On a day when it was supposed to be all smiles for Nats fans everywhere, a hard fought 4-3 loss to the Rockies didn't really put a damper on things. However, this rumor posted by Yahoo! Sports' Gordon Edes certainly seems to indicate that the Nationals' search for a full-time General Manager may be nearing a conclusion. Furthermore, it indicates that the conclusion will not end up with "Acting" GM Mike Rizzo seeing the "Acting" simply removed from his title.
It's also interesting to note that Team President Stan Kasten avoided the question a bit in his interview with Debbi Taylor during tonight's game about the Strasburg negotiations. Concluding the interview, Debbi asked Kasten how it felt to come out on the "winning side" of the deal with Strasburg and how it would affect Mike Rizzo's efforts in becoming the full-time General Manager of the Washington Nationals.
Kasten: Well, first of all. I don't know what you mean by winning. We just gave away the most money that was ever given to any draft pick. I don't know how that's a win, except that we got the player we wanted. Mike ran point on this. He did a superb job.
Debbi: That's it?
Kasten: Yeah. I mean I don't have anything more to say... for tonight. But, you know, ever since March, when we needed Mike to step in, he's done a great job with every assignment he's been given, and this was no exception.
It's worth noting that the camera then shifted to the booth with Kasten and Taylor, showing Kasten with what looked like a pretty forced smile. Honestly, the most telling thing about the interview was that Kasten just seemed like he wanted to remain tight-lipped, while Taylor seemed like she was doing whatever she could to avoid further pressing the issue because of his reluctance to speak about it.
While the timing of this rumor (and as of right now, that's all it is) may be a little disheartening, it's far from shocking. If the team plans to remove the "Acting" from Mike Rizzo's name, that can be done at any time (but should be done fairly quickly if that's their decision). If the team plans on replacing Rizzo, now would seem like an ideal time to do so.
Why should the Nats name a full time General Manager (Rizzo, DiPoto, anyone) now rather than right after the season? The extra month heading into the offseason will be of significant help, particularly if the organization decides to go in a direction other than Rizzo. Giving the new General Manager a month to further familiarize himself with the organization and the players in the system should be crucial in helping him to evaluate the needs (there are still many) and determine what the offseason plan/goals are with the club. I can accept that it would certainly seem like an awkward time to make the change (if there is a change.... if they've decided not to make a change, it would also be an ideal time to announce Rizzo as the full time GM) as the goodwill of the Strasburg signing is washing over Nats Town. However, I think that the benefits that would come from the new regime getting a head start on evaluating what needs to be done would be far more important than the awkward timing of it all.
So... We've all seen some of the things that Rizzo has done since assuming the duties as the "Acting" GM. Some of it's been good (the Morgan trade... the Strasburg signing). Some of it's been bad (Logan Kensing, anyone?). I'd say there have been a lot more positives than negatives. In fact, I'd say that Rizzo has certainly done a lot more to help himself earn being bumped to "full time" status as the General Manager of the Washington Nationals than he has to hurt himself. That said, if the Lerners and Stan Kasten feel that Jerry DiPoto is the better man for the job, I have to think there's a reason for that. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out either way.
I don't have a ton of information about DiPoto. Some Wikipedia factoids:
- He became a scout with the Boston Red Sox in 2003.
- In 2005, the Colorado Rockies hired him to become the head of their scouting department. He wasn't there long. While it's notable that DiPoto was the head of scouting when they drafted Troy Tulowitzki, no other members of the 2005 Rockies' draft class have reached the majors (that I recognized, at least).
- DiPoto followed former co-worker (with the Red Sox) Josh Byrnes to Arizona when Byrnes took over as the GM of the Diamondbacks. He's served as their head of scouting since 2006. Notable draftees: Max Scherzer (2006), Brett Anderson (2006), Clay Zavada (2006... reaching, but he's reached the bigs), Jarrod Paker (2007), Dan Schlereth (2008... on the back and forth plan right now)
I don't know much about his (or his scouts') international signings. In truth, I don't know a whole lot about him at all, but it's something at least. For what it's worth (which isn't much), DiPoto denied having any knowledge of what was going on.
"I can tell you with all honesty that if this is ‘going down’ it is news to me,” DiPoto wrote in an email Tuesday. ”At this point there really isn’t anything to report that hasn’t already been reported. I will continue to be respectful of their process and patiently wait for their decision."
The only thing that can really be taken from that quote is that he has, indeed, interviewed with the club and that, presumably, he would want the job.
So.... Are we going to wake up tomorrow morning (or Thursday) to find out that Mike Rizzo has been replaced? Or will he be sticking around?