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Posted at 4:55 PM ET, 11/29/2010

A chat with new Nationals special assistant Bob Schaefer

By Adam Kilgore

Bob Schaefer, the newest member of the Nationals front office, has coached, scouted and advised for major league teams for 30 of his 66 years. There is practically nothing in baseball he has not done. He played for Connecticut in the 1965 College World Series, twice managed the Kansas City Royals on an interim basis and ran the Boston Red Sox' farm system. He assisted John Schuerholz and Syd Thrift, got his post-playing start in the Cape Cod League and, for the past three seasons, shared a dugout with Joe Torre.

Schaefer never made it past Class A Modesto as a player, and so he still credits good luck for his start. After his playing career ended, he returned to Connecticut and taught school for 12 years in Norwich, not far from where he grew up. He passed his summers staying connected to the game by managing in the Cape Cod League. His teams did well enough to earn him notice, and eventually he had an offer to manage Class A Greensboro, then a New York Yankees affiliate. "I was fortunate to get that break," Schafer said.

He joined the Mets' system in 1982, going to work for a franchise that had gone 301-405 in the previous five years. "Four years later, we won the World Series," Schaefer said. "They did it the right way, and Mike [Rizzo] and his staff are doing it the right way."

That belief is one of the reasons Schaefer signed on with the Nationals. He's already been working for the team for a short time, and his position was made official today. I spoke to Schaefer this afternoon, and here's a brief except of the chat with Rizzo's new special assistant.

Q: How do you know Mike Rizzo, and how'd the job come about?
BS: "I coached for 12 years. Being that far away from home, I just thought it was time to do something else. Once Joe decided to leave, I'm best of friends with Don Mattingly, and I thought he should bring someone in who will be there more than one year at the most. I know Mike from the Red Sox. I've followed what he's done with the Nationals. They've got an up and coming team, and I just wanted to be part of it."

Q: What will your role be?
BS: "I'll scout the major leagues for trades and evaluate our own players in the minor leagues. Bounce around here and there. It's the same thing I did for Syd and Scheurholtz. At the end of the year, I'll watch for free agents."

Q: You've done a lot, worn a lot of hats in baseball. What was your favorite job?
BS: "I liked coaching in the big leagues when we won [laughs]. I ran the minor league system for the Red Sox. Thirteen guys who worked for me as coaches got to the big leagues. I liked working with them. I like the strategy of working with a GM and trying to put a team together. Managing in the minor leagues, that was a lot of fun. There really is no job I can say I didn't like. I left a few places when I saw an opportunity ahead of me. I went into scouting and ended up back in the big leagues as a coach. I was fortunate."

Q: What were your impressions these past years of watching the Nationals from the other dugout?
BS: "You really can't judge their progressing wins and losses. The big thing, I think they stayed the course with their young players. The fact that the ownership has committed the money to sign the two best amateur players in the country the past two years, that had a lot to do with me coming over. Because I had some other opportunities, too. I think they're doing the right thing, so the commitment is there and the baseball people are there."

By Adam Kilgore  | November 29, 2010; 4:55 PM ET
 
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Next: Jorge De La Rosa comes off the market

Comments

So at the moment I guess the tea leaves say that we will trade Willingham for a starter, sign Pena to play first, and get Brandon Webb to rehab. Kind of feels like running in place. Or walking up an escalator that's going down. I'm glad Bob Schaefer thinks they're doing the right things, but on the other hand, he can't really say anything else about an outfit that just gave him a job. Even if this is "doing it the right way," they need to throw us fans a bone. Something, anything that shows that we're not in Pittsburgh or Kansas City.

Posted by: BobLHead | November 29, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

"You really can't judge their progressing wins and losses."

I think he said, "you really can't judge their progress in wins and losses," but I could be wrong.

I hate it when people post just to point out a gramattical or typographical error. I know this is just a transcription thing, but I'm willing to acknowledge my hypocrisy.

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 29, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Wait until after the December 6th meetings. Hopefully, more will become clear as far as Rizzo's strategy.

Posted by: periculum | November 29, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

He lost me at "They did it the right way, and Mike [Rizzo] and his staff are doing it the right way."

A club that finishes last every year for several years, underspending the market all the way, and that still has as many holes as this one does is simply not doing it the right way.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 29, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Let me see if I've got this straight in the NL East, to date:
- Philidelphia sticks with Amaro / Manuel in the FO, probably lose their starting RF via FA, but could have a replacement in place (Domonic Brown).
- Atlanta loses their Manager, but quickly hire a replacement & makes a positive offensive trade (Uggla) on a 2010 playoff team.
- The Mets boot both their GM & MGR, then overload the FO (Alderson plus two other former GM's, as well as Minaya), and hire an "Old-school" Manager. However, they're still stuck with the roster that Minaya left them with - Ha-Ha!
- The Marlins keep their FO / Manager intact, but are active in both the FA & trade market (Uggla for Infante & Michael Dunn, sign Buck, Vasquez).
- Meanwhile, the Nationals have lost 2-4 major FO personnel to other teams or resignation, probably surrendered their only LH power hitter to FA for draft picks, and have added... A 66 y.o. "Special Assistant to the GM" in Bob Schaefer.

Just bloody wonderful.

Posted by: BinM | November 29, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

>BS: "You really can't judge their progressing wins and losses. The big thing, I think they stayed the course with their young players.

It's BS alright.

>At the end of the year, I'll watch for free agents."

He better get his ass in gear, because there are a whole lot of pissed off people out there.

Posted by: Brue | November 29, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

So with reports out that the Nats have already offered De La Rosa a deal what is the impact for signing a type A player. I thought their draft pick would be protected but a line in the MLBTR note seemed to indicate they would forfeit a draft pick.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 29, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Loosing Kasten was bad, but I like that we've locked up Rizzo and signing Schaefer. The dude took the Mets to the world Series after five years of horrible play, so at least theres that.

De La Rosa doesn't matter anymore as he just got locked up. Realistically, I doubt we'll be able to land Pavano, and since Webb needs rehab he wont contribute right away. With Stras out and Harper targeting 2012 opening day as his debut, lets face it - 2011 is going to be a rough one.

Side note - thanks Kilgore for keeping this site updated. In a world where I have to watch the deadskins every sunday, it's nice to see the Nats make some sort of progress.

Posted by: dls5kk | November 30, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

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