Welcome to this week’s edition of National Matters with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo.
This week, Rizzo fielded another round of questions from fans about everything from the Nationals’ major league roster to the status of some of their top prospects - and more of his preferences in Italian food.
Emmi: What is your line up philosophy? Do you believe in getting a stable line up or the combinations and permutations that we are currently seeing? Which do you believe is the way to build a dynasty? Which builds a loyal fan following?
Mike Rizzo: Dear Emmi, My philosophy of lineup creation is dependent on the personnel that is available. In a perfect world, I would prefer to have a stable and consistent player at each position and a deep bench. Having options and flexibility in certain positions are the makings of consistent winners.
Section 222: Mike, what do you have for breakfast in the morning? No seriously, you seem committed to the platoon round robin for the RF slot in the Nationals lineup. Assuming we get adequate fielding, what kind of hitting from those players do you think is sufficient to view this approach as a success? Combined OPS might be one stat to use, but feel free to refer to others.
Mike Rizzo: Dear Section 222, The platoon in RF has given us superb defense, speed, base stealing ability, athleticism, and some offensive production. It is also giving several players an opportunity to take the next step in their ML careers. It will be interesting to see who takes that next step and becomes an everyday productive ML player.
Anonymous: Dear Mike Rizzo, did you ever try Crispelli when you were growing up? Pizza fritte? Yep, still thinking about food here. Maybe these questions may be asking too much? What is the status of last year’s draft pick Nate Karns? His arm appears to be the closest in the system to that of Strasburg? What do you think of Erik Arneson this year? How close do you think he is to coming up to join the Nats bullpen?
Mike Rizzo: I have never tried Crispelli, but I’m very adventurous. Growing up in an Italian household, my mom was a tremendous cook. (She made the BEST meatballs and gravy).
Nate Karns is a stuff guy. He has a big arm and is a physical pitcher. He is in the process of harnessing his stuff and being more consistent. Erik Arneson is a fine prospect and has been a good performer for this organization. He is a member of a number (a growing number) of a deep inventory of ML caliber pitchers.
Eric: Hi, Mike, looking at the Harrisburg and Syracuse schedules, is it safe to say that Stephen Strasburg will be making one more start at home this weekend for Harrisburg before getting promoted to Syracuse? If he’s promoted now, his first Triple-A start would be on the road. And, is Drew Storen going with him to Syracuse after this weekend?
Mike Rizzo: Dear Eric, Drew and Stephen’s developmental time tables are independent of one another. Each player in our organization has a developmental plan that is unique to him. As it turns out Drew has been promoted to Syracuse today.
Matt: Mr. Rizzo, Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman says Stephen Strasburg has a clause in his contract that permits 100 innings at the major league level this year. Is this true, and is this a normal thing to put into contract negotiations?
Mike Rizzo: Dear Matt, there is absolutely no clause in Stephen Strasburg’s (or any other player I’ve ever signed) contract that dictates how a player can or should be developed.