D.C. GM Mike Rizzo A Day In The Life In Quotes:
Before they had Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo on their show "Power Alley" for an interview this past Wednesday, Sirius/XM's MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy spent a few minutes in a segment about things that made them say "Really?" talking about the Nats' public pursuit of the top free agent pitcher on the market, left-hander Cliff Lee. "I say, 'Really?' with Lee and the Nationals because he's not going to a place that has really no chance to win next year," Mr. Duquette said.
"No he's not," Kevin Kennedy chimed in, "I mean from their vantage point, can they step up and pay a lot of money? I guess they did with [Mark] Teixeira, but Teixeira's from that area basically..."
"And he's an everyday guy and he would have an instant draw [on] a daily basis," Mr. Duquette said before mentioning how Stephen Strasburg had drawn fans to the park, but only for his starts with the crowds noticeably smaller when other Nats' starters took the mound. When the D.C. GM appeared on their show later that afternoon, Mr. Rizzo admitted that he wasn't going to, "...delude myself to the fact that we have a great chance of landing Cliff Lee," :
"We have contacted his agent and begun discussions with him, but I'm certainly not going to put all my eggs in the Cliff Lee basket cause I think the chances of Cliff wanting to come to the Washington Nationals at this time in our franchise is small."
In answering the next question about the pitching talent the Nats already have in the organization, Mr. Rizzo listed the names of five starters (a coincidence, I'm sure) that are already on the Nationals' roster: Jordan Zimmermann, Yunesky Maya, John Lannan, Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis. The general manager has been vocal about his desire to add (via trade or free agency) a top-of-the-rotation pitcher to the mix in order to, as he explained it himself in a press conference toward the end of the season, "...put everybody in what we feel is their proper place in the rotation," as Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore had reported at the time in an article entitled, "Mike Rizzo makes a No. 1 starter the Nationals' offseason priority". (ed. note - "Add Strasburg to the top of the list of pitchers mentioned above and you have a good idea of what the 2011 Nats' rotation was supposed to look like before the '09 no.1 overall pick went down with the blown elbow. During an interview this past Wednesday, Mr. Rizzo described Strasburg as a 'man on a mission' who's going to continue his rehab, get back and, "show the National League what he can do.'")
This weekend, MLB.com's Bill Ladson's baseball sources were telling him, as reported in an article entitled, "Nationals show interest in lefty De La Rosa" that the former Rockies' left-hander Jorge De La Rosa was a target for the Nationals, with Mr. Ladson noting the pitcher's history with the Nats' GM:
"De La Rosa is a pitcher whom Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is familiar with. It was Rizzo, then the scouting director for the D-backs, who signed De La Rosa to his first professional contract in 1998."
De La Rosa wasn't the only pitcher with ties to the former D-Backs' scouting director to be mentioned as a potential target for the Nats this winter. Following Wednesday's "fashion show" revealing Washington's redesigned uniforms, the Nats' PR staff made all of the players who had participated in the event and the GM available for a quick round of questions and someone asked the D.C. GM for his thoughts on free agent pitcher and former D-Backs' 8th Round pick in the 2000 Draft, Brandon Webb:
Mike Rizzo: "Brandon Webb is one of many people that we're talking to and talking about and looking into. I do have a great relationship with him. I've known him since he was a junior at the University of Kentucky, so we go way back and the guy's won a Cy Young and a couple of second in Cy Young, so he's an accomplished pitcher."
Asked if he thought there would be more trades with the lack of big free agents available this winter, Mr. Rizzo predicted that it would be an "active trade market" that would, "...go hand in hand with the free agent market." Asked, without mentioning any names in particular (whispers: "Dunn.") whether or not the Nats set internal deadlines on negotiations with certain players before they moved on to other options, Mr. Rizzo said that there is, "...an ebb and flow of how these negotiations go and the timing of them, and with the experience I've had in the past of doing these things, they kind of work themselves out."
"Our philosophy is pitching, defense, speed and athleticism," Mr. Rizzo said, repeating a mantra he'd uttered earlier in the day during the MLB Network Radio interview. "Specifically in the National League and especially in the National League East, so that's a philosophy that we've been working towards with our draft picks and our major league roster and we're going to continue to follow that philosophy throughout."
One other situation that will resolve itself in Spring Training involves the suddenly crowded situation behind the plate with Jesus Flores threatening to return from the shoulder woes which have cost him most of the last two seasons while the Nats went out and signed Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and acquired highly-regarded backstop prospect Wilson Ramos in a late season trade. "Our plan for Flores," Rizzo said is for Flores "get some at bats under his belt" in the Venezuelan Winter League and then "...try to win a job as a catcher on the Nationals in 2011." "We do have some depth at that position," Mr. Rizzo continued, "...it's going to be great competition between Wilson and Jesus Flores and couple that with a veteran Pudge Rodriguez and a youngster like Derek Norris behind them, I think we've got a good quality stable of young, good, impact-type catchers."
Now the Nats just have to find that top-of-the-rotation-arm to throw to whichever catchers win the roster spots...and find the big middle-of-the-order bat to replace Dunn if he walks...and fill in the bench roles...and maybe a bullpen arm...