Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Rizzo on Gorzelanny, Hairston
All of these moves, as I mentioned earlier, have created an overflow situation on the Nationals' 40-man roster. Ultimately, the club will need to remove four players to make room for Gorzelanny, Hairston, Coffey and Adam LaRoche. But those corresponding moves don't have to be made until the contract for the new player is formally processed at MLB headquarters in New York.
So even though LaRoche's deal was completed two weeks ago, the contract only landed on MLB's desk today. The corresponding move: J.D. Martin was given his unconditional release. Martin, 28, did an admirable job over the last two seasons filling in when other starters were either injured or ineffective -- he was a combined 6-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 24 starts -- but his place on the organizational depth chart dropped considerably over time.
Mike Rizzo held a conference call this afternoon to discuss the Gorzelanny trade and Hairston signings. (The team hasn't confirmed the Coffey move yet.) Here are some highlights from the Nats GM...
On Gorzelanny: "We got very favorable scouting reports on Gorzelanny, not only through his career but specifically last year. He threw the ball extremely well. His velocity was back to its 2007 form. We had three of our best talent evaluators see him at three different times of the season, and really had good reports on him. Touching 94 [mph], pitching at 92, with a solid repertoire of four pitches. We think there's still some upside to this guy. We think he's going to have a big rebound year. We see him as being somewhere in the rotation. We're going to have a good competition there this spring, and we're looking forward to it."
On the rotation's depth: "Certainly depth and competition for a starting rotation spot is what we were after. We feel that we've improved ourselves from last season. The natural improvement of a Jordan Zimmermann and a Yunesky Maya and a Ross Detwiler, combined with a healthy Jason Marquis and now a new acqusition of Tom Gorzelanny has really given us some added depth in the rotation. And along with Chien-Ming Wang hopefully coming in 100 percent to spring training, we feel that we've got oursevles some good competition in the starting rotation. We've got some roster flexibility with players that have options. We feel we're going to field a much stronger, much more effective starting rotation in '11."
On Wang's status: "He's coming in at the beginning of spring training. He's throwing off the mound and working out in Arizona as we speak. He's not in rehabilitation mode right now. He's in preparation mode to get ready for spring training."
After failing to acquire a front-line starter, was it a conscious decision to start pursuing more depth for the back end of the rotation? "Each thought is independent. One didn't play off the other. We certainly attempted to get a front-of-the-rotation, No. 1 starter. And when we couldn't acquire that, our thoughts shifted to other positions on the field and other ways to improve the roster. The Gorzelanny deal would have been made whether we got a No. 1 starter or not. We felt this was a solid deal for us, a 28-year-old left-handed pitcher with some power who we control for three seasons and we feel has some upside. We feel it was a good baseball move, not only for '11 but for beyond."
On Hairston's role: "Jerry is a guy I've known for a long time, a Chicago boy who's got deep roots in his baseball background. This guy is a live body, an athletic player who has speed, some pop with the bat, is very versatile, gives the manager a lot of options on the field. He's very comfortable and very effective playing shortstop, second base, third base, left, center and right. He gives us a right-handed presence and a guy who can play center field against some very tough left-handed pitchers or when you want to give Nyjer Morgan a day off. He gives the manager a lot of options. He's a very versatile player, a very upbeat, high-energy guy, a good clubhouse presence and a guy with a championship ring [with the Yankees in 2009] that knows how to win and knows how to be a good teammate."
On importance of adding good "makeup" players: "I think every move we've made since I've been here, that has come into the equation. I've been around long enough and been around championship teams long enough and seen how they're created to know that makeup takes you a long way. Attitude and presence between the lines, in the dugout and in the clubhouse is vitally important to take the next step in your progression and become a championship-caliber club."
Could Gorzelanny be a reliever or would he start at Class AAA? "No, he has no options left. We feel that he's going to be in our rotation, and we feel he's going to positively affect the ballclub."
On what still needs to be done before spring training: "I think we've had a very active and very effective offseason. We've accomplished a lot of our goals of trying to construct a ballclub. We're certainly never finished trying to improve the ballclub any way we can. If we see something that's a prudent move via free agency, a non-roster invitee or a trade, we're certainly open to do that. But with that said, I think we've had a terrific offseason. I think we've accomplished a lot of our goals. And I think we've constructed a team that's going to be a big upgrade from 2010 and be a very, very solid ballclub that's going to contend very positively in the National League."
Posted by Mark Zuckerman at 5:25 PM