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Rizzo Has No Plans For A July Firesale

The Nationals have baseball's worst record, a stockpile of tradable veterans and a regular lineup with six of eight position players aged 29 or older. But acting general manager Mike Rizzo said today that he feels no obligation to conduct a firesale, and downplayed the notion that the weeks leading to the July 31 trading deadline would result in team-altering player movement.

"A big transition period? I don't think that," Rizzo said. "We'll make deals based on good baseballs decision. 'Firesale' means you want to dump people. We don't want to dump people."

Among those on Washington's 40-man roster, only two players -- third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Jesus Flores -- have the entrenched status where you can assume they'll be starting in 2011. Adam Dunn's two-year, $20 million contract expires at the end of 2010. Cristian Guzman's two-year, $16 million expires at the same time. Nick Johnson, currently earning $5.5 million, will be a free agent at year's end. Another veteran in the group drawing trade interest, corner outfielder Josh Willingham, is under club control (and arbitration eligible) for two more years.

"Why would you want to dump Willingham? We control him for two years, he's [30] years old, and he's a good hitter," Rizzo said. "I still think it's a young team. Willingham and Zim, those are guys in their primes or entering their primes. Including Dunn."

Asked specifically is Johnson was most likely to be dealt, Rizzo said, "Nick is probably the one with the most trade rumors, but we're not looking to move him. We'll only move him if we have the right opportunity. I don't want to put names as to who's most likely [to be traded], because we don't really know." Rizzo chuckled. "You know, I didn't know [Lastings] Milledge was the most likely."


A few other pre-game notes...

* If you've watched the Nats in the last week or so, perhaps you've noticed that Josh Bard doesn't run so fast. In fact, he can barely run at all. He hobbles and limps, and that's only when the adrenaline is pumping full-throttle. The explanation? Well, for one thing, Bard is slow no matter what. But he is also dealing with a minor groin injury. "He's playable, he's fine," Manny Acta said. "We'll be careful with him."

* Garrett Mock, now starting in Class AAA Syracuse, pitched six scoreless innings yesterday against Lehigh Valley, and has now allowed just two earned runs in his last 27 innings (four starts).

* First baseman Dmitri Young (back/hip), on rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg, is 0-for-6 after three games.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 4, 2009; 12:39 PM ET
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Next: Another Bullpen Move Coming



Posted by: iishoagie07 | July 4, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

No reason to panic or transition. When you transition, you could get worse instead of better. The roster the Nats have is just fine.

Hey look, the Nats may be onto something that is not apparent to casual fans (like me). However, they need to start explaining their intentions.

The Plan as it was explained a few years ago was terrific. Pour money into the draft, by drafting the best players available and signing those guys. Build up the international part of the club through a new scouting system, and give sufficient bonuses to the best young guys your scouts find. Refrain from expensive free agents in the early years. Make judicious trades even when it means you add some salary. And when you have a nice infrastructure of young players ready to challenge for the pennant, then add a few free agents, filling the holes. I bought into the Plan. I loved the Plan! I miss the Plan.

OK now we know the Plan is obsolete. Fine, so lets have an explanation of what the new, improved plan is. Spell it out, like Kasten so wisely did a few years ago. Are we owed that, or are we just supposed to quietly buy tickets and hope for a better day?

Posted by: EdDC | July 4, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Willingham needs to be traded. There is no place for him on this team and his defense is worst than Dunn. The outfield should be Dunn-Morgan-Dukes. Willingham will also probably make at least $5 million next year because of arbitration. He isn't worth it. He also has back issues. Trade him now when he is still hot. Nick, although his defense isn't what it once was, does not need to be traded. However, they should be trying to work out at 1 or 2 year deal and if they can't do it than they should move him.

Posted by: brothbart | July 4, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Ladson reporting that Jason Bergmann will be recalled from SYR after today's game. Bye bye Calamity?

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 4, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Debbie Taylor reported a little while ago that Holey Butt would be DFA'd.

Posted by: Juan-John | July 4, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse


if there's any choice as to who has to leave if bergmann is coming up, i say select the option in column a. the fans would appreciate it.

Posted by: surly_w | July 4, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

If this team is going to be bad, at least be bad with your own guys rather than a bunch of roster space-filling flotsam and jetsam. Gas Canrahan? Gone. Calamity? Hopefully gone. Next to go? Tavarez, please. I would rather see system pitchers get a shot than seeing retread mediocrity continue to fail.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 4, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

hope column a isn't as slow cleaning out his locker as he is on the mound.

Posted by: surly_w | July 4, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

newer post.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 4, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know dmitri young was still with us

Posted by: mr_smoke21 | July 4, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

What an idiot Rizzo is.

Rizzo chuckled. "You know, I didn't know [Lastings] Milledge was the most likely."

Hyuh hyuh! Yeah, I guess you weren't planning on trading him till someone just "bowled you over"? But then Neal Huntington, smelling blood, called and said:

"Hey, Mike, I'll give you my 29-year-old outfield defensive replacement - you know, the kind that are a dime a dozen in AAA? - and this here lefty with a worn out arm (but hey, he eats with his left hand - that's a plus, right?)... for your 24-year-old 5-tool outfielder and that guy Hanrahan who throws in the upper 90s but had a bad first half. Whaddaya say?"

And the feebleminded Rizzo, knowing this team was mere *inches* away from the timeless glory of a 60-win season, reached for the gold.

Then, to cap off his week, he decided to demoralize the talented Elijah Dukes by demoting him. That'll teach him to come back slow from an injury. Surely none of the current superstar outfielders in MLB EVER hit .198 for a three-week stretch. Not even when they were 24. And coming back from injury. No siree. You let up for a minute here and Sgt. Rizzo will tank your career right outta here. Discipline, you know! Watch your back youngsters! Better hatch yourself fully-formed from the head of Zeus or you're destined to star on someone else's team.

Again, a collosal idiot. If the Nats make him permanent I will stop bothering to come to games.

Posted by: B2O2 | July 4, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Folks: I personally believe that Bergmann deserves to be with the big club, but I also believe that Acta has little, or no faith in him.
If Colome is indeed DFA'd tonight, maybe the club should select someone like Martin from SYR. Manny might give him a slightly longer leash than he would to Bergmann, given the history.

Posted by: BinM | July 4, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"Lefty with a worn out arm", huh? Curious statement. Wonder what the basis for such a statement comes from. Its right up there with calling Burnett a "lefty specialist" A quick look at the stats will reveal he's face more righties than lefties. Don't be afraid to do a little research. We were sorry to see him leave here in Pittsburgh where he found a niche.

Posted by: WaynefromMaine | July 4, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

WayneFromMaine - what I meant by "worn out arm" is just that Burnett hasn't been the same since his multiple surgeries. He's done okay so far this season, but his upside still seems to be "adequate middle reliever". Hanrahan, as much as the local yokels in this comment section like to take out their frustrations on him, has more upside than that.

When you're rebuilding, you look for upside. Burnett might be a nice final piece when you've already got absolutely everything else in place. Getting him now means that (absolute best case) he might make the difference between 60 wins and 62 wins for a couple of years, and then depart. There's no point to that.

And Nyjer Morgan... ugh, don't get me started. I thought the Bucs were naive for calling him a starting corner OF (3 lifetime HRs, woohoo!), but now I see the method to their madness. He pulled off a good first half, and Huntington found his sucker (Rizzo). I contend that there are dozens of Morgans in AAA that can be had in the offseason as minor league FAs. Just watch the waiver wire. No need to dump someone of Milledge's (admittedly frustrating) potential to "snag" one.

So rest easy my Steel City friend. Your GM just fleeced our GM. Two teams in the same phase of the organizational life cycle, and only one of them knows what that means. And with Morton's start last night (1 hit in 6 IP), the McLouth swap (which I had some doubts about - I thought he could have gotten more) is looking brighter.

Bottom line: I'll trade you our GM for yours in a heartbeat.

Posted by: B2O2 | July 4, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Milledge's ceiling is low - decent defense, inadequate power in a corner OF slot. He only makes sense if he can play center, which he most certainly cannot. And he burned bridges with his attitude - irritating the bosses isn't a crime if you're young, but doing it "your way" when you're not good enough is a clue that he's not going to reach that ceiling any time soon. Getting some centerfield defense for him is about the best we can hope for. We weren't fleeced - one incomplete player for another.

And yes, Hanrahan might just turn himself around. But last year might be the aberration and this year the norm. ERA of 9.00 in 2 innings in PBurg so far. So a reliever who can get a few guys out now is more useful than Hanrahan.

I take your point B202 about Rizzo, I don't like his arrogance either, but his changes so far have been good. Whaddya gonna do, sit Willingham who's raking and let Dukes play while he's looking lost?


Posted by: utec | July 4, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

B202: I agree with you about the Dukes move hey it's not like the kid was dogging it and with so much "baggage" it was like he was playing with two strikes against him. I just wondering how long it will take the Pirates to call up Milledge(is he still rehabbing?) anyway i'm not impressed with Rizzo at all and i thought Bowden was a put together artist and the only person he put together was the Lerners and Katsen.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 4, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: EdDC | July 4, 2009 1:12 PM

No reason to panic or transition. When you transition, you could get worse instead of better. The roster the Nats have is just fine.
How much worse can a team on a "Run to 121" get......?????

Drink up...the Koolade is ready......

Posted by: unc1dmo | July 4, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I liked Rizzo's comments and hope he's being honest. I really don't want to see guys like Dunn, Willingham and Johnson get traded unless we get blown away with an offer. As for the trade earlier this week, I thought it was a very good one. We've needed a centerfield who's strong defensively for a long time. We also needed a leadoff hitter with not only speed, but who steals bases. It looks like Morgan could be the answer. Milledge surely wasn't. I will admit that he has potential and could turn out to a solid corner outfielder--but that isn't what we need now. Our choices with Hanrahan were either to keep him and put him into unimportant situations, designate him for assignment and risk losing him for nothing, or trade him. Right now, Burnett is definitely the better pitcher and I rather get something than nothing. As with Milledge, Hanrahan has potential, but I really don't see him as ever becoming a dominant closer, so I like the deal.

Posted by: curlyWfan | July 4, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

When Manny was at the Big Train, I heard a conversation with him about Mock. To paraphrase, he's got the right tools but at times his "attitude" needs to be straightened out.

Willingham Trade? - No F'n way! He plays much better out field than some (cough Dunn) out there. He's willing to play anywhere and do anything to help the team win! He's also had some key hits this season!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | July 5, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

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