Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What makes Rizzo run?

KC Star/Sports Illustrated/blogging supercolumnist Joe Posnanski had this to say about what trades can teach fans about general managers:
[P]retty much every GM says the same thing. They all publicly value whatever it is that they all publicly value. Sure, we want players who get on base. We also want aggressive hitters. Yes, we want a hitter with discipline. We also want players who play outstanding defense. And players with power. And speed. But they have to be smart. And fundamentally sound. And don't get me started on pitchers.

But trades tell you what the general manager REALLY wants. I think that's why they're so emotional for fans. A good trade tells you that your team wants the same things you want. A bad trade tells you that you are rooting for the wrong team.
What do Mike Rizzo's trades say about what Mike Rizzo really wants? Not a whole lot.

Flipping Milledge and Hanrahan for Morgan and Burnett was as much about filling the team's immediate needs as it was about demonstrating that Rizzo values performance over potential. (Could Rizzo have felt burned by the trade for then-Diamondback Emilio Bonifacio, which he co-owned with Jim Bowden?) The Milledge-Morgan trade was also consistent with Rizzo's demonstrated impatience with players he feels are either drastically underperforming or have makeup issues. The lesson here could be that Rizzo really wants to have nice guys around the clubhouse or that Rizzo is a results-now kind of guy, but it's also likely that an impatient Rizzo, fed-up with Milledge's antics, sick of watching a team with no real center fielder continue to embarrass itself night after night, decided to solve both problems at once.

The deadline deals Rizzo made for Johnson and Beimel say even less about what Mike Rizzo really wants. Those were trades he had to make to wring some return from the Nats' rapidly depreciating tradable assets. As long as Rizzo decided that Dunn and Willingham weren't going to be moved at the deadline, it would have been an indefensible failure for him to get nothing for Beimel and Johnson by letting them leave as free agents.

What does Mike Rizzo really want? Whatever it is, these trades aren't telling us.

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