Nationals to Introduce Rizzo as G.M. Today

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, August 20, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Nationals will hold a press conference at 4:00 pm today, introducing Mike Rizzo as General Manager and Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations.

The announcement ends month of speculation, most heatedly in the last several days, about the status of the chief of baseball operations for the club.

The job has been open since March, when former G.M. Jim Bowden resigned amid scandal revolving around charges of money skimming from foreign-born players, and revelations that the team's top foreign-born prospect, Esmailyn Gonzalez, was actually Daniel Lugo, four years older than he purported to be.

Since that time, Rizzo has been "acting" as G.M. in every capacity during what appears to have been an exhaustive interview process involving several high-profile candidates.

Several media outlets yesterday reported that Jerry Dipoto, Arizona's V.P. of Player Development, was going to be awarded the position, but those reports proved to be inaccurate.

Rizzo's performance as "acting" G.M. this summer have been generally lauded and considered an apt try-out, if you will, for the full-time gig. According to reports, Rizzo was the primary point person for the successful Stephen Strasburg negotiations with agent Scott Boras.

Rizzo, as well, obtained Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett from the Pittsburgh Pirates for enigmatic Lastings Milledge and disappointing Joel Hanranan. He has reconstructed a bullpen, largely ignored in the off-season, from an unmitigated disaster to a functioning unit, and has overseen the removal of the field manager and pitching coach mid-season.

He also drafted and signed two top-ten picks from this season's amateur draft, Strasburg and Drew Storen, who is shooting through the Nats minor league system this summer.

Rizzo inherits a major league club with plenty of talent, and several holes to fill. He'll have to address the defensive shortcomings of this squad, most notably in the middle infield, where Cristian Guzman's range shrinks by the day, and the second base position is devoid of any real answers.

The team could still use some relief help, and perhaps a veteran starter to take some pressure off the youngsters and to fill in for Jordan Zimmermann, who will be rehabbing his elbow from Tommy John surgery next season.

But all those are projects for another day. Today is Rizzo's day, a day he's been waiting for and working for his entire professional career. Congratulations to the Nats new baseball chief.