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Posted at 5:11 PM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Mike Rizzo on Cliff Lee, Carl Pavano, first base and more

By Adam Kilgore

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo met with Washington reporters this evening in his suite at the Dolphin Hotel here at the winter meetings. He called the Nationals "a real long shot" to sign Cliff Lee, said the Nats have met several times with Carl Pavano's agent, Tom O'Connell, and are very busy meeting with agents. Here's the full extent of Rizzo's updates:

On the first base situation
We know what the list is. We're still working on a whole myriad of different options and ways to improve the club. We continue to work hard. Those guys are in there right now.

On Cliff Lee
We've had dialogue with the representative. I still think we're a real long shot to acquire the player.

On if he's looking at other pitchers than Cliff Lee
We're looking at a whole array of options in pitching and position players in filling our roles. It's hard to put a finger on, without telling you what we're doing. There's a whole bunch of things going on, and one domino is off the other, one interacts with the other. So there's a lot of moving parts.

On what he looks at most when evaluating free agent pitchers
The biggest stat for me is wins. Who's a winning pitcher, and how did they get to that win? Obviously, there's different parameters and different metrics that we use. It's not the end all and be all, because as we saw this year's American League Cy Young. That's important, because to win a lot of games you have to pitch a lot of innings and be effective at doing it. A whole bunch of different metrics we look at. Are they long-term assets? Are the short-term assets? That type of thing.

On dialogue with Carl Pavano
We've spoken a couple times with his representative. That's as much as I can let you know of. We've spoken on several occasions.

On how many free agents he's met with
A lot. I'm not going to put a number on it. We've done our due diligence. We've checked in on a lot of people and a lot of different positions. We've really been and really been busy.

On comparing this year to other years
I think we've been more much active. We've seen many, many more agents this year and representatives than we have in the past. I think that's because the depth of especially the relief pitcher market has allowed us to do that. We've touched base with a lot of more agents than we did even last year.

On the excitement of being more involved
Excited? Yeah. This is an exciting time. It's the construction of a ball club. It's exciting. There's a lot of decisions. There's a lot of strategy that you have to employ. There's a lot of moving parts. One moving part almost dictates a move somewhere else. It's great to have some flexibility to do some dealings, to try and be creative and to improve the ball club.

On how having Jayson Werth affects his to go outside for a first baseman
I think there's still an importance and a priority to do it externally. But again, we need to find the right fit and the right player. I don't think our strategy has changed in that regard.

By Adam Kilgore  | December 7, 2010; 5:11 PM ET
 
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Next: Carlos Pena signs with Cubs, leaves Nationals looking for a first baseman

Comments

I'd love to see Nick Johnson back. He's not fragile - Austin Kearns ran into him full speed and broke his femur. We're all blessed he didn't throw a fat embolism from the bone marrow and die on the field. You cannot imagine the force required to break a professional athlete's femur, and the the character and durability Nick showed by coming back. He came back, and was good enough for the Yankees. Bring back Nick the Stick! One of the most difficult outs in baseball!

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 7, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see Rizzo make a trade for Garza and sign LaRoche or Pena.

Garza for Ramos, Clippard & Burgess would be fantastic. Not sure it is enough. If you add Willingham, it might be. I would do that deal. TB needs a catcher and a DH. Everyone needs bullpen help. We need a starter who is young and capable.

LaRoche or Pena would make our defense better and put another 25+ HR threat in the lineup.

It would be an amazing offseason...

Posted by: NatsWin | December 7, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I hope we keep making moves, good job so far Rizzo!

Posted by: DMoney28 | December 7, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I like the way you think, NatsWin!

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 7, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Even tho I'm with you in wanting the Nats to take a flier on NJ, flynnie, it would be a stretch to say Nick isn't injury prone. His problem last season was a recurrence of the wrist injury he suffered here in '08. It required additional surgery. I hope he's healthy now and wish him the best. Gave the Nats three good years.

Posted by: nats24 | December 7, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

NatsWin, I like the scenario, assuming Flores went thru winter ball and is still OK. As for Nick Johnson, we'll, the poor dude is snakebit... love the guy but I don't see that happening.

As for Rizzo's presser, sounds like he essentially said "You are all on a need to know basis and you don't need to know a thing right now"

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 7, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

SCNatsFan:
I was going to to a "Rizzo spin translator" post, but your summary beat me to the punch. Nicely done.

And flynnie, god love ya for giving a little love to 'Slick', but he's the "old, busted" version of what Rizzo covets at 1B - Range, a good glove, decent power in a LH bat.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I cannot get over how much fun it was to go to RFK in 2005! Hail to the Chief, Nick just never an easy out, and 1st in the NL East at the All-Star Break! Bang, Zoom, I'd love to see it at the Navy Yard, which has had its moments - Zimm's walkoff against the Yankees, Belliard's walkoff against the O's, Dunn's and Willingham's game-winners. But almost 300 losses in three years? The Lerner experience has been expensive and dreadful. It will take more than Werth to bring me back. I was so happy I'd dropped the season ticket plan last year, something I couldn't envision in 2005, with the electrifying RFK crowds.

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 7, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

No trading prospects!!!

This franchise is not 1 or 2 players away from a divsion title, let alone a pennant. Remember how long it took the Rays and DBacks to the World Series and remember that they didn't have to start from scratch like the Nats, whose farm system was raided before they moved to DC.

Posted by: jboogie1 | December 7, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Flynn,

The only difference between 2005 and 2010 is about 15 games. Neither team made had any hope of making the playoffs.

I find it more enjoyable to watch the current team because of the talent being developed.

Essentially, the 2005 Nationals roster was the result of the MLB pillaging the farm system: All of their prospective talents were depleted in favor of washed up veterans, which Washingtonians complain about all the time when the Redskins are the subject.

As for the atmosphere at Nats Park, I used to think DC was a terrible baseball town. Then, I attended a game at Fenway Park. Even in the cheap seats, none of those people are there to see a ballgame. They were all knocking a beachball around or doing the wave. Only one woman in our section could tell us who was in the bullpen warming up.

Posted by: jboogie1 | December 7, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Spend that money Pants!!!!!!! Get that gasoline get that gasoline

Posted by: Brue | December 7, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Pants listen to me. Gammons doesn't think Lee will get seven years. Give him seven years Pants! Lucky Seven Pants!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Brue | December 7, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Brue's drinking and posting again...

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 7, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

jboogie: You're right about the 2005 roster; What fans saw out of spring training was what they ended up with. Once the 2nd half began & players started to slow down / break down, there was nothing in the well to draw up. It's been five years in the wilderness since then.

The team might be close to turning a corner - Rizzo has done a seemingly decent job of re-stocking the larder in the minors, and there is finally some talent there to be applied either here in DC, or moved for immediate help at another position.
If the team can land a LH bat with some power, a plausible #1-2 SP, & one more bat for the bench in the off-season, this team could make things interesting in the NL East for the next 3-4 years, imho.

Posted by: BinM | December 7, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Nick Johnson not fragile?He missed most of 2008 with a wrist injury,then most of the 2010 season with a similar ailment.

Posted by: seanmg | December 7, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

MLB network just flashed 'Cliff Lee being offered 7 years by unknown team'

Pants, here's what you do - you keep the offer on the table until it becomes unbearable for Lee and then he takes it. GO PANTS GO GO PANTS GO GO PANTS GO

Posted by: Brue | December 7, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Pants, this is Phase 2, hang in there. If you need some coffee tell StanK to go get it for you - they interviewed him earlier and I'm sure he'd like to reprise his VP role with the team.

SPEND THAT MONEY PANTS YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU!!!!!

Posted by: Brue | December 7, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

@Brue...Still can't get your facts straight. Kaplan was President of the team not V.P.

Also, the alleged 7 year deal has been brought up by virtually every "columnist" and run in the crawl almost since the meetings started, on Monday.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | December 7, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I made a mistake...Kastan

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | December 7, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

1. Pena to the Cubs.

2. Nick Johnson is not "soft" or "fragile". However, he recovers from injuries at a remarkably slow rate. Ailments that would keep certain players out for 5 or 6 games could send him to the 60-Day DL. It's not that he is more prone to injury, just that it takes him forever to heal.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | December 8, 2010 2:36 AM | Report abuse

The real problem with Nick is not his injury status, it's that he would not be an upgrade defensively at this point in his career. When he was here in '09 he had almost no lateral movement plus he had a penchant for dropping pop flies. The '05 Nick--good glove. The '11 Nick--no evidence of this.

Posted by: chiefwj | December 8, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

>Sorry, I made a mistake...Kastan

Posted by: mikecatcher50

I know you're sorry, son, now apologize! Actually, you made two - it's Kasten. With an E. President my ass.

Jeez, no Pena? Maybe they can trade for Prince Fielder. And get Cliff Lee. That's the ticket. GO PANTS GO GO PANTS GO GO PANTS GO WE DON'T WANT ANY FISCAL RESTRAINT IN DC BAYBEE!!!!!!!

Posted by: Brue | December 8, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

I want no part of Nick Johnson, if for no other reason (though there are a few) than he is walking talking representative of Nats losing bad luck past.

Maybe they find a 1B via trade or maybe they get LaRoche. I am glad Pena is off the market ($10M on a 1 year deal works for the Cubs and their much better all around club, but it would have been a silly deal for the Nats).

Rizzo saying Wins are what drives him most for pitchers surprises me. Wins are not within a SP's control as much as a host of other statistical metriics might be.

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

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