“I Don’t Care How Fast You Throw Ball Four” — GM Mike Rizzo

The Hot Stove event is really the best season ticket planholder’s perk if you ask me. That annual event was held today with a huge crowd that was described to me as the largest ever — and that is because they expanded the event for full-season as well as half-season planholders. Special guest and new coach, Sean Doolittle, was a huge draw of course.

For this event, you get general manager Mike Rizzo and his field manager, and some special guests along with people from the marketing side to tell you about what’s new in perks and ballpark happenings. Manager Dave Martinez was optimistic as always and speaking the praises especially of his shortstop, CJ Abrams and other players on his team. He spoke about his young core and the top prospects who will be added to the mix.

“We are definitely headed in the right direction.”

— manager Dave Martinez

With help for this article from Andrew Lang and Don Henderson who were both feeding me with real-time information from the event — it was like information overload because this year there was so much more going on. Others were DMing with excitement, and for a team that might stink again this year — it sounds like they are finally getting it on the season ticket side of things. And yes, they hired a Chief Marketing Officer which is exciting. The C-suite at Nationals Park is filling up.

Sales and Marketing

The Nats now have a new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Kim Bolt, who promises to be more aggressive, and she presented a lineup of special game events from postgame concerts to fireworks to giveaways, and themed nights like the 21 college affiliated games. Bolt will report to Chief Revenue Officer Mike Carney. Bolt will drive integrated brand and marketing strategies for the team and amplify the Nationals’ brand. Before accepting this new position with the Nats, she led growth marketing for National Geographic at Disney with prior roles at some major brands, and reportedly CAA conducted the executive search for the Nationals.

One of the best features for all fans is joining the Partner Board where season plan holders can try to form new people in their season ticket groups. They had a more limited approach to this a few years ago and plan to improve upon it.

The team is adding a new Heritage day for the Japanese community to go with their other four established days.

There will be 21 college days and the five teams all got booed when they were announced with Duke getting the crowd going in chorus of boos. Bolt said that if you want other colleges added to reach out to your ticket rep.

The giveaway days look sharp, and season ticket holders get their own team gifts with additional perks that look enticing.

Nationals Philanthropies

Sponsored a snowball fight at the Youth Baseball Academy (YBA) in December featuring Ryan Zimmerman.

The YBA now has three initiatives: Play, Base Program, Hustle.

Over the last 10 years they have mentored 6,000 kids and their higher ed performance exceeds their cohort.

Told a story about one of the first YBA graduates. He was a walk-on at Morehouse, an HBCU in Atlanta. He is now a team leader, plus catcher, and wanted the fact that his GPA is 3.8 included in anything they said about him at the event.

Special Game events

They are organizing what they call Blowout Weekends – themed events – something happening each of Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

  • 2019 World Series 5 year celebration: April 19 – 21 against the Astros (joked about playing them in 2019) which will feature a replica World Series ring giveaway.
  • Star Wars: May 3-5.
  • 1924 – 100 Year WS celebration: Sept 13-15 with a 1924 pennant

Free post-game concerts: June 7, July 19, August 9, September 27. Not ready to announce the performers.

Announced two new jerseys which most of you saw yesterday that includes the new road grey, and a white “soccer style” pullover (Doo modeled it and looked nicer than the pictures). Keeping 3 of current ones, but the City Connect in its last year – league decision and MLB wide. The fans booed that decision by MLB.

Baseball Operations.

Big news, Doolittle will be a dressed coach in the dugout per Mike Rizzo for all games. Per Doo: When the team had his retirement party, Rizzo approached him about an idea for his role. Doo joked that it was a strategy role and it was simple: Don’t allow the other team to score more runs than you do. In December, Doo reached out to him about it, and defined what he wanted to do (Rizzo said Doo basically wrote his own job description after Rizzo wrote one). Doo sees his role as taking the massive amount of data and information and figuring out what they mean in terms of actions for each player. In other words, what the numbers mean, not what they are. He sees his role as avoiding information overload for the players.

New 3rd base coach Ricky Gutierrez, 53, moves to third base coach after spending the 2023 season as Washington’s run prevention coordinator. He was one of the key guys who helped Abrams and others with stealing bases. Most people probably don’t know this about Gutierrez that he was a first round pick in 1988.

Davey joked that Gerardo Parra, the new 1st base coach, was no longer Baby Shark and was now Papa Shark. Along with Gutierrez, he will be working on base running. He will also be responsible for working with the outfielders on defense, and more.

Rizzo commented that the Nats were the youngest team in MLB in 2023 and might also be in 2024. He also implied that they had been working with Trevor Williams since he pitched more last year than he had in over eight years.

Rizzo’s best line of the day: “I don’t care how fast you throw ball-4.

Second best Rizzo line: In end of year interviews pitchers were told that going deep into counts is a ticket to Rochester.

A common theme from Davey and Rizzo: They want to steal more bases because the new rules favor stealing and getting on first base can quickly put you on second or third base, and that is why Rizzo hates giving up walks to the other team because it is like giving a fast runner a double.

Joey Gallo was at the stadium yesterday for his physical, and Martinez said that he was impressed with the Nats when they faced Minnesota last year. Davey said Gallo would bring his outfielder’s glove and first baseman’s glove with him. Martinez said that Gallo would play left field, first base, and DH some. Nick Senzel he said would primarily be a third baseman. There was no mention of Nasim Nunez or Dylan Floro. But there were plenty of mentions of the young prospects and three mentions of prospects you wouldn’t expect to be named were Jake Bennett, Trey Lipscomb and Darren Baker. While Bennett is recovering from UCL elbow surgery, Rizzo and I can agree on that he is special.

There were no questions from the audience so we did not find out if the team is still seeking a pitcher, but Rizzo seems to be done with the position players. He admitted, and as we sourced, that he was on Gallo early, and waited for the deal to come to him which is why it took so long.

This entry was posted in Analysis. Bookmark the permalink.