Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie - Rizzo goes nowhere

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Quickie - Rizzo goes nowhere

Mike Rizzo won't be the GM of Arizona. At least not anytime soon. They hired Mike Hazen. On one hand, everyone seems to like him and he has a work pedigree that includes some of the more successful current franchises (CLE, BOS). On the other hand, Arizona just did something similar to this a few years ago and it didn't work out. Also if you are looking for a strategic edge, hiring a GM that's young, ivy-league educated, and into the business/analytic side of the game is not exactly going to give you that. Plus it's Arizona, I'm sure Hazen is terrible then. His 1 year track record (under Dombrowski's heavy hand I'm sure) is less than impressive. Kimbrel move didn't work. Carson Smith was damaged good. Aaron Hill did nothing. Ziegler was a nice pick up I guess.

Anyway enough about the Diamondbacks. Rizzo is what we're talking about here. He won't go there which is one of three places I'd assume he'd want to go (the other two being the Chicago teams and those both look unlikely - Theo in entrenched in Wrigley with all the wins and Kenny Williams runs the White Sox with all the being friends with Reinsdorf) Good. You can complain about Rizzo here and there but the macro-level view has been very positive, especially if you make the seemingly fair assumption that he's very limited in mid-season transactions.

Is there something about the way he's built this team that it fails to get over the top? Maybe, but I have a hard time seeing it. It's talented. It's pitching based with a couple of aces. It had a strong back end of the bullpen. It can manufacture runs, but also hit a HR. It's got veteran leadership. All the general "this is what you need in the playoffs" boxes are checked off by this point. It seems far more likely that the 2016 Nationals were a victim of sports playoffs being what they are meant to be. Good teams playing a short series / one-game that often comes down to who plays slightly better.

Could someone do better here? Perhaps, but again I get the sense that working with the Lerners can be frustrating at time. A bit tight with money in odd places (I like to say "pound wise, penny foolish"). Sometimes prone to go over his head, especially with Boras clients. You need a guy with just enough lack of ego to take those in stride and keep getting his job done as best he can under the circumstances. Seems like Rizzo does that, I'm not sure all guys could.

Like I said I can find some faults with Rizzo. His gambles in drafts on injury prone talent create a fairly top-heavy farm system where depth can be an issue. He doesn't seem to get along well with managers (which will be interesting because Dusty has never left a situation well). He can be overly reticent to deal young talent mid-season that could afford the team a stronger return under the assumed financial constraints he's under. But I consider these minimal, I mean look at the wins. What's the alternative? That there's dynasty here being held back by Rizzo?

We'll get into specifics more this week - positional overview and all that, but the off-season is already off to a good start. Rizzo isn't going to Arizona.


SM said...

"His gambles in drafts on injury prone talent create a fairly top-heavy farm system where depth can be an issue."

An intriguing observation/assessment. Could--or will--you elaborate?

Nattydread said...

From a distance, with rear view mirrors, the division series with LA was not a train wreck. In the 3 games we lost, it was by one run. And the last game was all set up for a big walk-off. Couldn't pop the cork.

The two games the Nats won were both convincing.

So three close losses that really could have gone either way and two convincing wins.

GMs and managers can only put the players on the field --- the players have to connect with the bat.

What could Rizzo have done to make this team win the series? As much as I like Espinosa, he was just an out in the series --- and even his key mis-bunt helped kill the last rally. Maybe if he had brought up Trea earlier, he would have been more seasoned and less likely to strike out (I wouldn't have asked for more from TT)?

Really, if Werth or Murphy had connected (and chances are 35% at best) we'd be playing the Cubs.

You get to the post season and roll the die. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Rizzo is probably not the very best GM in baseball but he belongs in any conversation about the top tier. So the pool of candidates that would be better than him is quite small, and you can't just snap your fingers and make those candidates agree to work for the Lerners (you have a discussion relevant to this point in the post). So, in my view, the probability of actually hiring a GM better than Rizzo is exceedingly small.

My view is that having a top tier GM is probably the single most important thing to have in baseball (although I might be able to be convinced that having top 5 revenue is more important). I think the Lerners really do value Rizzo and won't let him get away. But, like I said above, it takes two to tango. I hope Rizzo's tenure endures until the 2020s.

BornInDC said...

For all of the criticisms of Rizzo and the Nats' hitters, the team Rizzo put together was more successful against Kershaw in the playoffs than the Cubs were last night, and the Cubs were the best team in baseball during the regular season.

As Nattydread said:

"Really, if Werth or Murphy had connected (and chances are 35% at best) we'd be playing the Cubs.

You get to the post season and roll the die. End of story."

yinyang said...

3 division championships in 5 years. Once one strike away from advancing and another time one ball in play away from the same. That's a pretty darn good track record, even if you factor in the Matt Williams hire, which I think was rizzos single riskiest (and worst) decision.

Ole PBN said...

I think overall, Rizzo has done an excellent job. Especially under the presumed financial constraints you mentioned Harper. Several deals to note:
- Trades away Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos in 2010. We won that deal.
- Trades Christian Guzman for Tanner Roark in 2010. Guzman hit .152 after being dealt, then retired. We won that deal.
- Trades Joe Beimel for Ryan Mattheus. We won that deal.
- Traded Alex Meyer for Denard Span. Meyer is MIA and Span did well here. We won that deal.
- Traded Krol and Ray for Fister. Fister did well here. Kroll is decent and all we do is rake Ray all over the field when AZ comes to town.
- Traded away Drew Storen for Ben Revere. I'd say based on how they both played, this was a draw.
- Essentially let go ZNN for Scherzer. Still early, but what more do you need to see from Max to think we won this deal?
- And the highway robbery: Gave up Steve Souza for Joe Ross and Trea Turner. 'nuff said.

Also, his nack for letting players walk has hardly ever come back to haunt us. To name a few, that at the time, I thought they should have brought back: Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche, Edwin Jackson, Drew Storen, ZNN. Drafts Harper, Stras, Rendon, Storen, Solis, Giolito (too early to judge), Glover, Lopez, too name a few.

The only ones that I can think of that he didn't hit on were low risk/high reward: Ben Revere (not good so far, could change next season), Nate McClouth, Dan Haren, Papelbon, and probably Matt Williams. Desmond is another he missed, but can anyone really deny the writing was on the wall, similar to Storen that we needed to move on? I mean, LaRoche, Murphy, Scherzer, Werth, Melancon, Escobar, Kelley, Rzepcynski, Thornton, Soriano (first half), Heisey, C-Rob, Chad Tracy, Gio Gonzalez, the list goes on. Rizzo has done an A++ job in my opinion. Give me some negatives on Mike, I'd love to hear them.

ClassOf87 said...

I have no problems with Rizzo. He's proven he can build a first-class organization from top to bottom. He got the Nats past the Bowden DR train wreck (Lopez, Bautista, etc.). My own quibble--and, like Harper, it's a tiny nit to pick--is that I think he can be a little too cautious at the trade deadline. Like every GM, I think he tends to overrate his own prospects. Melancon was a very good, responsible deal. But Miller was a difference-maker, as he's shown since coming to Cleveland. When you're where the Nats are, there's no guarantee you're going to stay near the top for even the next 3-5 years. When you have a real shot at winning it all, you have to do everything possible to maximize that chance. I trust everyone can see that if Miller has been in the pen rather than Melancon (who, again, was just fine for us; this isn't about him), and Dusty had him available for those key spots in G4/G5, there may well have been a different outcome, and the Nats would still be playing. And, isn't that the point? I know others think it's never worth cashing in top prospects, ever, in bunches. I just disagree. Sometimes you have to push your chips to the middle of the table.

Harper said...

Glad to hear the overall sentiment agrees. Fanbases can go off the reservation at times, especially following losses.

JC said...

Very happy Rizzo isn't leaving. Also we shouldn't forget that when Rizzo is making trade deadline deals he didn't know that both Strasburg and Ramos would be out by playoffs time. I suspect having either a healthy Ramos or Strasburg would have been a difference maker in the NLDS. The fact that we didn't have them in my mind highlights the reason not to make major trade deadline trades. There is too much randomness in the playoffs and too much time after the deadline to make it worth mortgaging future seasons.

Either the Cubs or the Indians (or both) won't be winning the WS this year. Someone gave up good prospects to the Yankees and won't have a WS ring. The Indians still get Miller next year but the Cubs don't get Chapman (who has already blown one save against Giants and gave up some runs to the Dodgers).

Let's go to the dance each year.

Hoo said...

SM: Look at Rizzo's picks. He loves gambling on picks that fall b/c they're damaged goods and injury risks.

Rendon, Giolita, Fedde...all picks that fell to Nats b/c of injury concerns. latter 2 due to Tommy John.

I believe the Nats have an institutional philosophy of not being concerned about Tommy John surgeries short term but concerned several years after the surgery, which is what makes the Stras contract somewhat surprising.

Zimmerman11 said...

Harper... thoughts on Ben Revere? Ole PBN says he could turn it around next year. Thoughts? What do the fancy stats tell us about why he struggled so mightily this season?

If we get Revere back to the OBP/SB/Plus Defense he was SUPPOSED to be, and then Espinosa is depth on the bench who can play anywhere on the infield then this team's only real need is in the BP and behind home plate.

Having Espy and then a hole at C in the lineup all year will definitely hurt... But the lineup looks pretty good assuming Revere is .290/.340 with 30SB.

SM said...


I should have been more specific.

I'm aware of Rizzo's gambles on injured/injury risk draftees. (Not that the Nats are the only organization to do so.) Whether they do so more than other organizations isn't something I can answer.

It was Harper's reference to a "fairly top-heavy farm system where depth can be an issue" that intrigued me.

"Top-heavy" how? With injury-susceptible players? Or perhaps injury-susceptible pitchers?

I certainly agree that organizational depth--particularly for position players who can hit, and hit with power--seems to be an issue. I just think it's an unusual but fascinating take on the organization and would like to see it explored more fully.

Zimmerman11 said...

I see he's pulling the ball more last season, and hitting more balls in the air. Swing/contact rates unchanged... So, we should blame Rick Schu?

Fries said...


Blame Schu for EVERYTHING (okay not everything, but a lot). The players that had the most success in the postseason (and the regular season for the most part) were the ones who saw the most pitches per PA and the ones who sat back on pitches and tried to put balls the other way. I say make Murphy a Player Coach, he epitomizes what a player should do at every plate appearance. You sit fastball and respond to breaking balls in the zone. You keep your hands back and hit the ball the other way on an outside/breaking pitch. You don't walk up there swinging for the fences and trying to pull everything. It's so obvious how badly coached the Nats hitters are. Just look at Bryce, arguably one of the greatest baseball talents of this generation. Everybody and their mothers could see that his hips were flying open early and he consistently wanted to pull everything. This resulted in him literally ONLY getting pitches up and away during the Dodgers series. His best AB's were the ones where he stopped trying to pull and/or ignore that pitch and actually shoot the ball to left-center. Why Schu didn't point this out to Harper months ago is an enigma.

End rant, but fire Rick Schu and bring in someone competent.

JW said...

The Joe Ross/Trea Turner deal looks masterful right now. Could be one of the trade wins of the decade depending on how those players continue to develop. Normally the team getting the prospects is gambling with a higher potential for reward, but it's not like Souza was some established player. Unbelievable to get both players in that deal. Two players who both have All-Star potential (Ross admittedly more fringe-y than Turner, but still).

The Matt Williams move was the worst mistake by far. Giving peak window to rookie manager is usually not the ideal course of action. Rizzo's bench building is typically not great either, but this year's bench was actually pretty good.

Several issues to address for next year but the core remains strong -- rotation featuring Max, Stras, Roark, Ross and Gio; Harper, Rendon, Turner presents a young and talented offensive core; Murphy has been one of the best hitters in baseball.

Key remaining questions seems to be -- What to do with catcher and shortstop? How much worse do Werth and Zimm get (and what if anything can you do about it)?

Jay said...

I like what Rizzo has done. I do worry that he may be unable to trade a key prospect or two for a player that gets the Nats to the World Series. It is not uncommon for teams in any sport to have a GM come in and build a team up from nothing to one of the better, contending teams. It happened with the Caps and McPhee. It happened with the Red Wings back in the day before Scotty Bowman got there. IMO, I'd give both Rizzo and Baker extensions and let them know that ownership has their back over the next few years.

I also thought about if it would have mattered if they traded for Miller. I don't think it would have. Miller would have had to be the Nats closer, bc Papelbon didn't have it anymore. If the Nats had traded for Miller and Melancon they could have done what the Indians are doing. Looking back on it several things stand out to me from the playoffs. Danny Espinosa and his huge 3 K day against Kershaw in game 1. Gio and his really rather crappy start in game 3. Joe Ross shouldn't have been on the post season roster. Michael Taylor shouldn't have been on the post season roster. Anyway, if Lopez starts game 4 and maybe makes to the 5th then Perez doesn't get used in the 3rd, etc. Really, should Scherzer have just started on 3 days rest too?? The only encouraging thing is that they will likely be there next year. Many Dusty-managed teams get even better their 2nd year. Hopefully, they move Turner to SS, Harper to CF, get a corner OF bat, a closer, catcher, and maybe another starting pitcher.

Zimmerman11 said...

@JW The trade wasn't Ross/Turner for Souza... it was a three team trade and the TB Rays were dumping a Wil Myers they weren't going to sign longer term... so it's understandable that there would be some talent coming back for an all-star caliber player... but you're right... that TB wanted Souza so badly and we were able to land Turner and Ross looks like it could almost make a dent in recovering from the actual worst trade ever (lee, sizemore and phillips for a half season of Colon).

JW said...
The Joe Ross/Trea Turner deal looks masterful right now. Could be one of the trade wins of the decade depending on how those players continue to develop. Normally the team getting the prospects is gambling with a higher potential for reward, but it's not like Souza was some established player. Unbelievable to get both players in that deal. Two players who both have All-Star potential (Ross admittedly more fringe-y than Turner, but still).

Adam Peters said...

re: Rizzo

This team is going NOWHERE with Danny Espinosa as the starting shortstop.

This is not the '80s. You can't have a solid glove batting .200 anywhere anymore.

If Rizzo doesn't get a good centerfielder (don't talk to me about Taylor--just don't) and make Turner the starting SS he should be fired.

Zimmerman11 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ole PBN said...

If Revere or some FA-to-be isn't the answer in CF, and we can't find a corner OF bat - I'm fine with keeping the OF as-is. But its true, Danny's days as a starter are done IMO. Keep the 20+ well as your ridiculous K-rate. Strikeouts do nothing for your team. If a star isn't available, I'm more than fine with having a Daniel Descalso stop-gap at short, or someone who plays good D, hits .240-.250, even with minimal power, but DOESN'T STRIKEOUT.

Anonymous said...

"Looking back on it several things stand out to me from the playoffs. 3. Joe Ross shouldn't have been on the post season roster. Anyway, if Lopez starts game 4 and maybe makes to the 5th then Perez doesn't get used in the 3rd, etc. "

I think this is monday morning qb'ing. From Sept 1 to the end of the regular season, Lopez had a 4.34 era and Ross had a 2.79 era. The more appearances Ross gets in the post season, the stronger his arms gets and the transition to a regular starter. This is particularly crucial because most opponents aren't lefty vulnerable, so Gio becomes a huge liability.

G Cracka X said...

Rizzo has done an excellent job. Not perfect, but quite good. Nats should keep him around for a long time. Consistently puts a quality team on the field without overspending at the trade deadline, thereby preserving quality down the road too. Well done!

Anonymous said...

"When you have a real shot at winning it all, you have to do everything possible to maximize that chance"

Isn't this an anti pattern in baseball due to the high degree of randomness in the game. Isn't it better to focus the roster development on the quantity of playoff appearances rather than the quality of one particular appearance?

Ole PBN said...

"All in to win it this year" is stuff of pure fandom. Not for executives making millions of dollars and trying to keep their jobs. Win as many games as you can year-in and year-out. Thats what smart GM's should be concerned with.

Anonymous said...

I am a fan of Rizzo and am not advocating for him to go.

But... the Nats have had the second best regular season record in baseball for five years in a row. Yet all the Nats have to show for that is three first round playoff failures and two missed playoffs.

The Nats were favored in two of the three playoff rounds. In the latest round where they were the underdog, they became the favorites at some point after going up 2 games to 1. They were certainly the favorites going into game 5.

Can we attribute this all to bad luck? Or is there something endemic in the roster where the whole is less than the sum of the parts?

Anonymous said...

Can you attribute Boston's 86-year WS title drought to poor roster construction? Perhaps in some years, but there were some pretty good teams in there. Luck, unfortunately for soulless automatons, is hard to quantify. Hard to pick on the Nats after only 5 years of relevance.

Anonymous said...

One reason for much of Boston's drought? They were the last team to integrate. (It's also what Ted Williams believed until his dying day.)

BornInDC said...

"Can we attribute this all to bad luck? Or is there something endemic in the roster where the whole is less than the sum of the parts?"

I would go with "bad luck". For comparison, just look at some of the St. Louis Cardinals this millennium:

2004 105-57 Lost World Series 4-0
2005 100-62 Lost NLCS 4-2
2006 83-78 Won World Series 4-1
2009 91-71 Lost LDS 3-0
2011 90-72 Won World Series 4-3
2013 97-65 Lost World Series 4-2
2016 100-62 Lost LDS 3-1

Does anyone think that the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011 were much better constructed for winning the World Series than in 2004, 2005, 2009, 2013 or 2016? Was the secret to the Cardinals success in 2006 losing 14 more games than in 2005? Should the Nats start tanking more games next year to "save up the wins" for the playoffs?

Seriously, there is just a huge amount of luck involved in who wins games and series in the playoffs.

ClassOf87 said...

Many of you continue to look at baseball as some kind of zero-sum game: You can only do so much, and then, the game comes down to luck. I a point. But making a deal at the trade deadline doesn't make you "less" lucky or "more" unlucky. All it does is give you the best possible chance to BE lucky at a given moment. For example: of course Rizzo didn't know the Nats were going to play the Dodgers at the trade deadline; he just got the best reliever he could for what he was willing to pay. (And, again, I'm not down on Melancon; he was very, very good.) But if Rizzo had made the move for Miller, he would have had an elite LHR available to go against a team that was dreadful against LHP. Is that planning, or good luck? I'd argue it's both. And even if Miller was brought in to close for us, you don't think Dusty would have gone to him in the eighth inning of G4 to pitch to Utley? Now Utley may well have gotten a hit off of Miller, anyway. A broken bat bloop that falls just out of Murphy's reach would have been "bad luck." But at least you've done everything possible to give yourself the best possible chance to win a game that would get you to the NLCS. That's my point.

There was a great piece in the New York Times a few years ago about how the Houston Rockets in the NBA use advanced stats to try and game out every possible advantage. Their player, Shane Battier, obsessively studied the numbers to try and develop patterns of how to play specific guys. Battier knew, for example, that the numbers said the best way to defend Kobe Bryant was to force him left and make him shoot a jumper with a hand in his face. At the end of the story, the Rockets' numbers guys admitted that there is only so much you can do: you can make Kobe go left, and make him shoot a jumper, and put a hand in his face. But sometimes you do all that and he still makes the shot. That's "luck." But the Rockets did everything they could to try and make him miss. That's all I want the Nats to do: do everything possible to give themselves the best chance to beat good, tough teams in the playoffs. To do that, sometimes, you have to reach for someone who can make a difference in a short series.

BornInDC said...


But your hypothetical ignores a key bit of bad luck that happened after the trade deadline: Strasburg got injured and was unavailable for the playoffs. Having Strasburg available could have made a huge difference in the playoffs.

Also, if you are just trying to beat the Dodgers, the clear answer would be to trade for a left handed starter. Even trading Tanner Roark for a left-handed starter with an ERA 0.50 or more greater would even be a good deal, if you just want to beat the Dodgers. Of course, such a trade decreases the ability of the Nats to win against the Cubs if they advance.

From my perspective: the Nats lost Strasburg and Ramos and played a team the Nats do not particularly match up well against, since the Nats did not have one, much less two, reliable left-handed starters, and the Nats still came very close to winning the LDS and outplayed the Dodgers most of the series and hit the Dodgers better than the Cubs had hit the Dodgers so far.

Even with the bad match-up, with Strasburg and Ramos on the team, I think the Nats might have won the series in 4 games and I think they could have held their own against the Cubs. There's not much more you can ask of a team than to be able to match up well against the team with the best record, i.e., the Cubs.

Baseball is also a lot more luck-driven than basketball; there a lot fewer scores per game, so a single misplayed ball in the outfield, a single misplaced pitch, etc. can have huge consequences. In contrast, there are a lot of ways in the NBA to make up for a missed shot, including getting the rebound on the shot and getting a put back.

And, as a result of the NBA being less luck-driven, the teams that reach the Finals in the NBA are a lot more predictable than in MLB. For example, how many times has the NBA had two 4th or lower seeds end up in the Finals? Yet, a 4th seed and a 5th seed ended up in the World Series in 2015.

How can anyone look at the 7th inning of Game 5 of the Nats-Dodgers series and not be impressed by the role that luck plays in an MLB game? The Nats bullpen had been sterling until then.

Anonymous said...

So the Cardinals data provided by BornInDC shows a great team's results enriched and lessoned by good and bad fortune. Yet the Nationals have five seasons with only bad results. It could be just a bad streak of luck, or it could be that Nationals aren't as good as we hope them to be.

Jay said...

There is something to be said for known October performers. Granted Murphy didn't get the big hit in the 9th in game 5, but he was by far the best player on the Nats both during the regular season and more importantly in October. Any thoughts on whether the Nats should get another starting pitcher in case Strasburg can't stay healthy next year either??

Anonymous said...

"Many of you continue to look at baseball as some kind of zero-sum game: You can only do so much, and then, the game comes down to luck. I a point"

The zero sum game involves present versus future. Luck is force that can limit the effectiveness of trading for the present.

Just this season, the Nats gave up Felipe Rivero, a cheap left handed reliever with loads of talent, under contractual control until 2022, to rent a star closer for the remainder of the season. A season where they didn't make it past the first round of the playoffs.

Yes, it was a trade that had to be done, but make no mistake, this cost the Nationals a ton. Huge cost, little benefit.

PotomacFan said...

I agree with BorninDC and ClassOf87. Take a step back. The Nats have done a great job of putting together a playoff team for 3 of the past 5 years. That is skill. Winning the World Series takes skill (getting to the playoffs, the more often the better) and luck (having your players healthy for the playoffs, getting the bounces). If Murphy or Rendon make the play on those two batted balls, if Murphy gets a hit in the 9th, the Nats win the game. It didn't happen.

I suppose our job as fans is to second guess the GM and the manager. Dusty is being second guessed for leaving Max in, or taking Max out. Every move that Rizzo makes is second guessed. But, in the big picture, Rizzo has done a great job. If the fans were running the team, we'd have Carlos Gonzalez, Aroldis Chapman, and Andrew Miller, and we would still have Denard Span (which would have been okay), Jordan Zimmerman, and others. But you cannot operate a team that way. See: LA Angels. A pitching roster built to beat LA in the playoffs would not have been optimal for playing SF or Chicago. Trading your top prospects and players under control for 2 month rental players or big contract multi-year players has to been done very selectively. Felipe Rivero for Mark Melancon was a good deal -- a win/win for the Nats and the Pirates. Trading for Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman would have come at a huge cost to the future. If Nats keep getting to the playoffs, they will break through.

BornInDC said...


Further to your point on Melancon, I think the Giants wish they could have traded for Melancon, particularly after what happened in the 9th inning of Game 4 against the Cubs.

And yet to further illustrate the role of luck in the playoffs: Before the beginning of the playoffs who was predicting that if there was a team that was going to go 6-0 to start the playoffs, that team would be the Indians?

I will also note that the Cubs, for all of their success during the regular season, are effectively now in a 5 game series with the Dodgers having the home field advantage, and the Dodgers play REALLY well at home: 53-28. Oh, and the Cubs are starting a righty, Arrieta, tonight against a team that pulverizes right-handed pitching. And to top it all off, the Dodgers' pitcher, Hill, has a lower ERA than Arrieta by almost a full run. I don't think the Cubs were poorly constructed, but I think they ran into Kershaw being KERSHAW in Game 2 and now the Cubs need a little bit of luck.

Josh Higham said...

To the point of "difference makers": The Nats are stacked with them. The whole world knows that Murphy, Turner and Scherzer (with BRYCE being MIA for most of the year) are difference makers. Nats fans are too familiar with their own guys, especially the ones who were not so good in the not too distant past (along the lines of Solis and Treinen) to realize that the Nats have a whole lot of guys who have been and are sneaky difference makers. Tragically, two of them were hurt and couldn't play in the playoffs, when a single game matters. Two of them are young relief pitchers who threw caps lock GREAT innings in games 1-4. One of them hit poorly and missed a hard grounder. One of them was no good this year, but given another year or two in the minors could be an ace.

I don't know which difference makers (or potential future difference makers) you give up (replenishing the Yankees' farm system or helping turn a bad team into a rival) in order to get a new difference maker. Expected benefit has to equal cost, and I really don't see how Rizzo could have gotten much more benefit without a) trading away the farm b)trading away somebody like Rendon or Roark who is extremely valuable on the field per dollar, or c) somehow forcing the Lerners to add payroll midseason.

We talked about this ad nauseum before the deadline. The cost to acquire new difference makers was really high for a team already stacked with difference makers. If Rizzo had known Ramos and Stras would miss the playoffs, I'm sure he'd have done things differently, but there is no way he could. He had to move forward assuming zero or maybe one season ending injury, because the likelihood of losing two or more of the motors behind the great season was so remote.

Major props to Rizzo, too bad he doesn't have access to the Lerners' unlimited moneys.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day the players have to play. Can you imagine if Espinosa had his mid-summer outburst in games 2/3/4? We'd be in D.C. hosting the Cubbies. Or what if Murphy didnt show up at all and we had a similar showing like 2014? Hindsight is always 20/20 and I would never agree with the asking price for Miller. Only reason why ya'll are bringing it up is because they're a game away from the WS. He could have easily come here and not helped. There is simply no way of knowing "what could have been"

ClassOf87 said...

I would disagree with your notion that the Nats are "stacked" with difference makers. Difference makers, by definition, make a difference in an important series. Is there any argument that Kershaw is a DM? Or Miller? Chapman has gotten touched up twice in the playoffs, but if you want to keep him in that DM category, I wouldn't really argue.

Turner had a great half a season--offensively-- and he did well in the playoffs, offensively. But he had several defensive misplays all season, including in G4 and G5 that were crucial. I don't think you can automatically put him in that elite category just yet. Max was great most of the RS and terrific in G5, but as Boswell (whom I don't always agree with) pointed out in his chat, if Max had pitched that way in G1, there may not have BEEN a G5. Murphy certainly fits the DM definition.

Again, I'm not being critical of Rizzo's basic performance. He's a great GM. I'm not second-guessing the Nats not getting Miller, only pointing out that every gamble isn't a bad one. Sometimes, going all in for one season does pay off in the playoffs, and should not always be dismissed because it may--may--have long-term costs.

JW said...

Classof87 -- The thing about playoff baseball though is that the "difference makers" are entirely unpredictable. Yes Kershaw was a "difference maker" in this series, but he hasn't been one in other years. You can really only make that distinction in hindsight for a playoff series, which would tend to just support any argument that would suggest that the winning team had more "difference makers."

The Nats have many very good players, certainly as many as the Dodgers. The Nats just had injuries and a few guys not perform to normal standards in the five games played. We can't determine whether the sub-par performance was attributed to something inherent in the players (i.e., they are chokers), so we just have to assume that it was driven by luck and timing.

Just as going "all-in" shouldn't be dismissed because it will occasionally work, it shouldn't be embraced because it fails more often than it doesn't. By its nature all you can say is that its a gamble; a course of action taken in the face of unpredictable circumstances.

blovy8 said...

Yeah, I suspect Cardinals fans would tell you Kershaw was a difference maker FOR their club in past seasons. The bottom of the lineup coming up in the ninth inning of game 5 told me all it was going to take was game management for the Dodgers to win. I wasn't surprised that Murphy swung at the first decent thing he saw, because who was coming up after him?

Rizzo has been great at everything but curtailing his alternating the tough guy talk with BS meaningless PR blather. I know the Lerners are trying to get a two for one deal with him in two positions, but it would be interesting to get a semi-GM here just to hear a different voice once in a while and let him just president a while. Besides Harper, he's the cause of a lot the arrogance reputation.

Sammy Kent said...

Rizzo is the Marty Schottenheimer/Guy Lewis/ of baseball GMs--not in style, just results.

Anonymous said...

Resign Ian Desmond? Who here gave Boswell stupid pills?

PotomacFan said...

Yep, just what we need. A high strikeout guy who cannot move baserunners.