo was quoted as saying “there is an 85 to 90 percent success rate with pitchers recovering to their pre-injury status.” That number is usually quoted as 85% to 92%, but still, that isn’t 100%. It is a blow to this team, as Zimmermann should be back in 2011, but he will be with only a few month of major league experience, instead of a full 2010 season on top of that. He won’t be as good as he could have been, but as a fan, you just hope he was as good as when he went down.

The Old Adage

You know, the one that says you can never have enough starting pitching? Yeah, it seems true today. There is talk that the Nats will use this as an excuse not to sign Strasburg. Figuring that Lannan is their only good starter, having Strasburg on the roster isn’t enough to help them win now. I disagree, I don’t think that would be the mentality. Frankly, they need to sit back and count their young starting pitchers. Lannan, in what is unbelievably only his second full season, has already proven himself. Detwiler and Balester are both only 23,  both have very good stuff. Stammen and Martis have also pitched well in the majors, without dominating stuff, and Martis is only 22. The Nats weren’t realistically thinking of winning the World Series next year, so replacing Zimmermann isn’t so much the priority, it’s more about trying to find more guys.

They do have hope in the pitching staff, and now there will certainly be room for players to prove themselves. As they get older and more mature, you just have to hope that one or two can emerge as something special. Then, when Zimmermann does come back, if he picks up where he left off, the team has a chance to succeed. In the meantime, they have been winning without him, so all of their thoughts and dreams aren’t resting on his shoulders. They need to shore up the middle infield, get their catcher back healthy next year, and find out which of those youngsters are gonna be starters in 2011 when Jordan comes back.

As For Saint Stephen

For everyone that says that this should be incentive not to sign Strasburg, I think that’s ridiculous. This doesn’t happen to most pitchers, and the ones that it does happen to, most of them come back 100% healthy. So RELAX. According to Baseball Prospectus, in the 2002-2003 timeframe, 1 in every 9 pitchers that appeared in the majors had Tommy John surgery. That seems like alot. Then there is that 85-92% success rate. In other words, in the most dire predictions based on these numbers (11% of all pitchers, 85% success) there is about a one and a half percent chance that a  pitcher will a)need the surgery and b)not recover. So to pass up on a pitcher who people agree is one of the best prospects every and is going to be an impact player, out of fear of getting hurt, isn’t the best way to try and win, at least not in my opinion. And why not give him money? Principle? Because you feel bad for the Lerner’s pocketbooks? Please, don’t fret for the colluders, er, owners. Pay that man his money, and let him start pitching.

And I was worried I wasn’t gonna have anything to write about today.

By Charlie