Another big series - although it's one that most folks would have given to the Fish by default before the season started. Nevertheless, it's September and the Nats are still in this race, even if they do seem to be falling out of it more and more each day.
We sat down with Youppi to talk about it.
: Welcome back, Youppi. Let's get it on.
The Nationals called up Ryan Zimmerman, a guy who was picked just this year. Even the Marlins don't call guys up that quickly. What's the story with him?
: Zimmerman won't be 21 until late in September. He's a kid much like Miguel Cabrera was for the Marlins in 2003. The Nats hope that he has half as much impact on the pennant race as Cabrera did way-back-when. Zimmerman was picked by the Nats in the first round of this year's draft. It's tough to find a player who was more highly regarded. He's full of tools. While he was drafted as a third baseman, don't be surprised to see him at short.
As nearly everyone knows, the Nationals haven't gotten much production from their shortstops (i.e. Cristian Guzman) this season.
: Was Guzman the worst off-season signing this season?
: Next question.
: A little over one week ago, Nationals GM Jeff Bowden went off on the Nats for a lack of offensive production. Doesn't the blame lie with Bowden as much as it does with anyone else?
: Looking at it objectively, it certainly does. With the exception of Guzman, who has taken sucking to a completely new level this season, each of the Nationals regulars has performed at a level that reasonably could have been expected this season.
To put it into a Marlins-perspective, it's like looking at Mike Lowell and Alex Gonzalez. Lowell is having a poor year that no one really saw coming. Gonzalez, like Guzman, is having a disappointing year, but it's not completely out of left field. To expect Gonzalez to have a year like he had last year (particularly power-wise) or even a better one would have been too much to hope for.
: Thanks for your time, Youppi. We're getting down to the wire here in September and this series could prove to be a pivotal one for both teams. Losing three games or getting swept could be the end of the year (effectively). Even a split could allow the Phillies or Mets to gain insurmountable ground. Both teams need this series.