From The Desk of Mark Lerner – What A Week!
Hello everybody. What a great week to be a Nats fan!
Yesterday was Groundhog Day. With Bill Murray’s 1993 classic movie in mind, I would like to relive some of the excitement that the last week has offered.
*Last Thursday, Jan. 26, we signed one of the era’s best closers to pitch for us in the MIDDLE INNINGS.
*Earlier this week, Baseball America announced that they have rated our minor league system as the finest in game.
*And just yesterday, we agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson on a one-year contract.
Let’s take a look at these accomplishments by starting with our newest pitchers, Mr. Lidge and Mr. Jackson.
From my understanding, Brad had multiple offers. But at the end of the day, he liked the story we were writing and his place in that storyline. His four years with the Phillies gave Brad a good vantage point to watch the evolution of our ballclub. Brad is a smart guy and I think his instincts told him that it is an opportune time to join the upstart Nationals.
While on the mound, Brad can dominate with his slider alone, but I expect his professionalism, demeanor and experience will influence our entire pitching staff on a nightly basis.
By inking Jackson yesterday, we added one of the finest players on this year’s free agent market. It is remarkable that Edwin has already accomplished so much in this game and he just turned 28 in September.
Edwin is perhaps best known for throwing a no-hitter on June 25, 2010, but his talents have been well known long before his historic night. He throws hard and HARDER. His potential is enormous, but perhaps his most prized quality is durability. This is a 30-plus start, 200-inning guy. This is a consistent tool at Manager Davey Johnson‘s disposal.
With Jackson, we have unrivaled depth (eight quality starting pitchers), power (Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Jackson, Detwiler and Gorzelanny all throw well into the mid-90s) and youth (seven of the eight starters are in their 20s) in what is now considered the hardest-throwing rotation in the National League.
As for the key ranking by Baseball America, it was a gratifying moment for our franchise.
When I got the call from Mike Rizzo, I could hear the pride in his voice as he shared the news. I couldn’t help but think that this type of independent affirmation would mean a lot to any baseball executive, but even more so to a third-generation scout like Mike, who still talks shop with his father, Phil, on a daily basis.
When Baseball America ranked us 30th in 2007, we deserved it. We were in a big hole. We had inherited what was no better than an expansion franchise. Many of our own evaluators called it worse. To go from worst to first in four years is something that we’re all immensely proud of. While many of our fans have watched us put together the pieces of our Major League club, the work that’s really going to pay off for the team in the long term was going on behind the scenes, down in the minors.
We did not officially win any games this week, but it certainly feels good to know that Baseball America - the publication widely regarded as baseball’s bible – has recognized and lauded the stellar work of our scouting and player development.
So, I ask that you indulge me as I share in Mike’s pride and offer my heartfelt thanks to him, his scouts and his player development personnel. You guys are the best.