Rizzo on Dunn, Lee and progression of young defense

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo checked in late last week with his thoughts on the possibility of resigning Adam Dunn and going after pitcher Cliff Lee. He also agrees that good ball clubs are built up the middle and is excited about the Nats young talent at those positions.

Rizzo is pleased with how the off season talks are going for the team as a whole, not just in the possibility of getting Dunn back.

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"Things are going well on all fronts," says Rizzo.

"We have the Adam Dunn decision but we also have about 20 other decisions we have to make in the ball club. We have a lot of irons in the fire. We are talking to a lot of people, Adam is certainly one of them. We are moving along and trying to field the best team we can."

He knows it will be tough to wrestle a pitcher like Cliff Lee away from the Yankees or the Rangers and said he would not allow the Nats to be used as leverage to get a free agent a fatter contract with another team.

"We have to take each case individually," says Rizzo.

"We are going to be very realistic on our chances to sign Cliff Lee. We are going to speak to him and speak to his representatives. We certainly are not going to put all our eggs in the 'Cliff Lee' basket because we are going to be one of many teams that will inquire about his services."

"We are certainly going to make a prudent baseball move via free agency over via trade. We are certainly not going to make a move for move sake."

Manager Jim Riggleman says he was happy with the way the young talent on the Nats like Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos got a chance to play in 2010. Rizzo agrees with Riggleman that the middle of the defense, from catcher to center field, is important to extended success.

"Sure, every team has their philosophies," says Rizzo.

"We have our philosophies: pitching, defense, speed and athleticism wins championships. We have seen it year in and year out. We like the young core that we have. Whenever you are strong up the middle on defense, that is a big part of your ball club. We need Wilson, Ian, Danny, and Nyjer (Morgan) to take the next step in their development and become the players that we think they can."

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