"I never thought we were going to do anything at this point," Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters after the 2012 MLB Non-Waiver Trade Deadline passed without the Nats making any moves. "I like this ballclub," the manager continued, "And everything is functioning well." In an appearance on MASN during Tuesday night's loss to the Phillies, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talked to hosts Bob Carpernter and FP Santangelo about why the Nats stuck with what they had rather than going out and making a deal before the deadline passed.
"We had a plan in place going into the deadline," the Nationals' general manager explained, "and we really did the bulk of our roster construction this winter. And we put together and constructed this roster the way that we felt it needed to be and our outlook going into the trade deadline was if we can't clearly upgrade at a position that would be a long-term type of acquisition we weren't going to go into it with any spare parts and any rentals that [were] going to cost us minor league players for two or three months of the season."
The Nationals are in first place in the NL East and they own the second-best record in baseball through 102 games. With the playoffs a possibility for the first time since the franchise relocated to the nation's capital, however, the Nats' GM said their place in the standings didn't affect their decision-making process. "It really didn't," Rizzo explained, "We had a clear agenda going into the trade deadline and actually leading up to the trade deadline, and it was, 'What were we going to obtain and what was it going to do for us in the long-term if we can upgrade ourselves?'"
"Everyone talks about us needing a pitcher because of shutting Strasburg down later on in the season," the general manager continued, "but if we weren't going to upgrade and get one of those elite pitchers, which is going to cost you three or four of your minor league players, your good ones, that secondary tier of pitchers, we feel that we have those guys in-house. John Lannan is a pitcher that won 10 games in the big leagues, threw 200 innings for two or three years in a row and has a sub-4.00 ERA for his career, so that's a real pitcher and we felt that we couldn't do any better in the trade market."
"There was just nothing out there that was going to upgrade us and put us in a better position to win than we already are," Rizzo said, but that doesn't mean there's no possibility of upgrading what they have going forward. "You're never done," the Nats' GM explained to Mr.'s Carpenter and Santangelo, "After the trade deadline is passed like right now, it's just a different type of trade deadline now. Players have to pass through waivers, then you discuss trades."
"We had a lot of irons in the fire," Rizzo concluded, "but there was nothing that we wanted to pull the trigger that would help us long-term."
The statement not making a move made, according to the GM, was to say, "We're twenty-one games over .500, we've got the team in place right now with this group to win on a consistent basis. We don't need to go out and make a blockbuster trade because we've got our team right here in place."
• Rizzo On Strasburg:
There is an innings limit. But it's not exactly an innings limit. There are a number of factors that will be considered. The Nationals have said as much all throughout the process of getting Stephen Strasburg back on the mound following Tommy John surgery. Last night on MASN, the Nats' GM gave the clearest explanation yet of how the Nationals will go about deciding when their 24-year-old ace has had enough in his first full-year back from the injury to his elbow.
"I think it's a combination of things," Rizzo said, "These decisions are put in place... certainly the medical professionals [like] Dr. Lew Yocum who was the surgeon who did [Strasburg's] surgery and Jordan Zimmermann's surgery, he is very much involved in this decision-making process. Also the representative for [Strasburg] is involved in it. Stras himself will be involved in it and ultimately it's the general manager's decision what we want to do and when we want to do it and I'm going to make it and I'll sleep like a baby after I make it because I know we're doing the right thing."
"I think it's workload. It's analyzation of how he works," Rizzo explained, breaking down the decision-making process, "How many stressful innings does he have? How many 30+ pitch innings has he had? We've got a litany of documentation and information that we're going to use and we're going to supplement that with the advice of our surgeons, our medical director Wiemi Douoghi and a lot of people are going to be involved in this decision and to give us a roadmap on how to handle it and ultimately when it's going to happen it will be my decision and we're going to move on from then."
• On 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show this afternoon, the Nats' GM was asked about all the experts out there who've offered opions about what the Nationals are doing with Strasburg this season. Why is there such a difference of opinion on just how many innings Strasburg will throw this season? The general manager's response? "People don't know what the hell they're talking about," Rizzo said, "This decision is going to be coming from the organization. The speculators on ESPN, MLB Network, they're guessing. We have a plan for him. We know exactly what the number of innings [is] going to be. And when I feel that he's had enough innings we're going to pull the plug on him."
• Listen to this week's edition of 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier: