Friday, September 23, 2005

The White Flag Of Victory

In game number 153, Frank Robinson finally raised the white flag. Trailing Houston by enough to effectively rule out the post-season, he played the kids.

Enter Zimmerman. Enter Short (OK, so he's not really a kid!). Enter Watson. They were all there. It was an ugly lineup -- competing with the worst we've trotted out there this season.

It didn't score a whole lot -- just two runs. But it was enough to win last night.

Hector Carrasco, the Majority Whip winner, continued his late-season blossoming into an effective starting pitcher, probably thrusting himself into discucssions for the next season.

Barry Svrluga finally gets around to enlightening us with what it is that's made him so successful.
Pitching coach Randy St. Claire began to teach him a change-up, a pitch Carrasco had never relied upon heavily. St. Claire taught him to hold it in his fingertips, to move his arm at the same speed with which he threw his fastball. Armed with the new weapon, as well as a fastball that still reaches the low 90s, Carrasco became effective almost immediately.

"It's been a tremendous pitch for him," St. Claire said of the change-up. "It's big, because it gives him an off-speed pitch to throw against left-handed hitters in fastball counts. He gets great action on it. The arm speed is tremendous, and it keeps them off the fastball."


Ah, so that's what it is! In much the same way that Esteban Loaiza had his career revitalized when he developed his cutter, the new pitch is leading to Carrasco's success.

I'm not sure that Carrasco would necessarily have the juice in his arm to throw 170+ innings over a full season, but there's no reason he can't be the swingman this team lacked post-Kim.

From the few things I've read, he seems to enjoy DC. And you assume that he'd show some loyalty to the team that brought him back from Japanese purgatory, and to the coach who saved his career. He's definitely someone who deserves another look next season.

In the meantime, Frank had good things to say about Herr Zimmerman (and Mr. Short too): "I like what I've seen from them," Robinson said. "Zimmerman continues to impress, and Short has some pop in his bat to all fields."

We haven't seen a whole lot of Zimmerman, but the few flashes have been near brilliant. He hasn't walked yet, but he shows a command of the strikezone nonetheless. He rarely swings at bad pitches, and he doesn't overswing -- as some of his teammates are infamous for. Even against flame-throwing Armando Benitez, he didn't look overmatched.

He waits for his pitches, then strikes, usually hitting them hard. He has driven a number of balls deep into the gaps at RFK, and, were he playing in a more friendly park, would probably have two homers by now, at least.

I believed that calling him up to rot on the bench was a mistake, but he's proven that, if you give him a chance, he can probably handle the position. If he can wrest the job from Vinny Castilla, he'd have to be one of the favorites for Rookie of the year.

6 Comments:

  • Great title to this post, and it earns a full "right on" from me. Anyone else want to testify?

    By Blogger D, at 9/23/2005 9:47 AM  

  • Sure, serve me that subpoena. I'm in.

    I agree that 170 IP is probably way too much for Carrasco to handle. (I'm pretty sure nothing like that has ever been done, NOT THAT THIS WOULD BE EVIDENCE IT COULDN'T BE!!!)

    I do see him performing something of what Bill James called the "staff stabilizer" role, like Kirk McCaskill for the mid-90s White Sox.

    By Blogger Basil, at 9/23/2005 1:02 PM  

  • It was the white flag. It amazed me that Mr. Robinson even recognized that the team was out of the race.

    The Carrasco talk is amusing - the man will be 36 in a month. His last three starts have been nice, but to pencil him in for anything next year would be more evidence of Nats-colored glasses.

    By Anonymous A wary fan, at 9/23/2005 1:24 PM  

  • I'd be happy to pencil him in.

    But I'm not inking his name to anything more than swingman.

    To draw a parallel to my former team -- he could be Ramiro Mendoza: give you innings out of the pen as a middle reliever, and fill in as starter when someone breaks.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 9/23/2005 1:28 PM  

  • The Carrasco talk is amusing - the man will be 36 in a month. His last three starts have been nice, but to pencil him in for anything next year would be more evidence of Nats-colored glasses

    Pencil him in for anything? You might be right, in that somebody might decide to pay him good, based on a two ERA.

    If not, though, I don't think anyone envisions him throwing more than 30-40 extra innings next season as a swing man, not 130-140 or even close to 100. Is it unrealistic? Maybe, but I'm not going to count it out.

    By Blogger Basil, at 9/23/2005 2:00 PM  

  • OK, you're both right. Actually, I meant pencil him in as a starter. I'd certainly keep Hector Carrasco on the team if I had a say.

    By Anonymous A wary fan, at 9/23/2005 5:27 PM  

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