WASHINGTON — Mike Rizzo responded emphatically to anonymous sources within the Nationals organization griping about their bullpen’s struggles: “Put your name on it or shut up. That’s what I would say.”
The Nationals General Manager’s remark, made during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies on Wednesday, came in response to anonymous comments made to Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell:
On Friday, yet ANOTHER National simply walked up to me and said, “When the hell are they going to get this done? What are they waiting for? Waiting is just doing more damage.”
He didn’t even have to say what subject he was talking about or whom “they” were but it’s the bullpen and the Lerners.
“Since 2012, we’ve won the most baseball games in all of baseball,” Rizzo said, when asked to respond to the anonymous remarks. “We’ve been in first place 595 days since 2012, the most in baseball by about 40 or 50 days.”
“We know what we’re doing. We’re pretty damn good at it. We’ve been successful at it our whole career. That person, or persons, should worry about their particular job and, to me, it’s all about the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back of the jersey,” he said.
“We’re going to figure this thing out. Players are not paid, or coaches are not paid, to evaluate rosters — they’re paid to do their particular job and go with the roster that’s given to them. They could express their frustrations, and I get it.”
“Our bullpen is going in the right direction,” he said. “You’ve got Blake Treinen who’s throwing extremely well. He’s got a 3.00 ERA. [Enny] Romero hasn’t given up a run in June. [Oliver] Perez has got a 1.50 ERA in June. The numbers are going to return to their mean, like we’ve always said, and they’re throwing well.”
“That’s not to say that we’re not doing our part and our job, which we will, which we’ve done every season, every trade deadline that I’ve been a general manager,” he added. “We’re in first place. We’re playing .600 baseball. We’ve got a good lead in the division. We’re certainly not satisfied.
“If I were to speak to whoever this anonymous person is — which, you know I love these anonymous quotes from people. Put your name on it or shut up. That’s what I would say.”
Rizzo was also asked about manager Dusty Baker’s contract, which is up after two years at the end of this season.
“It’s not a distraction. Dusty gets it. I get it. We understand,” Rizzo said. “Dusty’s a good manager. He wants to be here. We want him to be here. This thing is going to take care of itself. We’re optimistic about it, but we’re not going to talk about it. He’s not thinking about it, he’s not talking about it.”
“We’ve got baseball games to win,” he said. “Both of us are going to do what we do and things will take care of themselves. That’s the easiest and simplest way I can put it. This guy’s been through it a million times. I’ve had 21 one-year contracts in my career. So we’re not worried about that. We’re worried about the Cubs tonight and that’ll be our total focus throughout the season, is winning this year.”
Rizzo was also asked, as the Burke & Herbert Bank Fan Question of the Week, whether Nationals ace Max Scherzer — who’s been electric in his past sevens starts, with a 1.00 ERA, 75 strikeouts and a .121 batting average against in 54 innings — should be an MVP candidate.
“That goes back to the conversation that we always have at this time of the year,” Rizzo said. “Are pitchers MVPs? Or, because they have their own award, the Cy Young Award, does that count as the Most Valuable Pitcher Award?
“I always believed that the MVP is more of a positional players’ award with very, very few exceptions,” he said. “I think that rule applies. Mad Max is, to me, if I had one game to win for Game 7 of the World Series, I’d pick one pitcher. It would be Max Scherzer.
“Because I know what I’m getting out of him, I know the tank will be empty when he walks off the line the last time and there’s usually a good result when that happens.”