I got to be honest with you: There are some nights I lay around my blogging cave believing that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is a real life Baron Victor von Frankenstein.
Wouldn’t it make sense? I can perfectly visualize a dark and stormy night sometime in late 2010 at Nationals Park. The field is covered, not a soul in sight and there is only one light on in the whole park coming from Rizzo’s office. Inside the dusty, cobwebbed foundry sits Rizzo - tired but ravenous, what is left of his hair in a frizzle as he dives at potential contracts and an old, crusty fingerwheel telephone on his desk. He is in the mad process of a genesis. He is putting together a baseball team, his baseball team, made in his image. Using old, tired and lackluster parts - the Stairses, the Ankiels, the Slatens of Major League Baseball - he tirelessly weaves and sews them together to make his creation.
Suddenly, a flash of lightning and Rizzo jumps up, flinging papers into the air and sending his Nyjer Morgan bobblehead to the floor. He runs his fingers down his sweaty face screaming to both heaven and hell, “Life! Give my creation life!”
It is a hilarious yet shocking visual feast. The sad thing about it, if it actually happened, is Rizzo is probably screaming his demand for life for his own monster every single game now. Rizzo has turned the Washington Nationals into his own rampaging ghoul and just as Mary Shelley’s ultimately flawed and failed creature was, the Nationals team Rizzo put together is equally flawed and tragic.
Much of the tragedy is the Nationals’ offense, which is hitting a bottom-feeding .228 as I write this. The offense has been the most aggravating thing about 2011 so far, as the starting pitching and bullpen have lived up to their part of the bargain about winning baseball games this season. The pitching is fine, the defense has improved, Nationals Park looks beautiful and the baseballs are on the sides of the parking garages, but it is the offense that continues to be the downer.
What adds to the aggravation is that while Rizzo is highly touted as a baseball guy, easy to work with and has a more defensive and athletic team in mind, he seemed to completely forget about building an offensive core. What so-called baseball guy does that? If the team were a child, then Rizzo should be arrested for neglect. He gave up one of the most dangerous 3-4-5 combinations in baseball in Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham and replaced them with a $126 million man in Jayson Werth who is hitting an astounding .247, an injured Adam LaRoche who is hitting .172 and a whole collection that includes Alex Cora, Matt Stairs, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Rick Ankiel. None of these players are hitting over .240.
Are you telling me Rizzo the baseball guy couldn’t find someone, even on the scrap heap, that can hit more than Stairs’ .100 average? Let’s make no mistake, this team is Rizzo’s baby and he is eventually going to pay for his neglect. There is no Stan Kasten standing in his way. There is no higher-up making decisions for him. This team is his, he wanted it this way. Unless the offense starts showing signs of life and being able to breath on its own, denizens of NatsTown will be grabbing pitchforks soon enough and they will know exactly who to blame.
Careful, Rizzo. The windmill is already burning.
Drew Kinback blogs about the Nats at Nationals Inquisition, and has given his take this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.