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Mike Rizzo: only the national media disagreed with the Strasburg shutdown

Feb 21, 2013, 10:31 AM EST

Nationals Rizzo Baseball

Mike Rizzo spoke with Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog. Most of the post is devoted to whether D.C. can ever become a baseball town. Rizzo seems to think it can, which is kinda crazy, but he’s the Nats’ GM so what else is he supposed to say?

This stuff about the Strasburg shutdown is more interesting to me:

I gave [Nationals ownership] all the facts that I had at my disposal, that helped me make my decision and my philosophy years ago, and they were totally on board with it. Really the only people that had a problem with it was the media, and really, largely, it was the national media. Because I think the local media was on board with it.”

Yes, the national media was critical (and the local media acted more like a propaganda arm than anything else) but is it really true everyone else was on board? I know the Nats-can-do-no-wrong contingent around these parts were fine with the Strasburg shutdown, but I don’t think it’s at all accurate to say that it was only the national media who took issue.

Eh, doesn’t matter. All that’s important is that the Nationals won the world series last year and likely will four or five times before Strasburg’s career is over.

  1. danaking - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    As a transplanted Pittsburgher living halfway between Washington and Baltimore, I’m a die hard Pirates fan. (Is there any other kind?) Still, I’d like to see the local teams do well; it makes for a more entertaining summer. Both teams have likable and talented players and managers, but the ownership of both make them hard to root for, and Rizzo’s arrogance doesn’t help, either.

  2. Ben - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    …why is this still a story?

    • natstowngreg - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      1. Occasionally, Mike Rizzo has trouble with the concept that some things are better left unsaid.

      2. It’s been a while since Craig has seriously trolled us Nats fans. Like the players, he needs Spring Training to get ready for a season of trolling.

      3. Some media types (and some fans) need cheap shot material, and they’re still trying to get by on last season’s Strasburg Shutdown material. Not realizing that the material is well past its shelf life.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        My takeaway from that is: You don’t think Craig is in the Best Troll Of His Life.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        Right…..it’s all Craig. Which is why a WaPo writer asked the question.

        Stories stay alive when they have legs. Conflicting reports from doctors gave it legs. Strasburg being against the move gave it legs. Nat’s losing in the first round gave it legs. And guess what? Rizzo contorting logic by pretending no one in DC was against the move just gave it more legs.

        To put it more sympathetically, would you rather have the days when no one cared what the Nats did?

      • paperlions - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        Oh come on…yeah, Craig Trolls Nats fans from time to time, but those of you that post here are so sensitive that Philly Phans can rightfully say, “dang Nats fans have some thin skin.”

      • voteforno6 - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        Funny, I don’t recall him ever trolling the Braves fan.

    • skids003 - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      Actually the media is against everything. That’s why it has devolved into making the National Enquirer seem more real than NBC.

  3. thebadguyswon - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    What a douche Mike Rizzo is. Sorry Mike, but pretty much everyone thought you were making a mistake. And you were. Could have used old Stras versus the Cards huh? Oh yeah….I forgot you guys are winning the next ten straight NL East titles…my bad.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:53 AM

      Could have used old Stras versus the Cards huh?

      Yeah, because Detwiler, who replaced Strasburg, pitched so poorly with his 6IP, 1 unearned run line.

      • kirkvanhouten - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:06 AM

        …and the Nationals won that game. I personally thought it was a terrible decision, but it clearly didn’t end up having negative impact for the Nationals.

        They shut him down, the won the division, the lost the division series but won the game Strausberg would have pitched. It’s okay to drop this as an issue now.

      • stlouis1baseball - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:06 AM

        Valid point Church. Aside from that…we both know they could have used him during the series.

      • stabonerichard - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        You guys don’t think Stras–if available–would have started Game 2, which the Nats lost, potentially changing the dynamics of the series?

      • 18thstreet - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:50 AM

        Yes, losing their best pitcher made no difference in losing a five-game series in five games. They clearly don’t need him, and they should trade him. And only the national media feels otherwise.

        Or, perhaps, they are better with him than without him. And having their best pitcher, would have had repercussions beyond the game he might have started.

        For 2012, the naysayers were right, and Rizzo was wrong. In the short term, there’s no other conclusion. To say otherwise makes one an apologist.

      • Ben - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:09 PM

        Yeah, it’s apologist to suggest that Zimmerman shitting the bed in game 2, scoring no runs in game 3, and the bullpen blowing up in game 5 had something to do with their failure, and that that failure had something to do with Strasburg.

      • Ben - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        derp– NOTHING to do with Strasburg. Ugh. Edit plz kthx.

    • voteforno6 - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      No, not everyone. Davey was okay with it. Jordan Zimmermann (who went through the same thing a year before) said it was the right thing to do. Pretty much every season ticket holder I talked to at the games, and most of the other fans as well, were okay with it. I think Tom Verducci said it was the right thing to do as well. What is so irritating is that it became such a big issue months after those of us who had followed this team prior to 2012 had already come to grips with it. It was already a stale debate by the time it blew up in the national media. Trust me, every single alternative to the shutdown was debated locally months before you realized that baseball was being played in Washington.

    • thebadguyswon - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      You can justify until you’re purple. You lost to an inferior team because you benched your best pitcher. It’ll just be more fun this year when you lose with Strasburg.

      • Old Gator - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:25 AM

        That’s complete, utter, total, unmitigated bullshit. Again: the Gnats won the game that Strasburg would have pitched. They lost because their bullpen melted down, and there’s no way that Strasburg was ever going to be used in that role even if he were completely healthy.

        You can spin straw men until you’re purple.

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        You don’t even know what game Strasburg would have pitched. The utter bullshit is you assuming it was the game Detwiler pitched. Look, Nats fans can have a hissy fit assuming that everyone they knew was in favor of the shutdown. That;s fine. But it blew up in Rizzo’s face. Unless they win the next six World Series like Mikey Mike and many Nats fans assume.

      • paperlions - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:48 PM

        Obviously, there is no way to know what would have happened….superior teams lose to inferior teams in short series all the time…even when they have all of their best players available.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Feb 21, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        See: Phillies in 2010 and 2011 losing to the eventual World Series Champions both years.

  4. natslady - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    There were some surveys taken, and it was about 80-20 in favor of Rizzo’s decision. So, yes, not all local fans were on-board. But it was pretty much a landslide. Why is it still a story? IMO, it will be a story until the end of Strasburg’s career. There is no right answer. There was an excellent article posted this week about how the best predictor of injuries is–wait for it–previous injury history. So, there are no guarantees.

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19653

    If you had watched Stras in the month before The Shutdown, you would have seen a tired, struggling pitcher. Maybe Rizzo’s mistake was not “arrogance” but announcing a plan in advance and sticking with it (just as he did with J. Zimmermann in 2011). Now I see that teams are, carefully, NOT announcing innings limits, etc. for young pitchers or relievers who are transitioning to starters.

    • 18thstreet - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      Bull. Bull, bull, bull. I did see him pitch in the last month of the season. I saw him start against the, oh, ST. LOUIS FREAKING CARNIDALS. Stop making stuff up.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201209020.shtml

      He was fine. He was great. It rained, and he came back out after a rain delay.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        (sarcasm font) Please identify which national media outlet you work for

    • officialgame - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      You did? Strasburg last start in 2012 he threw six shutout innings in Washington’s victory, allowed two hits and struck out nine to raise his total to a National League-leading 195 in 156 innings. The stats belittle what you just posted.

      • jwbiii - Feb 21, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        Actually, officialgame, in his last start, he lasted 3 innings, gave up 5 earned runs, 3 walks, 2 homers and struck out 2. Batting practice for the Marlins.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=strasst01&t=p&year=2012

    • stabonerichard - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Stras had poor outings in 2 of his final 3 starts but, on the other hand, from August forward (his final 7 starts of the season) he posted a 3.32 ERA with 43 Ks in 38 IP.

      Are a couple of poor starts indication of Stras running out of gas?

      Does his K-rate and overall performance during the final month+ offset what was only a couple of bad starts, which every pitcher is prone to have at times?

      Was the increasing chatter about the looming shutdown a distraction that might have affected his performance toward the end?

      It’s pretty easy to spin this stuff in whichever direction fits your viewpoint.

  5. bmfc1 - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    Great column. The Nationals might have beat the last yetrasburg was available but we’ll never know. There is no excuse for them this year. If they don’t win the Series, then this season was a failure. In the meantime, Boswell is writing columns that are so loving that the Nationals don’t need a PR Department.

    • bmfc1 - Feb 21, 2013 at 10:56 AM

      CORRECT (sorry): Great column. The Nationals might have won the Series last year if Strasburg was available but we’ll never know. There is no excuse for them this year. If they don’t win the Series, then this season was a failure. In the meantime, Boswell is writing columns that are so loving that the Nationals don’t need a PR Department.

  6. greymares - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    they shut him down and didn’t win so as of now it’s a mistake. had they won it would have been the proper decision. there is nothing to agree or disagree with.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      they shut him down and didn’t win so as of now it’s a mistake. had they won it would have been the proper decision.

      Basing decisions based on outcomes isn’t the smartest thing to do.

  7. sabatimus - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Erm, the Nats did NOT win the WS last year, Craig.

    • natslady - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Yeah, we know that. He does, too. It’s what’s called “sarcasm.”

      • sabatimus - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        Well I guess I missed that one. Just woke up after all ;p

      • historiophiliac - Feb 21, 2013 at 1:18 PM

        You totally could’ve played that off, saba.

  8. stabonerichard - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    After the Nats took Game 1 against the Cards behind a strong outing from Gio, who knows what would have happened if they had Stras taking the mound for Game 2 rather than Zimmerman, who got knocked around for 5 runs thru the first 3 innings.

    I understood the caution with Strasburg, and thought it was wise to avoid ramping up his workload too dramatically in his first post-TJ season. But I still think they could have (and should have) been a little more creative with how they kept the workload in check. I know baseball is a routine-oriented sport (pitchers especially) and you don’t want to jerk with things too much. But the long baseball season provides flexibility to adjust things here & there (based on the schedule, days off, etc.), so why not skip an occassional start, or toss in an extra day of rest between starts here & there, so that utlimately he could have made his final few starts in the postseason rather than August?

    So while I agreed with the overall idea of being cautious with the workload, I thought their unwillingness to stray from a completely normal, rigid routine was where they got too conservative. And while we’ll never know how Stras’ presence might have changed their 2012 postseason results, it certainly couldn’t have hurt having him take the ball in Game 2 trying to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 NLDS.

    But it’s a new year and hopefully this story fades and Stras stays (mostly) healthy from here on out. The whole thing will likely be something we can all only speculate about, wondering what might have been, but with no definitive right or wrong answer…. unless, god forbid, he experiences some type of significant arm injury during spring or early into 2013, cuz then he’s hurt again and holding him back from last year’s postseason would basically have been all for nothin.

  9. rynev - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Psh, as a member of the national media himself, Craig WOULD try to make us believe other people felt this way too…

  10. tcostant - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    The local media just realized it sooner, since they were listening. By the time the national media made this a story, the local media chad come to grib with the decision for months. Not saying they liked it, just that it was old news by the all-star break.

  11. officialgame - Feb 21, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    Baseball is a funny game and when you have a chance to get to win a World Series you run with it. Shutting down a healthy young arm like Strassberg made no sense then and no sense now. It also doesn’t prevent Strassberg from incurring another arm injury in the future. Genetics and mechanics are far more important then innings thrown. Most old timers will tell you that today’s pitchers throw to little not to much.

    • voteforno6 - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      Funny, when other teams have put their starters on innings limit, it wasn’t controversial.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 21, 2013 at 1:11 PM

      Most old timers will tell you that today’s pitchers throw to little not to much.

      And what about those old timers who blew out their arms from pitching too much and had their careers end? What would they say?

  12. DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    And this supirses anyone in what way? The guy is arrogant and full of crap

    • 18thstreet - Feb 21, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      Rizzo has every right to be arrogant. He inherited a bad team and turned it into a very good one.

      I can believe, simultaneously, that he’s a very good GM and that he was wrong to handle Strassburg in the way that he did.

      • thebadguyswon - Feb 21, 2013 at 4:44 PM

        No one has a “right” to be arrogant. It’s a character flaw.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 21, 2013 at 4:44 PM

        Well…..lets not get carried away with the “right to be arrognant”. Pat Gillick inherited many bad teams (not just the Phillies) and turned them around, and he is very well liked. You could syay the same of many others. And if the Nats stank last year, Rizzo still would be who he is.

        Of course, it is neither here nor there what he is like – I wasn’t inviting him to dinner anyway. I am just saying it in the context of why would anyone be suprised he is pretending the obvious is not true

  13. macjacmccoy - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    I agree it was all just a media narrative. They are the only ones that disagreed with it. Well except for Nationals fans, NL East fans, Jayson Werth , the other Nationals players, NL East Players, NL East front office people, MLB front office people, MLB players, MLB fans, and former MLB players. But besides them it was all the media.

  14. brewcrewbombers - Feb 21, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Exactly how many of you work with Stras on a day to day basis? You know, monitor his health, talk to him in the clubhouse, see the every day little things? Right…thats what I thought. Craig, sometimes your pure stupidity amazes me. Rizzo did what was right. The front office agreed, and its THEIR team.

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