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Rizzo: Cole was key to Morse trade

Jan 18, 2013, 3:43 PM EDT

Mike Rizzo was willing to keep Michael Morse on his bench this season if he didn't receive a strong trade offer for the slugger. The Nationals general manager, though, was confident all along he'd get the kind of offer he was seeking.

"We could've kept him. And knowing me, if we didn't get the deal we wanted, we would've kept him," Rizzo said. "But I don't think it would've been fair to him in a contract year to come off the bench. I don't think his skills are really indicative of a bench player. There was enough interest. We were getting enough phone calls and hits on him, I thought there was going to be a deal that we liked out there."

That deal came together this week, with the Mariners strongly interested in re-acquiring Morse, the Athletics interested in acquiring Seattle catcher John Jaso and the Nationals veryRead more »

  1. Timothy Folk - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Cole was the reason why I love this trade. All the other "good" pitching prospects have injury concerns right now for us. So if they say he can be a frontline starter in a few years this is a win. Morse will be a DH in 3 years.

  2. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Great interview, Mark. Thank you!I hope Cole's numbers were bad also for only that reason Rizzo pointed out. It would be great to see him at AA this season as a 21 year old and soon in majors.I have one question regarding Soriano. Last season, it seemed that our pitchers could not stop the baserunning game of any opposition by either checking runners or being quick to the plate. Is Soriano any different? Has anyone looked at his CS/SB numbers?

  3. Dave - Jan 18, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Very interesting to read that Rizzo was most reluctant to give up Cole in the Gio trade. I, like perhaps many others, assumed the key(s) was/were one of the two guys who got called up for the September cuppa coffee, Milone and Peacock.It's great that Rizzo is able to re-stock minor-league pitching.

  4. MicheleS - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Rizzo will be on 106.7 at 11:30

  5. Joe Seamhead - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Great question, Faraz, and I don't know the answer.

  6. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Losing Cole was the only reason the Gio deal stung a little more. He has raw talent for sure but lacks the secondary pitches right now.I'm OK with the trade since he went to an AL team. I agree with those who fear where the Beast ends up next. I expect he will be traded on July 31st and there's always that chance the Nats could face him. Then there is always next year when Morse is a Free Agent. I hope he stays in the American League.

  7. TimDz - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Dave…If you look back you may read that Cole was the centerpiece of the Gio trade…I remember debates here that espoused Cole's possible ace stuff versus him just being a prospect, while Gio was more a known quantity …

  8. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    Thanks MicheleS.

  9. NatsLady - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    I hope the Twins take very good care of Alex Meyer because, y'know, we might want him back in a year or three.

  10. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    JD: 'Faraz, Protecting young pitchers arms so they can have longer, more productive careers should not be considered 'babying'.There are many,many examples of pitchers who were thrown to the wolves at an early age and ended up with short careers. Nothing is absolute but the overwhelming evidence suggests that careful ramp up until the age of 25 is the best way to go. Teams are now aware of all these studies and for the most part they all ramp up their pitchers slowly.The Strasburg shut down made the most noise but there were many shutdowns of young pitchers throughout baseball.'I know that it is not exactly babying and expecting any pitcher to win 300 games over his career is asking too much given that out of thousands of starting pitchers to take the baseball mound, only 24 have won 300 or more games. So looking at their seasons for age 25 or before is not the right course.Having said that, I still think that the attitude towards young pitchers has become too careful which deprives fans of great seasons.

  11. phil dunton - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    You can't argue with Rizzo when it comes to appraising pitching talent. While I am sorry to see The Beast leave, it gives him a chance to play regularly. I hope he wins the AL triple crown next season.

  12. Section 222 - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    Storen shouldn't be upset that he's not the closer any more. Now he can be the guy that Davey has warming up as soon as Soriano comes into the game, ready to replace Soriano the very second he starts getting in trouble. The closer-replacement. Right, Section222?I figured I'd respond to this, and I'll try to ignore the commenter's legendary sarcasm.Not exactly. I have argued before, and still believe, that the "cult of the closer" is a bad thing and has hurt the Nats. H-Rod blew saves and lost games, so did Lidge. So did Storen in Game 5. In virtually every case, it was clear that the closer didn't have his best stuff or was "over-amped" or spooked by the gravity of the situation. My position is that managers should "hook" their closers if it's clear that they don't have it that night. No one's perfect (except maybe Kimbrell and Rivera). Everyone has an off day. In order to be able to replace the closer when it's become pretty clear that winning the game is in jeopardy, you have to have someone ready. If Storen hasn't already pitched, absolutely get him warm early in the inning if there are signs of trouble, just in case. But it sounds like he'll be used as a setup guy, as he should be, so normally won't be an option. But if Mattheus hasn't pitched (as was the case in Game 5), or Stammen, have him ready to take over just in case. The delicate psyche of the closer can take it, and the team will benefit.I seem to remember a commenter arguing last year that Storen was born to be a closer and really can't pitch in any other role. That was proven to be wrong last year, and I guess Rizzo disagrees with it going forward as well. Storen and the Nats will benefit from two years of Soriano pitching most save situations. And now it appears he's going to make a lot of money as well. Win, win, win.

  13. NatsLady - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    Soriano has somewhat of an injury history and is 33. Storen needs to be READY, like a Broadway understudy. Much as I've said about keeping Clip&Store, it may not happen if Mattheus turns out to be the guy Davey waves into the game when he's in trouble. It was not your imagination, Clip's post All-Star stats are discouraging, though he did come through in a couple of big games. Last spring I told a blogger (not Mark) "don't worry" about Clip, and I was right, he came through with an INCREDIBLE June. The talent is there, the mindset is there, but is the shoulder?

  14. sjm308 - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    222 – I have never been a pitching coach, and never claimed to know all that much but in my opinion, you just can't have everyone in your bullpen throwing to get ready every single day. I think in the example of a winner take all playoff game there could be that mindset but in 162 games, you have to give guys in the pen days off and not even let them warmup. With the 3 guys we have at the back end, Davey can now do that. We both agree that Mattheus also has closer type ability so we have lots of options.

  15. Feel Wood - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    I have one question regarding Soriano. Last season, it seemed that our pitchers could not stop the baserunning game of any opposition by either checking runners or being quick to the plate. Is Soriano any different? Has anyone looked at his CS/SB numbers?Look at his career WHIP: 1.046. Postseason: 0.583 in nine appearances. That means on average he puts one guy on in every inning he pitches. So even if that one guy steals a base on him, there's probably no hit coming after that steal to knock the runner in.In contrast, Storen's WHIP in his four postseason appearances was 1.500, vs a career WHIP of 1.009. What that says is although his inability to hold a runner is an issue, it's not as big an issue as people are making it out to be.

  16. RaleighNat - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Runs matter the same in all innings. A 1-2-3 8th is just as important to the odds of winning as a 1-2-3 9th. I love having all of these shut down relievers. I think Storen is plenty smart enough to see how good this is for the team. Though it will potentially hurt him financially b/c he will lose $$$'s due to lower save totals, I think he'll be a pro and am not worried at all.

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    Sec222, you make some good points but Davey believes in building up his pitchers mental side of the game.I have felt that Davey was too "nice" last year and needed a quicker hook in Sparky Anderson style.I think this year Davey will have a different mindset in the post-season.

  18. NatsLady - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    I have no doubt that Rizzo looked at that postseason WHIP for Soriano.Look at his career WHIP: 1.046. Postseason: 0.583 in nine appearances.

  19. NatsNut - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    Carrying over the arbitration discussion from last thread. My understanding about arbitration is that right about now the team throws out a contract number to the arbitration-eligible player. They may or may not negotiate, but if they don't reach an agreement, it goes to arbitration.IIRC, one player last year did not reach an agreement and went to arbitration: John Lannan. And from my impression of what Rizzo is like, I'm guessing he didn't like that one bit. I also don't think it's a huge stretch to connect Lannan's 2012, um, status with that circumstance. Call me crazy, but I bet no players this year will be turning down Rizzo's offer and going to arbitration, if you know what I'm saying.

  20. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Mr. Rizzo says stealing more bases. That's a change.

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Hmmmm, Rizzo says Henry Rodriguez will be competing for a job. Interesting way he said it.

  22. Feel Wood - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Mr. Rumsfeld says you go to war on the basepaths with the players you have, not the players you wish you had. This year they have Denard Span, last year they had Michael Morse. That's a change.

  23. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    Refertilize the farm system? Where does Rizzo come up with these words? :)

  24. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Feel Wood, I agree but a few here say Davey doesn't steal bases. I didn't know that was a rule and it seems Rizzo just cleared that up.Message to the one person who keeps saying it.

  25. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    GoSM, Bush school of thought?

  26. Scooter - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    NatsNut, I love you to death, and I think that's utterly insane.Faraz, I suspect you want this (look at the last five columns).

  27. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Sounds like no lefty specialist. One inning at a time according to Rizzo.

  28. IKN8wxU2 - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Seems to me that Rizzo is building this team with a view to not just the best record, but the best chances in the postseason. That explains keeping LaRoche and moving Morse, acquiring Span, acquiring Haren, and acquiring Soriano. If you believe the article linked below, the keys are:• Closer's performance (Soriano)• Pitcher strikeout rate (Haren rather than Lannen)• Defense (Span and LaRoche)Check, check, and check.http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=betweenthenumbers/billybeane/060405

  29. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    and now Rizzo says no need for a late inning lefty reliever.

  30. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… GoSM, Bush school of thought? January 18, 2013 11:44 AM Which thought? I only quote & twist Reagan, "Trust but Verify"

  31. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    NatsJack, you owe me a drink ;)

  32. NatsLady - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    Davey goes with the players he has, not a preconceived notion. If he has Span and other fast guys, he will steal bases.

  33. Feel Wood - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    IIRC, one player last year did not reach an agreement and went to arbitration: John Lannan. And from my impression of what Rizzo is like, I'm guessing he didn't like that one bit. I also don't think it's a huge stretch to connect Lannan's 2012, um, status with that circumstance. Call me crazy, but I bet no players this year will be turning down Rizzo's offer and going to arbitration, if you know what I'm saying.Over the years, the Nats have taken more players to arbitration than nearly every other team. Some of those players won their arbitration cases, others lost them. It didn't seem to affect their positions on the team one way or another. Felipe Lopez lost his arbitration hearing and remained a malcontent, Sean Burnett lost his arbitration hearing and had the best season of his career. John Patterson won his hearing and got Pattersoned. I doubt that winning the hearing had anything to do with that. It was his pitching that was the problem.

  34. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Thanks Scooter. That's exactly what I wanted to see.FW, on average. So there will be games that will be blown because he lets a runner take second.

  35. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    NatsLady said… Davey goes with the players he has, not a preconceived notion. If he has Span and other fast guys, he will steal bases. January 18, 2013 11:51 AM You are stating common-sense. Others here have espoused a theory that says Earl Weaver didn't like to steal bases and Davey is a clone of Earl's strategies and hence, doesn't steal bases.You get Span for several reasons and one is to take the extra base, same as Desi, Espi, Bernie, Harper, and even Werth.I'm just glad that Rizzo said it to reinforce the obvious.

  36. Feel Wood - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Truth is, none of them LIKE to go to arbitration. They all would prefer to agree and avoid it.

  38. MicheleS - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Take Ross of the Arb board, he announced on twitter that he avoided it

  39. NatsJack in Florida - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Yep… just saw his tweet. Great.

  40. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    FW, you keep quoting his 1.5 WHIP when you know it is only 4 game sample and 3 out of those 4, he allowed one walk while facing 10 batters.I am not trying to prove that game 5 lost was mainly due to Storen and his not checking runners. Generally our pitchers were not good at baserunning games. Look at our stats from last season. You don't think that matters?

  41. Feel Wood - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    FW, on average. So there will be games that will be blown because he lets a runner take second.Not very many. What a 1.046 WHIP tells you is that if Soriano puts a runner on in every inning he pitches, there is only a 4.6% chance of a hit or walk coming after that runner. For Storen in the NLDS, that probability was 50%.Storen didn't lose that game because he couldn't hold the runner, he lost it because he couldn't get guys out. Not holding the runner just exacerbated that.

  42. Feel Wood - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Generally our pitchers were not good at baserunning games. Look at our stats from last season. You don't think that matters?As I said upthread, it's an issue. Just not as big an issue as people make it out to be.

  43. MicheleS - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Some details:Jon Heyman‏@JonHeymanCBS detwiler gets 25 grand for 200 innings on top of his $2,337,500 deal with #nats. so no innings limit below 200 for him

  44. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    FW, I don't understand why you are sticking with Storen. In my original post, I never mentioned him. I meant our pitchers in general.http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2012.shtml#standard_fielding::20

  45. MicheleS - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    New Post!

  46. Feel Wood - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. UnkyD - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said…and now Rizzo says no need for a late inning lefty reliever.January 18, 2013 11:49 AM———–Cue "film at 11:00" of presser, introducing late inning lefty reliever?

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    I think Storen didn't trust his stuff and that sunk him. While he didn't get help from the ump, he didn't help himself when the fish weren't biting and that was credit to the Cardinals.You can't hit a 3 run HR when only 1 man is on base. Once one man was on base is where you have to make sure you don't put the tying run on base. He had 2 outs at the time.Again, learn from it and move on, that's all you can do.

  49. Feel Wood - Jan 18, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… FW, I don't understand why you are sticking with Storen. In my original post, I never mentioned him. I meant our pitchers in general.Storen in Game 5 is the archetypical example of the problem you're complaining about. Also, your original question referenced Soriano, who is Storen's replacement.

  50. NatsFanSinceStart - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    The Nats may live to regret "Span for Morse" deal. Span 31% caught stealing and very low doubles totals is sobering. We'll do just fine, I'm sure, but there will many games we will be wishing for the Beast up at the plate — lets hope LaRoche doesnt return to mediocrity: .265, 25 homers, 80 RBI — which he very well may.Nats won 97 games with atypical outfield: they may not win 97 games with a Typical one.

  51. NatsFanSinceStart - Jan 18, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    The Nats may live to regret "Span for Morse" deal. Span 31% caught stealing and very low doubles totals is sobering. We'll do just fine, I'm sure, but there will many games we will be wishing for the Beast up at the plate — lets hope LaRoche doesnt return to mediocrity: .265, 25 homers, 80 RBI — which he very well may.Nats won 97 games with atypical outfield: they may not win 97 games with a Typical one.

  52. peric - Jan 21, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Agree with NatsFanSincStart but there is one saving grace that could save Rizzo and likely makes Rizzo smile … looks like someone doing another blog read my post on measuring run producer bats' performances from last season:We know you're reading Pattrick …

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