Nationals Baseball: More Rizzo, more Rizzo, more Rizzo.

Friday, August 02, 2013

More Rizzo, more Rizzo, more Rizzo.

The next time Ted and Stan Lerner tell their driver to decorate the Saturday car with a bumper sticker, look for it to say "I roll with Rizzo" or something like that. The Nats have gone all-in on Mike Rizzo. While it might seem like the Nats are shouting "I WILL sign that long-term lease!" from the driver side window of a car sinking into a lake, this was move really decided months ago. The team has improved a bunch since Rizzo has been involved with them. The Lerners like Rizzo. He likes being here. I imagine it was only the Lerners' penurious attitude toward spending that kept this from happening earlier in the year when it made more sense.

Also Rizzo is a hypocrite who doesn't mind moaning through private channels about not having a long-term deal, while publically saying people should just "own the job" and shut up about contracts. But, such is life. For a lot of people, what works for everyone else doesn't necessarily apply to them.

Rizzo is in the midst of a terrible season. He signed Haren. Didn't work out. He traded for Span. Didn't work out. He bet on LaRoche rather than Morse. Didn't work out. He let Gorzelanny go for Duke and kept trying to make H-Rod something. Didn't work out. He signed Chris Young and kept Maya around for pitching depth. Didn't work out. He traded for Scott Hairston. Didn't work out. He believed in the bench he built last year to start the year (didn't work out), then failed to make the necessary moves when it was obvious they were failing (didn't work out). Add to that a bunch of call-ups, most notably Rendon but also Marrero, Karns, Kobernus, Solano & Davis, that showed how shallow the Nats organization was at the upper levels, and this season was almost a complete and utter failure for the GM.

Only a deal for Soriano (which may not have been his idea, and helped lead to the downfall of Storen but that's more Storen's fault than anyone's) and the success of some mid/late-season pitching filler (Ohlendorf, Krol, Jordan) are on the positive side of Rizzo's ledger for 2013. Sure you can defend a lot of these moves. You might even have made a lot of the same moves. I would have. But you know what? Me and you, we would also have failed at our jobs this year and shouldn't have gotten extensions right now.

Imagine this : Danny Espinosa comes to Rizzo and demands a long-term deal.  He had success in previous years. He was the 7th most valuable 2nd baseman across 2011-2012 because of his combination of pop and defense. He has somethings this year that he can point to as successes (still a plus defender). Does he get a deal? Absolutely not. He'd be laughed out of Rizzo's office (or more likely he'd be shamed out with a "Go out and do your job" tough guy talk) And yet here is Rizzo in a similar situation gobbling up a long term deal with no talk yet of how he's screwed up this year and needs to work harder/smarter to get the Nats over the hump. 

If the Nats had made this deal even 3 months ago, no one would have blinked an eye. I would have been all for it. But we've had an extra 3 months right in front of us that screamed "HEY WAIT!" and a deal in place that already allowed the Nats another season to play with, and 2015 was an option as well. Why not wait? If my hand was forced, would I have kept Rizzo on? Yes. But their hand wasn't forced.

All in all, right now I have a hard time believing this is anything more than bad timing. Rizzo seems competent. He's helped, with some notable draft position luck*, turn this from a go nowhere franchise to one that was favored to win the series this year. That's quite an accomplishment. He'll probably be at least fine, if not good. But if midway through 2014, another couple Rizzo signings are failing, the organization is filled with broken arms and B-prospects, and the team is looking at missing the playoffs again, we'll all look back a today and wonder why the trigger was pulled now, when it seems like the gun is pointing straight down.

*Imagine this years team minus Strasburg and Bryce and plus Dustin Ackley and Jameson Taillon. 

35 comments:

Froggy said...

As I'm not a Rizzo fan I think you are spot on for all the points you mention. But the one you forgot, that turns out I was right about is shutting Strasburg down instead of tapering him to be available for the playoffs last year.

Remember Rizzo's arrogance last year when he justified the shutdown by all but saying 'next season' the Nats will contend and probably go to the WS.

I know a lot of people think it was the right move but I was screaming that there were NO guarantees that we would repeat 2012.

Change the recipe to cake and it isn't cake anymore.

Chaz R said...

Good scoop, Harper. At Season Plan Holder Appreciation Day, Rizzo had a Q&A session with the fans. ONe question was what grade would he give himself for this season? He said a C-. I think he's barely a D.

You can't really blame him on some of those trades. I certainly was one lobbying for them to sign LaRoche. I was a bit baffled by the Span move, but cold see where we needed a legit CF and lead-off man, and Span had good career numbers. And, of course, having been there in the last game last year against the Cards, I was ecstatic about the Soriano move, Now, though, I see the damage it could have done to Storen.

I agree with Froggy, and although I supported the shut-down last season, I knew it was not what I would have done.

Matt said...

I largely agree, but I think the right question is whether current information suggests Rizzo is better than the alternatives. I haven't see salary figures anywhere and obviously that matters, but I'd guess (even taking this season's flops into account) that Rizzo is probably significantly better than the "replacement" GM (just look at the track records for the front offices in KC, Toronto, Seattle, San Diego, Philadelphia, ...). I'm not saying that right now the best 30 potential GMs are already employed (e.g. Baltimore hired a clearly better GM who was out of work and available to all of those franchises), but I'm saying if better options were readily identifiable then at least some of those franchises employing real losers would have made a change.

A Fly Moses said...

Quick note on the draft luck: Obviously it was lucky to have can't-miss guys sitting there both years, but I do think Rizzo/ownership deserve some credit for doing everything they could to bottom out those years and secure them instead of trying to save face and make a run at bad-but-respectable (with a little help from the Mariners the first year). This was at the height of the resentment of "the plan" and "Lerners are cheap" era.

And without devolving into this argument again, you may think it was the wrong move, but from a results perspective, it's hard to see how that series goes any differently with Strasburg, considering he was pitching terribly when he was shut down, Detwiler replaced him and had the only really good start of the series, and we would've won anyways if not for the bullpen collapsing. Unless you're just making a karma argument.

cass said...

Rizzo has admitted to having failed at his job this year, hasn't he? Thought I read some quotes from him about that in the last week or two.

And Froggy, shutting down Strasburg was the right move. They wouldn't have won the World Series with him and they might've injured him. They followed the standard medical advice just like with Zimmermann. And if they moved some innings from the regular season to the postseason, they might not have won the division and he might have been rusty when he returned.

Anonymous said...

I think your criticisms are all spot on except for the one about the organization's shallow depth in the high minors. The depth is shallow because the MLB squad is so young. When you promote your high minors talent to the big leagues, it necessarily affects your high minors depth.

And on the pitching side, it appears we do have some depth and that depth is approaching the high minors. Ray, Cole, and Jordan have had good to great years. Karns less so, but has shown flashes. Solis has been a mixed bag but he's coming off injury. These are five guys who have a real chance to bolster the MLB pitching staff next year or the year after. From what I've read, none of them projects to the top of the starting rotation (with the possible exception of Cole), but we don't need top of the rotation arms for a few years unless Stras, Gio, or Znn gets hurt for an extended period of time (which would probably doom a deep playoff run anyway). We need league average starters and, in a perfect world, guys who are a little better than average. It looks like there are five potential candidates for one or two spots (depending on what you think about Detwiler going forward) who are cost-controlled for years. And the guys who don't make it as starters can be bullpen guys or AAA insurance. Rizzo deserves almost 100% of the credit for this and it's something that has crystallized this year while the MLB squad has floundered.

Sirc said...

Penurious Harper? Who said the man wasn't a professional writer?

I like Rizzo fine. He had the foresight to tank in the correct years. That's not nothing. Plus the Gio trade was good. Jury's out on the Span swap, but if they want Morse back he's available in the offseason.

He's been mostly wrong on his one year player rentals, but at the time that he signed them I distinctly remember the MLB Network pundits singing his praises. The bad bench thing doesn't bother me. It wasn't predictable.

Mythical Monkey said...

The long-term extension, to me, seems aimed at hiring a new manager after the season -- create a sense of long-term stability at the top so the new manager won't be worried about the ol' bait-and-switch.

Or maybe it just took the Lerners that long to sort through the paperwork ...

Froggy said...

cass, and maybe none of what you and the shutdown justifiers say might NOT have happened either. Maybe Strasburg does pitch an inning or two here or there and he doesn't get hurt and IS available. One thing for sure he was a weapon we DIDN'T have and one that the Cards didn't have to take into account when making their batting subs.

Yes, I know it is water under the bridge, but my argument is just as valid as the 'he might have gotten hurt' hogwash as well.

The point is we DO know Rizzo's 'we're saving Strasburg for the 2013 playoffs' certainty was clearly arrogant hogwash and I called Rizzo out on it.

In baseball there are no guarantees of anything happening in the future so you have to take advantage of the opportunities when they present.

cass said...

I just can't see how you can take issue with following standard procedure for handling injuries. It worked for Zimmermann. Why not do the same thing for Strasburg? The White Sox did it with Sale, didn't they? It's pretty standard. No, no one really knows if it's correct or the best method possible, but I think criticizing an organization for following a standard medical practice is pretty silly. It wasn't arrogance, it was just level-headedness.

Harper said...

Shutdown - In soulless automaton fashion I was in favor of it. It makes sense in a maximize wins over a period of time way. It doesn't make sense if you want to maximize results in a single season though. I don't think you can say either way how it would have affected the season or the playoffs (Nats only got HFA by a game or two) but chances are always good you don't win the WS.

Chaz R - I think D is right for 2013. I don't blame him for the deals but sports is extremely results oriented. You can only say "those were the right moves" for so long. It's like he studied what everyone assumed the test would be, but the questions actually were on other things. Hence the D

AFM - After letting Soriano go, I'm not sure what kind of acceptable bad team they could have run out there, but I guess you're right they could have done something. The luck of having those guys right there when you need it can't be dismissed though. The back to back difference makers even at the #1 pick is unusual. (especially a pitcher - behind Price, old-school Matt Moore or Tim Belcher might be the best #1)

cass - I've seen him give a few "things haven't gone as we planned" but not any "I messed ups" but I could have missed it.

Anon - sure. But in theory there should be good AA/A+ depth there to replace them. Hopefully it's building back up A+ and below looks stronger right now.

You're right there could be decent depth coming (I'm not sold on Jordan) in pitching but after 2012 it was looking like 2015 for these arms. That's too long a gap. If you are ready to compete you need the depth now because in 2-3 years you don't know what injuries have killed you where.

Sirc - a bunch of people and they are right.

I disagree I think a bad bench was predictable. Maybe not avert your eyes bad but not good enough for sure. I mean you start the year with them because of last year but with a tiny leash on guys like Tracy and Moore. That said. I THINK Rizzo will be fine. THINK. You sign a guy longterm when you need to (they didn't) or the know(not sure how they could)

MM - I guess. I think you could have just agreed to the 2015 option now. Gives the coach at least 2 years of security. Not sure who wouldn't take that.

Chaz R said...

Cass, I think what Froggy is saying is that there is no scientific proof that the innings limit will protect Stras's arm post the surgery. It is simply Mike Rizzo's decision to do that. It's not standard medical practice, it was Rizzo's arrogance... or maybe Rizzo's fear of something else happening to Stras's golden multi-million dollar arm on Rizzo's watch.

They should have taken their shot when they had it. I guess hindsight is 20-20 tho.

A Fly Moses said...

Harper,

I agree that you rarely find can't-miss guys like that, much less back to back, but it's not like they got to draft day and were like "woah, hey, look who's here!" Everyone knew about those guys for years, and they basically did everything they could to get them (didn't spend when the stadium opened, despite everyone clamoring for them too; trading every veteran for meaningless prospects (e.g. Cutter Dykstra) to shave runs off the edges--and while keeping guys ilke Marquis around wouldn't have markedly improved the team, seeing how few vets have gotten traded the last few deadlines, I think it says something that they were happy to dump all these veterans for literally nothing). Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, but they seemed to be very active in making their team worse those two specific years, which I think is a credit to them.

And now that we're fully in on the shutdown topic again, can we all at least admit that Rizzo et al had much better information on the scientific/medical side than any of us do? And it's not like they were the first team to create innings limits. They decided the risks of skipping starts/etc outweighed the benefits, and while that may have been right or wrong, none of us actually know. But I'll generally defer to the people who have the most information--and who have the most on the line--over my own guesses. (Except for Davey. His decisions this year have been sh*t...)

Froggy said...

Harper, you should do more anti Rizzo stuff as your analysis is pretty detailed and hard to dispute.

...and besides I love bashing that Hair Club for men reject any chance possible.

The down side to Rizzo signing his contract extension is it probably kills any notion of having Cal RIPKEN join the organization in any way.

A Fly Moses said...

I see I've now become the token apologist for all things Rizzo, so I'll pivot here and ask (a) do you think there's any chance we see Espinosa back up here soon? I assume yanking Rendon back down would be seen as compounding the problem, but Espi can't hit any worse, and he'd be a huge upgrade in the field.

(b) @Froggy, and I mean this as a legitimate, non-snarky question, but why would we specifically care about Ripken joining the organization? He has nothing to do with the franchise, and there's not much of a history of great players in any sport making great executives. Is there something specific I'm missing (and there might well be)?

Sirc said...

Maybe Cal Ripken becomes the new GM under Rizzo. Or the Manager after Davey.

I think those things are only slightly less likely to happen than the Nats overcoming the Braves.

I mean, there is math to prove that the Nats can catch the Braves, right?

But Ripken spent 15 minutes talking to the Nats' brass behind closed doors on a day that he was covering them for his position as analyst with TBS and somehow that turned into a job interview.

I mean, could it happen? I guess. But will it? Really?

Harper said...

AFM - I think you are. It's not like the gutted these teams before the season. Milledge, Dukes, Lopez, Kearns where all brought in with moderate expectations. The injury to Cordero and Ayala's sudden collapse crushed a decent pen. Hell proir to 2009 they brought in Dunn and Willingham. If Jesus Flores hadn't gotten injured and either Kearns surprise loss of baseball skill or Dukes unsurprising outside baseball issues hadn't effected him that could have been a decent offense. Outside of rolling with what they had to know were poor starting P prospects they never looked to be tanking from Day 1. And if you don't do that it's a bit of luck that no one tanks harder than you.

(a) No. I think Rizzo if it were a tight playoff race maybe but it's not so Rendon gets more time to learn to hit.

cass said...

Chaz - Shutting Strasburg down had nothing to do with arrogance or protecting his golden arm. As proof, I offer that they followed the same exact procedure the year before with Zimmermann. No one called shutting Zimmermann down arrogance or babying a golden arm. And yet the decision was the same.

And it's not just the Nats - other teams institute innings limits for young pitchers who have never pitched a full season as well well. Sale went through the same thing.

I strongly believe that Rizzo made the correct decision based on objective fact. Do people really believe he just didn't want to win enough? Even if he was maximizing his chances of winning a world series in future years, so what? That's a good move. Flags fly forever, but Hall-of-Fame careers are celebrated forever too. Maybe Strasburg won't have on, but trying to avoid making him the next Mark Prior or Kerry Wood is a good thing.

Froggy said...

cass, your point is weighted against the opposite outcome as of course if you shut down any pitcher while he is healthy he will likely not get hurt NOT pitching. The fact is there isn't any instance showing letting a pitcher pitch a certain number of innings leading to his demise. The innings thing was so arbitrary, when in fact it is TIME not innings limit that are needed in the healing process.

What ever happened to baseball players being athletes and putting their purses down instead of steroid juicing, coddled babies who are considered superstars if they pitch 6 innings?

In my opinion, Biogenesis, innings limits, paying $13 million for crap pitching, blah, blah, are the baseball version of obesity in our disposable society...you see it so much everyone thinks it's normal.

AFM, not a snarky question at all. If you take away 2012 season, Rizzo's track record is average to average minus. I think it was a no brainer to sign the best baseball player (Strasburg) available in the draft, and it doesn't take a rocketsurgeon to do that, so I don't credit Rizzo with being some genius boy GM. (Harper pretty much hammers that home above) So, I thought it would be great to get a classy player and person into the organization who has some clout to push back against Rizzo going forward. Kind of in the same fashion we brought Davey in a few years ago and he percolated up to take Riggleman's spot when he threw his contract tantrum and quit.

Just a nobody baseball fan's opinion.

Nattydread said...

You didn't say anything about Rizzo's support for Davey --- and Davey's coaching style. Leave aside the game management which has been poor. Davey did not have the team together to start this year. Unprepared fielding, lack of bunting, inability to stop steals, horrendous situational hitting, poor at bats...

If there was a year when the team needed better fundamentals and small ball, this was it. We have lost 1-2 run games by the score because Johnson expected a poor slugging team to be Earl Weaver's Orioles.

DJ did not drill the team at all during spring training. As much as I like Johnson, he was not the man for the Nats this year and the results show it. Put that on Rizzo.

Froggy said...

The ink hasn't dried on Rizzo's new contract and he has already updated his Wikipedia page!

"Michael Anthony Rizzo (born December 14, 1960) is an American baseball front office executive. He is the General Manager and President of Baseball Operations of the Washington Nationals.

After a brief playing career in minor league baseball, Rizzo transitioned into coaching and scouting. He became the director of scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000. Rizzo joined the Nationals in 2007 as an assistant general manager. He succeeded Jim Bowden as the Nationals' general manager in 2009, and was promoted to team president in 2013."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Rizzo_%28baseball%29


...oh geezus...

Nick said...

I tend to be more of a believer in the process, and while the results haven't been there this year, it is very difficult to fault Rizzo for the moves made before this season.

The Dan Haren signing was a no-brainer, and there really is no such a thing as a bad one year deal. The Span trade was also universally praised, acquiring a starting CF and leadoff hitter for the cost of a good prospect that may or may not stick as a SP. Saying the Hairston move "hasn't worked" is kind of silly to me considering he has no more than 25 at bats with the team. It was a low risk, understandable move that doesn't really hurt the future at all and provides a boost over the likes of Moore/Tracy/etc. Additionally, Morse hasn't been very good at all this year so it's not like holding on to him would have made any great difference.

Sure there was some luck to get Stras/Harper (and even Rendon and Giolito, top guys who fell due to injury concerns), but what about the Ramos for Capps fleecing or the Gio trade? People howled when he let Dunn go, and Dunn turned out to be pretty much done. He didn't sell low on Storen/Espinosa this year and has mostly shown foresight and patience and built the farm system from the wasteland it was when Bowden got canned.

While I understand the timing for the extension was curious, I look around the league to some of the other GMs floating around (Amaro Jr., Jack Z) and how they completely and utterly botched the trade deadline. Rizzo is a top 10 GM in the MLB, and that is critical in today's MLB.

Nick said...

Froggy,

In terms of the shutdown, ho do you even know you were "right" about not shutting him down? Because he is healthy this year? Because the team kinda stinks? I don't understand how you can claim being right in this situation, because we will never really know.

If he is healthy for the rest of his career, is it because he didn't pitch those extra 45-ish innings last year? Or does the shutdown and extra rest not really matter? None of us will ever know. And I get the "flags fly forever" argument, but it's not like having Stras for the playoffs = automatic WS (we probably still lose the Stl series). I was for the shutdown last year, I stand by it this year, and I am aware it's a big issue and divisive among many. But as a lifelong Redskins fan watching RG3 lay on the field last season, it sure is refreshing to watch a team that actually cares about the long term interests of the franchise and its players.

Nick said...

Last one and I am done. The claim that Rizzo is to blame because the Nats aren't bunting enough/well enough this year is very silly to me. And even if somehow that were true, I don't think executing 4-5 more bunts over the course of the season has any sort of tangible impact on our subpar record (although I am against bunting 99% of the time).

Nattydread said...

Nick, My comment is not about bunting (though there was a game where Span tried and failed to lay one down 4 times!). It was about the teams poor execution of baseball fundamentals.

Rizzo has always been a proponent of strong fielding, situational hitting, base running and well played games. My comment put the responsibility of the Nats obvious poor execution on Johnson and his staff --- and on Rizzo's unflinching support for this group. There is a mismatch between the game style of Rizzo and Johnson. Perhaps, DJ has lost some of his skills with age. Rizzo's blind trust in the coaching staff has contributed to the lack of success this year.

Froggy said...

Nick, to be clear I was never in favor of Strasburg pitching in his normal rotation spot for the whole year.

My gripe has always been with the 'innings' limit. If it were about 'innings pitched' then we could have managed those precious innings better and had him available for the post season.

I was for a weaning of him to keep him warm for the playoffs. I believe (and I was right so far) that last year was our chance to go deep into the playoffs and why not have your ace available for an inning or three if needed?

As to beating up on Rizzo, I know it might seem like I'm being particularly (unfairly according to some) hard on him. But to use a phrase that Rizzo himself has used when demoting, trading or cutting players and coaches: "this is a performance league".

I guess that only applies to everyone but Rizzo?

Nick said...

Froggy,

You being right about last year being a great chance to contend doesn't equate to being right about Strasburg's inning limit. In my mind, they are completely different. The Strasburg decision was made in the long-term interest of the player and the franchise, at the expense of the short term. And while you can make the argument that they could have waited or converted him to a bullpen role, I believe Rizzo said it wasn't just about the innings limit, but also giving him extra time to rest from September-ST where he wasn't throwing bullpens or high leverage innings late in the game.

And didn't Rizzo get results last year? I figured there would be a little more patience among Nats fans after the atrocities of the Bowden regime (and even the Omar Minaya days in Montreal). Again, I am a process guy, and I really respect and believe in his process. Not every move will work out. go back and read Harper's post when we signed Haren. Was it a gamble? Yes. But it was the opportunity to buy low on a guy who had some injury issues the prior year but had been an elite pitcher in the past. It hasn't worked, but it is a 1 year deal on a guy with a proven track record. Those are the kind of moves you make, they won't (and can't) all work out, but for the price, it was a very justifiable move. Same with LaRoche (and not wildly overpaying for Prince Fielder). LaRoche has not been very good, but at two years and a relatively reasonable price tag, it doesn't hurt the team too much.

I'd much rather have a guy like Rizzo who makes sound decisions and has a clear process than a guy like Sabean who literally lucked his way into two World Series. Sabean held onto his guys too long (Huff, Scutaro), paid way too much for a rental last year in Beltran, and seems to be very short-sighted in his moves. But since he got "results," does that make him a better GM? I say absolutely not, but that's just me. Not every move is going to work out, but if you are making the right moves with less downside (i.e. shorter deals), that is what you want to see.

I also know Rizzo would never sign Austin Kearns to a 3 year/17.5 million dollar deal.

Froggy said...

Nick,
You would still rather have LaRoche than Fielder? I really like Adam as a person (as much as I can from 11 rows from the dugout anyway) but he's had an awful year and is on the downhill side of his career. And as far as Bowden and the ancient Expos GM, that is completely irrelevant to Strasburg inngs being managed with more foresight.

Unless Rizzo deals one of the top three SP's he will end up having to sign a Fielder-like player to a Werth-like contract anyway otherwise the Nats will repeat this year.

And if you think $13million for Haren was a good deal, then I have a time share in the ninth ward of New Orleans I'd like to show you.

Nick said...

Froggy,

Once again you are misunderstanding my point. I am focusing on the thought process behind his decisions, not the result. Signing Haren/LaRoche in the offseason were relatively low cost moves that weren't detrimental to the franchise long term. Is Prince Fielder better than LaRoche now? Sure. But will Prince Fielder years 6-9 of the contract be anything other than an albatross? (Additionally, no DH means 9 years of Prince Fielder playing first base where he'll make Dunn look like Pujols defensively). I think not. Rizzo has shown the ability to be patient and wait for value (Soriano and Werth two major exceptions) in both FA and trades. He has also not been afraid to cut bait on those who aren't at his price or in decline (Dunn/Capps/Morse).

My point remains the same. If you make sound decisions a majority of the time, in the aggregate, the results will be there. Not every single move will work, but the odds are better than a Ruben Amaro/Sabean throw things at the wall and see what sticks philosophy.

It doesn't sound like anything I say will convince you, but if your main qualms with Rizzo are that we currently aren't playing to expectations this year and missing 45 innings of Strasburg last year, then I think you should reassess. Step back, look at the overall big picture and the history of moves he has made (and not made) as GM. I believe we are in very capable hands, and one season below expectations does not change that. If GMs got fired every time the results weren't as expected each year, there would be 20 unemployed GMs after each season. Realize that this team is constructed to have window for more than just this year or next year.

Froggy said...

Nick,
I appreciate the dialogue. And having it makes me reconsider some of my more emotionally based comments. I agree we are in adequate (not necessarily 'very capable') hands with Rizzo. But only if one believes in a strategy of winning 80-85 games a year and hoping someone else plays worse so you can back into the 2nd WC slot as acceptable. So to your point of 'thought process' verses results, I guess that is ok if you are managing a mutual fund and not into winning championships.

As of today we have 50 games left and have to go 28-24 to get to 82 wins this year. Totally doable especially if the Haren we saw last night shows up for the rest of the year. But we also have to hope the Reds and Diamondbacks melt down.

As to Fielder and a power hitter, I think unless you get lucky and a Hamilton, Pujols, Cabrera, Davis or Fielder shows up in your organization you have to go out and deal for someone like that. It will be interesting to see what happens in the off season I guess.

Therefore, I look at Rizzo in the same way I look at a player, and one season does not make him. Remove 2012 and he is sub-500 and average minus in my opinion. To quote himself: "...it’s a performance league, and you have to perform." Mike Rizzo, May 19, 2013 when speaking about sending Espinosa down to AAA.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/05/19/mike-rizzo-danny-espinosa-is-the-guy-we-want-out-there/

Nick said...

Froggy,

I don't think Rizzo's strategy is to "back into the 2nd WC spot." I am sure that's what he his hoping for at this point in this season (because it's the realistic best case scenario), but I am sure last year's result is more of the goal than essentially lucking into the playoffs.

Again, I don't think it's fair at all to judge his W-L record as a GM because you have to take into account how putrid this team was when he took over. Go look at the roster and farm system rankings from his first year as GM. That's like using Theo or Lunhow's record with the Cubs/Astros this year against them. It's pretty unfair to fault a new GM for the win-loss record in the first few years of inheriting a crappy team. Just like pitcher wins, GM wins don't really tell the full story either.

And using Rizzo's quote after sending down Espinosa as a way to illustrate he is a hypocrite seems a little silly to me. Because the team is below expectations, should Rizzo demote himself to head scout because it's a performance league? Espinosa had a lot of time in the 8 hole to prove himself (I believe his poor performance is due to injury this year and that the Nationals training staff once again misread and mishandled the situation), and couldn't do it. Hanging on to a GM is very different than keeping a clearly struggling player on the big league team. I would think far less of Rizzo if he left Espinosa in the starting spot all season long instead of giving Rendon a shot there. It is a performance league, but the GM does (and by the nature of his job, which requires a long term outlook), and NEEDS to have a longer leash than the Danny Espinosas of the world. If not everything would be completely backwards.

Kenny B. said...

This team plays to expectations this year and this conversation never happens. It's not like Rizzo built a team destined to fail. This team was the best in MLB last year, and was almost universally expected to be the same this year. Literally no one that I've heard of thought this team would be under .500 in August. No one.

Maybe it was the years of watching the organizational carousel in Landover destroy season after season, but I am generally inclined to give long leashes to managerial guys. Any team you can build without spending Yankees money will have flaws (even the NL All Star team was shut out this year), so you try to strategically isolate the flaws in ways that they won't come back to bite you as much as the other teams' flaws. Sometimes you get it wrong, but every season is different. I just think it takes more than one bad season in a row to say for sure that the team's flaws are determinately fatal.

If you start blowing things up every time the team plays poorly, you end up as the last few decades of Redskins. I would hate to see that fate befall the Nats.

All that is to say, I'm down with Rizzo for the near future. He may be kind of an ass, but that's probably more of a plus than a minus in the world of baseball management.

Froggy said...

We disagree. You are in the 'I love Mike Rizzo' t-shirt wearing camp and I think he is the national bird of France.

I didn't think he was genius boy last year either and we won 98 games in spite of him. In other words it was due to the recipe we had as a team which Rizzo broke up and didn't do enough to replace.

Arguments about Morse in LF or 1b aside we miss his production either as a starter or off the bench. Simple math. More imimportantly we miss his chemistry.

Burnett and Mike Gonzales were key loses as well and some would make an argument for keeping Gorzo and Lannon. Granted the injury bug has bit the pipitching staff pretty hard but by and large they have done well under the circumstances. Trade deadline has passed so we'll see what happens in the offseason.

Hey, if Mickey wants to be a big boy and drive the ship, then he's gonna get yelled at when it gets too close to the rocks.



ocw5000 said...

2013 Morse = .249 BA, 12 HR, injured
2013 Edwin = 4.65 ERA, 1.35 WHIP
2013 Burnett = 9 IP, elbow surgery
2013 M Gonzo = 4.05 ERA, 1.48 WHIP
2013 Lannan = 4.10 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, John Lannan does not care about your fancy stats

The point is: even the players who helped the Nats last year have regressed from their 2012 performances. You can't plug in last year's performances into this year and say "we would have won X more games." Would the Rangers be winning more games with 2012 Josh Hamilton? Yes, but they would have gotten 2013 Josh Hamilton, who is about 3Ks away from falling off the wagon. As much as Haren has been a bust, it was still a better investment than Jackson because you can cut bait after a year and the 2013 results are not that far off.

If Rizzo's moves were judged by batting stats, his BABIP would be .210 for the year

Kenny B. said...

"If Rizzo's moves were judged by batting stats, his BABIP would be .210 for the year"

This is as well as I've heard it said. He can't be this unlucky forever. The moves he made in the off season may have been arguable, but they were not indefensible. Ultimately, performances are on the players. A player who has his worst season in the prime of his career is not necessarily the GM's fault unless he missed some pretty big warning signs.