Monday, February 27, 2012

Forever the Face of the Franchise

Associated Press file photo
Ryan Zimmerman has produced most of the memorable moments in Nationals history.
VIERA, Fla. -- There have been 33 nine-figure contracts handed out in baseball history, and far more of them proved disasters than raging successes. Yes, there's the occasional Derek Jeter deal. But there are way more Alfonso Sorianos and Johan Santanas and Barry Zitos.

Sign a $100 million contract and the whole baseball world is going to be watching every move you make, ready to declare your deal a failure at the first sign of trouble. For some, the pressure is simply too much to bear.

And then there's Ryan Zimmerman. We won't know for many years whether his $100 million extension -- a deal that could eventually be worth $150 million over nine years -- was the right move for the Nationals.

But we do know right now the 27-year-old third baseman isn't worried in the least about handling the pressure that comes with such a hefty paycheck.

"I love pressure, you know that," he said after signing his new deal Sunday. "I don't think people get these kind of contracts that don't want to be in pressure situations. Ever since I've been here, I've wanted to be the guy that is up last in the ninth inning. I've wanted to be the guy that everyone looks to. I wanted to be the so-called leader, whatever. I've said it the whole time and I'll say it the rest of my career: If you don't want to be that guy, then you're in the wrong line of work. I relish being that guy. I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Seriously, how can any Nationals fan not swoon over this guy?

Say what you want about Zimmerman's long-term extension and whether or not he's worth so much money when the back of his baseball card suggests he hasn't accomplished all that much to this point in his career. He's been to one All-Star Game. He's won one Gold Glove award. He's cracked the 30-homer mark just once and the 100-RBI barrier just twice. His .834 career OPS ranks 49th among all active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances.

Those who haven't had the pleasure of watching Zimmerman play every day for the last six seasons have no idea what they've been missing. Those who have had the pleasure realize just how valuable he is to the Nationals.

"He's the face of the franchise," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "He's been the face of the franchise since Day 1. If anybody deserves it, he deserves it."

Talk about loving -- and thriving in -- pressure situations. Nobody in baseball has produced as many walk-off homers since 2006 than Ryan Zimmerman. He's the guy you want at the plate with everything on the line, and he's the guy who wants to be at the plate with everything on the line.

Unfortunately, Zimmerman hasn't been afforded that many opportunities to shine on baseball's brightest stage during the first six years of his career. He's yet to play for a club with a winning record. He hasn't played a meaningful September game since he was called up from Class AA Harrisburg at the end of the 2005 season and given a chance to help the foundering Nationals hang on in the NL wild-card race.

There haven't been many meaningful games for Zimmerman or the Nationals since. They won 71 games in 2006, 73 games in 2007, then bottomed out with 59 wins in 2008 in their new ballpark.

It was after that wretched 2008 season that Zimmerman and the Nationals negotiated his first long-term contract: the five-year, $45 million deal that's still active and will continue to be through 2013. He didn't have to commit to the organization at that point. He could easily have gone through the arbitration process, still made very good money and hit the open market this winter as a free agent ... and practically name his price.

Instead, Zimmerman re-upped with the franchise that made him its first draft pick in 2005. He believed in the Nationals' long-term plan, and he wanted to be part of it.

"I knew/hoped it couldn't be like that my whole career here," he said of those dark days when 100 losses were inevitable. "Obviously, they've done a great job with drafting, making trades. Us being bad for those years brought us some of the best drafts ever assembled. So maybe it was meant to be like that."

Indeed, there is some honor in having survived the lowest of the lows, sticking with it and eventually being there for the turnaround. Zimmerman has always wanted to be part of the Nationals' first playoff club, its first World Series participant, its first championship roster.

And now he has the chance to do it, because he's assured of wearing the curly W cap for at least eight more seasons. Add his previous six full seasons in D.C., and Zimmerman now is all but guaranteed to spend at least 14 seasons as a National.

Stop and think about that for a moment. Fourteen seasons with the same franchise. How often does that happen in today's world?

Hardly ever. It was already uncommon a generation ago when Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn bucked the trend and spent their entire careers playing for their hometown teams. It's become even less common now.

Ah, but Zimmerman is a different animal. He grew up in Virginia Beach rooting not for any specific team but for one specific player: Ripken. Is it any wonder he chose such a perfect example to model himself after?

"It's not always greener on the other side," Zimmerman said. "A lot of this deal, and a lot of the terms and the money, I was accepted to it because I want to be comfortable. I've always been comfortable here. I think going to a new place would be weird for me. I know the person who lets me into the parking lot. I know the people who watch the family room. The cooks. Everyone. It's not just about baseball. It's about everyone that I've met here, everyone that's helped to get to where I am today."

How many professional athletes do you know who, upon signing a $100 million contract extension, go out of their way to mention the parking lot attendant and the guards who monitor the family room at the ballpark?

Family has always come first for Zimmerman, both his baseball family and his biological family. His mother, Cheryl, has been afflicted with MS since he was 11. Ryan has never wanted to stray far from home. He wants his mom and dad, Keith, to be able to see him play in person as much as possible. And he wants to be able to use his stature as a big-league star and multimillionaire athlete to help bring awareness to this disease. Hence the creation in 2005 of the ziMS Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for MS.

Zimmerman's current contract includes a clause that gives him access to Nationals Park to host an annual charity event supporting his foundation. His new contract surely will allow him to continue the tradition for years to come.

Here is a player who has always understood his responsibilities extend far beyond the baseball field. He's an ambassador for the Nationals in the community. He's a clubhouse spokesman and rarely, if ever, turns down an interview request. He lives in Arlington and has made Washington his home.

"I've been there since I was 20 years old," he said. "That's a very influential part of your upbringing, 20-25 when you're first learning how to kind of be on your own and kind of be your own man. I kind of grew up and learned about myself in that city, and it's just got a special place in my heart."

Just as Zimmerman has got a special place in the hearts of his teammates and fans alike. He was anointed as something special from the moment he was drafted, and though he originally was reluctant to accept that responsibility at such a young age, he's since embraced the idea and has represented the Nationals with the kind of dignity and class not often seen in this sport.

How much does Zimmerman mean to the Nationals? Enough that this new deal includes a personal services contract that will keep him as a team employee for five years after he retires. How many franchises and players even consider such things when negotiating a deal while he's only 27?

That's what Zimmerman means to the Nationals. Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper may do great things in this uniform, but they'll never overtake Zimmerman's place within the organization.

He is, and will always be, the Face of the Franchise.

"I wouldn't have done this with any other team," he said.

Funny, the Nationals wouldn't have done this with any other player.

104 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful

Anonymous said...

There have been some national writers who have been critical of this deal solely based on numbers. As Mr. Zuckerman poignantly pointed out, Zimmerman has an unique meaning to the Nationals franchise. These writers truly don't have any idea of the true impact of this franchise player. One great example: 16 players showing up at the press conference to congratulate him. This almost never happens!

At this point, everything feels just right with this team and seems to be headed in the right direction. I am glad that I stuck with the team since the days at RFK.

Nattydread said...

Great stuff Mark. You've really captured what this deal means.

Can't wait for the first walk-off in 2012.

Unkyd said...

You sure write purty, Mark...

Dryw said...

Well said Mark, and not just because I agree with every word.

baseballswami said...

Watching that press conference and seeing the rest of the guys sitting there made me think- this is truly a team. While I surely hope this translates into a winning season I know there are lots of factors that can't be controlled. One thing that I know for sure- they are going to be fun to watch!

Positively Half St. said...

I think it is a testament to Zimm that Heyman seems to be the only one so far who said he was overpaid. The potential complaints against the contract that Mark listed come pretty directly from that column.

I think it is fair to say that, given the chance, a number of clubs would have gladly swooped in and given Zimmerman the exact same contract, or more. I bet that list would have included some teams on the wrong end of Zim's walk-offs, like the Yankees.

Now that it is done, I propose that all of the blogosphere agree to shelve this happy story in exchange for also shelving the very tiresome Ryan Braun discussion. We have less than a week to wait for the first ST games!

+1/2St.

MurrayTheRed said...

Fantastically written.

Makes me feel like going to the ballpark this morning.

jeeves said...

Good stuff, Mark. Good deal for a third baseman who this fan considers one of the two best in all of baseball. (Longoria being the other).
Excuse me for referring to the last thread where one or two people were critical of Burnett. In 2009 he pitched 56 innings with a 1.11 whip and a 3.12 era. In 2010 it was 1.14 and 2.14. And, of course, from August on this past year he was terrific. Some people seem to work extra hard at being negative, I guess.

Cease the Opportunity said...

STEPHEN STRASBURG
"It's huge. And you know what? He's a great player, but he's an even better person. He's very deserving of it. You don't really see that too much. Obviously my college coach, he was a Padre his whole life. It's really great to see another guy who's going to be with one team his whole career."

BRYCE HARPER
"It's very nice to see guys be locked up for five years or six years that are very, very good. We have a great organization of guys. We've got veteran guys. We've got young veterans like Zim. It's really exciting to have that. It's going to be fun the next couple of years."

Hopefully these two statements means something to these two players when it comes time to extend them...

D'Gourds said...

All that talk of eventually moving Rendon to3rd making Zimm expendable gave me the creeps. I'm so glad the original Nat will be on the team for our 1st World Series championship!

Nats1924 said...

attn - Positively Half St.

Please keep in mind that Heyman is on Boras's payroll, so please take what he ways with a grain of salt.

The more and more I read about this extension the more I love it!

It definitely makes a strong statement in the clubhouse.

Let's go Nats!!!!!!!!

Cease the Opportunity said...

STEPHEN STRASBURG
"It's huge. And you know what? He's a great player, but he's an even better person. He's very deserving of it. You don't really see that too much. Obviously my college coach, he was a Padre his whole life. It's really great to see another guy who's going to be with one team his whole career."

BRYCE HARPER
"It's very nice to see guys be locked up for five years or six years that are very, very good. We have a great organization of guys. We've got veteran guys. We've got young veterans like Zim. It's really exciting to have that. It's going to be fun the next couple of years."

Hopefully these two statements means something to these two players when it comes time to extend them...

Cease the Opportunity said...

Don't know how my comments got posted twice?

Tim said...

One of the best things about this signing is the teammates at the press conference. Has anyone seen that before!?!

I think this team has great chemistry right now. Hopefully we will when we suffer through a (short) losing streak as well.

GYFNG!

Cease the Opportunity said...

Tim said...

I'm feeling all tingly inside...

natsfan1a said...

Thanks, Mark. Just a beautiful piece that perfectly captured what this young man means to the team and to the fans. That said, I did have a bit of trouble reading the last half or so because the text suddenly went all blurry on me. You might need to adjust some blog setting. What? Oh, never mind. :'-)

Doc said...

Add Heyman to the Nats' Haters List.

He joins Keith Law, Joe Sheehan, and Billy Ripken, an Oriole hiding in an MLB Network suit, on the List.

Nice write up Mark, and thanks for Cease...@7:09 with the players' comments. Seems that the Nats have a good group of character guys.

I particularly like the way Zim gives back to his mom.

Gooooooooooo Nats!

Gonat said...

9 figure deals given to a player to stay with his current team performs much better than new acquisitions.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

Mark, this is a $100 million story about a $100 million ballplayer. Beautifully captured. You rose to the occasion. The stuff about the parking lot attendants and the cooks is perfect. Nobody is worth $100 million, flat-out. But if they make an exception, it's Zimm. Thanks.

Cease the Opportunity said...

oc said...

Add Heyman to the Nats' Haters List.

He joins Keith Law, Joe Sheehan, and Billy Ripken, an Oriole hiding in an MLB Network suit, on the List.

You know you've arrived when everyone starts to hate you. This is a good thing...

natsfan1a said...

fyi, there's a video on the team site that has the presser as embedded in a prior thread here, but also some post-presser comments by Davey and Zimm.

Anonymous said...

Heyman's right. Rizzo got fleeced.

How does Zimmerman deserve this contract? What discount did the Nats secure for taking on Zimmerman's considerable injury risk? Why did they pay Zim this money now 2 years out, what savings did they receive (it would very likely not have been more than this next year, even if Zim raked all year in 2012 -- only A-Rod and Tulo have bigger deals for non-1B infielders)? Zim had better play like an All Star in 2012 and year after year or the club is effed under the weight of another $100M questionable contract.

Joe Seamhead said...

I feel very fortunate that we have such an unusually classy guy to continue to lead this team for the foreseeable future, when we are in an age where class is somewhat uncommon in pro sports. Two names come to mind to parallel with Ryan and they are Ripkin and Jeter. I'm sure that there are others, but I feel that we can put Zimm in the same sentence with those two and not be out of line.
On another note, Mark Zuckerman, you have just done a fantastic job all along with your Nats*Insider, but the past week or so has been off the charts fantastic. A hearty "thank you."

David Letterman said...

Top Ten Creative Provisions in the Ryan Zimmerman Contract

1. Team name changed from Nationals to Zimmermen.

2. Jordan Zimmermann must change his name to Jordan Harperr.

3. Statue of Zimmerman in Centerfield Plaza limited to two arms, two legs, one bat, one ball and one glove. Strangely, number of heads remains unspecified.

4. Teddy now allowed to win races, but only in come from behind walkoff fashion.

5. Screech replaced as team mascot by Don Zimmer.

6. When Zimmerman gets married, his wife must always be referred to as Mrs. Walk-Off.

7. No other Body Parts of the Franchise allowed without Zimmerman's consent. (Strasburg's application for Arm of the Franchise now pending.)

8. Clint keeps his job. Those naughty pictures of the Lerners he's holding trump all.

9. When Zimmerman homers, Charlie Slowes must now say "Bang! Zimm! Go the fireworks. Oh, wait, we don't have fireworks any more...."

10. When Zimmerman and Harper homer back to back, any announcer who says "And Harper puts some eye black on the Face of the Franchise!" will be immediately fired. (No fair suggesting this line to Bob Carpenter.)

MicheleS said...

1A.. I had the same problem (sniffle)

natsfan1a said...
Thanks, Mark. Just a beautiful piece that perfectly captured what this young man means to the team and to the fans. That said, I did have a bit of trouble reading the last half or so because the text suddenly went all blurry on me. You might need to adjust some blog setting. What? Oh, never mind. :'-)

Al M said...

Try that as the kids would day.
SEPT 1 of 05 my son got Zims signature on a Nats team ball that was a thrill.
I remember being upset w Frank for not starting him when we were still trying for a playoff spot and Vinnie was breaking down. After we were out if it and the team collapsed we would not leave until Zim batted waiting for his first homer.
Zim will have to get to know a new lot A guard as his favorite on has moved on but he has the batting gloves Zim gave him on the walk in his room.
best money the club has spent.

Section 222 said...

Thanks for the link 1a. The one in the last post didn't work for me.

I enjoyed the other Nats' comments, though I have to say that Harper's didn't inspire a great deal of confidence that he sees himself as here for the long term. "The next couple of years" are going to be fun?

So where was Werth??

Anonymous said...

So, Zim would not have signed a $100M extension with any other team? Odd that no other team could (or would at those Dollars) extend him in any event.

Al M said...

True that. Hate this stupip phone

Joe Seamhead said...

Anon 8:22, I know that you are trolling for a fight, and normally I wouldn't waste my energy to respond, but there were 16 professional teammates at Zimmerman's press conference, along with a pretty good manager, that says that you are wrong. I hear that there is a cat fishing blog that you might enjoy, as it's loaded with bottom feeders.

natsfan1a said...

Great list, Mr. Letterman. Just needs a finishing touch:

http://instantrimshot.com/

And done.

You're welcome, sec222. Re. Werth, Comack had quite a few good words from him over on her Times blog.

The Dude Abides said...

I hate using Mark's forum to plug another Nats beat writer but if you are not following Amanda Comak once you leave this site you truly are missing something.

Anonymous said...

I love Zimmerman, but I hate reading hero-worship, gushing praise for almost anyone.

Zim's not assured of never being eclipsed by other players like Stras, Werth or Harper as the FOF, he just isn't. Those guys will write their own stories. Zim is not annointed as anything other than a guy who needs to live up to a huge contract. He could be Ripken or Jeter for the Nats, truly iconic, but if he struggles or fights injuries over and over, he's just as easily going to be Vernon Wells or Alfonso Soriano or Alex Rios. Pressure is on Zim in a big way. He needs to prove that the Nats made a good call, that this deal is a steal for Mike Rizzo.

For all of its familiarity to Ryan, he's about to step into a new DC; it's a lot different under the lights of high expectation. I hope he thrives. If he takes anything for granted -- like being the Face of the Franchise forever! -- then he's going to have trouble.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Heyman, the Nats overpaid for Zimmerman, given his injury hisory and his lack of offense given the position he plays, but he s the best we have so I am happy to keep him. Zim better use some of that money to get a better hairstylist and buy a 1B glove because he will ned it in a about 3 years.

Cease the Opportunity said...

Anonymous said...8:22

Joe Seamhead said...

You are right Joe. The impact of the Nationals signing Walk-off is the impact it has on the entire organization and what it says to a few of the core players who will come up for extensions, notwithstanding that Walk-off is an outstanding player. This makes an impression on Strasburg, Harper, Zimmermann, Espi, Ramos, even Rendon. The money and length of contract is always subjective regardless of the numbers. Sometimes you have to see the forest for the trees...

HHover said...

Besides Heyman, Tom Tango also posted a skeptical analysis of the deal, suggesting the Nats overpaid:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/ryan_zimmerman1/#comments

But read thru the comments, where Tango seems to back off, partially in response to Dave Cameron's more positive evaluation at fangraphs:

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/comps-for-ryan-zimmermans-extension/

This contract is not a great deal for the Nats, but it's also not in the category of clear overpays, where the team has no chance to get back on the field what it paid for in the contract (think Prince Fielder, and yes, Jayson Werth). If Zim stays even reasonably healthy--and that is a question--then the Nats do fine.

As for Anon @ 8:52--ZIm doesn't "lack offense given the position he plays." Over the past 4 years (which includes 2 good but also 2 down years for him), he ranks in the top 15% of qualifying 3B in wRC+.

Anonymous said...

Step right up, step right up! Get your 126 MILLION Dollar Contract here folks! Get 'em while they're HOT! Jayson's got one! Check him out, look at that smile. Ryan's got a brand new one too! Lookee there. Who's next!?

Rizzo had no need to lavish Zim with this deal. None. How does he justify this contract for Zimmerman beyond the cliche platitudes of Ryan playing the right way and being a leader in the clubhouse yadda yadda? It does not make much objective sense. What urgency was there to overpay another guy?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Let'see. An article written by a writer from that great bastion of baseball coverage, CBS or the articles wtitten by writers from MLB.com, Fangraphs, or Baseball America.

I think I'll stick to the stuff written by people that eat, drink, and sleep baseball.

Anonymous said...

The Nats paid top 10 money for a top 50 somewhat injury prone player that they had under contract for 2 years anyway?

Miek Rizzo's nuts.

Joe Seamhead said...

Two thumbs up, NatsJack.

N. Cognito said...

The Dude Abides said...
"I hate using Mark's forum to plug another Nats beat writer but if you are not following Amanda Comak once you leave this site you truly are missing something."

I used to follow her all the time but then she had to go and file that damn restraining order!

Anonymous said...

Who, other than Nats beat writers, is saying that they really like this deal for the Nats?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know whether Purke's Friday start will be televised?

Anonymous said...

The other thing about this contract that is good is that third base seems to be a black hold in MLB right now. It is hard to name 5 really good ones, much less 10 solid ones. Having solidified one of the more difficult positions to fill for many years is a good thing.

NatsLady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Dude Abides said...

Unless Georgetown has some sort of in-house video feed, there is no way MASN would televise the game.

NatsLady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaneB said...

As soon as I finished reading this piece (which, like MichelleS and 1a, meant reading through an pout-of-the-blue blur), I thought, "The only thing to say is that this is one of Mark's most memorable pieces. SO just write 'Thank you'." I see others have beaten me to it. Still...

Thank you, Mark. This is one I'll note to read again over time.

NatsLady said...

Sorry, having trouble posting but I think I got it now.

My doctor, who is a famous orthopedic surgeon and sports physician for the Georgetown teams, was hyper that they should sign Zim at my last appointment. He always quizzes me about the Nats, and that was his one question, over and over--when are they signing Zim??

He basically knows three players on the team, Zim, Stras, and Harper. (And Ramos, of course). I would bet there are a lot of people out there with about the same level of knowlege about the team. When he goes to games (and he does), those are the players he wants to see.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I had a first over the week end. An anonymous poster introduced themselves to me.

I have always understood why the bottom feeding trolls that only want to bash and argue in a constant negative tone would post anonymously but I always wondered about the ones like anon 9:20 who post rational and reasonable comments.

Now I know.

Jon Heyman said...

I think I'll stick to the stuff written by people that eat, drink, and sleep baseball.

Hey, NatsJackass. I'll have you know that I eat, drink and sleep baseball just as much as every other Boras client does. Now opt out of that remark if you know what's good for you.

Jim Kurtzke said...

You nailed it, Mark. What a wonderful way to start the week.

the script said...

Potter Anon: How does slacker Jayson feel about that?

Uncle Ted: Very jealous. Very jealous. He only lost three buttons off his vest.

Z-Man: This town needs this measly one-horse institution, if only to have some place where people can come without crawling to Peter, uh, Potter.

Come on, Uncle Ted.

Potter Anon: Sentimental hogwash.

get me rewrite said...

That's "jersey" not "vest"!

Anonymous said...

Best 25 go North!

Not that I care much. It's risky to have a guy like Zim making those kinds of coins, but it's a good thing to lock up a guy like Zim long term too. We need to see how it plays out.

But, since when is having an opinion that runs contrary to the crowd bottom feeding? Whatever that may mean. Why is reasonable criticism of the deal a bad thing (Heyamn is a hater?), but flowery praise of it is a good thing? Jeez, can we relax and lay off the negative anon (or otherwsie) poster crowd. It's not like they are clubbing baby seals in here or anything.

dfh21

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I always wondered about the ones like anon 9:20 who post rational and reasonable comments.

Now I know.


Sounds like there's a story there.

Cease the Opportunity said...

NatsJack in Florida said...

About Anonymous posts and negative comments. Not criticizing you, but for God sake it would be boring as hell if everyone agreed all the time. There wouldn't be any discussion if everyone was gushy and lovey lovey with every comment. Thank God we are disagreeable. Can't learn something if everyone agrees all the time. Sorry for my rant...

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

dfh21, with respect (and speaking for myself, tho I'm sure I'm not alone), it's not the contrarian opinions that are annoying, it's the trolling style they're presented in.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I like being disagreed with. I learn more from people who don't believe everything I tell them. But who the [RF] likes arguing with the guy who keeps poking his finger in your face and jabbing you in the ribs to make a point, and insulting you like a 13-year-old when you don't agree with him? Especially when it's clear he's doing it on purpose, just to be an [troll]?

John C. said...

To the Anon at 9:14am, an objective assessment of the Zimmerman deal from a sabremetric stand point is here. The bottom line is that while there is risk for the Nationals, the risk is a good one.

Bowdenball said...

It's telling that all the anti-contract posts are from "Anonymous" while the regulars are far more reasonable on this subject.

rogieshan said...

We're not talking about Jayson Werth here. This deal makes absolute sense. There's no debate whatsoever. Zimmerman has earned it.

JamesFan said...

Now Zim can work on getting into the Hall of Fame. His defense will be great, and his bat will be as well if guys are hitting around him and he gets pitches to hit.

$100m is a lot of money but I actually think this is a sweetheart deal for the Nats, given his talent and potential. If he has an all-star year in 2012, that money will look like a steal.

Rizzo and the organization's track record continues to impress. Every move they make seems logical and solid. They avoid panic, know what they want, spend wisely, avoid foolish free agents (I have not given up on the Werth deal yet, fill the pipeline with talent...This may be one of the best front offices in baseball.

blovy8 said...

Heyman is overpaid too. Columnists want hits, so it pays to be provocative.

I think this is a fair deal. It cracks me up how many times you hear "overpaid". At a certain point, don't you have to realize that this IS the going rate? When you consider defense, is Zim really worth 8 million less a year than Fielder? I'd rather have a guy like Zim get the money than just have it earning more interest and dividends for the Lerners. It's not like it's going to be handed out as a bonus check to a fan. If there's a fair cable deal, and decent attendance, I believe this club could afford a 100-120 million budget. There are going to be players that don't want to stay here, nevermind how difficult it's been to attract any. It's crazy not to make this deal.

Bowdenball said...

Yeah, I don't get the Werth comparison either. This deal is $26 million + inflation cheaper, includes an option to defer another $10 million to after the player's career in the form of personal services, and starts when the player is 29 instead of 32. Totally different deals.

natsfan1a said...

Quoted for (What is it the kids say? Oh yeah.) truth. :-)

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

dfh21, with respect (and speaking for myself, tho I'm sure I'm not alone), it's not the contrarian opinions that are annoying, it's the trolling style they're presented in.
February 27, 2012 9:57 AM
Sec 3, My Sofa said...

I like being disagreed with. I learn more from people who don't believe everything I tell them. But who the [RF] likes arguing with the guy who keeps poking his finger in your face and jabbing you in the ribs to make a point, and insulting you like a 13-year-old when you don't agree with him? Especially when it's clear he's doing it on purpose, just to be an [troll]?
February 27, 2012 10:01 AM

natsfan1a said...

As a public service, we bring you this breaking news update from Mark's twitter thingy (as seen at the top of this page). Be there or be square. Or set your DVR. Or something. Aloha.

Sweet. Hope they let him go all 9. RT @zacharylevine Livan Hernandez will start the Astros Grapefruit League opener against Nats Saturday. 35 minutes ago
Why did the

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

It's an overpay if no one else would have matched it, or they could have gotten essentially the same thing, cheaper. It doesn't seem unlikely at this point that Zimm could get this deal elsewhere after two more years, and while they might be able to get another third baseman for less, they would have a hard time getting this FOF package for much less.

Over the course of the next 8 years, he's going to spend time on the DL--probably more than once. If it's catastrophic injuries, the team loses, and overpaid, but that still doesn't make it a bad deal, because his injuries to date haven't been like that--they've all been things he recovered from. It's not like he's Nick Johnson.

There's no such thing as a risk-free baseball game. "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."

natsfan1a said...

D'oh! That one's on radio, not tv. Well, set your ears, then.

natsfan1a said...

As a public service, we bring you this breaking news update from Mark's twitter thingy (as seen at the top of this page). Be there or be square. Or set your DVR. Or something. Aloha.

Sweet. Hope they let him go all 9. RT @zacharylevine Livan Hernandez will start the Astros Grapefruit League opener against Nats Saturday. 35 minutes ago
Why did the
February 27, 2012 10:18 AM

Anonymous said...

Totally different deals, sure, but neither of them makes much sense. John C's link to Fangraph's break down of the deal based on comps is nice, but none of the guys in the list got $100M 2 years out from free agency and it assumes that the value is there from the get-go in the new contract and it just tries to project whether it will last. They missed the point. The Nats very likely overpaid an injury prone guy who cannot throw overhand as a third baseman. Grump all you want that I'm not all sun-shiningly happy about the club handing the keys to Nats Park to a guy who may hamstring us through 2019, but this is not a good deal for the Nats.

Matt in DC said...

I was fortunate to grow up in Kansas City in the '70s and '80s during the Royals' heyday. The Royals had a certain slick-fielding, clutch-hitting third-baseman in the three hole who was a rock-solid gamer and a quiet leader and who spent his entire career wearing Royal blue. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of George Brett to the Royals and to KC, and when Brett was voted into the Hall on his first ballot, Royals fans everywhere couldn't have been prouder.

I see a hell of a lot of George Brett in Ryan Zimmerman, from how he plays the game to what he means to the team and to us fans. There aren't many like them. We Nats fans are lucky too to have one. Here's to Zim someday kissing home plate on the day he retires, a World Series ring or two on his hand.

Anonymous said...

Thing is, Anons.. it's not our money. The Lerners & Rizzo are no dummies. This contract sends a great mesage to the team and to the fans.

nationals7 said...

Yay!!!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Just keep him away from the pine tar rag.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Well, it's sort of our money, in that it comes from the customers one way or another, but really, when ticket prices go up, this won't be why.

nationals7 said...

Yay!!!

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Grump all you want that I'm not all sun-shiningly happy about the club handing the keys to Nats Park to a guy who may hamstring us through 2019, but this is not a good deal for the Nats.

Nobody is grumping about that, 10:23. You're making a rational argument that he's not worth it. They disagree.

People are grumping about the "hates everything just to piss people off" posts. And I am hereby grumping just a little about the martyr card coming out every time someone takes any self-inflicted collateral damage, from either direction. But that's another post.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

and it's not baseball

jcj5y said...

I think of it this way (and maybe someone else has already said this; I haven't read everything): If Zim gets to free agency in 2014, when he would be entering his age 29 season, with his current career line of .288/.355/.479, and plus-plus defense at third, he's getting way more than $100 million for six years.

Unless your the Yankees, operating a team is all about paying less than market value for high-caliber talent. Unless Zimmerman regresses, that's exactly what this deal will do for the Nats. I would say that the chances of him regressing are very, very small. Thus, it's a good deal.

natsfan1a said...

Coffey break time. Stumbled upon this interesting piece on how Todd got his start in baseball.

Anonymous said...

jcj5y -- 3B's don't get $100M contracts generally and in 2014 David Wright is out there too and the Yanks will not be in on the bidding for either player. The only way Zim could be worth in excess of $100M two years from now is IF he stays healthy and goes wild at the plate and then it's still a stretch for him to get $16.7 average annual value for 6 years (there's a reason only a handful of guys are locked up to 2019). If he does not stay healthy and play very very well, then he would have made less (potentially much much less) and there is pretty much no way to speculate given the contracts out there to date that he'd make more than $100M if he plays very very well and stays healthy. The Nats seemingly got nothing out of this deal other than piece of mind that they don't have to worry about negotiating it down the road. I cannot see how that piece of mind is worth Tens of Millions of Dollars that could go to other players to make the club better.

Tom in AR said...

NatsJack in Florida said...

I had a first over the week end. An anonymous poster introduced themselves to me.

I have always understood why the bottom feeding trolls that only want to bash and argue in a constant negative tone would post anonymously but I always wondered about the ones like anon 9:20 who post rational and reasonable comments.

Now I know.


Now I am really curious. Who is this anonymous "anonymous"? NatsJack met the person in Viera during Spring Training. Is it a player? Is it someone in the FO? Is it a competing reporter?

Anonymous said...

I have always understood why the bottom feeding trolls that only want to bash and argue in a constant negative tone would post anonymously but I always wondered about the ones like anon 9:20 who post rational and reasonable comments.

Ye old POT calling the kettle black. Natsjack if you had something better to do with yourself you wouldn't have the time to spend to criticize other peoples' posts, opinions, etc. YOU WOULDN`T CARE you holier than thou sycophant. Sheesh!

jcj5y said...

I'll admit it's somewhat speculative to say that Zimmerman would get $100 million in 2014 if he maintains his career numbers. But I think if you take a look at the list of position players who have received that much in the past several years, Zimmerman's age and numbers compare pretty favorably (e.g., Reyes, Holliday, Werth, Howard, Crawford, Tulowitzki, Mauer, Kemp). Keep in mind too that the Yankees and Red Sox are likely to be looking for a third baseman in 2014.

As for David Wright, unless he completely turns it around over the two years, Zimmerman is substantially more valuable.

Anonymous said...

And I am hereby grumping just a little about the martyr card coming out every time someone takes any self-inflicted collateral damage, from either direction. But that's another post.

Yeah sec3, I love it when they call me out for the crap frustrated Orioles fans post when I am decidedly anti-Orioles and a true Nats fan. I liked Morse when everyone hated him ... but that's another post.

James Bjork said...

I'm glad the Nats did this (since it's not my money), but I agree with the anonymous posters that this could go either way.

If Ryan maintains his typical WAR with typical age-related decline and plays, on average:

150+ games per year- A steal for the Nats
130-150 games a year- Break-even
130 games or less- An overpay

If the Nats are hobbled by paying Ryan $20 mil to play 60 games in 2018, that's just a chance they have to take.

Anonymous said...

BTW, while I sincerely believe Harper's tweets are not at all bad. And I've been following him for awhile. You can however tell that he is still very, very young when compared to his brother and sister. It just comes out. Hopefully, he outgrows it ... ~laughing~

if not then I do hope they bring him up with the 25 and forego that extra year. If you read between the lines while the players were extolling each other ... Strasburg was mentioned frequently and Harper not at all. My take? Perhaps, its the sooner he goes to the Yankees where he wants to be the better?

Anonymous said...

Again, its really simple. Yes, Fangraph's looked at their numbers but in the end the adjusted batted runs stats tell the true tale. That and his excellent fielding. And its a statistical point whose origin goes back to 1969.

Zimmerman finds ways to get runs across the plate. He's "clutch". He is worth the money, I suspect it could end up with folks like Heyman saying the Nats got a real bargain. Unfortunately, when you throw the Werth deal in there it could hamstring the FO some ... we'll have to see. If Werth's bat is already declining things could become a bit ugly and it could wash over Zim's contract which was well worth it and truly legit.

HHover said...

Anon @ 11:03

There are a couple of ways of evaluating the contract.

Dave Cameron’s piece at fangraphs, and most of the other stat-minded ones, look at how much WAR Zimm can be expected to produce over the contract and uses an approx. of the $ value of one WAR to ask whether the Nats are likely to get back what they paid for. Cameron says, yes it’s risky, but it’s a fair price.

You’re suggesting a different approach--comparing Zimm to what other 3B have gotten. The problem with that approach is that, if you really want to stick to 3B, there just aren't many comparables. The most recent is Beltre, who got $96m/6 yrs in 2011. Adjusting for an assumption of 5% annual inflation, Zim’s deal, starting in 2014, is worth an almost identical dollar amount as Beltre’s (this ignores how the payments are structured over the course of the contract, and Zim’s deferral of $10M--if that’s what he did--makes it even more team friendly).

Now, Beltre is perhaps the top of the market as comparables go. But remember that he was entering his age 32 season in the first year of that contract, while Zim will only be turning 30 at the end of the 2014 season. And Beltre, tho he did a lot to rehabilitate himself in Boston in 2010, desperately needed to do so, because he’d put up only about 2 WAR/yr in Seattle over 2008-09; average those 2 years together with his one in Boston, and he projected to be more like a 3.5-4 WAR/yr player. Even with his injuries, Zim has been a 4 WAR/yr player over the last 3 years, and given that he’s just now entering his prime, should be the same in 2 years.

Obviously, there are no guarantees, and the fact that this contract extension doesn’t start for 2 years makes it riskier and harder to project. But using either of the above methods, it still looks to be in the ballpark of reasonability.

Theophilus said...

Both Mark and A. Comack capture the point behind the deal the Nats made. This isn't just about WAR (thank heaven) but about what the fans want to see. It's exactly the way Boras sells something when he wants more than anybody thinks he should get. The fans want to see Zimmerman; the Nats want to sell tickets, parking, concessions and merchandise to people who want to see Zimmerman; they want to reap rights fees from television and radio broadcasters who want to reach people who want to watch/listen to Zimmerman play. The value of a franchise isn't just its collective "WAR" -- it also includes its revenue stream from all sources and its marketable good will in the community. Buying Zimmerman's "brand" for the next eight years is as good as buying the rights to Girl Scout cookies. The Nats bought millions of dollars of value for this franchise buy signing Zimmerman now rather than playing Pujols roulette. Quitcher bitchin', trolls.

Theophilus said...

(Quietly contemplating what Bold Anon's comments would be on a Pirates blog in the Pittsburgh market.)

Anonymous said...

Hoover -- great points, but not exactly on point, with Beltre. Beltre was a true free agent and he got that contract after a monster season. The Nats took a lot of risk here that they did not have to take, and it's hard to see what they got in return (having paid top Dollar and provided full no trade). THIS deal, not the Werth one, might be the one that defines Rizzo's tenure at the end of the day. He may be held up high on the fans' shoulders and lauded for it, or he may be carried out of town with tar and feathers over this deal.

natsfan1a said...

Geez, you had to go and mention Girl Scout cookies. I'm trying to be really good about not eating any (I got enough issues with all the bon-bons). :-)

Anonymous said...

The fans were not screaming for the club to extend Zim, it just was not a pressing matter. The Nats look like they panicked on this deal.

HHover said...

Anon @ 12:05

You keep talking about risk, but don't acknowledge that there's risk either way--if they extend him now, or if they don't. That's why the Nats aren't alone in locking up a young star before he becomes a FA.

If in the next 2 years, Zim puts up #s that equal his averages for the last 3 years (with injuries), then he'd still be a 4 WAR player, and probably find someone to pay him Beltre-like $$$ as a FA--and maybe for more years, since he'd be 2.5 years younger than Beltre was.

If Zim stays fully healthy over the next 2 years, and "goes wild at the plate"--to use your language--then he'd be a 6+ WAR player, and as a FA surely cost tens of millions more than what the Nats just ponied up.

John C. said...

To Anon@12:09: The fans were not screaming for the club to extend Zim ...

Well, ahem, YOU may not have been screaming for the club to extend Zim. I certainly wasn't. But there were a LOT of fans who were screaming, and pretty loudly, too. I was in the "wait until next year unless the price is right" camp.

That said, this deal is fine. Any contract like this is going to be a gamble. I happen to think that both the injury concerns and throwing concerns are completely overblown. While there is some risk (as there would be with inaction), there is also the real potential that the Nationals have locked down a 7+ WAR player for his prime seasons at a position of scarcity in MLB. The deal is back-loaded and includes deferred payments, so the effective rate is going to be lower than the label rate. This really isn't a market busting deal.

Anonymous said...

You guys are overvaluing Zim by a ton with these WAR #'s. The replacement third baseman is the standard not the replacement guy making $100M plus.

No 3B has gotten as much money as the Nats just paid Zim 2 years out from free agency. They paid through the nose for Zim and for what? To maybe save money down the line if he proves to be a stud in 2012? Ok, but they paid him now as if he already had delivered that big, healthy 2012 year. No one in baseball is saying that the Nats got a good deal, they are saying, at best, that the Nats may have paid a fair price IF Zim can stay healthy.

jcj5y said...

Every free agent contract comes with the "IF he can stay healthy" caveat. The Nats paid Zimmerman to lock up a middle-of-the-order third baseman at a fair price. If they wait until free agency, they very likely pay more, for Zim or someone else. Or they don't have a third baseman.

NatsJack in Florida said...

And how is a "fair deal" not a "good deal" for all parties involved?

Anonymous said...

NatsJack -- in order for any club to extend a guy 2 plus years out they have to be getting a good deal, and it's not even a fair deal if the club pays what it would have paid anyway had it waited, which is pretty much what the Nats just did. I have not seen any pundit/stat-head comment on the contract that shows the Nats getting a real break on cost in the deal.

BUT, turns out the contract is for less than originally reported as the option year is $18M and a $2M buyout is included in the $100M total along with the personal services portion (which you can read as deferred money), so the potential high side of the deal is lower than originally reported. I think he can only make $142M thru 2020, not $150M. Poor Ryan.

AlexFan said...

Wonderfully written piece Mark! I'm so thrilled to know that Zim will be the face of our franchise for years to come. Love him on and off the field.

It's going to be a great season. Go Nats!

RaleighNat said...

Zimm is a great player and a great ambassador for the Nats. Anyone that can complain about this move is looking for something to complain about.

SFNats said...

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