Reports came out earlier this week that Mike Rizzo would lose his position as Interim General Manager by the end of the week. He did. He is now the Washington Nationals official General Manager.
Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that Mike Rizzo would be replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks Vice President Jerry DiPoto within 24 hours. Whether this report was true, and that was their plan at the time, will never be known. What is known however is that the Nats received terrible press for being rumored to fire the man who got the draft pick many considered unsignable. Hours later, Mike Rizzo is the Nationals General Manager.
A former Minor League player, Rizzo has been a long time scout. He began by scouting for the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox before moving to the Diamondbacks upon the franchise’s creation in 1998. In 2000 Rizzo was named the Director of Scouting for the club, and held that position as the Diamondbacks won the World Series in 2001, a record three years after the team’s creation.
Players drafted by Rizzo during his tenure in Arizona:
- Brandon Webb (Cy Young, Runner up twice)
- Justin Upton (All Star at the age of 21)
- Marc Reynolds (2nd in the majors in HR’s)
- Stephen Drew (solid young shortstop hit 20 HR’s last year)
- Conor Jackson (hit .300 last year)
Following the 2005 season Rizzo left Arizona when he was passed over for the General Manager job by Josh Byrnes (Ironically from D.C). Byrnes was a Theo Epstein protégé where Rizzo was considered an older, more traditional thinking baseball man.
Ted Keith of Sports Illustrated wrote this summer on Mike Rizzo’s four year plan which went something like this.:
- Scouting and Player Development: Develop and gradually promote the talent that Rizzo has already acquired as director of player development. This includes preparing; Ross Detwiler, Jordan Zimmerman, Derek Norris, Dustin Hood, Chris Marrero and Michael Burgess.
- 2009 Draft: The Nationals had a tremendous opportunity in 2009 with the first overall pick as well as two top 10 picks. The team capitalized by signing both Stephen Strasburg and No. 10(a) pick Drew Storen.
- “Developing the core of young players at the major league level:” The young pitching staff, Martis, Lannan, Detwiler, Zimmermann, and Stammen have all had opportunities to develop and learn at the big league level this year. This is another reason for the change in pitching coach from a man who would be more helpful to a competing team, Randy St. Claire, to a man more designed to develop players, Steve McCatty.
- “Add Depth and Inventory at the major league level:” This one will take more time. Rizzo needs to look at the veterans we have in the Majors right now, and decide who will be here for the future. If they wont be here for the future, it is wiser to trade them now and capitalize on their value. This is what the Nationals did with Nick Johnson, and should have considered doing with Cristian Guzman.
Oh he also looks a lot like Billy Joel: