Jordan Zimmermann: “If it’s going to be any year, it’s going to be this year”

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Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann has a keen idea of what the expectations are for his team this season. On the heels of signing Max Scherzer, trading for Yunel Escobar, and altering the bullpen a bit, the Nationals are the clear favorites to not only win the NL East, but the World Series.

Via MLB.com’s Jamal Collier:

“If it’s going to be any year, it’s going to be this year and we all know that,” Zimmermann said after tossing two shutout innings against the Braves on Friday. “We’re all getting ready for a big year.”

Zimmermann, who can become a free agent after the season, will be a big factor in the Nationals’ success or failure in attaining their ultimate goal. The right-hander wrapped up the 2014 regular season, following a no-hitter against the Marlins, with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio in 199 2/3 innings.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.