Welcome to another edition of National Matters with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. This week, Rizzo sat down with MASNSports.com beat writer Ben Goessling to discuss his thoughts on the first quarter of the season, the upcoming draft and more:
Ben Goessling: We're about a quarter of the way through the season here. How would you assess the way the team has played so far? How are you feeling about things?
Mike Rizzo: I feel good about things. I'm upbeat about them. I see a lot of positive signs. We're not satisfied with the record we have, obviously. We felt we could have won several more games than we have. But I really like the effort and the intensity the guys are putting forth. I really couldn't be happier about that. Sometimes the results aren't always there, but it's not for lack of effort at any time. I feel pretty good about it.
BG: Is this about where you expected to be, record-wise?
Mike Rizzo: I didn't have a number of wins in mind for the first quarter of the season. We wanted to play better, cleaner, more efficient baseball games, and we have done that. I'm satisfied with the effort. I'm not satisfied with our record. We expect to win every game; we feel we can win every game; and we prepare to win every game. So when you do lose a couple in a row, it affects you. And the good thing about this club is, it really upsets them and makes them even more focused on the next game.
BG: Are there specific areas you've identified where you need to get better.
Mike Rizzo: Certainly. We're finding out more and more about ourselves every day. We've identified things that we need to improve upon, and we're taking specific steps to do that.
BG: What are your main areas right now?
Mike Rizzo: I'm not going to identify specific areas and stuff like that. Suffice it to say, we can never have enough pitching, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. And I'd like to get a little more offensive, a little more bat. That could be someone from the inside getting hot and carrying us for a while. Those are kind of the obvious things that we've noticed over the first quarter of the season.
BG: With Adam Dunn and the defensive improvements he's made at first base, where is he at versus where you want him to be?
Mike Rizzo: We know he's a terrific offensive player, one of the best in the game, among the most consistent in the game. And his defense is improving. The thing I like best about it is, he's putting so much effort into it. He's found a home there. I think he's much more comfortable there than he is in the outfield. And I think he's made great improvements.
BG: When he was putting in the extra work in the offseason, did you expect him to be at this point?
Mike Rizzo: I didn't know what to expect, really, as far as where he was going to be at the quarter post. I'm pleasantly surprised about where he's at. It's as much about the way he's gone after improving as it is about his improvement.
BG: He talks a lot about how everybody assumes he's destined for the American League and being a DH, and he says, 'No, I want to be in the National League.' How much pride does he take in that?
Mike Rizzo: It's a pride thing. He's an athlete. He's always thought of himself as an athlete. He was a terrific high school athlete, as we all know. He, like a lot of us, likes this National League style of play and feels it's the whole gamut of baseball - it's the real baseball. And I think that has motivated him to stay in this league, because of the way he feels about it.