I skipped through the rest of the recordings I made of Jim Duquette and Seth Everett of Sirius/XM's Power Alley broadcasting live from Space Coast Stadium, the Washington Nationals' Spring home, and found one final interview of interest from Monday's show...this one with Nats' team President Stan Kasten, who talked to the Sirius/XM hosts about the changes DC GM Mike Rizzo made this winter, the team's plans for Stephen Strasburg and Adam Dunn and...yes, even the possibility of Strasburg starting against the Boston Red Sox in the Spring's final exhibition game on April 3rd in Nationals Park, in Washington, DC. Here's what Mr. Kasten had to say:
Jim Duquette: "Stan, I know it's gotta be nice to get out of the Washington area all the snow that we got there, but, how long are you here in camp and what have you seen so far."
Stan Kasten: "Well I just got back again yesterday, and we feel like things are coming together, we know that we had things to accomplish this offseason, I think we did accomplish a lot of those things and as we put this team together we're waiting for the next wave to get here, because no matter what we break camp with here in a couple weeks, we do know right around the corner is the next wave to add to our rotation with [Stephen] Strasburg coming and Jordan Zimmermann getting back and Ross Detwiler getting healthy and Chien-Ming Wang getting healthy, we think it's going to be an important transitional year for us."
Jim Duquette: "I asked a question of Mike Rizzo, from a development standpoint, he and I are almost in the same exact agreement from our player development background, they both had, [Drew] Storen and Strasburg had things from a development standpoint to learn at the minor leagues before you bring them back, there's also a financial issue that you...eh...touch on a little bit, I know that wasn't as major a factor, but from your standpoint, you know that both...certainly Strasburg would bring fans into the ballpark, so how does that play a role, or does it play a role from your standpoint?"
Stan Kasten: "No, it really doesn't, cause his upside is so great that we just want to do everything we can to make sure we're doing the right thing, and if we err on the side of conservatism, we're happy to do that because his impact will be great for us down the road. We're certainly not going to bring him up there just to sell some tickets...He might pitch in that exhibition game that we have up there, but you know it's still Spring Training and sometimes you do that with guys, but we think that taking his time, getting him some experience in the minor leagues will be the right thing for him, it looks like he's going to join us soon enough though...Do we think he could do it right now if he had to? Yeah, I'm sure he could but you know, there's no need for him to do that when we can take our time and develop him under, I think, a little better circumstances."
Jim Duquette: "Managing expectations? I asked both both Mike Rizzo and Jim Riggleman this, and certainly from your perspective I'd like to ask you this as well, the expectation now has gone for your organization beyond the development and seeing improvement among individuals, to now you want to see wins on the field, so in your mind, other than you know not losing 100 games, which is alright, you guys aren't going to lose 100 games, what in your mind is a successful year in terms of wins and losses."
Stan Kasten: "Well that's hard to say, because we look at our schedule, the first six weeks are really tough for a team that's not yet put together. On the other hand, I feel really good about the second-half of the season, cause as I said, that's going to be a very different team with a very different rotation, when you have [John] Lannan, [Jason] Marquis, Garrett Mock, [Craig] Stammen, [J.D.] Martin, whoever does make our Opening Day rotation and then add to it Strasburg, and bring back Zimmerman, and bring back Detwiler, and bring back Chien-Ming Wang, it's a whole different team and all of a sudden that's not just a good rotation, that's a big-time rotation, and when you have a rotation anything is possible and until you have it nothing is possible, so that's what we have to look forward to, the second half of the season is when I see us really being able to compete with anyone and that's what I'm looking for."
Jim Duquette: "With Adam Dunn, I asked Mike [Rizzo] this, and nothing really new to report, there was discussions with him on an extension of his contract ten days ago, with his agent Brian Peters, but from your perspective, how important is a guy like Adam Dunn not only for the present, but for the future when you do have that wave of young guys coming up?"
Stan Kasten: "Well, you know, he's a cleanup hitter, and they're not easy to get, there are not many guys who are going to give you 40 HR's and 100 walks and 100 RBI's, and Adam's presence in the lineup impacts the two guys in front of him and impacts the two guys behind him cause he's on base so much. He's also a great guy in the clubhouse, so he really is a good fit here, he really wants to be in Washington and we want him to be here. We still have to make it work economically, you know how those things go. I don't feel any pressure to have to do something by Opening Day, I really don't think he does either, so if the fit is right, we'll get it done at the right time, I can't tell you when that will be or how much it will be, but he's a good fit here and we think he's a big part of our future."
Jim Duquette: "Obviously with your days from the Braves, you saw some really good talent coming up and you saw how they built around the rotation, are you starting to see any similarities to the early, early years of the Braves? Maybe '90, maybe not '91 yet, but '89-90, and where you guys are with the rotation?
Stan Kasten: "Well, I know this, I know we lost 106 games one year, and then two years later we lost the World Series in Game 7. You know, so once the rotation falls into place, like I said, anything is possible. And it really looks now, you can see through the clouds a real big time rotation forming here. If that happens, Jim, anything is possible, this offense is good enough to really contend if you have a top rotation, so that's what we're working on, and you know when I say you can't buy a rotation, you can maybe buy a pitcher at a time, you can't buy a rotation, you can develop'em, well that's what we've done, and again cause we see big futures from Strasburg and Zimmermann and Detwiler on top of the kids we already have here, so to that extent you see comparisons not just to the Braves, but any team that makes a quick turn, they did it on the strength of a good young rotation, and that's what's going to happen here."
Jim Duquette: "Your GM, Mike Rizzo was very busy this offseason, your assessment of him, he's still new on the job, relatively new on the job, but now that he has it full time how would you assess the job that Mike Rizzo's done?"
Stan Kasten: "Well I think he's done great, he obviously spent a lot of time as a scout, but preparing to become a GM, his orientation is, as you know, the scouting side, I lean toward that myself, but we've made a very conscious effort to add the sabermetric element to everything we do with a whole cadre of people that do nothing but that, so I think we have a good balance in our front office, but we lean toward the scouting side, and that's why we brought in as many of the experienced veteran wise old owls that we can, I think that's where we made the biggest leap in this offseason and that's where the dividends are going to come from."
Jim Duquette: "Last question, and we're here with Stan Kasten, the President of the Nationals...Jim Riggleman, obviously his first full spring with you guys after taking over in the middle of the season, not his first major league Spring Training as a manager, why Jim Riggleman, why is he the right guy for where you guys are in the part in your organization as you're building this club?
Stan Kasten: "Well he had a home field advantage, because he was with us last year, we thought he did a good job under really adverse circumstances, and he's a detail guy, he's a baseball guy, I don't think we ever get beat between the white lines during the game in terms of strategy or things like that, but that's not the biggest part of the game, I think demanding the respect of the guys, getting them to play hard, having respect for the game and for him, he's big on those things, we thought he deserved a chance to come to Spring Training and start with the team from scratch and so far I think it's working out great."
• ?'s For The DC Faithful:
• Do you agree with Stan Kasten's assessment that, "...you can see through the clouds a real big time rotation forming here."
• With every scout in baseball saying Adam Dunn is ready to start his semi-retirement as a DH in the AL, do you think it's a good idea to extend the Nationals' big middle-of-the-order bat?
• Do you think the Nationals ever really planned on bringing in a new skipper? Or was it Jim Riggleman all along with Washington doing their due diligence before making it official?
• Will the Nationals start Strasburg in the final exhibition game this Spring against the Red Sox? Should they?
• Will Jim Riggleman be the Nationals' manager when they turn things around?