Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rizzo on Gorzelanny, Hairston

It's turned into a busy day in NatsTown. Actually, it's been a busy week already, with the Tom Gorzelanny trade (which was officially announced this afternoon) and the signings of Jerry Hairston, Todd Coffey and Alex Cora.

All of these moves, as I mentioned earlier, have created an overflow situation on the Nationals' 40-man roster. Ultimately, the club will need to remove four players to make room for Gorzelanny, Hairston, Coffey and Adam LaRoche. But those corresponding moves don't have to be made until the contract for the new player is formally processed at MLB headquarters in New York.

So even though LaRoche's deal was completed two weeks ago, the contract only landed on MLB's desk today. The corresponding move: J.D. Martin was given his unconditional release. Martin, 28, did an admirable job over the last two seasons filling in when other starters were either injured or ineffective -- he was a combined 6-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 24 starts -- but his place on the organizational depth chart dropped considerably over time.

Mike Rizzo held a conference call this afternoon to discuss the Gorzelanny trade and Hairston signings. (The team hasn't confirmed the Coffey move yet.) Here are some highlights from the Nats GM...

MIKE RIZZO
On Gorzelanny: "We got very favorable scouting reports on Gorzelanny, not only through his career but specifically last year. He threw the ball extremely well. His velocity was back to its 2007 form. We had three of our best talent evaluators see him at three different times of the season, and really had good reports on him. Touching 94 [mph], pitching at 92, with a solid repertoire of four pitches. We think there's still some upside to this guy. We think he's going to have a big rebound year. We see him as being somewhere in the rotation. We're going to have a good competition there this spring, and we're looking forward to it."

On the rotation's depth: "Certainly depth and competition for a starting rotation spot is what we were after. We feel that we've improved ourselves from last season. The natural improvement of a Jordan Zimmermann and a Yunesky Maya and a Ross Detwiler, combined with a healthy Jason Marquis and now a new acqusition of Tom Gorzelanny has really given us some added depth in the rotation. And along with Chien-Ming Wang hopefully coming in 100 percent to spring training, we feel that we've got oursevles some good competition in the starting rotation. We've got some roster flexibility with players that have options. We feel we're going to field a much stronger, much more effective starting rotation in '11."

On Wang's status: "He's coming in at the beginning of spring training. He's throwing off the mound and working out in Arizona as we speak. He's not in rehabilitation mode right now. He's in preparation mode to get ready for spring training."

After failing to acquire a front-line starter, was it a conscious decision to start pursuing more depth for the back end of the rotation? "Each thought is independent. One didn't play off the other. We certainly attempted to get a front-of-the-rotation, No. 1 starter. And when we couldn't acquire that, our thoughts shifted to other positions on the field and other ways to improve the roster. The Gorzelanny deal would have been made whether we got a No. 1 starter or not. We felt this was a solid deal for us, a 28-year-old left-handed pitcher with some power who we control for three seasons and we feel has some upside. We feel it was a good baseball move, not only for '11 but for beyond."

On Hairston's role: "Jerry is a guy I've known for a long time, a Chicago boy who's got deep roots in his baseball background. This guy is a live body, an athletic player who has speed, some pop with the bat, is very versatile, gives the manager a lot of options on the field. He's very comfortable and very effective playing shortstop, second base, third base, left, center and right. He gives us a right-handed presence and a guy who can play center field against some very tough left-handed pitchers or when you want to give Nyjer Morgan a day off. He gives the manager a lot of options. He's a very versatile player, a very upbeat, high-energy guy, a good clubhouse presence and a guy with a championship ring [with the Yankees in 2009] that knows how to win and knows how to be a good teammate."

On importance of adding good "makeup" players: "I think every move we've made since I've been here, that has come into the equation. I've been around long enough and been around championship teams long enough and seen how they're created to know that makeup takes you a long way. Attitude and presence between the lines, in the dugout and in the clubhouse is vitally important to take the next step in your progression and become a championship-caliber club."

Could Gorzelanny be a reliever or would he start at Class AAA? "No, he has no options left. We feel that he's going to be in our rotation, and we feel he's going to positively affect the ballclub."

On what still needs to be done before spring training: "I think we've had a very active and very effective offseason. We've accomplished a lot of our goals of trying to construct a ballclub. We're certainly never finished trying to improve the ballclub any way we can. If we see something that's a prudent move via free agency, a non-roster invitee or a trade, we're certainly open to do that. But with that said, I think we've had a terrific offseason. I think we've accomplished a lot of our goals. And I think we've constructed a team that's going to be a big upgrade from 2010 and be a very, very solid ballclub that's going to contend very positively in the National League."

38 comments:

Anonymous8 said...

Mark - Where is Chad Gaudin in the mix? Is Cora and Gonzalez competing for the last IF bench spot?

Someone last week did a good job on the 25 man Opening Day roster, seems clearer.

Could Livo be the odd man out if Wang, Detwiler or Maya have a great Spring?

MM said...

Wang said it himself he's aiming for late May MLB return. Rizzo's overly optimistic.

lefty said...

Nice interview and I couldn't agree more with his assessments of a rebuilt team.

Todd Boss said...

Good information to know Mark: "..corresponding [40-man] moves don't have to be made until the contract for the new player is formally processed at MLB headquarters in New York."

Stew Magnuson said...

Meanwhile I see on journalism jobs.com that the Washington Times is hiring a sports editor.

Anonymous said...

is there any meaning to Rizzo's not mentioning Livo in discussing starters?

citizen16 said...

I have the same question as anonymous.

Rizzo didn't mention Livo or Lannan when discussing starters. He mentioned Zimmerman, Marquis, Detwiler, Maya and Gorzy. Seems odd not to mention Lannan after signing a deal with him within the past week. Does that have any meaning or just an unintentional oversight?

natsfan1a said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure that Rizzo was just waiting for you to get back from vaca. ;-)

---

It's turned into a busy day in NatsTown. Actually, it's been a busy week already, with the Tom Gorzelanny trade (which was officially announced this afternoon) and the signings of Jerry Hairston, Todd Coffey and Alex Cora.

David said...

Yeah it was nice of Rizzo to wait. Mark should send him a thank you card.

Rizzo now has addressed the Nats major holes. Spring training should at least be more competitive. I guess we can all make guesses on who the other 3 cuts will be?

Theophilus said...

I'm starting to see (1) Detweiler in Syrcluse; (2) Marquis in the bullpen long enuf to show his arm is sound and he can get traded. Alternatively, Gorzelanny in BP until Marquis can get traded. No way they're dumping Hernandez and his 200 innings.

Theophilus said...

If Wang is coming back, Lannan gets traded. If Lannan and/or Gorelanny survives August 31, then one gets traded over the winter to accommodate Strasburg's spot on the 25-man roster.

Theophilus said...

If you haven't noticed, there's still nobody to challenge Stairs as the LH bat off the bench.

Jimmy said...

Boy, is Double-Switch going to have fun this summer. He's going to drive us crazy with all his tinker toys. I don't know if I will be able to stand all the moves he can now make and watch them this summer. He drove us crazy last year and he didn't have all these toys to play with!

Anonymous8 said...

Anonymous said...
is there any meaning to Rizzo's not mentioning Livo in discussing starters?
------------
Anonymous8 said...
Could Livo be the odd man out if Wang, Detwiler or Maya have a great Spring?
------------
Anon, that's why I asked Mark that question reading between the lines. Livo is now the cheapest option compared to Maya, Marquis, Gorzelany, and Lannan.

NatBiscuit said...

I've never understood the complaint against double switches. Is it simply the fact that it is confusing to scorekeepers? Is it a philosophical issue (and if so what is the philosophy against)? I realize it sometimes sets up a second move, when the lineup turns over again, but the idea behind it is to take your best shot in the moment. Pinch hit for the pitcher with a man on first and improve the defensive alignment in the next innings. To me double switch is a classic and utilitarian move - especially in the National League. You don't want to be caught leaving a weak hitter in the cleanup spot, but theoretically you just switch again later.

One side note: With a better starting defensive lineup, the need/temptation for them may be reduced this year. Unlike last year you might be taking out a good defensive player during a switch so straight pinch hitting might be more common.

Anonymous said...

@NatBiscuit, Double switching is fine. But Riggles often switched out Morse, after Morse hit big homeruns. And lets be frank, the Nats had a lousy bench last year that was not conducive to good double switches...

Andrew said...

They are doing the Eckstein family story on MLB Network now. Amazing!

BinM said...

@Anon8: I believe Detwiler is out of minor-league options, as are Gorzelanny & Martis, while Broderick is a Rule5 (keep or offer back to StL). On the bullpen side, Clippard, Slaten & Burnett are tapped out on options as well, and E.Ramirez is the other Rule5 (NYM).

Detwiler is going to be under the highest scrutiny imo, due to his status; Martis is pretty much 'toast', based on his 2010 numbers in SYR & the winter leagues. The 2011 starting rotation currently comes down to Livo, Lannan, JZimm, Marquis, & either Gorzelanny/Maya/Detwiler in the final slot. Atilano, Broderick, Stammen, or an NRI like Milone might draw some consideration as well.

The bullpen could get really chaotic, with a solid core returning (Stammen, Clippard, Slaten, Balester, Burnett, Storen), and challenges coming from Carr, Kimball, Ramirez, Rodriguez, & now Coffey; NRI's like Gaudin, Mattheus, Wilkie & others are real long-shots at this point.

It's going to be an interesting spring in Viera.

BinM said...

@Anon8: Completely forgot Wang as a SP - If he progresses well, he could be a plug-in replacement for JZimm, when his IP cap gets tight.

Theophilus said...

Detweiler, according to my understanding of the rule, having fewer than five years of professional experience (2007-2010), has one more option year. Hence my guess that, in a squeeze, he ends up in either Syracuse or Harrisburg.

Anonymous8 said...

BinM - I had Detwiler penciled in as my long reliever and not in the starting rotation. I choose Detwiler over Stammen as Detwiler is a LH pitcher and can also be that lefty specialist you need especially against the Phillies so you get him as long relief and spot lefty specialist.

Jimmy said...

Double-switches can be productive sometimes,but Riggs goes overboard. He starts in the 5th-6th inning and when he needs a good hitter in the late innings he has none available. Also, you sure don't build confidence in your players when you are constantly pulling people.

Also, Double-switch never lets his pitchers develope confidence when they can never work out of situations! On the Nats, our pitchers know they don't get to build up their arms because they will only be pitching 5-6 innings. If they walk or someone gets a hit in the 5th or 6th inning the hook is coming out! This is why we need a deep bull pen. Last year we over worked our pen.

If you have ever been a pitching coach, which I have, you would understand.

Knoxvile Nat said...

A lot of chatter here concerning Livo's status and what might happen down the road. I would suggest that if a trade is to occur before OD that Lannen might be the one to go. Being a "soft tossing" lefty he doesn't seem to fit the ideal that Rizzo and Riggleman prefer, i.e. hard throwing pitchers. It would not surprise me in the least if he were to be traded to the Yankees as they are in need of some starting pitching especially LH to go up against the Red Sox.

How would Brett Gardner look in CF for us?

Wily Mo Petersen said...

If Maya or Wang shows up and impresses it will probably be Zimmermann starting the season with Detwiler and Martis in syracuse. Also Dont be surprised to see Balester start the season as syracuse's closer to see if he can handle the 9th and if Elvin Ramirez beats him out.

NatBiscuit said...

I defer to your expertise as I have never been a pitching coach nor have I played one on TV, but as I recall the main deterrent to our pitchers confidence last year was their own performance. Double switches were a reaction to - not a cause of - bad pitching. Teams don't double switch much when they are ahead.

Anonymous8 said...

Knoxville Nat - Brett Gardner for Lannan right now. Can you make it happen?

Knoxville Nat said...

Anon8, no I can't make it happen but I can dream it!

It may not be a one for one, and Gardner might not be our return but I can definitely see a scenario where JL is sent to the Yankees, what we get back for him (my preference would be a CF leadoff guy)is the question.

Anonymous said...

@BinM,

NRI like Milone might draw some consideration as well.

Tom Milone is not a non-roster invitee. The only pitchers that fall under that category currently are:

Joe Bisenius, Chad Gaugin, Ryan Mattheus, and Tim Wood. The rest are what you see on the roster ... at least that is what they have listed.
But we both know they will be looking and watching the close-to-the-majors minor leaguers very closely ... given the current pitching situation.

You just watched JD Martin get unceremoniously and unconditionally released. You saw Aaron Thompson before.

Two things are certain: Rizzo is not a fan of soft-tossers. He prefers effective sinkerballers or power pitchers. Is Milone a sinkerballer? I think they will be watching Barthmaier, Tatusko, and Solis before Milone. Just based on what I've observed this offseason.

Anonymous said...

@BInM,

Wilkie is the reliever to go with JD Martin's starter. He has no shot with Rizzo.

Rich said...

I don't think Wilkie is on the 40 man

sjm 308 said...

Was hoping to see predictions on the other 3 to leave the 40 man. I think its pretty evident that those looking to see a trade now will be disappointed after signing Hairston and Coffey. My thoughts are Maxwell, and Martis. Kind of like Atilano in his brief time up but the fact that Martis was kept in Syracuse all of last year when we ran just about everyone else through here leads me to believe he has not future with this club. Maxwell is coming off TJ surgery on his non-throwing arm and that can't be good. The 3rd player is who I am not sure off (actually not sure of any of this but its fun to play GM) I will go with Atilano and try and sneak him through waivers if he has no more options.

Go Nats

Alex said...

I wouldn't get too worked up about Rizzo not mentioning Lannan or Livo. The guys he mentioned are all improving because of health (Z-mann, Marquis, Wang), young age (Detwiler), or acquisition (Maya, Gorzelanny). I don't think he was listing the top starters.

That said, it's pretty clear Gorzo is in the rotation (no options) unless he gets badly beaten out in spring training. Detwiler can go to AAA. Maya?

Marquis could get dealt sooner than Lannan (Lannan's under control for more years, Marquis is gone next year anyway--he either excels and could be dealt or bombs and goes to the pen to make room) and you can never have enough pitching. People get hurt.

Think ahead: 2012 rotation? Strasburg, Z-mann, Maya, Gorzo, Lannan, Detwiler are top 6 competing. Wang 7th option? Milone? Free agents?

Livo could be long man if others work out. He's the flex guy.

Alex said...

Anyone know if Atilano, Martis, and Maya have options to go to AAA?

Scooter said...

Alex, Brian at Nats Farm Authority did a pretty comprehensive list last year: http://natsfarm.com/2010/03/06/option-status/

I can't promise you he was right on everyone, of course. And remember to subtract one option year for Martis and Atilano, because they each used one in 2010.

I don't know of any reason Maya wouldn't have the standard three options. Now I think of it, he might even have a fourth, since he's so new to US pro ball. Gracious, let's hope he doesn't need four!

Alex said...

Actually, this is wikipedia's answer:

"If a player is on the 40-man roster and not the active 25 man roster for any part of more than three seasons (in which he spent 20 or more total days of service in the minors), he is out of options and may not be assigned to the minors without first clearing waivers.

However, if a player has less than 5 years of professional experience, he may be optioned to the minors in a fourth season without being subject to waivers."

So, the key is how long they've been on the 40-man. That would mean, among starters, Atilano (2010), Maya (2010), and Lannan (2 minors yrs) could go to AAA. So could Zimmermann (2009 on 40) but that's not gonna happen.

Not sure about Detwiler (2007 cup of coffee) or Martis (2008 on 40, 2006 1st pro year?).

Anyone know if Detwiler and Martis have minor league options left?

Alex said...

Whoops, my bad. Thanks, Scooter.

Looks like Martis has one more and Detwiler "may" have one more option year.

Interestingly, looks like Mock (who I think could be a good bullpen option if they need it) "may" have one more since he was hurt last year but I'm not sure. If he doesn't, he's on the chopping block for the 3 40-man cuts to come.

Wang also does NOT have the option of going to the minors (although there's got to be a rehab window).

Scooter said...

I believe a rehab assignment may last as long as 30 days. In Wang's case, I reckon he'd probably start the year on the DL, which means he can work out and such (in Florida). Then when he goes to the minors, it would be on rehab.

Anonymous said...

I think its pretty evident that those looking to see a trade now will be disappointed after signing Hairston and Coffey.

I wouldn't count Rizzo as through just yet. They have a replenished bullpen with a guy they will must keep on the active roster (rule 5 acquisition Elvin Ramirez), now Coffey, HRod acquired in trade, and even Broderick (although I wonder if he won't be offered back?) to go with Burnett, Storen, Clippard, Slaten, Stammen, Balester, Severino, Carr and Kimball.

They've also added Chris Marerro. With Mike Rizzo broaching the notion of jumping older prospect Tyler Moore all the way up to Syracuse ...

Sure seems like he is out there working a bunch of different scenarios. One that seems ever present might be the Rays still with extra starting pitching. Have to wonder if they wouldn't deal Niemann or preferably Shields.

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