The first fan question, though, went right to ESPN’s favorite Nats topic: Operation Shutdown! After answering the caller’s question (about whether announcing a specific closing date put undue pressure on Strasburg), Rizzo riffed on the modern media.
“Once it’s done, and once we discuss it after we shut him down, we’re not discussing it again,” Rizzo said, with passion. “It boggles my mind that this team is 31 games over .500, we’re ahead of the Atlanta Braves by 8 games in the loss column, we’re one of the best teams, the most exciting teams, the youngest teams in all of Major League Baseball, and we’ve heard two storylines all year. It’s about Stephen Strasburg Shutdown innings and Bryce Harper. And this is a team that’s 27-, 28 -men deep. They play terrific baseball. And they all deserve better than that.”
Probably so. And yet here I am, dutifully repeating what Rizzo said when asked about his recent meeting with Strasburg and Davey Johnson about the end.
“He thinks that he can continue to contribute to the ballclub,” Rizzo said of his ace. “He expressed his opposition to [the plan]. And we just tried to explain to him what our thinking was, gave him our rationale, and at the end of the day I think he’s accepting of our decision. He disagrees with it.
“And he’s gonna be a terrific teammate going down the stretch,” Rizzo continued. “He’s gonna be involved in everything we do; he’s just gonna have to contribute in other ways than pitching on the mound — being a great teammate and really a supporter of the rest of the pitching staff.”
Then Rouhier asked Rizzo to explain what he saw that helped him decide on the exact date.
“You know, I’d rather not,” the GM said. “That’s proprietary information that we want to keep to ourselves. Suffice to say, the people that have opinions on this know about 10 percent of the information that we know. I think we’ve expressed our information to the people that we need to express it to, and we’ll keep that information in-house.”
Fine fine fine, here’s one answer that didn’t concern Strasburg. Or Harper, either. It came when Rizzo was asked if Johnson would manage the Nats in 2013.
“You’re talking 2013, I’m talking about September 5th,” Rizzo said. “Davey Johnson is part of the furniture in the Mike Rizzo GM regime. He’s gonna be around a long time. I love the man. He’s one of the great baseball minds, and we’re going to think about that when we need to think about it.”
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