Mike Rizzo was right, it was a ‘retool’

There was that time when general manager Mike Rizzo threw out the ‘retool’ word for the first time after the 2021 trade deadline. He also used the term ‘reboot’ and said that a rebuild was a “five or six year process” and this team was going to retool and reboot. That word ‘reboot’ was a popular word back in the day when you had an unreliable desktop computer that you had to turn off and wait 15 seconds and turn back on. Do you remember those days?

Yes, the 2022 Nats did prove to be unreliable with a soul-crushing 107-losses, and it looks like Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez might have pulled off the quickest retool in baseball buoyed by the trades of Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, and Juan Soto that yielded back two of the Nats’ five starting pitchers, as well as their starting shortstop, starting catcher, and two of their best prospects as well as some key top of the draft picks the past three years.

“We have to get our ducks in order, and we have to make good, intelligent trades, and deals to retool this thing, to get back in the hunt, and win some more championships. That’s our goal.”

— Rizzo said after the 2021 trade deadline after he traded Scherzer and Turner

At this past trade deadline, Rizzo made one singular trade after all of the swirling rumors that there were going to be several. Jeimer Candelario was sent to the Cubs as the lone deal, and Lane Thomas, Hunter Harvey, and Kyle Finnegan stayed on Martinez’s roster.

“This is a reboot year. We don’t call it a rebuild because a rebuild is a five or six-year process. I think this is a shorter reboot. We’ve shown in the past that we know how to do these things.”

— Rizzo said after the 2021 trade deadline

Maybe Rizzo got cold feet or second guessed himself because he started to call it a ‘rebuild’ in this past offseason. That’s fine. He recently did the same thing when talking about next year’s team will be “very entertaining” instead of commiting to saying it would be a winning team. Rizzo has learned to under-promise and over perform.

By the looks of things, this really was more of a retool or reboot instead of the lengthy rebuilds that have years of tanking. The Nats scored big it looks like in the past three drafts getting their third baseman of the future in Brady House as well as center fielder Dylan Crews in this year’s draft.

Between the 2021 and 2022 deadline trades, and all of the draft picks, this team could be fully in-place for the 2025 season with just a few key spots for some free agents, and some final touches from the player development department in regards to the top prospects.

“We have a plan in place. Timetables are tricky. We are ready to build that next championship caliber club. We are positioned much better today then we were before the trade deadline to contend for a long period of time.”

— Rizzo said after the 2021 trade deadline

The plan is in place. How long will it take to get back to the next championship is an unknown at this point. Be patient and let Rizzo do his thing because according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Rizzo got a 3-year contract extension.

While Rizzo said other team’s replicated “The Plan” the Nats had in motion from 2009-2011 when he was Assistant GM and Stan Kasten was the team’s president, it was often referred to as “The Plan” when Kasten introduced it to season ticket holders after the 2006 season at a team event.

“The worst possible thing is to sustain mediocrity. We had a tough decision to make [making these trades]. …We didn’t feel like we were one player or two players away from winning a World Series at that time. … We felt no shame in taking a step back to take two steps forward in the near future to build this thing back up the right way.”

— Mike Rizzo said on a ZOOM call after the 2021 trade deadline with season ticket holders

Yes, there were probably thousands of nervous season ticket holders after Scherzer and Turner were traded, and Rizzo’s words were so true about sustained mediocrity. You have to put together a transition plan that you feel can get you more World Series wins.

There were fans proclaiming they were burning their fan cards after Bryce Harper left the Nats officially in March of 2019 and that they were giving up on the Nationals. Well, they missed a heck of a World Series celebration less than nine months later.

While Soto is missed in so many ways, how did he work out for the Padres? This morning, the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres have identical 61-70 records, and the Nats are 1.0 game ahead of the Mets in the NL East standings. The Nats are 1.5 games behind the Yankees, and 2.0 games behind the Angels, and 5.0 games ahead of the Cardinals. How is all of that possible?

Maybe The Plan 2.0 was just better than Kasten’s plan.

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