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Nationals promote, extend Mike Rizzo

The Washington Nationals signed General Manager Mike Rizzo to a contract extension through 2015 and promoted him by adding to his title Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, giving Rizzo more influence over the franchise's baseball operations than any one man has possessed since baseball returned to Washington.

With the extension and promotion of Rizzo, the ownership group headed by Lerner family placed the team solely in Rizzo's hands. No longer operating under Kasten's oversight, Rizzo will continue to shape the Nationals' player development system and on-field product with even more autonomy than he previously had.

"It's a huge opportunity and it's a huge responsibility," Rizzo said Tuesday afternoon. "I'm going to embrace. For a guy who loves baseball and has loved it his whole life, this is a dream opportunity for me, to kind of hone in on a franchise and build it the way I see fit. I'm very humbled by it. I'm very honored by it."

Rizzo will work and communicate directly with ownership while undertaking the baseball-related duties Kasten left behind. Previously, Kasten had served as something as a liaison between the baseball operations staff headed by Rizzo and ownership.

"That bridge to the ownership will be gone," Rizzo said. "There really hasn't been a shortage of my stamp on the organization. I do believe that, with the new responsibility, the new title and, really, the new job description, it will be my baby and my fingerprints will be all over the organization even more so than they are already."

The announcement completes Rizzo's journey from area scout to unquestioned leader of a franchise. Rizzo came to the Nationals in 2006 as their director of scouting. In 2009, he replaced former GM Jim Bowden on an interim basis, salvaging a team in disarray following the scandal in the Dominican Republic that cost Bowden his job.

At that point, Kasten shepherded Rizzo through his first experience leading an entire staff. He grew more comfortable and, shortly after he successfully negotiated a record for No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg, Rizzo shed his interim tag midway through the 2009 season.

Before Kasten publicly announced his departure late this season, the Lerners and Rizzo had already begun talking discussion a possible extension. They wanted to finish the contract soon in order for a "seamless transition," Rizzo said.

"Mike Rizzo is unquestionably one of the best baseball minds in the game," Nationals owner Ted Lerner said in a statement. "He has a unique ability to see player talent for what it is, what it can be, and how it fits into building a winning team. Mike has been one of the architects of the rebuilding of the entire Nationals player system, from scouting, to player development, to big league signings. We believe the talent foundation we are establishing on and off the field will make the Nationals one of baseball's most exciting teams over the next several seasons."

By Adam Kilgore  | October 19, 2010; 1:41 PM ET
 
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Comments


Mike Rizzo is a huge plus for the Nats, and will pay big dividends in the future. Congratulations to the nats for a smart move!

For now, you have to wonder whether the Nats have painted themselves in a corner this off-season.

Let's suppose Tom Boswell is right, and the Nats have begun a process to increase budgets and produce interesting teams. That would be spectacular if it happens. However, after several seasons now of going only after low-cost, marginal talent to supplement their home grown players, you have to wonder whether they can just turn a switch and attract quality ballplayers? Will talented players want to come here, or is the Nats' frugal reputation too widespread?

The Nats' only exception in their trades exclusively for the low-cost types was Soriano, and he yielded Jordan Z-mann (plus a first rounder who hasn't made it). The Soriano trade was pre-Lerner, of course. The only expensive free agent (assuming $20 million over two years can be considered expensive) was Dunn, and he could yield at least a compensation round pick. But that's been about it since the Nats moved here.

Meanwhile, the Nats have been shedding salary with Dunn, Guz, Capps and soon others off the books. The stage is set for some significant improvements this off-season, assuming players will want to come here.

Posted by: EdDC | October 19, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

While we can bid for Lee, I just don't see Lee with a resin stained curly W on his head next year. The question then is who do mwe get without trading our young talent; I still think it is Webb, who signs a incentive laden contract here with the hope he is recovered from a terrible run of injuries. Rizzo has a history with him and the team has shown (with Wang and Olsen) they'll pursue this kind of player; to me it makes sense after Lee signs for a fortune somewhere else (unfortunately).

Posted by: SCNatsFan | October 19, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Mike Rizzo's bold resigning of DoubleSwitch Riggleman tells you all you need to know about Mike Rizzo. This is a sad day in NatsLand. 100+ losses--Here we come. Bank on it.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

WOW.

69 wins after 1 year on the job gets you a big job title and a 5 year extension.

Just imagine if Rizzo had gone .500? He may have been able to pick up an ownership stake and become defacto king of DC.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | October 19, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

What a surprise, the morons are out to bash Rizzo! I am perfectly fine letting him control the baseball operations. Question is, what is going to happen with the vacuum created in marketing/media/PR by Stan's departure? I'm hearing unflattering things about the possible replacements in that department.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 19, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

If he doesn't sign Adam Dunn he will begin his exalted tenure with a serious failure. Letting Dunn walk for draft picks is foolish. If he had signed Dunn for three years/45M he would have had a bargain even if he then traded him this winter! Three years of Dunn for forty five Million is a bargain compared to what the Cubs or Tigers will be willing to pay him!

Posted by: angusgoodson | October 19, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Now if we could just get rid of the Lerners.

StanK may be gone, but as long as the Lerner's are the owners, nothing will change.

Expect record profits, sub-par performance and more bull jive served up in steaming piles. This changes nothing.

Posted by: medic2010 | October 19, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

>>What a surprise, the morons are out to bash Rizzo!Posted by: Kev29

If I were you, I'd be more concerned with the morons at the top in charge who are running the franchise into the ground rather than the "morons" on the sideline. We aint the ones hiring Riggleman, firing Dibble, putting out a "major league" rotation headed by Stammen, Marquis etc. We aint the ones passing on ODog and signing Kennedy and Nieves.
Yea we're the ones you gotta worry about. Wow. THe Nats got you right where they want.
Good 1.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Why would ODog choose the Nats when he could play for the Twins? That's the corner the Nats have painted themselves into. By going the frugal route over several years, they have constructed a team few quality players will want to join or stay with.

And look, this has nothing to do with 'building from within." Of course you want to build from within! The question is: do you supplement your home grown players with quality players or do you consistently add the cheapest players you can find?

It is not by accident that the Nats every year finish in the top three in all of MLB in profits. That takes careful planning and low budgets that you stick to--no exceptions.

Posted by: EdDC | October 19, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I like it symbolically at the very least. The promotion and extended contract are a way of the Lerners saying they're letting a baseball guy run the baseball team. How long did it take Snyder to do that? Hope it's not a charade.

Posted by: softballgirl | October 19, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

>>Why would ODog choose the Nats when he could play for the Twins?

He wouldn't. Unless the Nats offered an above premium price. Which they had the opportunity to do when no one else was involved in the sweepstakes. But of course they lowballed. And why not. I mean wouldn't anyone be thrilled to come to a bottom feeder for below market price? Right? How sharp of the Nats.

>By going the frugal route over several years, they have constructed a team few quality players will want to join or stay with. It is not by accident that the Nats every year finish in the top three in all of MLB in profits. That takes careful planning and low budgets that you stick to--no exceptions. Posted by: EdDC

And EdDc is of course sadly---Nails!!

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Like Ted has any clue about what it takes to do anything related to winning baseball, but I applaud the move.

Let's hope this is a sign that the club is serious about building a winner and being bold and swift to get that done. Maybe Rizzo getting the nod means that's more likely to happen, maybe it means more of the same -- we'll see.

Pressure is on Mike -- it has been his club for almost 2 years now and the fan base is seemingly near its limit for tolerance of sucky baseball with little hope of a turn-around until Harper is old enough to drink legally.

Spend some money Mike, spend early, spend often, get talent, remake the roster, be bold, make trades, ink international guys, take flyers on high upside guys. Take risks with abandon (we're finishing last every year with the largely belt and suspenders style to date, so why not), just don't blow smoke at us about the never arriving future being so brilliant and how we need to be patient. We do not need patience so much as you need to act with urgency.

Posted by: dfh21 | October 19, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I would bet my house it's not Rizzo's call if Dunn returns, although he'll take the fall if he doesn't. It's Lerner's call.

As for O Dog, he of the 280 career batting average and 4 teams in the last 6 years, he's not a savior by any means. I understand EdDC's point that, given a choice, players will play elsewhere because of the losing culture here and the fact money isn't being spent to upgrade the team; I agree 100%, but that's true of quite a few major league teams. At the moment I'd rather be that then the mets, who spend like its fantasy baseball.

Without a sound minor league the franchise is going nowhere and the minors are improving, let's just hope we add a couple of MLB ready players this offseason.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | October 19, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Pressure is on Mike -- it has been his club for almost 2 years now and the fan base is seemingly near its limit for tolerance of sucky baseball with little hope of a turn-around until Harper is old enough to drink legally. Posted by: dfh21 | October 19, 2010 3:15 PM |

By the time Harper arrives, Zim is just about out the door! Unless, of course, Rizzo follows dfh21's advice and takes some much needed risks. And unless Lerner backs up Mike in providing the necessary resources for him to take risks.

Why not build a team a quality guy like Ryan Zimmerman will want to play on, into his baseball old age?

Posted by: EdDC | October 19, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Question is, what is going to happen with the vacuum created in marketing/media/PR by Stan's departure?

Posted by: Kev29 | October 19, 2010 2:41 PM
==========================================================================================
Is it too much to hope we won't get any more, "C'mon down to DC and watch your hometown Phillies..."?

Posted by: gilbertbp | October 19, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

You know what would help? If Rizzo announced a new direction, with new resources for the future. That alone would separate the Nats from their past. The announcement would be more than PR--it would be a genuine signal to players and fans alike.

The Nats may not attract the quality players immediately, but a change in philosophy, along with taking some of those risks dfh was talking about, will add quality to the home grown talent. The Nats will then be able to produce some interesting teams in a few years, and improved revenue from the invigorated fan base will lead to an upwards spiral.

Posted by: EdDC | October 19, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Rizzo and I hope that, as softballgirl notes, the Lerners are sending a message about letting a baseball guy run the team (or at least, presumably, the part of it relating to the on-field product).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Great signing. Mike Rizzo has done a marvelous job for the Nats.

Posted by: cr8oncsu | October 19, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Is it too much to hope we won't get any more, "C'mon down to DC and watch your hometown Phillies..."?

Posted by: gilbertbp | October 19, 2010 3:34 PM

We're going to get that anyway, til we have a team that locals will pay to watch. Stan made a huge gaffe in going public with the "It's OK for Philly fans to be here", but they fill FedEx as well, without invitation.

For the gameday experience and marketing, I hope that they find a more baseball focused/subtle approach to doing things. Less screeching via the loudspeakers, more organ music, etc. Sadly, I don't think this is going to be the case.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 19, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

It's all for naught with the same manager who lacks any imagination.

Posted by: jjburns1 | October 19, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that I have the expertise to know if promoting Rizzo is the smart thing or not, but I am constantly amazed at people who think they do. I am also amazed at those who think they know the inner workings of the franchise. Do any of you have access that we don't know about? How do you know who makes which decisions?

Also, while I'm at it, exactly which of these big-spending teams other than the Yankees has been at all successful with that approach? The Phils have spent the money recently, but only after their homegrowns matured. You really want to be the Mets or the Cubs? How about the early 2000s O's?

Finally, back to Rizzo, he will have to do better than last year's signing class to impress me. Let's face it, of the players he brought in, only Pudge and Capps panned out. The majority of the best players on the team actually remain those acquired by Bowden and his predecessors.

Posted by: truke | October 19, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

It's all for naught with the same manager who lacks any imagination.

Posted by: jjburns1 | October 19, 2010 4:04 PM

Yeah, it's a lack of managerial imagination keeping Nyjer Morgan, Adam Kennedy, Ross Detwiler, Roger Bernadina, Jason Maxwell, Willie Harris, Craig Stammen and Wil Nieves out of the postseason.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 19, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Uncle Teddy speaks...Wow. Hopefully the cheap basta*d will sign some checks in the offseason to get some FA's to fill the large cracks in this roster.

Good move on Rizzo, though.

Posted by: Section505203 | October 19, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Also, while I'm at it, exactly which of these big-spending teams other than the Yankees has been at all successful with that approach? The Phils have spent the money recently, but only after their homegrowns matured. You really want to be the Mets or the Cubs? How about the early 2000s O's?

Finally, back to Rizzo, he will have to do better than last year's signing class to impress me. Let's face it, of the players he brought in, only Pudge and Capps panned out. The majority of the best players on the team actually remain those acquired by Bowden and his predecessors.

Posted by: truke | October 19, 2010 4:10 PM

I hear Bourbon and Maalox works well to ease those Lerner Syndrome symptoms.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 19, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Rizzo...I like it.

...on another note...you gotta love Harpers moxy...(sigh)...

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/10/19/bryce-harper-nationals-will-be-the-yankees-of-the-nl-east/

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | October 19, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Who actually cares about the Nationals? They're terrible and no self-respecting player will ever sign with them.

They'll be moving out of DC in a matter of years, just like MLB teams have done twice before.

All 293 National fans will be crying when they sign a bunch of has-beens and never-weres and end up moving to Portland or Vegas in a decade.

Posted by: ralph_melish | October 19, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

You don't get it. By hiring Rizzo for Kasten's job they save a huge salary. That's the only reason he was given a new title - so they don't have to pay someone else. It's a cost-cutting move disguised as a promotion.
Good players won't sign here because they know we don't have the talent to make the playoffs. And they don't see that changing anytime soon. We have zero chance of signing Lee no matter how much we pay. Do you really think he'd wait 4-5 years for another chance to contend?
The only thing that matters is the standings, and that hasn't changed between Bowden and Rizzo. The culture is irrelevant. It's only where you finish.

Posted by: NODUNN | October 19, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: ralph_melish | October 19, 2010 4:24 PM

This is Poopy McPoop (as if you can't figure that out from the context). He's had another user name banned and had to create another.

Please ignore him.

Posted by: Kev29 | October 19, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

>>Posted by: ralph_melish This is Poopy McPoop (as if you can't figure that out from the context). He's had another user name banned and had to create another.
Please ignore him.Posted by: Kev29

Why should we ignore him? Maybe we should ignore you. And how do you know who has been banned. Are you some kind of police? What makes you so much smarter than everyone else that your opinion is worth more? Just wondering.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo, if you don't sign Adam Dunn, I will.

Posted by: angelos_peter | October 19, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is going to make one owner real happy next season. Can you guess who that is?

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | October 19, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

This is butt funny sad

Posted by: Brue | October 19, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

>>>>Also, while I'm at it, exactly which of these big-spending teams other than the Yankees has been at all successful with that approach? The Phils have spent the money recently, but only after their homegrowns matured.

truke,

It is not a perfect correlation and of course you can spend unwisely. The Phils were smart to add quality players to their homegrown talent. SF Giants, Phils, Cards, Detroit, Atlanta, Twins, Reds, Tampa Bay and others outspend the Nats by a goodly margin. You have to look not just at the two or three unsuccessful clubs who spend, but at the successful ones as well. What does it get you as a fan when your owner saves money?

Posted by: EdDC | October 19, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"SF Giants, Phils, Cards, Detroit, Atlanta, Twins, Reds, Tampa Bay and others outspend the Nats by a goodly margin."

2010 payrolls: Nats $66M, Rays $73M, Reds $76M, Braves $84M

I'll grant you the other teams, and maybe the Braves are borderline, but fully 25% of the teams you named do NOT outspend the Nats by a goodly margin. Do you even understand the realities of baseball at all, or do you just spout off nonsense? Never mind, I know the answer.

Posted by: FeelWood | October 19, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

FW,


FW,

Wow, you made my point. The Nats are outspent by a lot! By many millions! Thanks much. Atlanta is close to MLB average btw.

Mostly I just spout stupid sh--, unlike yourself. This time, I am on to something. And what about the other teams, the ones who spend above average, some of which are in the playoffs?

Go ahead and insult some more, it's all anonymous.

Posted by: EdDC | October 19, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Reality check: if Thrifty Ownership gives you power, it's because you are tight with a dollar. Ted Lerner didn't sign any blank checks and leave them on Rizzo's desk.

There will be no big free agent signings, no "premiums" paid to entice the stars to come to (or stay in) DC. Rizzo will patiently plod along with the kind of "value" acquisitons he's previously made...Moonball, Kennedy, Pudge, Marquis.

2012 ain't gonna be much different than 2011, except the Big Donkey will be DH-ing in the AL, where he belongs. Anybody who believes Rizzo capable of miracles is a dreamer.

Posted by: howjensen | October 19, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Ted Lerner will never OVERpay for anything. A bargain? Sure. FMV? If he has to. But OVERpay? Never, it's ingrained in his DNA. And Lee would only come here if Lerner overpaid. Will. Not. Happen.

Basically, the Yankees will set the price on Lee. Red Sox will bid him up, than the Yankees will come in over the top. CC Sabathia is at 24M a year, so that's the neighborhood.

Posted by: gbooksdc | October 19, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Rizzo is a fine GM. But if Kasten didn't have the juice to make the Lerners spend, you can be sure Rizzo won't. The Lerners actually consolidated control over the team and its spending.

Posted by: oldwiseman | October 19, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Well, i'm not surprised by this move Rizzo has not distinguished himself imho by signing Riggleman, i read an interesting article on Ron Washington(Rangers mgr.) as to why the Rangers had finally broken through and most in the know attribute there success to the coaching staff(Gary Pettis,Clint Hurdle,Jackie Moore) and others, the article quoted Washington as saying he wanted coach's who the players trusted and respected and that could impart their major league experience and knowledge of the game on the players,which led me to think; do we have anyone on Rigglemans staff that can make that claim?

Posted by: dargregmag | October 19, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

2010 payrolls: Nats $66M, Rays $73M, Reds $76M, Braves $84M

Posted by: FeelWood | October 19, 2010 4:59 PM

Nats payroll was 61 million, not 66.

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/salaries/teams

Posted by: Kev29 | October 19, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

"Nats payroll was 61 million, not 66.

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/salaries/teams"

Look at Cots Baseball Contracts. They say $66 million.

Posted by: nunof1 | October 19, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Congrats Mike!!! Great move Lerners.

I'm disappointed at the lukewarm and hostile responses of some. This is a move that should be celebrated as appropriate recognition of hard earned development by Rizzo. They already have a strong second in command in Clark and a business VP to handle the non-baseball issues. They can add another asset or two in the front office to support the management team.

There are times to cry cheap but this is not one of them. This is a good promotion.

As to Dunn, I'd like him back, but lets face it - he can't defend his position. If they don't sign him it will not be a referendum on willingness to pay money. Not sustaining or growing the budget would be, but not signing Dunn could be a legitimate baseball decision.

Congrats again, Mike!

Posted by: natbiscuits | October 19, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Hamilton and Lee might have had something to do with it...

Posted by: NatsDLite | October 19, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

"Nats payroll was 61 million, not 66. www.cbssports.com/mlb/salaries/teams"

Look at Cots Baseball Contracts. They say $66 million.
Posted by: nunof1 | October 19, 2010 7:19 PM

Don't forget that the Nats shed contracts with Guz and Capps (and soon Dunn). So that takes payroll down further.

If spending frugally is such a wonderful baseball practice, how come the Pirates are not challenging for a world championship?

Posted by: EdDC | October 19, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

As far as I can tell no one has ever argued that spending less is preferred, only that spending more is less important than building a lasting foundation. Those that choose a simple argument that if you have not won, you have not spent enough are difficult to satisfy. The basis of the argument for not spending is that large contracts to free agents often come with two big disadvantages - 1) you may have to give up draft choices that have more long term value than the player, and 2) you may burden your team with large contracts for flawed players resulting in dead money and/or unmovable players in decline.

No one wants a Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva dilemma downstream. You might think you are getting 2006 Soriano and end up with 2010 Soriano.

I want a larger budget too, but I look at the potential market of free agents and see a lot of bad value. If the market for players is strong this winter, smart investments will be few and far between.

But to spend or not to spend decisions need to be made by smart baseball people backed by adequate resources. We know we have a smart baseball person in Rizzo. He is universally respected across baseball and has surrounded himself with other good people. Despite what the skeptics here say, there is reason to believe that adequate resources have been made available as evidenced by last year's free agent signings, the draft budgets, and the successful signing of the unproven Maya.

Save the blustering on budget until late December at least. We won't know before then, so why spend the next 2 months churning about it over and over again.

Posted by: natbiscuits | October 19, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Because it's what we do, natbiscuits.

I would agree with you in one regard. We shouldn't waste a moment's time pursuing Cliff Lee. The last time we went after a top-rank free agent who was unlikely to sign with the Nats (Mark Teixera), at least it was the first time the Nats demonstrated a willingness to spend serious money on a free agent. If they repeat the process in pursuing Lee, it will engender suspicion that the Nats are doing it for show, knowing that they are unlikely to win the bidding.
No, the Nats should use their time and money pursuing free agents who are somewhat less expensive and more likely to sign with the Nats. Among pitchers, Ted Lilly, Carl Pavano, and Bronson Arroyo would be worth going after. I think any one of those three, with our current ataff
of Zimmermann, Livo, Lannan, and Marquis, would constitute a reasonable rotation. (Other starting candidates include Maya, Milone, Stammen and Chico.)
Actually, the strength of our line-up concerns me as much or more than the starting pitching. More reliable hitting would have pushed the Nats to around 75 wins this past year. If we are unwilling to pay what it takes to keep Dunn, I wonder if we will be willing to shell out the cash needed to maintain this year's run production, which diminished as the season progressed. That's what worries me the most.

Posted by: bertbkatz | October 20, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

biscuit - reasoned and thoughtful post.

Also, Lilly's already off the table, LAD, 3 years, $33M.

What was a weak free agent pool just got a bit weaker.

Posted by: Sunderland | October 20, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

I am not reasonable nor thoughtful, as I would take uber crazy man Milton Bradley in a second -- at least he has a CHANCE to be an All Star caliber performer, no one on this current club but for Zim and maybe Willingham has that potential. Sure, could it be awful? YES. But so what, we know awful. Same thing with Silva -- he'd be in the Nats rotation in 2011 without doubt compared to the current candidates. And 2010 Soriano would have been among our best players and he still has the ability to hit 30-35 HR's in 2011, so why not.

I am not sure what "adequate resources" means -- adequate to contend? to make considerable improvement? to avoid last place? to pass the laugh test? The team's goals are always foggy -- to build it the right way, to create a foundation, to make a lasting winner -- never truly objective. The object of the baseball management game is to just put a winner on the field. A GM has to come out of Spring Training with a club that can theoretically win. The Nats have never had the will or skill to simply put a winner on the field. And there is not much evidence that ownership is now ready to do so, which would require them (in this Division and given how lousy the roster is) to make the move to median level MLB payroll. Maya and Harper and Stras and last year's FA signings (an innings eater, a cast off closer, a part-time catcher and a midling 2B are not the stuff to add to a last place club and expect it to win) notwithstanding, there is not much proof that the Nats are ready to make the move to an $85M or so payroll. Maybe they are going to do it, we'll see.

Rizzo's a smart guy and he knows the game, but he is not some savior genius that merely requires additional time to produce that winner, as some here seem to think. The club has many holes which simply require a big budget increase to fill. They can take on contracts from other clubs via trade, ink FA's, get aggressive internationally, whatever, but they need to get the players now. Two months from now this club had better look a lot different.

Posted by: dfh21 | October 20, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Congrats Rizzo for receiving the keys to the kingdom. Did they give you the combo to the safe as well? Let's just hope so.

Posted by: hansenjo | October 20, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I would like to see of a list of GMs out of a job now that skinsfan (again why not hang out on the blog of your team sf?) and others would do better than Rizzo.

It has been written that Rizzo has a better rapport with the Lerners than Stan had. I feel a good sign of opening the pursestrings was this past draft where we paid over slot for most of the signings, the most notable was the porjected "steal" of AJ Cole. To that person who cited the Dribble firing (I liked Dribble but I did not/will not miss him) as a negative in their list of Lerner sins, that is a 50/50 proposition on this blog.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | October 20, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, you don't spend just to spend. You don't go after old, fat guys, just to show your fan base you are committed to building a good team. It didn't work for the O's and it wouldn't work for the Nats.

On free agents, you go after the young guys. Dunn was a good signing. Chapman would have been. There are lots of them the Nats have passed on, but we don't know who they are cuz they are not here. And if it means you have to give up a second rounder (who is around #50 overall, since you have all those comp picks) to get a top FA, then what? Then you have to weigh what the player will give you while he is here and the value you can get when he departs. For the good ones when the FA signs elsewhere (after their Nats days are through) you get a first rounder and a comp round choice. Or you can trade them for prospects if you prefer. It means taking some risks. Yes you can get good contracts and bad contracts--or you can be risk-free and accept no major contracts, but that produces long-term problems. You try to be wise, but doing nothing is a path that hurts you more in the long run than taking on some bad contracts along with the good.

You trade for players even if they make decent salaries. The Nats have not traded for any player at all who makes an average salary!

In order of preference:

1. Spending wisely at at least an MLB-average level, focusing on youth. If you can't recruit good players to come here, then no problem, just pass on the mediocre ones. But keep trying.

2. Not spending at the MLB level (the Nats approach).

3. Spending foolishly, like the Mets and Dan Snyder in years past.

If you want to keep your young stars (like Ryan Zim), you will need to take the first path, above, as #2 and #3 will not do at all.

Posted by: EdDC | October 20, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"You don't go after old, fat guys, just to show your fan base you are committed to building a good team."

Uhhmm, Livan Hernandez? :-)

Posted by: dfh21 | October 20, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

dfh21, take a chance on some FA's with potential upside and potential downside? Sure. That's the FA world.
But I think you used an unfortunately poor and polarizing example.
Sign Mitlon Bradley? Heck no. A cancer. Escorted out of more than one clubhouse. Teams come togther when he leaves.
8 different teams in the past 8 years. And his production the last two years has been fading. Rapidly.

Teams improve by getting rid of Milton Bradley.

"The Nats have never had the will or skill to simply put a winner on the field."
They've clearly never had the will. I want to argue the "skill" part, but there's really not much arguement to be made.
Whether they have either the will or the skill now is tbd.

Bottom line (to me) is that this team and this fan base needs a serious upgrade in talent. it not just about winning in 2011. It's about making this sport and this team relevant, about building a fan base. It's prtoecting the investment ownership has already made.

You can not look at the farm system and think that upgraded talent is coming from in house. So it's got to come from somewhere else.

Trading is one option, but we have so little other teams desire that trade possibilities are limited. It doesn't mean there's nothing out there, because there are always deals to be made to take on players and contracts that other teams want out of.

Free agency is the other option.

Both options will require increasing payroll to a substantial degree.

And we'll see what this winter brings....

Posted by: Sunderland | October 20, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

You can not look at the farm system and think that upgraded talent is coming from in house. So it's got to come from somewhere else. Posted by: Sunderland | October 20, 2010 11:04 AM |

Every word of Sunderland's post is on target. Looking at the above excerpt, you seldom (i.e. never) get all eight positions plus quality depth plus a starting five plus credible relief covered by your farm. You can have all the "patience" in the world, but it won't happen. If you get half, you are doing a great job with your farm. The Nats are not there yet, if half of the roster from homegrown quality (championship) talent is the goal.

So the question is how to fill in the rest. With quality? Or with bargain basement rejects? I'm not sure what the upside is of the latter approach, though several posters argue passionately and vehemently for that path. What's more important to the fan base--saving money or building your team? A tough choice!

Posted by: EdDC | October 20, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I am not advocating they get Milton Bradley. Someone used him as an example above and I was using some hyperbole saying I'd take him in a second. I should be more careful with my words. But the fact is that crazy Milton -- and he is literally mentally ill, I'd bet -- is a real talent. At least the M's can HOPE he gets his head together/gets healthy, no matter how wild the odds that those things actually happen. Justin Maxwell may be a great clubhouse guy, but he's no Milton Bradley (switch hitting high OBP guy who has hit .300 from both sides with some power).

We need talent. Not to say we need broken down crazy man Milton Bradley talent. Yikes. But even if it is costly talent like Soriano or Silva, they've gotta get it. E.g., Willingham for Derek Lowe? Yes.

Posted by: dfh21 | October 20, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

It's one thing to buy some players, it's another thing to create competition and put a roster together that insures that. Rizzo's a long way from either. Rizzo's stuck in the mindset that you wait on players in the organization to come up and compete. Since they had a pretty bare minor league organization, they should have gone out and bought some players at the major league level, and let the whomever was good enough at the minor league level fight their way onto the big league roster. In other words, you create competition from the TOP down. They've had 6 drafts since they left Montreal, and they've overrated most of their draft choices because they put an inordinate amount of emphasis, pressure, whatever you want to call it - on the young players coming up. Apparently 6 drafts hasn't been enough to create any type of competition at the big league level. They're depending on a larger % of their home-grown players to succeed, and that's a flawed outlook to begin with. They're not dealing with the normal success rate for players coming up. Who knows how good some of these guys would be if they had another year or two in the minors? We'll never know because they're rushing everybody. Stan had it backwards - they should have gotten some FAs to begin with and worked backward from there. There's a long period of time before the 'player development game' and 'winning' converge, and these clowns act like it's an unavioidable evil. It ain't.
I've blasted Rizzo for having 4-5 second basemen and only one or two ML outfielders on the roster last year. I don't see anything that makes it apparent that he knows how to put 25 together and win, and you certainly can't do it when everybody on the major league roster is comfy.

Posted by: Brue | October 20, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Another thing wrong with the let's-depend-only-on-our-farm-system philosophy is that 2010 was the first year that the Nats approached the draft correctly. In other words, less focus on signability and more on finding the best kids you can. Sign them all (not just sign player B only if player A does not sign). The Nats did it 100 percent right in 2010 in their draft and draft budget philosophy.

You have to wonder what took so long? If the Nats are going to forgo expensive free agents, take only low-salary players when they make trades and go easy on the international free agents, then that leaves the draft as the only thing that gets you to winning baseball. At least we can all now say with confidence that the Nats are not cheap in all aspects of their baseball operations. The draft may be the easiest component on the wallet. Going over slot probably cost $3 or $4 million more than staying a "slot team," as Kasten once put it. But at least we have a start on getting one component of team-building squared away. And that is a huge plus.

With the 2010 draft as the first legitimately major league approach to team-building, how long will it take before the Nats get in the upper half of baseball minor league ratings? With Harper now in the farm system, maybe that can happen fairly soon (assuming the 2010 draft philosophy carries over into 2011 and subsequent years)? And maybe this 2010 focus on the draft will help the Nats see the wisdom of starting to develop the club in other ways too? One can only hope.

Posted by: EdDC | October 20, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

>The Nats did it 100 percent right in 2010 in their draft and draft budget philosophy.

You have to wonder what took so long?

Posted by: EdDC

Agreed. This was an excellent draft and more sophisticated than the previous drafts.
The reason it took so long was that the whole m.o. before was 'you can never have enough pitching' which translated to 'you can never draft enough pitching'. The fact that they overlooked position players almost exclusively high in the draft - Maxwell was a 4th rounder, and he's the only person that sniffed the big league level before this year. And Bernadina. The Expos drafted Desmond. That was it before Espinosa showed up last month. They're starting to look at the best player available instead of just the best pitcher available. But that took 4-5 years.

Posted by: Brue | October 20, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Brue,

You are of course right, but even on pitching, the Nats skimped. Some poster--I wished I had saved the post--documented how the Nats preferred another pitcher, Rick Porcello, but Porcello was not considered affordable. So the Nats settled on a slot guy (Detwiler) in the 2007 draft.

Apparently passing on Aaron Crow as their top draft pick in the 2008 draft was retroactively smart, in view of Crow's poor performance in 2010. In the 2009 draft, they used the Crow pick for a below-slot guy who is working out pretty well, Drew Storen. But if your only strategy is to build through the draft, how do you simply pass on your top pick, a pitcher?

I don't think the Nats necessarily looked to sign the best pitcher available, but the best, affodable pitcher. In 2010, the Nats finally stopped with all the money games, at least in this one aspect of their baseball operations.

Posted by: EdDC | October 21, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

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