Shortly after he was awarded his first Gold Glove, DC third baseman Ryan Zimmerman phoned in to ESPN News to talk about what the award meant to him, why he signed long-term in DC, what he thinks the team needs to do to improve this winter, what to expect from Stephen Strasburg this season, and who would be leading the club. The interview starts with Zimmerman explaining how it feels to win his first Gold Glove:
ESPN: So what does winning the Gold Glove mean to you, Ryan?
Ryan Zimmerman: You know, it's a huge honor, I think I've been thought of as a defensive player since I got drafted and to finally win one and have something like that is one of the biggest individual honors you can get."
ESPN: The team committed to you, you signed a long-term deal with them, a 5-year deal, you committed to them by signing that deal, why did you want to stay long-term with Washington?
Ryan Zimmerman: Uh, I like it there. I think, uh, you know, obviously things aren't going like we want it to go now, I think, but part of the cool thing I think, is that you know, I'm gonna be there when times are bad, and, you know, in a couple years I'm going to be there when times are good, so I kinda see everything full circle, and can be a part of everything, you know, the good, the bad, and kind of grow up there and it's uh, it's a good fit for me?
Continued after the JUMP...
Kevin Kennedy on the DC Skipper Search.
• ESPN: What are you hoping your front office will do this winter to help the team get back to being competitive?
Ryan Zimmerman: "Well...I mean, I think we hit the ball well last year, I mean obviously, just like every other team probably says they need some pitching, and, uh, it seems like that's what always, uh, that's what wins. I mean, people with good pitching end up winning and playing in the postseason. And, uh, you know, we're a young team, we're growing up together, we're maturing together, we need to play a little bit better defense behind our pitching, but, uh, you know, I think everyone's wish list is kinda the same, go out and get some pitching and continue to work hard and get better each year."
• ESPN: There's going to be a lot of expectations on the top pick Stephen Strasburg, do you have any particular expectations for him heading into next season?
Ryan Zimmerman: "To be honest with you, I feel bad for the kid. Everyone's putting so much pressure on him, if he comes up and doesn't win 20 games, I feel like everyone thinks he's gonna be a failure. But, uh, you know, I got a chance to see him a little bit in September, he was there for about a week just working out, and you know, he's a great kid, he's very humble, very quiet, and he loves baseball, he loves to work, so, uh, I expect nothing but great things from him, and uh, you know, it's gonna be good to have him on our team."
• ESPN: You know, there is one thing that's still hanging out there, we're not sure definitively who's going to be the manager of that team, what are your expectations there?
Ryan Zimmerman: "You know, I think we're a very close-knit group, I think, you know there's four or five of us guys that have been together for a couple years now, I think Adam (Dunn) coming over last year, and, uh, not to say that the manager doesn't matter at all, but I feel like, we have four or five core guys, that, no matter who the manager is, we're gonna kinda make sure things are done right in the clubhouse and make sure the game's played the right way, and uh, when it comes down to it I think winning teams have to be like that, the manager is obviously important for many reasons, but uh, to a certain extent, I think we want to be one of those teams that has its core guys, that kinda take care of everything for the manager. We'll see what happens with that, but uh, you know Riggleman did a great job in the second-half, and we'll see what they go with..."
ESPN then talks to Keith Law about the Nationals:
ESPN: Let's stay on Washington just for a moment here, is there, (laughs), he's (Zimmerman is) sounding like there's a lot of hope there, do you see any hope for them?
Keith Law: "He had a pretty good assessment of the club, actually, they actually have a pretty good offensive team, but it was obscured by how horrendous the pitching staff was for them this year, bad rotation coupled with an awful bullpen, and I think that just kinda snowballs, you're getting three-four innings from your starters, night in, night out, the bullpen just gets that much worse. Stephen Strasburg will help, they could use about three more of him for next year. I'm hoping they just kind of ease him in next year. He doesn't have to be the Opening Day starter, maybe they give him a little extra rest here and there for his first full season. It's going to take a couple of years to develop the quantity of pitching that they need to be a competitive club in a tough National League division, but I do think there is some reason for hope, if you just look enough years out..."
• Late Wednesday afternoon on XM's Inside Pitch with Casey Stern and Kevin Kennedy, before stories of Riggleman's hiring came out, Mr. Kennedy, the former catcher and skipper, was asked by Mr. Stern whether Washington should go with a new manager who could raise the Nationals' stature and appeal, or if they should stay with the "in-house candidate", Jim Riggleman? Mr. Kennedy's response:
Kevin Kennedy: "I don't know that it's imperative to go for a bigger 'name'-type guy, I mean, Jimmy (Riggleman) did a nice job when he took over, um, you know, I think there's a relationship from the past, from Texas days with Mike Rizzo with Bobby (Valentine), so I think that could be, you know, I think there's a relationship from his past, I'm not sure 100% on that, I kinda understand that, so that may be the reason, you know, I think you had mentioned, or someone had mentioned about Buck Showalter, I think it was Jody (Macdonald, fellow XM Host), uh, last week about, '...well Buck has a relationship from Arizona days,' uh, you know, relationships are very important, but I think for the market they're in right now, I don't know that a big name manager's going to make a difference for the next year or two. I think you hire the manager if you feel he's the best guy to lead your organization as far as players on the field and the input and the evaluation process and a spokesman for your club the whole nine yards, if you feel that Bobby's the guy, then go with him. But, you know, the difference with Bobby and some of the other guys, the Buck Showalters, and some of the guys that have done it a couple of times, they're not going to leave good jobs unless you pay them. There are some guys that become bench coaches after they get fired, and they go back down in the middle again and they have to come back up again, and so I'm sure the money's going to be quite a bit different. But, uh, Jimmy did a nice job when he took over, so, we'll see..."
• AFL/DWL UPDATE:
Arizona Fall League:
Tuesday night in Phoenix, the Desert Dogs dropped a 2-0 decision to the Scottsdale Scorpions, with DC prospects Danny Espinosa and Chris Marrero a combined 0 for 7 with one walk between them. No pitchers from the Nationals' system threw in the loss on Tuesday, but Wednesday night in Scottsdale the Desert Dogs put 12 runs (as of the 8th) on the Scorpions' staff, with Danny Espinosa, the only Washington representative, going 1 for 5 with his first AFL HR and his 8th and 9th RBI's.
Desert Dogs now 14-11.
Dominican Winter League:
In Tuesday's one-run (5-4) loss to the Toros del Este, the Tigres del Licey shortstop Ian Desmond went 3 for 4 and knocked in his 10th RBI to raise his average up to .222 after 15 games and 54 DWL AB's. Desmond's collected 2 doubles and 1 HR, but his .246 OBP might be a point of concern leading into Spring Training. Wednesday, the Tigres turned the tables, taking a 2-1 victory from the Toros in which Desmond went 1 for 3 with his first triple for Licey.