After 5 ½ months the interim tag has finally been removed as Mike Rizzo is officially announced as the new GM of the Washington Nationals.
Though the terms have not been disclosed, the ownership group that is headed by Ted and Mike Lerner did come to the conclusion that Rizzo, based on history and experience was the right man for the job. “I would say in the last couple of weeks, it was becoming clear to me that this was a likelihood,” team president Stan Kasten said. “For one, Mike was a very strong candidate. … I don’t think he would have been a GM three years ago. Clearly, he is a GM today because of what he has experienced and what he has done.”
The whole process began in March of this year when Rizzo was named interim GM after the resignation of Jim Bowden. Rizzo who at the time was VP of baseball operations was also given the title of senior vice president of baseball operations.
The competition for a position like this brings out the best in the business, but how do you choose the correct successor when each candidate is eerily similar in skill and aptitude. The day to day operations is what gave Rizzo the leg up in this debate over other qualified candidates; D-backs VP of player personnel Jerry DiPoto and Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer.
The bullpen has seen a significant upgrade since he has took over by adding Mike MacDougal, Jorge Sosa and Ron Villone. He has also given the Nats outfield an overhaul by acquiring outfielder Nyjer Morgan through senior authorization. The move that does not get enough credit is his managerial change when he brought in Jim Riggleman after dismissing Manny Acta. The results are night and day. During Acta’s tenure the Nats were 26-61, under Riggleman they are 17-16.
“Without question, Mike Rizzo has proven his capabilities as a talented and effective baseball executive,” the Lerners said in a statement. “In every possible respect, he has earned this promotion.”Mike’s professionalism during recent negotiations, his steady demeanor day in and day out, his intelligent, thoughtful decision-making process and consistently positive attitude, make him the obvious and appropriate choice for GM. Mike Rizzo reflects and exemplifies the integrity of our franchise. This is a good day for the Washington Nationals.”
Rizzo’s journey with the Nationals began on July 24, 2006 as an assistant GM after spending the previous seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks as their scouting director. Rizzo mad headlines in his first draft in 2007, when according to Baseball America, gave the Nationals the highest draft rating. This rating was based on pitching prospects Ross Detwiler and Jordan Zimmermann who have since reached the big leagues. Based on his previous scouting and director experience Rizzo knows the importance of developing young talent combined with speed and a strong defence up the middle, “We understand that we have a young talented rotation,” Rizzo said. “We need an anchor at the top, some type of veteran starting pitcher. My philosophy is speed and defense, especially up the middle — have your big bats in the corners. We are going to take that into account. We have to stabilize a bullpen that has not performed up to standard.”
Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.
Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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