Rizzo talks about offseason, Harper, Dukes

The local media talked to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo about a few topics on Saturday. Here are some of things Rizzo had to say.

* Shortstop Cristian Guzman will have an MRI on Monday to determine what’s wrong with his ailing right shoulder. Whatever the doctors find, Rizzo expects Guzman to be ready for Spring Training. When he starts playing again, Guzman will most likely be the everyday second baseman. 

* Washington will end the season with the worst record in baseball, but it’s not a given that catcher Bryce Harper will be the team’s first overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft  Why?   

“I haven’t seen him yet. He certainly hasn’t separated himself like [pitcher] Stephen Strasburg did last year,” Rizzo said.        

* After the season, naming a full-time manager isn’t the only thing the Nationals have to take care of. 

The first order of business is to fill some holes in the front office. The Nationals are looking for an assistant general manager and a farm director. They need to get permission from other teams to talks to the candidates  for those jobs. There also will be adjustment of job titles in the front office.

* Rizzo believes Dukes has found a home in right field with the Nationals. Rizzo said Dukes is a guy who can drive in runs, but needs make adjustments at the plate. Dukes has only eight home runs entering Saturday’s action against Braves. Rizzo has a theory as to why Dukes has struggled to hit home runs. 

“A number of advance scouts are scouting him well. Opposing pitchers pitch him very tough. He needs to learn to make adjustments,” Rizzo said.  

All season Dukes has been vulnerable to breaking balls.         


Dukes looked lost today at the plate. Is he healthy? We don’t need another right fielder batting .225 or less for the season.

Yes, he has bad knees and needs to rest for most of the offseason.

Yes, he has bad knees and needs to rest for most of the offseason.

Dukes has not demonstrated an ability to hit for average, home runs, or RBI, in a corner outfield spot, which needs to produce power. They need to give up on such non-producers, like they finally did with Kearns this year. Dukes is also a holdover from the Bowden regine. At best, he is a 4th or 5th major league outfielder.

Willingham and Morgan are locks for LF and CF. Good to see Guzman at 2nd, even though he is very injury prone. Zimm at 3rd, Dunn at 1st, and Flores behind the plate is a very good lineup. The only thing missing is RF, and…..pitching, pitching, and more pitching. They need a proven closer, and two solid free agent starters to help Lannen.

The more I hear from Rizzo, the more I like him.

First, I think he is right about Dukes — at least I hope he is. Dukes is in a slump (like Dunn and Willingham), but I think he has MVP capability with a bit more polishing.

Second, I am glad he is not committed to Bryce Harper, for whatever reason. My concern with him is that he is 16 (17?), and thus will not be in the Majors for 4-5 years. That is, if he can hit a major leage breaking ball, something which is completely unknown. For all we know, he is another Willie Mo Pena.

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