Results tagged ‘ Mike Rizzo ’

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.” 

Kris Kline becomes scouting director

The Nationals have decided that Kris Kline will be their scouting director, replacing Dana Brown, who is now the Blue Jays’ special assistant to the general manager.

An announcement regarding Kline is expected to be made sometime on Thursday.
The news comes less than a day after Roy Clark told the Braves he was going to join the Nationals as assistant general manager.

Together, Clark, Kline and general manager Mike Rizzo will be the go-to guys regarding the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

This past season, Kline was the team’s assistant scouting director and national crosschecker.

Kline and Rizzo were not available for comment.  

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.         

Riggleman not sure he will be back with Nats

Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman is not sure if he will back with the Nationals in 2010, but there is no denying the team had more fire on the field after he took over on July 13.

Entering Thursday action, the Nationals are 28-42 after the All-Star Break. General manager Mike Rizzo said Riggleman is a legitimate candidate for the permanent job.  

“I think Riggleman really did a good job handling the ballclub after the All-Star break,” Rizzo said. “I think he put us on pace to really focus and bare down on the fundamentals of the game — to play cleaner and more efficient ballgames. He had the players playing at a high level. I think he has done the best job he could with the ability level that he has.”

Rizzo did not say when he will make his decision about a permanent manager, but the search will not be as intensive compared to when the Nationals were looking for a manager after they dismissed Frank Robinson after the 2006 season.

“This is the evaluating time of the year. We are all being evaluated, Jim including. Jim has done a great job. It’s going to be an intense offseason and a busy one,” Rizzo said. “The ultimate goal is to make us a better ball club.”

Riggleman, who was an interim manager of the Mariners last year, has not had an formal interview with Washington, pointing out that he is being judged on the field.

“After going through it last year, I don’t make any assumptions. I know that I love to manage,” Riggleman said. “As I said before, the greatest thing to do in baseball is to play. You can’t play anymore. The next thing that really excite you is to manage. I love to manage, period.”

Unlike last offseason, Riggleman hasn’t made plans to get a  job with another team in case he doesn’t become the manager next year. Last winter, Riggleman became the bench coach of the Nationals even though he was a managerial candidate for the Mariners.

Rizzo denies talking to Nava

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo denied a report from ESPN.com that he has talked to Miguel Nava about the team’s scouting director’s position in Latin America. The two worked together when they were with the Diamondbacks. 

“The article is inaccurate,” Rizzo said. “I had a relationship with Miguel Nava in Arizona, but I have never talked to him about a job with Washington ever.”

Rizzo also said the team is looking for a new place to hold their Dominican Academy. The Nationals are currently using the Rawlings Academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic.

“While you guys had a day off on Labor Day, [team president] Stan Kasten, [principal owner]  Mark Lerner and myself flew to the Dominican Republic to finalize [a site] and construction of a Dominican academy,” Rizzo said. “We’re well underway to finalizing terms. There are three different sites that we’re looking at. There are a bunch of construction issues that we’re nailing down right now, but we’re well underway and it’s something that we’re looking forward to being in by next Spring Training.

“We’re well underway to getting something really special in the Dominican Republic and all of Latin America. We’re also well underway in terms of future considerations of staffing throughout international operations, specifically Latin America. [We have] a coordinator in the Dominican Republic. We’re conducting a search for a director of international operations, Venezuelan supervisors, and scouting staff throughout Latin America. We’ve got our [hands] in Aruba, Curacao, Nicaragua, Mexico and throughout all of Latin America.”

David Villavicencio contributed to this report.   

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