Mike Rizzo does the Nashville 2-step! #Nats #WinterMeetings

There was breaking news Sunday night that Jonathan Papelbon had filed a grievance against the Nats to receive payment pertaining to his 4 game suspension from the Nats to finish the 2015 season.  This seemed like breaking news as in “current events” because it was to most of us, but Mike Rizzo confirmed he was well aware of this grievance filing and was informed of it before the season ended which means Rizzo has known about this for over 2 months.  The grievance hearing will be heard this Spring.

Rizzo reiterated that this is just business and nothing personal, and further went on to say that as of right now both Papelbon and Storen will be a part of the Nats 2016 bullpen.

Last night Rizzo appeared on MLB Network TV.

Immediately Rizzo was asked, “Do you see Jonathan Papelbon on your club on Opening Day?”

“I do. I see both of these guys, Pap and Drew are both extremely talented relief pitchers and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I were to run one of these guys out of town because they couldn’t deal with each other or the city. They are both going to be Free Agents after the season.”

Greg Amsinger said to Rizzo that it didn’t work though with the Papelbon and Storen duo which Rizzo responded,

“After the first 5 or 6 appearances they both had which were lights out it did kind of fizzle. I don’t know if it was the new role that Drew had or the combination of leverage situations in the 8th and 9th.  It clearly didn’t work at the end but like I said we like the construction of our bullpen, above league average as a bullpen. I think we are going to get better because we are one year older and more experienced. We have Blake Treinen who is 95-100 and Felipe Rivero who is also 95-100 from the left side and there best days are ahead of them. ”

Rizzo had finished the conversation talking about that he expects Strasburg to have a great year. He admitted he got off to a rough start with the ankle injury then the back injury. As Rizzo said he finished the season on a great run with his last 10 starts.

Rizzo early this morning appeared on MLB Network Radio with Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth.  Hollandsworth played for Dusty Baker and was a teammate with Mike Maddux which got the conversation started with questions about Baker and Mike Maddux. Rizzo had these comments,

“Dusty is such a people person. He’s a guy who extracts the best out of each individual. Players rave about the clubhouse and the family atmosphere. A perfect fit at the perfect time.”

“[Mike Maddux] gives a new direction and a new voice for some of our pitchers. The pitchers need a little refinement. Mike is such a mechanically savvy pitcher but also intellectual and knows the thought process of not only the starters but the relievers.”

Rizzo then started talking about the bullpen which he said was ranked 6th in the NL but his caveat to that was how poor they were towards the end of the season.  We’ve discussed it before that the bullpen did rank 6th to 8th in many stats but 23rd in blown saves.  They were good in Low Lev situations but poor in High Lev situations.  Too many losses were accumulated in the bullpen.

“My glass is always half full.  We had a solid above league average bullpen last year. We have 2 quality pitchers at the back of the game. I expect both to come in professionally and hungry and ready to perform to their capabilities. If they perform to their capabilities, I think they are as good as any 8th and 9th inning guys in the league… I got no problem with Pap and Drew as far as being on the same staff.  If we don’t get that makes sense for us to do we’re going to run them both out there.”

Rizzo said that they rushed Michael Taylor 4 months earlier and threw him into the fire. Rizzo sees him as a 20/20 capable guy.  Rizzo talked about Trea Turner and the other youngsters and segued to the rotation,

“We really like our rotation as it is. Joe Ross really emerged as someone we really really like. Tanner Roark is going back in the rotation.  A guy that won 15 games with a sub-3 ERA in 2014. We have depth. We have a new wave of guys coming who can be here in mid-2016 with guys like Giolito, Voth, and the Lopez types of our system.”

The Harper as a Nat for life discussion was brought up.

“Well it would be something I’m all for. He’s a great player and he loves Washington DC and it’s not just lip service. He really enjoys being there. He’s not only a great player but a great person…It takes 2 to make a deal and we will see how motivated both sides are.”

Then they turned to the Papelbon and Storen situation which ended the interview but Steve Phillips and Hollandsworth continued after Mike Rizzo departed. They didn’t have the same take as Rizzo did but Hollandsworth did say that if anyone could make it work, it would be Dusty Baker as the Manager.

Rizzo finally addressed the reason why he parted ways with the popular Craig Stammen,

“Craig’s been a great competitor for us for years, but the fact with the price tag what it was, knowing he was just starting to throw, unsure of where his health was going to be in spring training was the reason we non-tendered him.”

Rizzo was asked last night about signing Ben Zobrist and of course Rizzo commented that he can’Day anything on rumors and talked briefly about signing Oliver Perez. News broke that the Nats signed hard throwing Shawn Kelley who is a tough righty who is hard to get to at his home park with bases empty.  He had some splits were not as good on the road and with men on base.  We will work on some updates as we have some more analysis on Kelley.

Rizzo should absolutely consider a deal like Fedde and Espinosa for Miller. The Nats can afford to trade 1 top 10 Prospect not named Giolito or Turner.

We have been writing for weeks that based on how the projections are now the Nats will have 4 draft picks in 2016 in the Top 60 which will transform the farm system even if they trade a top prospect now.  Furthermore, the Nats have the ability to trade Yunel Escobar and dump Papelbon and be better off.  The first step would be to upgrade with Ben Zobrist and a player like Gerardo Parra which will strengthen the Nats from the left-side and give the depth to trade a player like Espinosa or Escobar.  If Rizzo traded both, he might have to look to  Trea Turner to be the shortstop on Opening Day.

Opening Day could look like this:

  1. Parra RF LH
  2. Rendon 3B RH
  3. Harper CF LH
  4. RZim 1B RH
  5. Werth LF RH
  6. Ramos C RH
  7. Zobrist 2B SH  Espinosa
  8. Turner SS RH
  9. Scherzer P RHP
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