Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Before And After

First came this comment: "He reminds me of Derek Jeter," Our Former General Manager Jim Bowden said at the time, "except those were Ian Desmond plays, not Derek Jeter plays."

Then came this one: "We put him over his head," said Bob Boone, the Nationals' vice president of player development. "We knew we were putting him over his head, but with what we saw defensively -- especially that spring before -- we said, 'Ah, let's give it a try.' "

Player's response: "I know I can play," Ian Desmond said. "There's no doubt. But over the last few years, my confidence has been up and down."

Upon Mike Rizzo taking charge as first the Interim General Manager of Our Washington Nationals :"...I am not one to rush players through the system. I think he should master a level before he moves. That’s not to say if you master a level, you can’t skip the next level. But, we feel that with where we are at here on The Big League Level, it gives us a little bit more time to really develop our players in the correct time frame.”

And finally this thought from Mark Scialabba--Assistant Director of Player Development: “Ian is a very exciting player. You look at him and you think—Big Leaguer. He is very exciting. He has plus range both ways. He has an outstanding arm and amongst all the managers throughout the leagues and Baseball America--they have rated his arm tops during the past few years--Carolina League, Eastern League. He’s a guy whose bat has taken some time to develop. He’s hit some rough patches. Earlier in his career, we promoted him too quickly and he struggled. For a young kid that was in Big League Camp and people are throwing out names like Derek Jeter—you get a lot of pressure put on you."

The before and after is really quite striking in those comments. Whereas JimBo would rush unproven but talented prospects through our Minor League System to make a splash, the overall effect was usually a negative one for the youngster. Now, under new management, there is a different mindset approach. Harnessing talent is one thing, but building confidence--the mental aspects of the game--is considered more important.

With that in mind--Ian Desmond promoted for the first time to The Big Leagues and to be in uniform for Our Washington Nationals at Nationals Park when The Philadelphia Phillies come to The Nation's Capital this evening. Deemed nearly ready now--five years after those "Derek Jeter" comments by Bowden during Washington's very first Spring Training ever in Viera--distracted and hindered his career. The bar set so high for the then 19-Year Old Teenager, pressure would not allow him to succeed.

Before, Ian Desmond was far from ready. After realizing their mistake in advancing him before his time--Our Washington Nationals left the young man alone and did not give up on him.

And to Ian's great credit he did not give up on himself. He overcame the hype, settled in while improving his batting skills and tweaking his defensive capabilities. Desmond will begin to show this evening whether he's developed far enough to be a Major League Player on a full-time basis in 2010.

The only position player called up from AAA Syracuse to Washington after the conclusion of The Chief's season yesterday. Ross Detwiler, Marco Estrada, Logan Kensing and Zack Segovia brought on board to add pitching depth to a fairly depleted staff. Syracuse Chief's Manager Tim Foli also added to the Major League Coaching Staff to help out over the final few weeks of 2009.


SenatorNat said...

Martis not coming up, eh? Perhaps they decided that he had hit the ceiling on total innings. Nats still 5 ahead in the loss column in the Harper race, since Royals won yesterday. Go KC!

Tim Foli coming up as general coach - may become Nats manager in 2010 if Riggles team does not win 12 of the last 25. Rizzo may wish to then continue his housecleaning of most associated with Bow-Bow and Manny.

Elijah Dukes may be earning his way back into Rizzo's plan for 2010, and Maxwell sure not impressing as his possible roster replacement; but despite the suggestion that Guz's range problem can be corrected by solving his foot problems, I believe that he is a Dead Nat Walking, and will be dealt away. Thus, Ian Desmond will be given some games, I would imagine, in which to audition.

Rizzo has got to be struck by how bad the collection of 15 young pitchers, beyond Lannan and Zimmermann, really are at this point. Nice to see JD Martin perform decently Sunday, but overall, the group has shown too little promise...I am very hopeful that Detwiller can have a couple of solid starts this month.

Trust in Cooler Heads Prevailing. All Good.

An Briosca Mor said...

Guzman's range problem seems to be mainly on balls to his left, but it may well be that he has range problems to both sides with the right-side shortcoming being masked by playing next to Zimmerman. If his foot problem is causing the range issue, though, why then is it not affecting his speed on the base paths, e.g. his ability to beat out that grounder in the 9th on Sunday before Zimm's walk-off?

The ultimate solution might be to move Guzman to second, where he can compensate for his diminished range with better positioning, a la Belliard. Other than range, there really are no problems with Guzman's game. I say he's worth keeping.

SenatorNat said...

ABM - I concur, and actually e-mailed Rizzo the sentiment the day he got the job that moving Guz to second and keeping him would free team to go after excellent right-fielder in free agency. I am concerned that team is inclined to pay handsomely for two new guys up the middle, virtually giving Guz away and even absorbing part of his salary for his final year in the process. Great point about his speed on the basepaths. He certainly does not charge balls a la the really good SS's...

Steve said...


This is a nice piece on Desmond. My concern is that he will make too many errors (had 26 this year) and not hit enough. But he's worth a try.

However, the Nats cannot afford to carry another weak bat in their 2010 line-up and compete in the NL East.

Bowden's unhelpful comments are another example of how fortunate it is that he is gone. Want more evidence? The two men he traded for Jose Guillen in 2005 (Macier Izturis and Juan Rivera) are now playing for the first-place Angels every night and hitting .300.

Izturis is the solid hitting, great fielding SS we need (move Guz to 2B) and Rivera would be an overall upgrade (better hitting, worse defense) over Dukes in RF.

Bowden mortgaged the future in 2005, then wrecked it even further with his poor handling of the few prospects the Nats have. Can you imagine the pressure he would have put on Strasburg (if he even managed to sign him)?

Now, let's hope Rizzo's reign leads to better days. I'm tired of these heart-wrenching losses to the Phillies night, after night, after night....