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⚾️⚾️ The Morning Briefing: Rizzo gives offseason checklist at GM meetings
Here are the latest headlines and analyses around the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball for today, November 10.
Good Morning Washington Nationals Fans,
Here are the latest headlines and analyses around the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball for today, November 10, 2023. I am Haden and let’s dive into the news.
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Leading today’s Morning Briefing: Rizzo speaks at the GM meetings
While I would love to spend the morning breaking down Scott Boras’s annual pun-filled appearance at the GM meetings, Nationals news happened that is much more important. Mike Rizzo spoke at the meetings! Thankfully, Andrew Golden of The Washington Post posted the bullet points from their conversation, so let’s break them down.
First, the Nationals are actively looking for pitching of any kind and a middle-of-the-order bat. This makes sense, as the Nationals were one of the league’s worst pitching teams in 2023. Some of that comes from a bad first few months, but there is certainly room to improve. While many fans want the Nationals to go out and get a front-line starter, I don’t think this is the year for that. Next season there will be more depth in the free agent class, and having that extra year will give Rizzo and co. more time to figure out who fits where in the contending Nationals puzzle. Adding a reliever is a smart move though. Many relievers on the Nationals this season were up-and-down in their results, and adding an extra high-leverage arm would hopefully prevent some of the over-usage that we saw Hunter Harvey and Kyle Finnegan get this summer. As for a middle-of-the-order bat, the Nationals are sort of locked into a mold there. There are enough passable players to stop-gap third base until Brady House is ready. The outfield and rest of the infield are already set for the foreseeable future. The Nats are sort of stuck with signing a first baseman or a designated hitter.
Second, “ownership is committed to winning”. Many people I see online see this offseason as a prove-it moment for ownership. I think it’s a bit more complex than that. The Nationals should have a good chunk of their core on the Opening Day roster. Adding a guy at first base would certainly help the team, but outside of that, I don’t think there is any reason to rush things. Let’s see what we have after another offseason and Spring Training of development, and then go get the big fish.
On coaching changes and staff changes, Rizzo threw praise at both Danny Haas, the team’s new scouting director, and Eddie Longosz, the new head of player development. From the praise, there is one major conclusion to draw. The Nationals failed to implement technology into their player development and scouting over the past few seasons. The use of Rapsodo, TrackMan, and Hawk-Eye cameras has helped teams better quantify what makes players good. This was first seen with the spin-rate revolution (how much the ball spins, typically higher spin is better), and evolved with a better understanding of seam-shifted wake (how you hold the seams in order to get the ball to move more) and vertical approach angle (at what height the pitcher released the ball, and how it approaches the batter). All of these things help organizations figure out how to get more out of their pitchers. On the hitting side, these same cameras and Blast motion sensors help teams figure out more in-depth statistics on how a ball is hit, like launch angle and exit velocity. All of these things were in baseball all the way back to its founding, but now we can track it, giving members of the front office more precise information rather than, he hits the ball hard or his slider has a lot of movement. Having people in charge who know how to use the data and teach others how to use it will be huge for the development and drafting of players.
Finally, Stephen Strasburg is never going to pitch again. We all knew this, but the Nationals have not necessarily been so forthcoming about this. Scott Boras said the same thing in his meeting with the press. While unfortunate, all we can hope is that this allows Strasburg to heal and live a normal pain-free life.
Nationals add Chris Johnson to the coaching staff
The Nationals announced their coaching staff for the 2024 season this morning. On it were all the names we knew to be joining the staff, but with the addition of assistant hitting coach Chris Johnson.
Chris Johnson was a major league third baseman for eight seasons. He spent the bulk of his big league career with the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. In 2022, he was named the assistant hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox. He was released earlier this offseason. New bench coach Miguel Cairo and Johnson both served under Tony La Russa in 2022 on the Chicago White Sox.
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ICYMI: Latest articles on the Nats Report
Even though it is the offseason, we have been extremely busy producing a lot of great content here on the Nats Report. Here are just a couple of the articles that we have published this week that you might have missed:
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Fan Corner: Your Nationals Stories
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