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Kasten: "I'm a fan of continuity"

I am gonna flesh out a longer news story about the Rizzo promotion. (The linguistics of this are tricky: Is he the interim GM? No. Acting GM? That's about right.) But in the meantime, here is a transcript of what Stan Kasten and Mike Rizzo both said this morning...

---

KASTEN: It's been a hectic couple weeks for us, but we've put a lot of turmoil behind us, and things have been operating so smoothly and comfortably that that's exactly how we're going to continue for the foreseeable future. For today we're going to let the GM title and position remain vacant and operate the way we have been. I do intend to spend a lot more time and be a lot closer to the operation in the coming weeks and months, but I've talked to all of our people in the last few days, including today. Dana Brown will continue to have primary oversight in the scouting operation, and Bob Boone will continue to have primary oversight in the minor leagues. And effective today, Mike Rizzo will have primary responsibility for all matters relating to the major league team.

I've notified the staff. We'll be sending out an e-mail this morning notifying all other teams that any contacts they require relating to the major league team will be through Mike. The three of them, and I together -- the four of us -- will continue to work seamlessly together. Mike will also be my point man, my clearinghouse, for general information about other departments as well. But Mike is a guy that I have a lot of confidence in, our owners have a lot of confidence in, and at some point I have to do a search and a search will progress, but I don't feel in any rush at all. There's no particular urgency or timetable for that. I will tell you guys, the surest way to know somebody is a candidate is to not read his name anywhere. If you see someone's name, you know he is not a candidate. I'll let you all figure that out. But I don't have a timetable on this. As I said, don't feel any urgency. Because especially this week, we've seen it move so smoothly, work so well with the rest of the staff, be so comfortable for the rest of the staff, and a little bit of calming, rather than more change now, is what we need best.

I've talked it through with our board, who is delighted with this. We all have confidence in Mike taking on additional new roles, additional responsibility in this area. And as we've seen, he's a can-do guy who, when you challenge him, steps up as do all of the people on our staff.

Now, I'm going to let Mike talk in just a second. I've had a personal change of plans. Just in the last 15 minutes I've learned that my mom has passed away. She was sick for a very long time. Deep into Alzheimer's. In the last couple years there was nothing left, so it's not unexpected. But I am going to have to change my plans, and I'll be leaving today, but just in the nick of team, because we have everything in place to run as smoothly as it has been. So, Mike...

RIZZO: No, just excited about the opportunity Stan and the board have given me. When Stan talks about the seamless transition and the support system in the front office, I couldn't agree more. We've got a great staff down there. I'm going to, you know, grab the bull by the horns and take day-to-day control of the major league team. I've spoken to our manager and staff in the last couple days and we, we're proceeding to move along and prepare for the regular season and have a successful, tremendous season this year.

Q: How much easier does it make it that you also get to retain a team that you already know quite well?

RIZZO: Well, I do know the major league team, I know the minor league system very well...

Q: Right, but the front office team

RIZZO: The front office, we've been together for a long time, and it is a very comfortable transition for me to new responsibilities. And working with the people I've grown accustomed to. I feel good about it.

Q: What is your philosophy, your plans for the major league side in terms of trades?

RIZZO: We're always open for business. We have a good idea of what our team is going to look like. We have contacted most of the teams when Jim was here, and we've done some ground work on many deals, many ideas and many different options that we have. We're not going to discuss them in the media, but we've done a lot of ground work and we continue to work the phones all of the time. As Stan says, not a stone will go unturned, and we'll look to improve our club, always.

Q: Would you like the job full-time and permanent?

RIZZO: My goal has always been to be a major league general manager, and as Stan said we have a good feel for each other right now, and I think we have a good group put together with the Nationals. The ultimate goal is to succeed and put the best team on the field as possible, and that's the group we have together right now.

Q: Before Jim left, he had talked about how you guys were not going to spend money on free agent relief pitchers. Is that the case, and do you only want to make trades?

RIZZO: Again, we're going to look at all the avenues we have to improve the club for 2009 to win as many games as possible. Trades, free agents, outside the box, everything else. All avenues.

Q: This is a question for either one of you. Will Mike have the full authority that a permanent GM would have in terms of making trades, all of that?

KASTEN: Again, I think most people in the organization and in the ownership will be looking to me for final decisions like that. I don't know how to answer that in a vacuum. All GMs report to their presidents and boards, ultimately.

Q: This decision, was it at all prompted by the difficulty that might have been encountered in trying to hire somebody from another organization at this time of year?

KASTEN: Oh, let me assure you, the list of people who have already offered their availability is lengthy and impressive. This is more by we've had enough instability in the last couple weeks. I like stability. I don't like interim titles by nature because they suggest instability, so I'd rather just keep things in place while we proceed, especially since we have our functions down pretty well. We will get around to a search at the right time and at its own pace. There is nothing pushing us forward, because I do think we're set to go as we are at the moment.

Q: Even through this whole season, perhaps?

KASTEN: I couldn't predict how long. It could be weeks, it could be months. I couldn't predict. Until we feel a need to move, we don't have a need to move.

Q: Stan, everything that's happened this spring, do you feel it has set you back as an organization at all?

KASTEN: I am delighted to tell you it really has not. It's surprising and comforting to know that it hasn't. I just talked to Dana Brown this morning, who has just been through two days of sessions down there [in the Dominican Republic], and he's just thrilled how smooth everything is. When you really think about it, it's kind of amazing how it worked out. We didn't miss a day's work. Players are enthusiastic in their new surroundings. So he was surprised at how smooth things are. Obviously games are just starting, and in most years -- we haven't played our first game yet by this time in the calendar. So it's really very early to have all of this in the rear view mirror with a staff that knows it's roles and moving forward aggressively. You may think my expanded involvement here is a plus or a minus, but I think that's a new element that I hope is a positive contribution.

Q: Stan, how much did Rizzo's experience in the Dominican Republic put it over the top?

KASTEN: No, I can't -- I had a lot of confidence in Mike when we brought him here. Remember, he was instrumental in completely transforming the Arizona minor league operation from one of the worst to one of the best. He's made those same type of contributions since he's been here in '06. That's why we brought him on in '06, fully recognizing his goal was to be a GM someday, as most front office executives have that goal in mind. I'm surprised it was quite as easy as it turned out. I assure you, on the ground, he made it look easier than it really was. But I'm not surprised that he pulled it off. It's what I expected. That's why I sent him there.

Q: You guys obviously have a draft of monumental importance coming up. Did that at all factor into your desire for continuity?

KASTEN: No no, I'm a fan of continuity under any circumstances, and we've had enough turmoil recently that to be able to continue without any further change is, I think, our preferred course for now. Couldn't have done that if we didn't have the people in place. But, we can say with pride that we do and did have the right people in place.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 4, 2009; 11:20 AM ET
 
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Next: Zimmermann's Perfect Start

Comments

My condolences to Stan Kasten and his family

Posted by: Brian_ | March 4, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Ditto. Chico, does Stan Kasten have an e-mail we can send condolences to?

Posted by: Juan-John | March 4, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Back to baseball: Since we've been and will be reading Rizzo's name in the paper as a possible permanent GM, that means, according to Kasten, that Rizzo is NOT under consideration for the permanent job, right?

"...the surest way to know somebody is a candidate is to not read his name anywhere. If you see someone's name, you know he is not a candidate." -- Stan Kasten

Posted by: Juan-John | March 4, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Newposted, try again:

I hope that there will be a few more changes before the start of the season. The middle-inning bullpen is already at last year's mid-season form, blowing leads to Europeans (even if those have had the baseball tradition since WWII, as I've been made to understand). Second base has promise, but we will be hoping for a career year from our candidates there in order to have decent production.

Kasten/Rizzo/LaCava have to work hard to eliminate roster clog problems, fill some holes, and start to dismantle the structures Bowden was ridiculed for industry-wide. Making the whole look less like a Cincinnati reunion is a good example, for instance.

As for the Mets, it sounds like Santana won't be ready for Opening Day. Perhaps other teams in the NL East are due for some of the injuries problems the Nats had last year. Not hoping for it, mind you, but I hope the Nats take advantage if it happens (more trades, more wins).

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 4, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Stan - I feel for you and your family. Alzheimers is a cruel disease.

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 4, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

As one with a parent afflicted with the Alzheimer's disease, I understand the ramifications. My sincere condolences to Stan and his family.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 4, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Stan-

My condolences, as well. It sounds like your family has already suffered through losing your mother over an extended period of time. We look forward to your return.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 4, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

OT, but the Dodgers finally signed Manny, 2 years, $45m.

Posted by: BobLHead | March 4, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

... Alzheimer’s is so terribly insidious, that only those directly familiar with it can grasp the enormity of what it can do to a person – not to the victim, but to the unafflicted one who takes on the responsibility of caring for and continuing to love the person who for all intents and purposes, is no longer there. My heart goes out to Stan and the other family members who have stood firm and perhaps silently alongside Stan’s mother during the time of her lengthy illness. Only a loving God can replace the despair in those hearts with peace.

... yes. Well on to brighter things. If we have a rash of topics this a.m., another won’t sink the ship I don’t suppose.

... of recent times, we have touched upon the good workings of the fourth estate, and not always in glowing terms, when it comes to reporting the sporting news. Some amongst us would like to see more Orioles and less Nats (for shame); some would like to see more baseballs lodged in the front seat of cars rented by Bill Ladson (who once replied to an email of my own – long before I’d ever heard of the NJ – and scathingly took issue with me for my taking issue with his lack of grammatical prowess); some have seen a de facto admiration for less paper and more bites; and some would quite rightly like to see more digging and delving into things hitherto unknown by Post graduates.

... it is of the latter that I speak now. I have always felt ignored as a reader, if not downright ignored, when news reports begin with a quote from the subject at hand, or from an easily obtained press release, written to entertain, confuse, obfuscate, muddy or deflect, but never to inform. I offer the following quotation which perhaps sums up the attitude we as fans and news consumers, are hastily tossing overboard without even knowing it.

“News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.” – Lord Northcliffe, British Newspaper Baron

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 4, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I hope ya'll don't mind me posting this. I think it's only fair I make this public, since I'm not shy about posting negative stuff.

*******
Dear Mr. Kasten,

I finally feel like it's time to write you and extend my appreciation, gratitude and also condolences.

Like many others, I jaw away on blogs, (primarily Nationals Journal) writing and acting like I know what I'm talking about, feeding the media machine with a lot of amateur garbage, including my share of negativity. But I do recognize when I see a good thing (as a fan anyway) and it's only fair I express this too.

I've followed and loved the team since the beginning and vowed to stick with it through thick and thin. As I'm sure you've heard many times, last year was quite the test. I wasn't just angry at some of the failures and missteps, I was sad that the team's reputation seemed to be falling in almost every aspect, not just the win-loss record.

There was a lot of tension the last couple of weeks and it just seemed like the bad news was never going to end. But even with just a few days hindsight it seems like you've handled this perfectly and the heaviness is already dissipating.

Surely you've known about Smiley and Bowden's investigation all along, but you never threw either of them under the bus. You evidently opted for support and fairness. Your hands were tied when it hit the media and you STILL didn't throw anyone under the bus. At least not on the surface. Whatever happened behind closed doors, I'm just grateful that to the public, you've kept the tone professional, positive and classy, which only elevates everyone.

And now your handling of this transition. You've just hit exactly the right tone that I want to hear. Until recently you've come off as arrogant, guarded and defensive with the media; but when things really hit the fan recently, you appeard to show a little more respect for your audience, acknowledging that even though we didn't know the whole truth, we did have legitimate questions and concerns.

And the most recent reports are right on target for me. That you have a team of people you trust; that there's no hurry to find a new GM; that when you do it will be a very well-considered decision; that stability and continuity are priorities; and not only are you not going to throw Rizzo or any other Bowden-tied people under the bus, you're going to trust them even more.

This makes me breathe a sigh of relief that the team is in good hands and I can turn back around and actually watch *baseball* again, with hope and excitement.

And finally, thank you for still making this a priority on the morning of the death of your mother. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

NatsNut

Posted by: NatsNut | March 4, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

... sorry. one too many 'ignored's in my last diatribe. Please replace either one with an 'insulted'.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 4, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"Bill Ladson (who once replied to an email of my own – long before I’d ever heard of the NJ – and scathingly took issue with me for my taking issue with his lack of grammatical prowess)"

I am shocked that Ladson would take criticism poorly. Shocked, I say. Shocked.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 4, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

If we hear somebody's name, they won't be the GM? Is that Stan's form of putting the press on double-secret probation?

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | March 4, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

NatsNut, if I weren't afraid of appropriating your sentiment, I would sign your statement of appreciation like a petition. Well put.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 4, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

For those wondering about sending condolences--I don't have anything solid yet but I would advise that you can always send cards and notes to the Nationals office and they will send them along to Mr. Kasten. If I hear anything different back, I will post my contact email for those interested (I'm not going to post any of their personal information on a public forum).

Posted by: LurkerNowPoster | March 4, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Stan, please accept our humble condolences and prayers.

Thanks for the expressive and elegant letter, NatsNut. May I sign-on to it as well?

Posted by: lowcountry | March 4, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

OK, how about a happier thought. With the exception of Willingham starting for Dunn I think today's line-up is very close to what we'll see on opening day (baring injury or trade of course), I'm picking Belliard to win the 2B job out of ST, though how long he is with the team or starting depends greatly on how Hernandez performs with the bat this spring.

Anyway I think the middle of the line-up is pretty much set as Zim/Dunn/Dukes/Johnson, it gives a good r/l/r/l split and emphasized OBP in the heart of the line-up, as well as power. I've long been an advocate of Dukes in the 2 slot, but I'm very comfortable with him a 5, I think having Nick at #6 is a bit of a waste, but its good to de-emphasize his role in the order in case he's out and Willingham fills that slot in the batting order.

I think Guz opens the season at lead-off, but I think he'll eventually move back to #6 so his high hit/low walk hitting style can be used to full advantage batting the high obp players ahead of him. This would mean either Milledge or Hernandez would need to lead-off, which I think both are eventually capable of, but need to improve their OBP (Milledge) and just prove they can hit MLB pitching long term (Hernandez).

Flores is a big question mark too, so until he proves he can hit with a obp over .300 I think he's stuck in the 8 hole.

Anyway here is my anticipated opening day line-up;
1. Guzman
2. Milledge
3. Zimmerman
4. Dunn
5. Dukes
6. Johnson
7. Belliard
8. Flores
9. Lannan

and for May 1st;
1. Milledge
2. Belliard
3. Zimmerman
4. Dunn
5. Dukes
6. Johnson
7. Guzman
8. Flores
9. Hill

Posted by: estuartj | March 4, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Condolences to the Kasten Family.

Posted by: natbisquit | March 4, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

3 up, 3 down in the top of the first. JZim with one groundout and 2 strikeouts.

Posted by: erocks33 | March 4, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

"If we hear somebody's name, they won't be the GM? Is that Stan's form of putting the press on double-secret probation?"

No, it's his way of telling the press that they REPORT the news, they don't MAKE the news. The press does tend to forget that, frequently. In particular, the more anonymous their sources are, the quicker they are to forget it. We've seen a lot of that in the past few weeks.

As my father always used to say to me, don't believe anything you read and only half of what you see.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 4, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

So have both of Nick Johnson's hits been homers this spring?

Posted by: estuartj | March 4, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Zimm had an RBI double, then Slick just hit a 2 run HR.
3-0 Nats.

Posted by: Section138 | March 4, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

And then Zimmermann mows them down in the second again. 3 up, 3 down, 1 more strikeout and 2 more groundouts.

Posted by: faNATic | March 4, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

In the bottom of the first, the boxscore looked like Guzman led off with a single, Milledge sacrificed him to second, Zim doubled Guz home and Nick belted a 2-run shot.

I'd like to see that done a whole lot this year!

Posted by: erocks33 | March 4, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Eckstein!!!!

Posted by: NatsNut | March 4, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

estuartj, you are absolutely correct. For the spring, NJ is 2 for 7, with 2 HR.

Posted by: faNATic | March 4, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Heck of a game so far by the Brothers Zimmm, these guys certainly could turn 2009 into a fairy tale season.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | March 4, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Box score has Mets pitcher Pelfrey batting 6th?

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 4, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Nice one, NatsNut!

Posted by: Juan-John | March 4, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

My condolences to the Kasten family on their loss.

I'll also add my virtual co-sign to NatsNut's eloquent letter.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Stan Kasten = class, something this organization hasn't seen in its 5 years in DC. Keep up the good work, Stan!

We've got to come up with a monicker for Jordan Zimmermann to differentiate him from Ryan Zimmerman. Z2N comes to mind (2 Ns), but I know someone out there can do better.

Posted by: luv2bikva | March 4, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Someone said (in an earlier thread) suggested that he's known as the Zimm Reaper.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

There's also Don't Call Me Ryan, DCMR for short. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

JZ would be another possibility.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 4, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

God bless Stan Kasten and his family. May your mother sleep with the angels.

Posted by: 6thandD | March 4, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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