With so much buzz about Orioles manager Buck Showalter being a top candidate for American League Manager of the Year, we haven't heard much about Nationals manager Davey Johnson. Sure, Davey was given a bit more chicken to make chicken soup as they say (Buck sure makes noodles and brooth taste delicious), but he still has a fairly young team ahead of schedule. Shouldn't there be some credit there?
Is Johnson the National League Manager of the Year? If not, who is his biggest competition? Pirates manager Clint Hurdle probably was midseason, as the Pirates were quite the feel good story. In the second half though, the Reds are running away with the NL Central. Still, Hurdle should be in the discussion if Pittsburgh grabs one of the wild cards.
M.O.Y. for Johnson would be a great story. At 69 years old, the oldest manager in the majors comes back after being out of the game for more than a decade (Dodgers 2000) and leads a perfect mix of young phenoms (Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper) and savvy veterans (Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman) to the promise land. Not bad for a guy who fell into the roll midway through 2011. Had Jim Riggleman not given the Nationals a big fat sianara last June, Johnson may still be enjoying life out of uniform.
Many predicted the Nationals were going to make some noise this year, but very few would have banked on them having the best record in baseball in late August. Yet here is where they stand, on cruise control gliding into the franchise's first playoff appearance since coming to Washington in 2005.
How much credit does Davey deserve for that? I say a lot. Look around baseball at team's like the Angels and to some extent the Red Sox. Chalk full of talent, but both sit in fourth place near the bottom of their divisions. A roster full of talent doesn't always translate into wins. Someone has to manage that talent.
Here's my second question: Why isn't Jordan Zimmermann getting more play in the national media? Is it because he's a third starter on a team with big lightening rods like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper who steal all the thunder?
Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez were all stars and deserve every ounce of the attention they've received, but how does a guy with one of the top ERA's in baseball go unnoticed? It's late August people. Hey Buster Olney! Hey Ken Rosenthal! Hey Peter Gammons! There's a great story in D.C. and it has nothing to do with an innings limit.
Did you know: Jordan Zimmermann's ERA is only one one-hundredth of a point higher than Justin Verlander's?
Why is he so good? Nats pitching coach Steve McCatty told me Zimmermann has three plus pitches. He said his 94 mph fastball plays harder because of his stuff. He said Zimmermann has a slider you can't see and a plus curve ball.
It might be best if Zimmermann continues to fly under the radar. He will be a big weapon for the Nats in the playoffs.