Results tagged ‘ Mike Rizzo ’

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 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.   

Riggleman, Rizzo confirm meeting with Guzman

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman said that Cristian Guzman is their shortstop for 2009, but have not ruled out switching him to second base for next season.

It was revealed by on Thursday that Rizzo and Riggleman had a private meeting with Guzman and asked him to switch to second base for the 2010 season.

Guzman, who did not give Rizzo and Riggleman an answer, was in shock and told them he never played second base in his life. The only other position Guzman has played other than shortstop was in the 2008 All-Star Game when he played third base for the National League team.

“We talked with Guzman about that and what I foresee happening and what Mike Rizzo foresees happening is that some move will probably be made for the good of the ballclub,” Riggleman said. “We came in last place. We’ve had a struggling year. We can’t just say, we’re in good shape, let’s go get ’em

“We’ve got to try to improve and one of the things we’ve identified is that we need one more middle infielder. … If that middle infielder is a second baseman, then Guzman is a shortstop. If that middle infielder is a shortstop, then we need to see if we can make Guzman a second baseman because that’s a pretty good bat. We’ve got to keep our options open.”

Rizzo, who feels Guzman could prolong his career if he moves to second base, is looking for a defensive-oriented middle infielder.

“I’m looking more toward a really good defensive-oriented middle infielder because it helps our pitching staff,” Rizzo said. “I’m not going to rule out an offensive second baseman or shortstop because we don’t want to close any doors but what [are] looking for is a defensive guy, so we’re much stronger up the middle.”

Washington has been concerned about Guzman’s defense almost all season. They have been alarmed that Guzman is having problems going to his left on groundballs.

David Villavicencio contributed to this report.

Nats ask Guzman to play second base in 2010

The Nationals may not be looking to sign a free agent like second baseman Orlando Hudson this offseason.

It was learned that general manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman had a private meeting with shortstop Cristian Guzman on Thursday afternoon and asked him to switch to second base for the 2010 season.

Guzman, who did not give Rizzo and Riggleman an answer, was in shock and told them he never played second base in his life. The only other position Guzman has played other than shortstop was in the 2008 All-Star Game when he played third base for the National League team.

If Guzman agrees to the switch, that means the Nationals most likely will look for a shortstop during the offseason.

Will Ian Desmond get that chance to become the everyday shortstop? It’s hard to tell, but he got off to a quick start on Thursday night by going 2-for-4 and driving in four runs in his Major League debut against the Phillies.

Washington has been concerned about Guzman’s defense almost all season. They have been alarmed that Guzman is having problems going to his left on groundballs.

In the past, Riggleman believed that a foot injury has hampered Guzman’s ability to go to his left, but no one knows how Riggleman feels now because he was not available for comment.

Both Rizzo and Guzman declined to talk about the possible move to second.  

Nationals plan to revamp bullpen

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo revamped the bullpen twice this season because the relievers had problems getting hitters out.

The bullpen has improved after the second round of changes, but look for Rizzo to make more changes this offseason.

Entering Tuesday action against the Phillies, the Nationals’ relievers have a combined 5.17 ERA and 25 saves. Washington’s most productive relievers have been Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Mike MacDougal, but it needs more than those three guys to be successful in 2010.

The other five relievers on the 25-man roster — Jason Bergmann, Victor Garate, Jorge Sosa,  Ron Villone and Saul Rivera — will either not be back with the team next year or have to prove once again that they belong on the big club.

“I think it’s a major point of emphasis for the offseason,” Rizzo said. “We have gotten better. We kind of revamped the bullpen and the difficult time to do it is during the season. I think we have done a good job of that. We have many more capable hearts than we did at the beginning of the season. But I’m certainly not satisfied with it.”

Rizzo did not say which relievers he was interested in this offseason, but one person who could help the Nationals is right-hander Drew Storen, the team’s first-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

He had a phenomenal first season in professional baseball, going a combined 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA, eight saves and 49 strikeouts in 37 innings for Class A Hagerstown, Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg. Storen is considered the Nationals’  closer of the future.

“We are starting the building process [in the Minor Leagues]. We have the makings of guys we can rely on,” Rizzo said.                   

Frank Thomas puts Mike Rizzo on baseball map

In 1989, Mike Rizzo was a Midwest and Southeast territorial scout for the White Sox. That year, Rizzo, then 28, scouted a player named Frank Thomas from Auburn University.

Rizzo insisted that the White Sox draft the right-handed hitting slugger in the first round, but Thomas was not a consensus pick among members of the organization

“I learned how to go after a player passionately, fight for your player and fight to draft the right guy at the right spot,” Rizzo said 20 years later.

The White Sox ended up drafting Thomas in the first round of the 1989 First-Year Player Draft. Not too long after that, Rizzo helped Chicago negotiate Thomas’ first professional contract.It was the first time Rizzo ever dealt with a player agent for such a large sum of money.

Thomas signed and ended up having a great career in the big leagues, hitting .301 with 521 home runs, 1,704 RBIs and two American League MVP awards.

“It was the shinning point of my career.” Rizzo said. 


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