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.
March 4, 2009; 11:20 AM ET
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