Rizzo on LaRoche, Lineup, Johnson, Harper


Nationals GM Mike Rizzo sat down late last week (I’m a bit late in linking to this) for a candid conversation with Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com. Mark also runs a Nats blog in addition to his column, Nats Insider, and has been graciously welcoming towards us here at DoD since the site changed leadership at the beginning of October. The pair discussed a number of topics relating to the team, both for the upcoming season and beyond.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from their conversation:

  • Rizzo insists that he is “comfortable” with Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse as his primary options at first base heading into next season. Much of the mainstream media seem certain the team could get involved in the bidding for either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder this offseason. Fielder, in particular, is often cited as an option because the organization holds a strong relationship with his agent, Scott Boras. I personally think both are unlikely options.
  • Rizzo is hoping the lineup will provide more balance in 2012. He’s specifically hoping to see improvements in getting on base in front of the big hitters and batting with runners in scoring position.
  • If LaRoche can return to close to “his career norms, I think, is a big infusion of offense right away.”
  • Rizzo is also hoping that a full healthy season from Ryan Zimmerman and the continued development of Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa, and Ian Desmond will help the offense.
  • Signing a free agent to a big contract is unlikely this offseason. The team is preparing to discuss a contract extension with Zimmerman. If they can complete a deal, that would likely be their lone big-money deal this winter.
  • The team’s first priority is officially naming its manager. Rizzo stated he has conducted a few interviews but it still is sounding as though Davey Johnson will return to the job in 2012.
  • Bryce Harper may be struggling in the AFL thus far, but it sounds as though the expected timeframe for when Rizzo and the Nationals hope he will arrive in Washington has not changed at all.