Sunday, June 28, 2009


Interim GM Mike Rizzo seems to have a good idea what he is doing.

From the get-go of taking charge of the day-to-day baseball operations of Our Washington Nationals, he's certainly been decisive. Whether or not, Sohna and I agree with everything Mr. Rizzo's done--we've appreciated his boldness. He's continually revamped Our Bullpen under duress by effectively salvaging the junk pile of Free Agency. No, it's not been a perfect solution--but "Riz" (as Team President Stan Kasten likes to call him) has done a solid job of stabilizing some horrific early season relief work. Just look at Mike MacDougal, he may well be a keeper.

That work; Rizzo's propensity for hoarding ground ball pitchers; and a 2009 Draft--whether or not you liked all the picks chosen--had not just rhyme but reason behind each of the choices--giving more stability to an ever fluctuating organization. Recall, in a reported pitching heavy draft--it made sense to take as many hurlers as you could. If you get fortunate enough to find a few goodies--you might be able to package some of those, or a few in your current system--to pickup the everyday players well needed later to fill out a successful team down the line.

This so-called plan has merit. The thought process solid. Mike Rizzo has admitted he doesn't have a lot of faith in "Toolsy"" players as his first choice. They have their place, he recently stated. Instead, Our Interim GM wants solid talent to maneuver in whatever way he can to improve the product on the field.

Take today's two roster moves as a good example of making the most of your parts.

As much as some liked to dismiss what Ryan Langerhans could do on the field--he is an excellent defensive outfielder, with solid speed and the ability to get on base (patience at the plate)--although his path back to The Major Leagues was clearly blocked by younger or more veteran players--who NEED to play in The Big Leagues right now. The showcasing part of the game.

And with most all odds mostly against Langerhans returning--Mike Rizzo still understood Ryan had value. Today, trading Langerhans to The Seattle Mariners for a utility player with some pop in his bat--Mike Morse. It's a solid move for both teams. Ryan Langerhans will now have a better of chance of returning to The Major Leagues. And Mike Morse will be next in line to be the all-around utility guy every franchise needs in their dugout. Seven years younger than Ronnie Belliard--you have figure that Our Number 10's days as A Washington National might well be numbered (as much as that pains The African Queen).

Then, Rizzo's final roster decision this Sunday--after the conclusion of a solid 5-3 Victory over The Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards--was to NOT lose any one player just yet of that 25-Man Roster. Instead why not bide time, look at other favorable circumstances possibly coming, while giving a young 22-year old the opportunity to win back his confidence in The Minor Leagues. Mike Rizzo understood who was the one with a true future here in The Nation's Capital that needed to be protected. All the while--recalling to the starting rotation--a veteran lefthander acquired this past winter from Florida who supposedly was set to be a staple in the lineup.

Raise your hand if you thought Shairon Martis was going to be sent down today to AAA Syracuse when Scott Olsen was removed from The Disabled List?


I really didn't think so. The solid money was bet on either Joel Hanrahan or Jesus Colome being Designated For Assignment.

When you look at the entirety of the decision, it makes sense right now. Martis has struggled of late. He's hasn't pitched with confidence--too many ahead in the count hits or home runs. We (as fans) have not seen that same Shairon Martis witnessed at Nationals Park on May 3rd against The St. Louis Cardinals. The complete game 6-1 Masterpiece by Shairon. Our Number 39 needs to find himself again. And Our Interim GM understood that.

A solid roster move.

Also, Craig Stammen may be a little more polished--being three years older means a lot more here. This is Craig Stammen's Time to find out whether he can succeed on Baseball's Biggest Stage. Shairon Martis will get another chance. Realize, Martis hasn't lost face. He's exceeded expectations and now has hit a bump in the road. He's only temporarily lost his Major League Starting Rotation Position.

In the meantime, Our Number 35 needs to find out whether he belongs for sure.

That status--which Scott Olsen will have to work hard to resurrect his once promising career. Olsen may well have his personal confidence back, but Washington needs to find out whether they can trust this southpaw that has struggled to reach 90 MPH on his fastball over the past year. Will his heater return? And if it hasn't, has Our Number 19 the wherewithal to become a pitcher--not just a thrower.

This is how you build a team--for the future--making the tough decisions without being forced.

Four players and their positions in The Big League Game of Baseball were directly affected today. And in each case, Mike Rizzo gave each and every one of them another chance to succeed in The Major Leagues--even if that meant Ryan Langerhans now plays for The Seattle Mariners. Under Our Interim GM's reign--forward movement is being accomplish. The proper judgement of the talent currently on hand is taking place. What's needed for the short-term and long-term success of Our Washington Nationals is being discussed.

Joel Hanrahan and Jesus Colome may well feel like they received a reprieve from Mike Rizzo today--both are still on the active roster. But what Mr. Rizzo really did this afternoon was serve notice. No one is lucky to be on a Major League 25-Man Roster. And once someone better comes along or becomes available--you will be replaced. No one is safe--even if you have survived for another day in The Big Leagues.

Clearly, no one is going to force Mike Rizzo's hand. When the time comes and any move can be properly and reasonably made--then and only then--will Our Washington Nationals make a final decision. Clutter hasn't affected Our Interim GM's thoughts. Ill-fitting parts have not forced rushed judgement. A losing record has not brought on panic.

Although not yet given The Permanent Title, Mike Rizzo has steadied Our Washington Nationals and brought professional opinion to every single one of his moves. He's raised the awareness that not all judgements involving DC Baseball are performed at random. There really is a plan with this guy. And in doing so, Mr. Rizzo has raised the spirit of The African Queen and I. Being 30 games below .500 has taken its toll on us, but knowing "Riz" has brought a sound philosophy to his work--has given us even more confidence that Our Washington Nationals are really moving in the right direction--even if he scares Sohna at some times.

You may recall, he told Sohna: "I scare myself sometimes too!"

Now, let's just remove that "Interim" title while we are at it.

PS--Although having Club Level Tickets today at Camden Yards, Sohna and I couldn't make the final game of the three game set in Baltimore between Our Washington Nationals and The Orioles--personal business took priority beginning late last night. But, we would have loved to see Adam Dunn's Blast that bounced on Eutaw Street and then off a 2nd floor window of The B & O Warehouse. And we would have enjoyed seeing John Lannan continue to make himself a solid Major League Starter. Lannan's quickly becoming the stopper of losing streaks in the rotation. Curly "W" Number 22 was a well played game by DC's Team. We believe Our Franchise has some parts--just not enough of them yet. But with Mike Rizzo calling the shots--we are more confident than ever that Our Washington Nationals are turning the corner back to respectability.

PPS--Finally, Sohna and I wish Shari & Ryan Langerhans well. We've never been ashamed of cheering for good people like them to be successful. Like The Schneider's, The Church's and Chad Cordero before them, The Langerhans' always appreciated our efforts, and fandom, here at Nats320. They respected our hard work and were always available to chat with us if we happened to come across them at the park or team events. It's still the hardest part of being a fan of any Major League Team when the business side always takes priority. We've come to understand--the personal side is always fleeting. But we are happy and pleased that we came to know Shari & Ryan Langerhans, ever so slightly, during their time here in Washington, DC. We wished we knew them better, but they considered us friends.

And we will forever be content with that.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


SenatorNat said...

Martis has option(s) left, so that definitely influenced the decision. Olsen is likely to get lit up over the course of his next three-four starts, beginning tonight v. his old team. That will mean another re-shuffling, in all likelihood, with Ballister brought back up, Colume dispached, and Olsen going to the pen. (Trade of Rauch, in essence, for Willingham, worth it, regardless of Olsen.)

Team still understandably reluctant to give up on Hanrahan based on his youth and his fastball just yet. But, they will eventually...

Stan committed a bit of a freudian slip saying he wants to develop three longterm starters in 2010 - he meant 2009, but truth is that next year is going to be the same goal. At this point, I would guess that team has penciled in Zimmermann as their longterm Number 2; Lannan longterm Number 3; Detwiler longterm 5. Guess is that Strasburg is projected Number 1 and Jack McCreary (sp?) Number 5.

They are figuring that among Ballister; Martis; Stammen; and the guy from U of Georgia (Trevor ?) they have replacements within the plan, and/or stopgap guys. All playing for the minimum or on scale for foreseeable future, critical to the plan.

I have been saying since April that Nats need a lead-off hitter to permit Guz, Johnson, Z-man, and Dunn to move back one spot in the line-up. Acta is now doing this with Willie Harris.

Willingham is in the present and future for Nats, for good reason. Fans recognized this early - but Kearns was getting $8 million and is good guy, so team waited until it couldn't any longer. He will play less and less...If a deal is done at mid-season, bringing in another outfielder, like Pittsburgh's Morgan, as reported, I foresee him being let go, like FLOP last season...

New York sports radio continues to say that Mets are going for one of the two Nats Johnson or Dunn - probably Johnson, since "Nats will not trade Dunn"! If Johnson traded, Dunn would obviously then go to first base.

I prefer swapping Dunn, but team apparently loves his power numbers and $10 million contract set for 2010, less than what Johnson will demand on the open market probably. Nick's lower shin blowing up on that hit by pitch probably reminded team how fragile he is, too...

But Dunn as regular first-baseman is a terrible situation for the infield. Gonzalez at short, and Guz at second with Hernandez on the bench would seem to be a smart move for 2010 - but consider this: Guz cannot go to his left, which is what a second baseman does...Perhaps he could set up in short right field a la Belliard.

Truth is that Dunn and Guz are DH's - they should both be dealt to the American League to perform as such. They are substantial liabilities whereever they are placed in the field now and will be increasingly so in the future.

Nats really have no parts of the everyday puzzle figured-out besides catcher and third base. And they have only two starters figured at this point. And no closer...

Trust in pitching by the numbers. But no Dunn deal. "Blame it on the Riz!" All acting.

carolync said...

I've been a Ronnie Belliard fan since he came. I know his days with the club are numbered but it hurts to see it in writing. His feisty spirit and timely hitting won't be easily replaced.

NatsGuy said...

I think you are being a little optimistic on McGreary. He is still having considerable problems in low minors. Give him a chance but don't pencil him in till he at least makes it to Harrisburg.

Drew Storen also seems to be having troubles with the long ball. When they hit it off him they hit monsters. I think he might have to go back to go back to Vermont.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Even Storen admitted in his introductory press conference with the media he had troubles this past season at Stanford with giving up too many home runs--challenging hitters and not locating his pitches well.