Results tagged ‘ Mike Rizzo ’

Nats tender contracts to five, agree to terms with two others

Entering Thursday, the Nationals had 10 players who were eligible for salary arbitration. Five of them — pitchers Sean Burnett, John Lannan and Doug Slaten and outfielders Michael Morse, and Josh Willingham — were tendered contracts, while catcher Jesus Flores and infielder Alberto Gonzalez agreed to terms on new deals. However, catcher Wil Nieves and right-handers Joel Peralta and Chien-Ming Wang became free agents.

Letting Nieves and Wang walk was not a surprise, for the Nationals are loaded with catchers, which made Nieves expendable, and Wang pitched in 24 games in the past three seasons.

However, letting Peralta get away was a surprise. Peralta had the best season of his career, posting a 2.02 ERA in 39 games. He allowed one run in his final 15 innings. General manager Mike Rizzo wasn’t available for comment.

Terms were not disclosed on Gonzalez and Flores. Gonzalez  is a valuable player off the bench, but his attitude must change when it comes to playing time. He was often upset when taken out of games.

Flores enters the 2011 season as the No. 3 catcher. It didn’t help that he missed most of the past two years because of a right shoulder injury. The Nationals haven’t ruled out Flores starting next season in the Minor Leagues.

Burnett, Lannan, Morse, Slaten and Willingham will have a hearing sometime in February unless they agree to terms with the club.

Of the five players, Willingham appears to the one person who could be traded before the 2011 season gets underway. Willingham is a free agent after the ’11 season and it is believed the Nationals want young players in return for the right-handed hitting slugger.

Kasten happy Rizzo received extension

Former Nationals president Stan Kasten was happy to learn that the club promoted general manager Mike Rizzo to executive vice president of baseball operations and gave him a five-year extension. 

The Nationals started talking to Rizzo about an extension after Kasten resigned from his role as president of the club.

When reached by phone, Kasten said the Nationals giving Rizzo the extension is an important demonstration of stability for the franchise.

“It’s something every successful franchise needs,” Kasten said via telephone. “It a great step for the franchise and also a great indication to the fans about how serious the organization is about building long-term success.” 

It was Kasten who lured Rizzo away from the D-Backs in 2006 to become the Nationals’ director of scouting. For the next two-plus seasons, Kasten groomed Rizzo for his future role.

Rizzo would be named interim GM in March of 2009 and received full-time status a few months later.         
                                 
“Mike has a real gift for examining players and being able to tell which players are going to be successful and the ones who are not. It’s not a perfect science, obviously,” Kasten said.  “It was very clear he wanted to be a GM. He was preparing for it while he was a scouting director — learning everything he could.

“He asked good questions to the best people in the business, With addition to having all the skills to being a scout, he also did other things that he could to become a GM.”

Since becoming the GM, the Nationals are loaded with young pitchers — including 2009 No. 1 overall Draft pick Stephen Strasburg, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery — who are expected to make an impact in the big leagues very soon.

The team also has its share of sluggers in the system including Bryce Harper who is expected to be in the big leagues in two years.

“In the last two years, we’ve seen, I think, all of the good things that Mike has been able to do. And I think you could look forward to even more of that now and going forward,” Kasten said.            

Solis close to signing with Nats

It looks like a deal is close to getting done between the Nationals and left-hander Sammy Solis, the team’s second-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, according to a baseball source.

The Nats have until Monday at midnight to get a deal done. 

The source said the talks between the two parties are amicable, and the Nationals are doing everything they can to get a deal done before the deadline.

Nationals president Stan Kasten, general manager Mike Rizzo and Solis’ advisor Nez Balelo were not available for comment.

The 6-foot-5, 228-pound left-hander came back after missing nearly all of the 2009 season with a herniated disc in his back.

Solis suffered the injury while lifting weights two years ago, and it limited him to two games that year. Opting against surgery, he spent an entire summer rehabbing and getting back in shape at “Athletes Performance” in Arizona.

All of the hard work he did in getting back from that injury eventually paid off. Solis went 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA for the University of San Diego this season. He struck out 92 batters and walking 29 in 92 innings.

“I’ve put in a lot of hours and a lot of hard work, and to have it finally pay off, especially with the Nationals, it’s really exciting,” Solis said back in June. “The Nationals are young and up and coming. I know that they have good people in there, move guys up quick and are going to treat me right.”

Associate reporter Greg Rosenstein contributed to this report.

Dunn placed on waivers

The Nationals have placed first baseman Adam Dunn on waivers Tuesday, according to a source outside of the Nationals organization.

A player exposed to waivers can be claimed by any team, and if there are multiple claims, the player would be offered to the team with the worst record. At that point, a team has 48 hours to either try to work out a trade with the claiming club or remove the player from waivers. A player can only be pulled back from waivers once, but if he clears waivers either the first or second time through, a team can attempt to trade him to any club. 

“There is always a possibility [we could make a trade before that date],” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said about the Aug. 31 deadline. “We are always looking to do our jobs and improve the ballclub. When contenders are interested in your players, it means you have playoff-caliber players on your team that people want.”

The big unknown is if Dunn will sign an extension before Aug. 31. Dunn hopes so, but his price may be too high. He is asking for a four-year deal, but he is willing to listen to a three-year offer.

Entering Tuesday’s action against the Diamondbacks, Dunn is hitting .276 with 26 home runs and 67 RBIs for Washington.

 

Riggleman to manage Nats next season

General manager Mike Rizzo told MLB.com on Friday afternoon that Jim Riggleman will manage the Nationals in 2011.

Last offseason, Riggleman signed a two-year deal, but only 2010 is guaranteed. The team could have bought him out after this season.

Entering Friday’s action, Washington is 42-54, but are on pace to improve from last season, a season in which they went 59-103. It was Riggleman, who brought accountability back into the Nationals’ locker room for the first time since Frank Robinson managed the club from 2002 to 2006. 

“Yes, he will be back next season. He has done a terrific job,” Rizzo said. “We have a great relationship. He is a baseball rat. I can’t beat him to the ballpark. One of these days I’m going to beat him to the ballpark. He runs at 8:00 a.m. and he is at the ballpark by 11.

“He is a terrific baseball manager. He has great respect from his peers in this game. When the games starts, he is as good as anybody in the game. He has the respect in the clubhouse. He is a diligent worker and he is a loyal employee.” 

Said first baseman Adam Dunn, “I think Jim deserves it. I’m glad they made the announcement now instead of waiting until the end. He definitely deserves the opportunity to manage the club when its healthy.”

Riggleman, who was not available to for comment, replaced Manny Acta as manager of the Nationals after the All-Star Break last year. The club went 33-42 and finished the year on a seven-game winning streak.

This is Riggleman’s fourth managerial stint, after leading the Padres, Cubs and Mariners. His best season as a skipper was in 1998, when he guided the Cubs to the playoffs after they won a National League Wild Card tiebreaker over the Giants. The team lost to the Braves in the NL Division Series, 3-0. 

Rizzo would not confirm nor deny report on Maya

General manager Mike Rizzo would not confirm nor deny an ESPN Deportes report that the Nats have agreed to terms with right-hander Yuniesky Maya, who is from Cuba.

However, Rizzo raved about Maya, 28. Rizzo believes Maya could by in a Major League rotation sometime this year. Maya’s fastball has been clocked as high as 94 miles per hour. He also can throw a slider, curveball and changeup.

“He is battled tested and is seasoned,” Rizzo said. “We have seen him play in many tournaments over the years, so we feel we know him as well as anybody. He is a guy who has pitched a lot and knows his craft.

“If we get him, we have to see where he is at. We have seen him pitch quite a bit in the Dominican. We had guys monitoring quite closely. It will be like any new pitcher we acquire. He goes to Viera Fla., [the team's Spring Training complex] and we see where he is at.”

Maya played for the Cuban national baseball team and was a member of Cuban team during the 2006 and ’09 World Baseball Classic. In six Cuban National Series Seasons, Maya was 48-29 with 2.51 ERA.

“We know a lot about Maya. He is a young, poised, Major League-caliber pitcher,” Rizzo said. “He was the No 1 pitcher on a very success Cuban National team. There are a lot of teams that are on him. Some of the successful organizations would like to sign him and put him directly in the rotation and we are one of them.”

Maya left Cuba and is currently living in the Dominican Republic. While living in the Dominican, he has been working out and pitching in simulated games.
 

A message from Elijah Dukes

I really want to tell the fans of DC, Jim Bowden and Mike Rizzo thanks a lot for helping me out in many ways. I really grew up a lot because of those two guys. I also want to give a hug to Harolyn Cardozo and Willie Harris for the time that I needed people the most. A special thanks to them.                

Nats tidbits for Sunday

The Nationals still want a veteran starting pitcher, but don’t expect general manager Mike Rizzo to look hard for one on the free-agent market. In fact, the club is waiting for free-agent pitchers to come to them at the right price. 

So don’t look for the Nationals to break the bank for pitchers such as right-hander John Smoltz or left-hander Jarrod Washburn.   

“During the early part of the winter, we made sure we got things done,” Rizzo said. “I made sure we had a Major League veteran starter [Jason Marquis], Major League catcher [Ivan Rodriguez] and improved the bullpen [Matt Capps, Brian Bruney and Eddie Guardado]. We took care of that.
 
“I think during the second half of the offseason we are going to let a little bit of that come to us. We do think there is a surplus of people out there … that we are talking about. There is nobody … out there on the pitching market that is a difference maker.”      

* Center fielder Nyjer Morgan acknowledged that he needs to improve his batting average against left-handed pitching. Last season, for example, the left-handed hitting Morgan hit .175 with a homer and 12 RBIs against southpaws. 

“I’ll try to figure something out — if it’s a little adjustment,” Morgan said. “I’ll make something happen. Last year was probably my worst year of hitting lefties. Like I said, you got to take your lumps but you learn off your mistakes and you try to get better off your mistakes.”

* Right-hander Craig Stammen said he is willing to be a starter or reliever in 2010, but he is going into Spring Training believing that he will be a starter. Stammen said his right elbow is 100 percent after having bone spurs removed toward the end of the season.

* The Nationals displayed Ryan Zimmerman’s first Gold Glove at NatsFest. It was obvious that he was pleased to get the award.

“Defense is an important part of the game. It’s a part of the game that is overlooked,” he said. Everyone loves offense, home runs and everything. You have to be able to play defense and work hard for that, too. I take a lot of pride in that.”

Nationals tidbits for Wednesday

* With Matt Capps signed to a one-year deal, the Nationals have to take someone off their 40-man roster. General manager Mike Rizzo said the team will make a decision in the next couple of days after Capps’ contract is approved by Major League Baseball.

* Rizzo said he is not finished when it comes to improving the Nationals. Rizzo is looking for starting pitching and to get better on defense. The Nationals finished 16th in the National League in ERA [5.00], while leading the Majors in errors with 143.

“We are never finished,” Rizzo said. “We feel the club still has a lot of deficiencies. We never forget the fact that we won only 59 games last year. I don’t want to go through that again — ever.

“We can never get enough talented players and you can never get enough pitching. We are still going to remain busy up until Spring Training, through Spring Training and through the season to improve the club for 2010 and beyond.”

* Unlike his years with the Pirates, Capps will be able to go to his hometown, Atlanta, more often to see his mother and brother. Seeing his family is important than ever since his father, Mike, passed away in October.

At his informal press conference, Capps talked about not having his father during the free agency process.

“I can’t tell you how much I missed him during this whole process,” Capps said. “It was tough for me. I talked to Dad two or three times a day for the last eight years since I left home. Dad would read everything online and would read every newspaper. He would call me and say, ‘They are saying this and you are doing this.’ I would say, ‘Hey, dad, it’s great. I don’t know anything.’ I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to pick up the phone and call him.”             

Managerial search getting underway for Nats

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday that the search for a new manager will be in full swing soon. He also said there is a possibility the skipper may not be named until the postseason is over.

Rizzo has spent most of the offseason revamping the front office. Recently, the Nationals named Roy Clark vice president of player personnel, Johnny DiPuglia director of Latin American operations and Doug Harris director of player development. The team also promoted Kris Kline to director of scouting.

“The managerial search is going to begin a little bit more seriously in the very near future,” Rizzo said. “But I wanted to make sure we got these vital hirings in the front office as the first part of putting our plan in place.” 

Rizzo said interim manager Jim Riggleman is still a strong candidate to remain the manager. During the second half of the season, the Nationals went 33-42 under Riggleman.

“We are [getting ready] to make phone calls, cutting down a long list into a smaller list and discuss with specific people about the managerial job,” Rizzo said. “Like I said in the past, we have a terrific in-house candidate in Jim Riggleman, who has as good a chance as anybody to becoming the manager for the Washington Nationals. The search is going to begin a little more seriously in the very near future.”

Besides Riggleman, Chip Hale, Bob Melvin and Bobby Valentine most likely will get interviews. Another person the Nationals may look at is Dave Duncan, who is currently the pitching coach of the Cardinals. However, there are reports that Duncan most likely will return to St. Louis.

Through his representative, Burton Rocks, Riggleman said he was aware the Nationals were going to take care of the front office before searching for a manager.

“Mike had told Jim of his plan to revamp the front office first,” Rocks said. “Jim just wants the process to play out. Obviously, at the end of the day, Jim really enjoyed working for Mike and [team president] Stan Kasten. Jim wants to be a part of the entire Nationals family.” 

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