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On Harper’s comment and Rizzo’s contract

Aug 2, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

For a team going through a particularly rough stretch right now, the Nationals certainly gave us plenty to talk about this week on "The Baseball Show."

On last night's episode, we talked about the Nationals' disaster of a series in Detroit, Bryce Harper's comments following Wednesday's 14-1 loss and whether this team really does (as Harper insists) still have a chance to catch the Braves in the NL East.

We also discussed last night's breaking news: The announcement that the Nationals had signed general manager Mike Rizzo to a new contract that includes a promotion to president of baseball operations. You can watch that clip below…
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  1. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    Rizzo still has a lot of work to do — starting with strip-mining the bench. My fear would be that a new GM, like a bear, would want to leave his scat all over the place. My guess is that Rizzo knows — mostly — what needs to be fixed and will limit himself to that.

  2. mick - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    nothing shocks me any more, I would not be shocked if Nats started to roll now. Maybe now that they know that the Lerners have Rizzo's back for a long time, that now they need to get their asses in gear!

  3. mick - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    well…we will find out….now, off on family vacation so MLB network here I come…back at you all in about 2 weeks!! we will see if I am right that Rizzo's extension will get Nats rolling or nottake care!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Doc - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Hard to go from close to leading the NL league in hitting, pitching, and fielding in '12 to not doing any of the latter in '13 and still thinking that the Nats are 1st place competitive.Reinforcing Rizzo by the Lerners at this time seems like putting the captain of the Titanic in charge of icebergs!Mark, early in the season you noted how the clubhouse didn't have the same element of team as last year. Harps seemed to be saying the same thing. Maybe you could expound on that?Still into '13, not really interested, at this point in thinking about 2014.

  5. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Today's talk at some point will turn mostly to Biogenesis as names are going to be released today but for now back to the Nats!

  6. Alexander Caroline - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    sjm, following over from the last thread on Espinosa. I want to believe but I need to see it to believe it. Danny burst onto the scene in Sept 2010 like the next great thing and started 2011 the same but the signs were there for those that really watched. My words were written in June 2011 that Danny leads the Majors in Swing & Miss % and that turned into that K rate which was the highest in the Majors. Sure, some of the other stats were good but my point all along with Danny is long slumps and a few hot streaks.Whatever caused his 2013 meltdown, the warning signs were there.I want to see him do well because redemption is a powerful tool. I will be rooting for him but will have both eyes open again. I will call it like I see it.

  8. Don - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    The club promoting the guy at this juncture just does not seem right. Why now? Why not wait until October? The club will likely finish stronger, win 84 games or whatever, the salty taste will be somewhat out of our mouth and a prudent move to shore up management before the winter meetings would have been fine. But in the middle of this ugly skid, Eckstein just fired, Storen freshly in Cuse, the guy's manager and vet players questioning his actions, etc. This is just poorly timed.

  9. sjm308 - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Ghost- you never trolled on Danny, just made your observations. We are all rooting for the same thing, a successful baseball team.

  10. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    On the discussion from last night on the corner infielders, the lack of range that RZim and ALR have shown this season is troubling but when a corner infielder doesn't get a ball towards the line, it turns into extra base hits down into their respective corners. Doubles are almost always costly.Think back to the Dodgers series in a tie game late in the game and the Dodgers have Uribe guarding the line and in the top of the next inning Zimmerman is playing off the line in his usual "perch". First batter is Uribe who hits the ball down the line for a double and eventually scores the winning run. Similarly back in the 1st Atlanta series, RZim was playing off the line and Justin Upton hits the bouncer up the 3rd base line that RZim had to retreat on and made the poor throw to 2nd that eventually scored the winning runs on the error.Most of RZim's problems start with poor positioning and it could be on comfort level not to make the longer throw. Playing up in the cutout off the line is great to protect against a bunt and soft grounders by the pitcher and headed towards Desi that he can cut off but other than that it takes away reaction time in the "hot corner".Like NatsLady said "past a diving Ryan Zimmerman".Rizzo's toughest decision is what he does with his infield for 2014. The stats say LaRoche has to go. The hope is Ryan Zimmerman can be a Gold Glove 1st baseman. Righthanded glove playing back and snagging balls headed down the line will be an improvement. I think if the Nats are out of it, Rizzo should move RZim over there sooner than later.

  11. Ghost Of Steve M. - Aug 2, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    sjm, I just hope I have one of those Detwiler moments with Danny where I go from skeptical to a believer.

  12. baseballswami - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Kind of worried about JZim tonight. He has not done well in the past on extra rest– too strong, or when he is out of routine- loses his feel for pitches. Two check marks in the wrong boxes. Facing Gorzelanny- just seems like the kind of game that goes all reverse lock on us. Hate to be a downer, but there it is. I feel that it's time to bring Tyler Moore back- ALR looks terrible and needs some rest, the bench is putting up goose eggs, and in the past, every time Tyler has gone down to get his stroke back, he has kept it. Let him play first and start getting to the point where they platoon, and then he takes over. At this point of the season, why not?

  13. A DC Wonk - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Rizzo's toughest decision is what he does with his infield for 2014. That indeed may be his toughest decision.But . . . I think shoring up the bench is essential and might be his hardest task. Bench guys are, by definition, not good enough to be starters. So, he has to find guys not good enough to be starters, but guys good enough to really help.Davey identified it as a key problem at the end of 2011, and Rizzo, et al did wonders getting an awesome bench for 2012.Unfortunately, just about all those same bench guys simultaneously fizzed this year, really hurting us.OTOH, I guess it's better to have that problem than, say, a team that needs a #2, #3, #4, and a #5 starter.

  14. A DC Wonk - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    I feel that it's time to bring Tyler Moore back- ALR looks terrible and needs some restYeah, I'd like to see TyMo against the lefty.But who gets sent down?

  15. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Doubles are VERY costly, as are stolen bases, especially if they come with none out. We have seen that situation a lot, with the opponents cashing in the run. That gives them life, and they get a couple more runs in the next inning–and, ballgame.

  16. SCNatsFan - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    I agree Wonk. Unless we Hrod Tracy or Shark there is no room and we need the pitching.

  17. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Between Tracy and Shark, I'd get rid of Tracy. Nice guy, great teammate, etc. But "doing no harm" is not enough. Shark can spell Harper, which I think is still needed. Tracy serves no useful purpose on the field if you have Moore (1B) and Rendon (3B).

  18. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Previously, I though Tracy was OK because he didn't embarrass himself at 3B or 1B–but then he did. Enough is enough. Moore has re-found his stroke. He may lose it sitting on the bench, but he's got it right now, so bring him up and use him for a couple of weeks to spell LaRoche.

  19. SCNatsFan - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Still NL he is the 'big L bat' Davey thinks he needs in spite of his numbers

  20. JD - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    A couple of things: I agree that ALR needs to go. I am just not sure who eats that contract for next year and how much of it the Nats are willing to absorb. Don't expect anything significant in return. I would like to have one more extended look at Tyler Moore and not in a platooning set up; I think we need to get a sense if he's an every day player or not. I think there is enormous potential for some serious untapped production. In addition to spotty infield defense, the corner outfielders both had off defensive years. This is especially troubling with Harper who looked like he was well on his way to becoming an excellent center fielder last year and now looks very shaky and uncomfortable in left and his arm is wasted. Werth has clearly lost a step or 2 and is settling into a below average right fielder.

  21. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    SCNatsFan–yeah, I understand Davey's thinking. Moore is fine against righties. Davey puts too much faith in the R/L thing. Unless it's extreme (Span? Harper?) my feeling is if a hitter can hit, he can hit.

  22. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    As for Moore's D. Well, LaRoche wasn't great, he MADE himself great with practice. If Moore wants to be a starting 1B, he will improve his defense. That's on him.

  23. JD - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    NL, If you bring up Moore to play a couple of times a week, don't do it. I don't see the point. As far as the bench goes, Atlanta did a real nice job in getting production from everyone. Schaffer,Gattis,Laird,Pena. Now even Terdaslovich (I may be butchering his name) and Costanza are getting big opportunities and are coming through. I think bench production is somewhat contagious because if you told me at the beginning of the year that this is a great bench I would not have agreed.

  24. JD - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    It will also be interesting to see if Rizzo messes with the core because really there aren't that many options available outside of ALR.

  25. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    JD,(1) I would bring Moore up for two weeks (at least) and play him against lefties, minimum, and maybe more. Let LaRoche rest, or if he is really ill, diagnose it an put him on the 15-day DL. I wouldn't bring Moore up just to sit on the bench. He's got his timing back, use it or lose it.(2) The bench in the NL is not an easy challenge. I think part of Lombo's and Bernadina's good production last year was that they got an opportunity to play games (especially Lombo when Desi was out). I don't know why it isn't easy to keep your bat fresh on the bench, seems like there should be a solution, but I haven't seen one. Agree that there is a "contagion" factor, which we were hoping for with the Goon Squad stuff, but in the end, it's up to the players to figure out how to bat .250 or so FROM THE BENCH.

  26. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    I feel bad for LaRoche, because he has been solid for his career, been a team player, etc. But if there is a new manager, he won't have the affection Davey did for him. Unless he has an amazing August and September, he is gone and the Nats eat a large part of his salary.

  27. Laddie Blah Blah - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Signing Rizzo long-term is a big positive for the Nats, IMO. Rizzo always looks to build a team based on long-term returns, as well as immediate need, with the emphasis more on "long-term" than "immediate" need.I read the last thread and would point out that the Nats farm system is winning at almost all levels except AAA and the DSL. I guess Rizzo and his guys have not yet established enough of a presence in the Dominican Republic to get the prime prospects, yet. I believe Rizzo will work on that until the Nats are competitive there.The kids in the GCL have been absolutely dominant. Sure, most of them are teenage rooks, but they are beating the stuffings out of every other team's teenage rooks. The Nats are loaded with pitching in the minors. Giolito, Cole and even Sammy Solis had recent, strong outings. We are going to be seeing some of those guys within 2 years, max, and maybe sooner. Taylor Jordan is going to get a fair shot at making the majors next spring as the new no. 5 in the rotation.There are no "knock your socks off" position players, but Drew Ward has been outstanding on the young GCL squad, all season long. He will be in Auburn, at least, next year, if not in Harrisburg by the end of the year.Both Michael Taylor and Billy Burns have made sure, steady progress during their season at Potomac. Both are probably going to Harrisburg, next year, I would think. Burns is the best base stealer in the Nats' organization, with about a 90% success rate. And both he and Taylor have stolen home, at least once. Bryce would love those guys getting on ahead of him – Burns has about a .417 OBP to go with his 90% success rate as a base stealer. He has more triples than doubles. If he hits one in the gap, he is more likely to end up on 3rd than on 2nd.They have some younger catchers down there in the low minors, as well, and some older guys who we may see in September, like Souza and Walters, both of whom have shown good power all season long. Souza is on the DL, so we may not see him, gain, until the AFL but we may see Walters in September – a switch-hitting power hitter would be perfect off the bench.Rizzo is going to make this team better. His main focus in the off-season has to be finding the right field manager for his team of young, developing super stars.If the Nats find themselves 12-13 games behind after next week's series with the Braves, time to start bringing some of those minor league guys up. ALR should probably be on the DL, anyway. Honestly, the guy looks awful. Tracy will be gone next year, so why not release him now and let him see if someone else is willing to give him a gig for their stretch run.Davey already seems to have thrown in the towel.

  28. James Joyce - Aug 2, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    I think that Tyler Moore's days as a Nat are numbered, there's no place on the roster for the guy in 2014 and he's not young. We'll see.Moving LaRoche does not bring great benefit — they'd have to eat a bunch of salary to get anything substantial in return and who is going to give up something for a guy on a 1 yr deal who does not bring elite performance?. Zim is not movng to 1B next year, unless things change wildly anyway. For good or bad, this club does not quit on random guys easily, they are not going to start with Zim. He'll have every chance to play third in 2014. LaRoche at 1B in 2014 is not so abd in any event, it's just that his price tag is high. But the club does need another high impact bat in a big way from some spot. Rizzo has his work cut out for himself to find a 2B or maybe a CF to be that elite hitter that they need to truly have a chance to contend.

  29. Joe Seamhead - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:01 PM

    I'd like to see Burns play, but getting to that Stadium is a nightmare from where I live. The guy has stolen 52 bases this year and only been caught 5 times. I hear tell that he plays a terrific CF, but the knock on him is that he has no home run power. It has also been said that he is un-questionably the faster player in the Nats organization.

  30. Muddy - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    I like what Bryce said. I'm concerned that the Nats lack intensity and competitiveness. I like the guys but when I see LAR and Zimmerman and Desi chatting it up all the time with baserunners, all smiles and happy, on an seriously underperforming team with time running out, I wonder. Denard is a great guy and a good player but I don't see much intensity and fire in his game. Espi seemed focused on himself. Rendon is a smooth rookie and can't be expected to lead this year. No concerns about Werth; he's intense, in a quiet way. Lombo is fine. … Morse was a standout in this department. He brought a lot more to the team than good hitting. … No complaints about the pitchers. Anyway, Rizzo's "good character" guys seem to lack intensity at times. I wish LAR would stop chatting up everybody at lst base — at least until the Nats start playing like winners. I guess I can sum it up by saying the chemistry doesn't look like a winning brew.

  31. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Impact young bat. …Nick Castellano. Go get him Rizzo.

  32. Joe Seamhead - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    I am with James Joyce regarding Ryan Zimmerman is not moving to 1B next year.As to ALR,I was all in for re-signing him, but I think something is wrong with him. He is hitting balls almost to the wall, but not over it way too often. He seems like he has less strength than he has had in the past. I find it hard to believe that it's just a result of him being a year older.

  33. alexva - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    NatsJack, if you're Rizzo what do you offer for Castellano and where do you play him when he gets here?

  34. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    NJ, what would you give for Castellano? OK, Drew Storen, but that's not enough.

  35. nats guy - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    In the original scouting reports on Espinosa it stated that he has a very long swing that he would have to shorten or face the consequences. He never did and the consequences are now here. Too stubborn. Gotta go.

  36. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    I leave that up to Rizzo. He's got the new contract.But, to me, whatever it takes minus Giolito, Cole and Rendon.

  37. NatsLady - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Both Dew Storen and Danny Espinosa suffered from the "I'm a major league talent, it can't happen to me" syndrome. I haven't given up hope on either one, though I do think they could end up on other teams.

  38. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    and, of coarse, the obvious. (Stras, JZim and Bryce)

  39. nats guy - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    One of the problems in the Nats system is that they tend to draft a lot of college Senors and put them at low levels in the organization (i.e GCL Nats). They also have older Dominican players there. It means they tend to beat up the lower leagues by having college players play high school draftees. You have to take those low level minor league stats with a grain of salt. Luke Ericson in his Nationals Prospects site keeps a spreadsheet called too old for the level. The Nats tend to have more names than they should on that sheet.

  40. alexva - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    NatsJack, tough to get a top prospect without giving up something you don't want to. if I'm the Tigers I don't do that deal without Rendon or Desmond.I think you need a new boy for your wish list

  41. A DC Wonk - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Friday's tiny tidbits:- The two homers Justin Upton hit last night were more than he hit in July, in June, and as many as he hit in May.- Pirates are the only team with a winning percentage over .600- The Royals have won nine games in a row, and the Indians have won eight in a row.- Bud Norris goes to the O's. L.J. Hoes goes to the 'Stros. Last night: Hoes gets his first MLB hit. Off of Norris.- Pitcher Dylan Axelrod retired the side facing three batters — throwing only four pitches. And allowing two hits.(the four pitches were: ball, single, single-out-at-third, fly-ball to right DP at first).

  42. JD - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Laddie, No one currently playing in the GCL is going to be anywhere near the majors in 2 years. You are talking 5 levels away. It ain't that easy. Nats Guy, that's a very valid point. I happen not to know the GCL roster at all so I take your word on the age issue. To me, I begin to pay attention to prospects once they start having consistent success at AA. This is why I don't get too excited about Skole and Martinson and Renda and Moonyhan. I'm not saying they aren't good, I'm saying it's too soon to tell. I actually think Goodwin is fine. A lot of posters are concerned by the fact that he's only hitting in the .250's but he gets on base at a .350 clip, has a little pop and is at the AA level for the 1st time. Not a sure thing but definitely a prospect. It's nice to see that both Cole and Ray are handling their promotion to AA well, they both likely need a full year at that level but they are both young.

  43. JD - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    I think this whole notion of Zim to 1st, Rendon to 3rd etc. is not resolved. I am not sure how it plays out and I'm not sure Rizzo knows yet.

  44. JD - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    I think it was really important to extend Rizzo. If for example you are after someone like Girardi, they have other options and they will want to know who they will be working with long term.

  45. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    The Tigers conceivably did't have a spot for Castellano untill trading Garcia the other day so you are right, it would be tough.

  46. alexva - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    a long overdue thanks for the daily tidbits Wonk. some really cool stuff to bring a smile into a season of tough times

  47. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 2, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Tigers no longer need a shortstop as they got one from Boston and will upgrade as soon as Peralta is suspended — talk about luck coming in strange packages. And apparently they think they don't need an OF as they traded a potential 30 HR guy. They must be seeing Castellano as the next OF up. They do need a second baseman. So I think AlexVa is right — Castellano will require Rendon, or maybe multiples among the Nats young pitchers. Based on what he's doing this year in AAA I don't see that he's worth it.

  48. Theophilus T. S. - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Since we've been left with nothing to look forward to except our and other teams' minor leaguers, has anyone seen/heard anything about Matt Skole's rehab? Close to the time frame in which Rizzo speculated he might be able to swing a bat.

  49. A DC Wonk - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    I think it was really important to extend Rizzo. If for example you are after someone like Girardi, they have other options and they will want to know who they will be working with long term. Good point — I hadn't thought of that. Makes a lot of sense.alexva said…a long overdue thanks for the daily tidbits Wonk.Thanks for the kind words! (disclaimer that I make from time to time: 90%+ of it is taken from youcantpredictbaseball, baseball prospectus, and thehardballtimes.)some really cool stuff to bring a smile into a season of tough timesOy — you got that right!

  50. A DC Wonk - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    What do folks think of this (from Wikipedia)"After the 2005 regular season, Girardi was named the manager of the Marlins, replacing departed manager Jack McKeon. His first notable action as manager was to prohibit facial hair"

  51. alexva - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    here you go Theohttp://www.pennlive.com/senators/index.ssf/2013/07/matt_skoles_rehab_life_the_inj.html

  52. DJB - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    I think it was a big mistake to make Rizzo both GM and president of baseball operations for a number of reasons. I was o.k. with the re-signing as GM. First, we need a stats-oriented front office that can pour through data to predict the run-prevention and run-production potential of minor leaguers. I don't think Rizzo has a grasp of this. Second, I would like decisions on baseball operations to be made collectively, not individually. We need individuals that can work on the international market, a more developed player-development system like the Rays, and a stats office like the Cards. I don't think this can be done by one man. I think this will ensure mediocrity going forward. In fact, you can count on it.

  53. Section 222 - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    Still NL he is the 'big L bat' Davey thinks he needs in spite of his numbersNo he's not. And if Davey thinks he is, he may actually be losing it like alot of folks here say. On the timing of Rizzo's rehiring, I doubt it will have one iota of impact on the Nats' play, but perhaps the Lerners were sending a message that they don't approve of the grousing from Davey, Clip, and perhaps others. Rizzo's their guy, and people need to suck it up if they don't agree with him.I'm not really a Rizzo devotee, but I will be eternally grateful for calling Jim "Morse is better as a bench player and can't hit RH pitching" Riggleman's bluff and showing him the door.

  54. John C. - Aug 2, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Natsguy, the criticism of the age levels is an old one, and Luke has acknowledged not as valid as it used to be; the speculation is that when the Nats were terrible Rizzo focused more on players closer to the big leagues, where now that the MLB roster is in better shape he can draft more for tools/talent. If you look at the GCL Nationals roster, most of their impact players are basically teenagers; many of them are products of the Nationals' presence in the Dominican Republic and recent graduates of the DSL. For example:Drew Ward, 18 (3rd round pick 2013): .339/.441/.470Randy Novas, 18 (DSL grad): .341/.420/.455Bryan Mejia, 19 (DSL grad): .286/.321/.419Jose Marmolejos-Diaz, 20 (DSL grad): .306/.358/.432Diomedes Eusabio, 20 (DSL grad): .373/.385/.549Adderling Ruiz, a DSL product who got hurt last year and is repeating the GCL, is the only age-inappropriate bat that is really leading the GCL Nats (Ruiz, a catcher who just turned 22, is destroying the GCL to the tune of .342/.468/.526). I'm willing to give Ruiz a bit of a pass since he only played 11 games last year, but he clearly belongs in Auburn or Potomac.On the mound, having just turned 19 Giolito isn't even the youngest guy on the staff – Travis Ott is a year younger, although he has been inconsistent. But leading the way as young arms are:Matthew Derosier (just turned 19, 24th round pick 2013): 1-1, 2.08 ERA, .894 WHIP.Jefry Rodriguez (just turned 20 last week, DSL grad): 3-0, 2.10 ERA, 1.200 WHIP.Hector Silvestre, 20 (DSL grad): 4-0, 3.10 ERA, 1.000 WHIP.Nicholas Pivetta, 20 (4th round 2013): 1-0, 2.13 ERA, 1.026 WHIPIt's nice to see the Dominican presence feeding into the GCL and hopefully higher. All of the players above are at the league median age or younger. According to B-R, the median batters' age for the GCL is 19.6 years; the GCL Nats average batters' age is … 19.7 (tied for 8th in a 16 team league). the median pitchers age for the league is 20.5, and the Nats average pitcher's age is 21.5 (11th). The figures are weighted for playing time, if you're curious. The bottom line is: don't dismiss the GCL Nats' success so readily.

  55. The Real Feel Wood. Accept no substitutes. - Aug 2, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    "After the 2005 regular season, Girardi was named the manager of the Marlins, replacing departed manager Jack McKeon. His first notable action as manager was to prohibit facial hair"He was going for the Yankee job even then.

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