The Washington Nationals are in the midst of their hottest winning streak of the year and now it’s time to recognize the work that has been done by acting General Manager Mike Rizzo by removing the “acting” from his title.
In less than six months, Mike has proven that he is a legitimate major league baseball general manager.
He has brought stability and pride back to the organization. While he has made strides in cleaning up the mess that was handed to him in spring training, there is still plenty of work ahead; so why not lock him up for a few years and sign him to a multi-year deal to stay in Washington, D.C.?
When there were some concerns about the work being done in the Dominican Republic, Mike flew down there and took charge by closing down the Academy the Nats were working out of. He then oversaw the move to a new one - in a matter of days.
Overhauling the Bullpen
Mike recognized the bullpen was a problem and signed older stop-gap guys like Julian Tavarez, Kip Wells and Joe Beimel.
He brought in Ron Villone and helped rejuvenate the career of former KC closer Mike MacDougal.
Rizzo also saw an upside to Logan Kensing and Tyler Clippard and added them to a much maligned pen.
His no nonsense approach sent a message to the entire organization: If you do not perform you are out.
Firing St. Claire
In an effort to save then manager Manny Acta’s job, Mike made the hard decision to fire pitching coach Randy St. Claire and bring in Steve McCatty. While Mike appreciated St. Claire’s hard work, it clearly wasn’t working. McCatty’s old school approach has made a difference.
Steal of the Season
While no one could predict what Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett would be to the ballclub, it shows that Mike was hard at work behind the scenes. Many throughout baseball are still shocked that Rizzo was able to deal Lastings Milledge and his baggage along with under-performer Joel Hanrahan to the Pirates for Morgan and Burnett. And, remember this has all been done under six months time.
Riggleman Rejuvenates Clubhouse
At the time of former manager Manny Acta’s firing, Mike said a new voice might make a big difference. Well, since Jim Riggleman took over, there is a new attitude in the clubhouse and a never give up mentality. Jim Riggleman continues to get the most out of his players. The same personnel that scuffled under Manny have done wonders under Riggleman. (Hey, maybe he needs an extension, too but that’s a blog for another day.)
Mike’s Future is Bright
Consider that he has a knack for finding baseball talent (e.g. Frank Thomas, Brandon Webb, Justin Upton etc.) and he’s already shown that eye for talent in Washington with the likes of Jordan Zimmermann and Drew Storen. Plus, consider he was able to sign Storen immediately and the prospect has thrived in a professional atmosphere.
Who knows what the future holds, but let’s hope the organization recognizes the talent that Mike Rizzo brings to the ballclub and gives him the title he has earned: General Manager.