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Two Recommendations, And A Rizzo Q&A

Folks, sorry for the absenteeism during the daylight hours today. To make up for it, here are two Official Nationals Journal Recommendations.

Recommendation No. 1: Watch Stephen Strasburg throw against a bad Mountain West Baseball team. It's good fun, and the concessions are cheap. Speaking of fun, Strasburg is having some 120 people -- friends and members of the extended San Diego State baseball world -- over to his house this afternoon. That was planned even before he threw the no-no.

Recommendation No. 2: Drive on I-8 East from San Diego to Phoenix. Honestly. Sure, the drive takes five hours -- that's true even if you go as fast as a Strasburg fastball -- but you get a sometimes-breathtaking cross-section of America's western geography. A few miles outside of SD, you steadily climb a summit of some 4,000 feet. You pass Indian territories and sad-looking casinos. The mountain, the higher you go, turns to a crumbly rock -- akin to giant piles of Nerd candy. Then, you hit the crest and see the open, baking desert. You pass towns with great names, like Plaster City. You pass towns where the golf course and RV park are one and the same. You drive through towns like Gila Bend, which greets you with a sign explaining that it's home to "1,700 friendly people and five angry crabs."

Never did figure that one out.

Anyway, during my drive, the temperature ranged from 54 degrees to 104. Currently in Phoenix, the temp is 102. The roof at Chase Field, incidentally, is closed -- but it will open 80 minutes after the first pitch.

Now, I promised yesterday to provide an excerpt of my Strasburg-centric Q&A with acting GM Mike Rizzo, so you'll find that below. Promise, after this I'll turn attention to the actual game. I don't want to Favre this issue to death. We've still got one month (exactly) to go until the draft...


---

MIKE RIZZO

Q: So at this point, you have scouted [Strasburg] so intensely, what else is there to learn and see? What are you looking for tonight?

I'm here to see how far he's come from last year to this year, to see the consistencies, and to compare him to the rest of the eligible draftees for this year.

Q: I know scouting is in your blood. Do you still get excited to walk into a game like this?

Oh yeah, I love it. Every time I'm at a game, seriously, and seeing a good player, if it's tomorrow or last week, it always fires me up. It's in my blood. I've been doing it my whole life. And this is where you're making money. It's an exciting time.

Q: You've talked to me before about [Brandon] Webb. Who else, pitching-wise, did you know you had something special when you saw them?

Well over the years there have been a lot of them. David Price comes to mind. I saw Prior. Matt Morris. They were all great pro prospects. Every time you see a high school kid -- I've seen Kazmir, all those guys. They're fun to scout, because they've got such good stuff and you're seeing them at their infancy, and you're kind of projecting what they'll look like a year and two years and five years down the road.

Q: So the first time you saw Strasburg, was there a similar sense that you were seeing something special?

Well last year was the first time I saw him, he was a sophomore, and he looked like a guy -- Dana [Brown] and I were at the same game -- who was gonna be an upper-echelon player in next year's draft. So you jot a guy's name down and say, 'File for next year,' and that's where it starts.

Q: That game, were you specifically there to scout him?

No, no, no. I was actually there to see [Brian] Matusz. Matusz pitched against him last year, and we said, 'This is a guy who we'll come back and see next year."

Q: Because it took him about half a season last year to develop that buzz, right?

Yeah, but you're so in tune on the guys that are draft-eligible for that year. It was almost a footnote. Like, Strasburg, San Diego State -- a must-see for next year. And I know, I can only speak personally, is that I didn't give it much more thought than that. Because I was concentrating so much on that year's draft.

Q: So entering this calendar year, how much information did you have on him?

A lot. We had a lot of information on him. We've got everything you need.

Q: What kind of due diligence?

The same for every player. We hope to have the history of the player. We hope to have seen him since he was a sophomore or junior in high school, all the way up through the ranks. You've seen him play baseball, how far he's progressed. And then you do the make-up work on the player. We want to know who the family is, what's the family situation, mom and dad, what are the genetics of the family, what's the background of the guy, is he good in class, how are his grades, does he miss class. That kind of stuff. Not just on Strasburg, the No. 1 pick or your first-round pick. Every player that each scout has on his draft list, they better know all the answers. Every little detail.

Q: So with Strasburg, is it extra-difficult to do the background work because he's being so tightly monitored?

I don't think it's any more restricted than most players. Scott Boras clients have their way of doing it. Stanford has its way of doing it. I don't think it's specifically a Strasburg issue. San Diego State and Tony Gwynn have their way of doing things, but yeah, it's not just for Strasburg. Like Stanford: They have one day, a general scout day, where you can go in and interview all players at one time. Then, after that day, you're done.

Q: His mom is right over there.

His mom's over there, his dad is over there. I talked to both of them already.

Q: Barring injury, is Strasburg your guy?

If the draft was today, he'd be our guy. But the draft is a month from now, so a lot of things can happen. Guys can turn up their intensity and their performance, a lot of things can happen in a month. But if it was today, he'd be our guy.

Q: The history with pitchers going first over all is a little less predictable than position players --

I'd say not just going first, but in general. Because arm injuries are a big part of baseball, and if you're a position player, and you can hit and play defense and run and your arm goes out, you can still do all those other things. If you're a pitcher and your arm goes out, your tool is gone. So that's the reason. It's a much more risky investment as a pitcher, because when the arm goes, you don't have much value.

Q: So you can read any article about Strasburg right now, and it says he'd be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in a big league rotation.

That's B.S., though. Are you buying that? Have you been at big league games? Certainly not. A lot of guys get that buzz, and it's created by the media. Not you specifically, but the media in general. You haven't heard one person except for anonymous sources say he could be a No. 1 pitcher. The same thing was said about [Matt] Anderson at Rice. He hasn't done anything as a big leaguer. That radar gun doesn't get guys out.

Q: So tonight, what will you be tracking?

I'm here to see the pitcher in general. How he performs. The poise he has on the mound. See the command he has with his pitches. We know what the radar gun is gonna say, but believe me, there's not much difference on the radar gun between 95 and 100. [Albert] Pujols doesn't care if it's 95 or 100. Or any good hitter in the big leagues. Kip Wells was throwing 95, 96 last night with a power slider and throwing for strikes, and he gave up two runs last night. Big league hitters are big league hitters. You better command the stuff, your stuff better be moving, and you better be resilient enough to come back when the ball is hit and you have some failure. That's what we're here for.

Q: It's completely secondary for the moment, but Boras, you feel like you have a pretty good relationship with him?

As good as it can, yeah.

Q: Did that start specifically with one certain negotiation in Arizona, or how far back does that go?

If you're in this game long enough, you're gonna deal with Scott and his company. And I was fortunate enough in Arizona to take some difficult signability issues, and the signing that really got us engaged with Scott for 11 months was Stephen Drew, and it was very complicated but we got it done. That kind of gave us the foundation of a good relationship, because the negotiations were hard-fought, but they were done ethically and honestly and nothing below the belt. And that's why I think he got the respect from me and I earned it from him. He's terrific at his job. His job is to get the best for his client, and he does that. He's as good as anybody.

By Chico Harlan  |  May 9, 2009; 8:04 PM ET
 
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Next: Score It 9-2: A Great Escape

Comments

How cool is it that Mike Rizzo's dad scouted for the Senators?

Good to see Mike playing it straight but cool re: Strasburg. Not pretending he's not interested, but making it clear no college pitcher is the second coming.

Posted by: elondon1 | May 9, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Kearns may have made a game-saving play there.
Nice defense, eh?

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Kearns with the outfield Assist!

Posted by: swang30 | May 9, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Great, great, great throw by Kearns, but just as impressive is Flores hanging in there at home. Double web gem, if it was up to me. Terrific play all around.

Posted by: Section220 | May 9, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

D-backs have stranded 12 through 7 innings.
Wish they had still had Dunn?

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

This could be Zim's last chance.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Now that's a way to keep a hitting streak alive!!

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

ZIM!

Posted by: gretchenrose | May 9, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

So clutch!

Posted by: amorris525 | May 9, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I guess that's a 27-game hit streak.

In five of those games, he kept the streak alive with a four-bagger.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 9, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

How about that!

Posted by: dcbatgirl | May 9, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

If it's the late innings, it's bullpen drama time.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Wow, another dodge.
Zim does it with the glove.
Now lets get some insurance in the ninth.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow they are actually playing some D!!

Posted by: rskinz34 | May 9, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

As i said in an earlier post last week if Ryan Zimmerman wants to be considered as one of the great third baseman i.e. Mike Schmidt,Eddie Matthews,Brooks Robinson,Ron Santo he must become selective at the plate and a hitter the opposition fears, now it appears that he is doing just that, witness the home run in his last at bat to keep the streak alive his stellar glove play at third base, he is growing up right before our very eyes hey this kid is good.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 9, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

I feel a DP coming.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

i can't watch.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 9, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

time for our nightly ninth inning bullpen scare...

Posted by: BGinVA | May 9, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

we've escaped so many jams tonight - can we do it one more time?

Posted by: BGinVA | May 9, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

That should have been the DP.
C'mon, 1 more.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Ho boy...

Posted by: JennX_ | May 9, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

there goes the shutout, and more hit will mean the win is gone too.

Posted by: BGinVA | May 9, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

say it ain't so. hanrahan?!?!

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | May 9, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

*one more hit. oh, and here comes "Heart Attack" Hanrahan...

Posted by: BGinVA | May 9, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Come on Joel. You can do this.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 9, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Thank God I'm already drinking.

Posted by: baltova1 | May 9, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else on mlb.tv forced to listen to these guys on Fox Sports Arizona? This guys are morons. Went on for a whole inning about how it would be a horrible idea to play the 3B behind second on the shift and leave the SS at SS. Oh, you mean like the Marlins do? Because their 3B used to play 2B... idiots. Then they are clueless as to why Flores came out.

Posted by: janus4444 | May 9, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Think positive vibes.
Pop up in the infield.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Joel doesn't look like he likes being in these situations.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 9, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Not Hanrahan. Guzman needs to back on the dl

Posted by: rskinz34 | May 9, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

C'mon Hanrahan!

Posted by: JennX_ | May 9, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Can Hanrahan get a ball over the plate instead of the dirt?

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

whew!

Posted by: BGinVA | May 9, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh, no. "Home Run Hanrahan" is pitching again...

But at least he got lucky. All the games he's blown, and he faces one batter and gets the save.

Posted by: LoveThoseNats | May 9, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

PHEW!

Posted by: JennX_ | May 9, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. If Joel never closes again, that's fine with me, but I'm psyched for him that he got this save.

Go Nats! Nice win on a night when the bats were pretty quiet.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 9, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Series win, go for the sweep tomorrow.
yeah!

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Yay! SO.

Posted by: swang30 | May 9, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Chad Tracey.

Posted by: baltova1 | May 9, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Hanrahan as closer takes fans on more ups and downs than the old Coaster Dip at Glen Echo Park.

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 9, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

The dbacks will swing at anything.

Posted by: rskinz34 | May 9, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what to think...another good nights sleep on the way...thanks.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 9, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Glad that we're coming up with wins these days, but I'd still be happy with a slightly less stressful path from here to there.

Posted by: dcbatgirl | May 9, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Man, how 'bout our Defense tonight.
Best defensive game of the year, even with Dunn's errors.
By the way, do NOT trade Nick Johnson.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 9, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

And the best thing is that the Nats have won 10 games before losing 20.

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 9, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Nats are 9-8-1 since their 11th game. They are coming back ever so slowly.

Posted by: natsguy | May 9, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Another "by the way":
If I'm the GM, Mock goes down, and Bergmann comes up, immediately. I have very little confidence when Mock comes in. He gave up 2 hits and a walk in .1 innings tonight. I feel a lot better with a guy like Bergmann, who had a great spring and has played very well in Syracuse. I just don't get why he's still down there.

Go Nats!

Posted by: usmc53 | May 9, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Man, how 'bout our Defense tonight.
Best defensive game of the year, even with Dunn's errors.
By the way, do NOT trade Nick Johnson.
***************************************

Yeah, if Nick wasn't at first base in the 9th, that high throw might have ended up in the stands and led to a tie game (or worse).

And how about FLop tonight, not only getting forced out at home on a base hit, but also getting thrown out first after slowing up, allowing Dunn to recover the ball he dropped.

It wasn't the prettiest win, but it's a win nonetheless. Break out the brooms!

Posted by: BGinVA | May 9, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

That's three in a row, boys and girls.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 9, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Never in doubt! Had 'em all the way!

Posted by: Section314 | May 9, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

That was some risky move on Manny's part. 2nd and 3rd and call in Gas Can Hanrahan? I'm glad it worked out but there were at least two almost wild pitch tie game moments. WHEW! Time to celebrate a series win and maybe the sweep tomorrow.

Posted by: mastroj | May 9, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Had 'em all the way. Never in doubt!

Posted by: Section314 | May 9, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, BGinVA, that play at first base told me all I need to know about Felipe Lopez. And of course, he blamed the ump instead of himself. Pathetic.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 9, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

5 of 6, I love it.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | May 9, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Stans master plan to lull the league to sleep in April has worked!! shhhhh.

Posted by: cokedispatch | May 9, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

ATTENTION...THE NATIONALS NO LONGER HAVE THE WORST RECORD IN MLB

In fact, the Nats are pretty competitive with the other divisional bottom feeders. The "standings."

Baltimore 13-18 .419
Pittsburgh 12-18 .400 1/2 GB
Oakland 11-17 .393 1/2 GB
Colorado 11-18 .379 1 GB
NATS 10-18 .357 1 1/2 GB
Cleveland 11-20 .355 2 GB

Posted by: leetee1955 | May 9, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

After watching Davis (Arizona's starting pitcher) throw a few pitches, did anyone else think that our lineup was going to tattoo him? I figured we'd score at least 5 or 6 runs tonight with that guy pitching. Shows what I know.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 9, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Dukes batting 2nd ? getting picked off first ? questionable fielding ? I vote for a new center fielder.

Posted by: JT2009 | May 9, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Can you feel the positiveness here?
Nats no longer lead the majors in losses, Indians have 20 and they're getting closer to not having the fewest wins.
3-1 road trip, BTW.
You figure after being held to 2 runs tonight, they're going to break out Sunday.

Posted by: patchss | May 9, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Going to bed. Great job Nats! Do it again tomorrow.

Posted by: usmc53 | May 9, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

the nats have stolen the caps mojo.

Posted by: surly_w | May 9, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I hadn't realized that, leetee. All right, now!

That was like a cardiac stress test. When it looked like Wells was going to close it out, I was thinking that 32 was closing as in the good old days. After Hanrahan came in I was watching through my fingers, with both hands spread over my eyes. Some great defense, even with the lapses. The Kearns-Flores play at the plate was the best. Whew.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 9, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

JT you are nucking futs, it aint work, fix it or somethin.

Posted by: tailwagger | May 9, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

After the Kearns-Flores play I was thinking that they had to win this one. As usmc says, do it again tomorrow, guys!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 9, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Waitaminnit-- whoa, whoa, whoa . . .

HANRAHAN got the save?!? Are you effing KIDDING me?!?

Makes me glad I missed that game (even though we won and Lannan got a win and Zimmie got his homer and everything...)

DC United pulling out a 3-3 tie against a resurgent Toronto was stressful enough.

Posted by: Juan-John | May 10, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

OK, back to Rizzo. He acknowledges how risky it is to draft a pitcher, any pitcher, and then says Strasburg is his guy. Do they plan to trade him to the Padres right after they draft him?

Posted by: paulkp | May 10, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

What's the record for getting picked off? Dukes wouldn't play for my team.

Posted by: WJStephens | May 10, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'm not liking the pickoff penchant.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 10, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Real Baseball Intelligence (RBI), a leading resource in the evaluation of amateur baseball talent and draft coverage, has ranked Stephen Strasburg the #1 prospect in the 2009 MLB Draft. View his free scouting report (with video) at withthefirstpick.net/stephen-strasburg

Posted by: bhyman1 | May 10, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

The point is not whether Strasberg isn't the best player available. He is. He is also, apparently, the best pitcher available since either Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez were Expos. But drafting pitchers is incredibly risky. They wear down. And here we have a team, the Padres, who would give their right gonad for Strasberg. There must be a deal we can make here and maybe get a great shortstop and 5-tool outfielder.

Posted by: paulkp | May 10, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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