Washington Nationals: Mike Rizzo Should Follow The Giants Blueprint
By Max Rayman
If the Nationals want to undergo a quick turnaround back to relevance, they need to model their upcoming off-season after the Giants.
When it comes to sports expect the unexpected. With that said, if you predicted the Giants to win the NL West and 107 games, go buy a lottery ticket right now. After winning three World Series titles in five years, the Giants window came to a close, missing the playoffs the last four seasons in a row. Then came the Giants magical 2021 off-season, which at the time was seen as underwhelming.
But every move President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi and company made proved instrumental in returning the team prominence. Veterans turned back the clock. The young guys took the next step. Everyone bought into the system and knew their roles.
For Mike Rizzo and the Nationals, they need to take a page from the Giants book. In fact, the front office should begin modeling the team’s rebuild after the Giant’s fascinating 2021 off-season.
Step 1: Choose The Coaching Staff Carefully
Washington’s coaching staff recently saw plenty of turnover, with hitting coach Kevin Long leaving for the rival Phillies. Long spent the past four years with the Nationals and was extended an offer to return to D.C. With Long gone, don’t be surprised if Washington’s assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler follows suit. He is longtime friends with Long and was hired at the latter’s recommendation. Third and first base coaches Bob Henley and Randy Knorr will still be with the organization but in different roles.
Gabe Kapler took over as the Giants manager at the start of the 2020 season and brought in some of his own staff. Most notably, he hired Andrew Bailey and Justin Viele to be the team’s pitching and hitting coach. Both have flourished at their jobs, with the offense and rotation being key in the team’s turnaround. The starting rotation ranked third in the NL in ERA (3.44), FIP (3.43), LOB% (75.2%), and fourth in FWAR (16.5). The offense ranked first in the NL in fWAR (30.0), wRC+ (108), SLG (.440), OPS (.769), and homers (241).
With multiple openings, Martinez needs to be wise on who to hire. He already went out and signed Darnell Coles to be the new hitting coach. Most notably, Coles helped Christian Yelich and Ketel Marte post-breakout seasons in 2018 and 2019 respectively.