According to reports from the Twitter this afternoon, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo that there is "mild" interest around the league in Nats' left-hander John Lannan, but his request for a trade, which was made public when the 27-year-old emailed beat writers covering the Washington Nationals, doesn't change anything. "He's frustrated & upset...if he was any other way I'd worry," Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak (@AComak) quotes Rizzo saying. "Rizzo also says he expects Lannan to be 'ultra-professional,'" the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) wrote, "Said he wouldn't want Lannan to have any other reaction than anger." "Rizzo says he told Lannan, 'you're gonna help us or someone else in the major leagues this year,'' MASNSports.com's Dan Kolko (@DanKolko) reports. In an interview with 106.7 the FAN's Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier this afternoon, the Nats' general manager reiterated what Davey Johnson told reporters on Tuesday, it was more about Ross Detwiler than John Lannan.
"Ross [Detwiler] has pitched extremely well the back-half of last season, has continued it through Spring Training," Rizzo explained, "Really had some dominant appearances in Spring Training. He's a stuff guy that has a high upside that we feel that we need to give the starts to. [He's] a guy who has a long career with us ahead and [is] just scratching the surface. We feel that he gives us the best chance to win on a day-in and day-out basis and not only in the short-term this year, but in the long-term next year and beyond."
"John Lannan," Rizzo said, "Who is a solid, good, big league starter, who has pitched very, very well for us is a guy that doesn't profile well out of the bullpen and we'd like to keep him stretched out and in a starting role for when we have to go down and reach down and get another starter and he has options left so we sent him out to start in Syracuse."
"Certainly, it's certainly all about Detwiler," though the general manager explained, "Detwiler is a guy who came out in Spring Training and earned a spot in the rotation."
Detwiler now joins a rotation, at least until Chien-Ming Wang returns, that Rizzo says the team feels, "... stacks up with any in the league. We like our guys. They're stuff guys, capable of swing and miss stuff that are capable of going deep into games and giving us a chance to win on a daily basis. Stephen Strasburg, the power right-handed pitcher with a power arsenal. Gio Gonzalez who has pitched 200 innings several times in his career and has pitched in an All-Star Game with power stuff from the left side. Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson, two power righties. And now Ross Detwiler, a power lefty. We feel really good about our rotation. We feel really good about our bullpen and our everyday players I think are getting it together and peaking at the right time."
As for the everyday players, the Nats' GM rejected the notion that there was any reason to worry about the team's young core stepping up to meet expectations, play meaningful games in September and compete for the team's first postseason berth. "You're talking about a guy such as Danny Espinosa who as a rookie hit 21 HR's," Rizzo argued, "So I wouldn't describe it as a worry by no means. This is a guy who is a talented offensive player, [has] been a talented offensive player throughout his minor league career, shows great power, great athleticism and great defense. Ian Desmond has shown the last six weeks of last season [that] we feel he can hit at the top of the lineup, and he's continued in the latter part of Spring Training swinging a hot bat and he's a guy that has athleticism and power and can do a lot of things on the basepaths. Wilson Ramos is one of the best, brightest young catchers in the game, who as a very, very young player hit 15 HR's and shut down running games."
Combined with Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse, Rick Ankiel and a Davey-Johnson-friendly bench, Rizzo said, "We feel that we have plenty of offense to score enough runs with our starting pitching and our bullpen to win a lot of ballgames and as we've always said, our goal is to play meaningful games in September and we feel good about the team we have in place to do so."
As the Nationals and Cubs start the season in Chicago's Wrigley Field, the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick and top position prospect Bryce Harper will make his first Triple-A start in the Syracuse Chiefs' outfield. Asked if there was any chance that the 19-year-old outfielder wouldn't make it to the majors this year, the Nats' GM said, "Well, I mean, if he's not ready developmentally to come to the big leagues then he won't. We don't feel that that's the case. We feel that he's far enough along in his development where a few tweaks here and there, more at bats, log more games in center field that we feel that he will be major league ready, but yeah, I guess there's a chance that he won't get to the big leagues this year, I wouldn't go to Vegas and bet on it. But this guy's talent is so above and beyond that he's not your normal developmental schedule and the normal developmental player."
The future is bright for the Nats. It all starts today.
• I'll post the full audio HERE when it's available.