Archive for category Management

Nationals Name Phil Rizzo Senior Advisor

Just out from the Nationals

The Washington Nationals today named Phil Rizzo Senior Advisor to the General Manager. Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
A scout for well over 40 years, Phil Rizzo joins his ninth franchise—the Nationals—and his son for the second time. Mike and Phil worked together for seven seasons (1999-2005) with Arizona, where Phil was a Diamondbacks Special Assignment Scout.
While with the Diamondbacks, Phil made the first call and filed the first report on University of Kentucky righthander Brandon Webb, who has since won the 2006 Cy Young Award and represented Arizona in three All-Star Games.
In May of 2008, Phil was one of eight scouts to comprise the inaugural class of the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame. Phil is credited with signing, among others, right-handed pitcher Bob Wickman, left-handed pitcher Bob Kipper, catcher Mike Matheny infielder Dick Schofield and infielder Mark Loretta.


Nationals Fill Out Major League Coaching Staff

The Nationals have officially named their , retaining Steve McCatty (pitching coach), Rick Eckstein (hitting coach), and Pat Listach (3B coach) while adding John McLaren (bench coach), Dan Radison (1B coach), and Jim Lett (bullpen coach).

Most know McLaren’s background already (he was the manager Jim Riggleman replaced in Seattle in 2008).

Radison was the St Louis Cardinal roving hitting instructor in 2009; while Lett was the hitting coach for the Double-A Huntsville Stars (Milwaukee Brewers).

Radison previously worked with Riggleman in San Diego and Lett worked with Riggleman in Los Angeles.

and here is the official release

The Washington Nationals today announced that hitting coach Rick Eckstein, pitching coach Steve McCatty and third base coach Pat Listach will return in the same roles in 2010. The club also named John McLaren bench coach, Jim Lett bullpen coach and Dan Radison first-base coach. Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo and Nationals Field Manager Jim Riggleman made the joint announcement.
Eckstein returns for a second season in Washington, as his offense showed significant gains in 2009 in runs per game (+0.40 per game), home runs (+39), batting average (+.007), on-base percentage (+.014), slugging percentage (+.033) and OPS (+.047) compared to the previous season.
McCatty was named Nationals pitching coach on June 2. The Nationals’ Triple-A pitching coach for four seasons before being summoned to Washington, McCatty employed numerous pre-existing relationships with Nationals pitchers to help his staff post an ERA exactly one run better than that recorded in the season’s first two months (5.69 ERA from Opening Day-May 31, 4.69 ERA from June 2 through season’s end).
Listach will return for a second season as Nationals third base coach. Last season, Listach’s judgment saw only 11 Nationals thrown out at home plate on non force-outs, a figure bettered by only the Cardinals (eight) in MLB. With added responsibilities as the Nationals infield instructor, Listach had a hand in Ryan Zimmerman earning his first career Rawlings Gold Glove.
McLaren, 58, will draw on 22 seasons of big league coaching experience, including a stint as Mariners manager for portions of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He replaced Mike Hargrove as Seattle’s manager on July 2, 2007. While skippering the Mariners, McLaren hired Riggleman as his bench coach in 2008.
McLaren has worked on Lou Piniella’s staff for 15 seasons, and also enjoyed stewardships under Mike Hargrove, Cito Gaston, Jimy Williams and Joe Morgan. He has experienced five post-seasons, including four division titles (Toronto in 1989, Seattle ‘95, ‘97, 2001). McLaren spent the 2009 campaign as a Rays special assignment scout. He also served as Team USA bench coach during the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.
Selected by Houston in the 1970 Draft, McLaren caught for seven professional seasons before beginning his coaching career in Toronto’s system in 1977. After serving the Blue Jays for nine seasons as a minor-league coach, manager and scout, McLaren joined Toronto’s big league staff as third base coach in 1986.
Lett, 58, will draw on 15 seasons of Major League coaching experience, 11 spent as a bench coach with the Reds, Blue Jays, Dodgers and Pirates. He served as Dodgers bullpen coach from 2001-04, where he worked alongside Riggleman, who was Jim Tracy’s bench coach at the time.
Lett joins the Nationals after spending the previous two years coaching in Milwaukee’s minor-league system. Lett has worked in professional baseball for each of the last 35 seasons as a player, coach, manager or front-office executive. Lett is also a highly respected catching instructor.
The 59 year-old Radison begins his third tour with Riggleman, as the two worked together during Riggleman’s managerial stays in San Diego and Chicago (NL). Outside of his stints with the Cubs and Padres, Radison has managed, coached or scouted for the Yankees, Cardinals and Mets organizations from 1984-2006.
He spent the previous three seasons as the Cardinals Minor League Hitting Instructor. While there, Radison worked closely with Eckstein, and helped Rick Ankiel (as a hitter), Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus graduate to St. Louis.
Radison was drafted by the Cardinals in 1972 and played professionally for three seasons. He commenced his career in coaching at the college level, serving as an associate or assistant coach at Broward (FL) Community College, the University of Georgia and Old Dominion (VA) University.


Updated Organizational Chart

I have once again updated my best guess of the Nationals hierarchy. There are still some unknown players in the chart (my pet rock of an overseer of the Pacific Rim a prime example).

The next step we have is the announcing of the coaching staffs. To date we have …


  • Manager: Jim Riggleman (returning, had interim tag removed)
  • Bench Coach: John McLaren (replaces Pat Corrales)
  • Hitting Coach: Rick Eckstein (returning)
  • Pitching Coach: Steve McCatty (returning)
  • First Base Coach: TBD (replaces Marquis Grisson)
  • Third Base Coach: Pat Listach (returning)
  • Bullpen Coach: TBD (replaces Randy Knorr)

Overall Minor Leagues

  • Minor League Pitching Coordinator: Spin Williams (returning)
  • Minor League Hitting Coordinator: Rick Schu (replaces Ralph Dickenson)
  • Minor League Field Coordinator: Bobby Henley


  • Manager: Trent Jewett (replaces Tim Foli; Jewett was Potomac manager in 2009)
  • Hitting Coach: TBD (replaces Darnell Coles)
  • Pitching Coach: TBD (replaces Rich Gale)
  • John Poppert served as the bullpen coach in 2009, no idea if this role will be retained


  • Manager: Randy Knorr (replaces John Stearns)
  • Hitting Coach: TBD (Troy Gingrich in 2009)
  • Pitching Coach: Randy Tomlin (returning)


  • Manager: TBD (replaces Jewett)
  • Hitting Coach: TBD (Jerry Browne in 2009)
  • Pitching Coach: TBD (Paul Menhart in 2009)


  • Manager: TBD (Matt LeCroy in 2009)
  • Hitting Coach: TBD (Tony Tarasco in 2009)
  • Pitching Coach: TBD (Franklyn Bravo in 2009)


  • Manager: TBD (Jeff Garber in 2009)
  • Hitting Coach: TBD (Sergio Mendez in 2009)
  • Pitching Coach: TBD (Mark Grater in 2009)


  • Manager: TBD (replaces Bobby Henley)
  • Hitting Coach: TBD (Paul Sanagorski in 2009)
  • Pitching Coach: TBD (Joel Sanchez in 2009)
  • Cesar Cedeno was a coach in the GCL in 2009, no word if this position will be refilled


  • Manager: TBD (Juan Bernhardt in 2009)
  • Hitting Coach: TBD
  • Pitching Coach: TBD


A Variety of Things

Here are a series of links of interest with my quick thoughts:

  • The Nationals officially hired Davey Johnson as a Senior Advisor to Mike Rizzo. It’s nice to see another solid baseball guy in the front office though I wonder if there is any possibility that Johnson could be a replacement for Jim Riggleman.
  • The Nats held a roundtable with the local writers where a few things came out:
    • Added 17 new front office positions to include scouts. Still no official word on if there is anyone in the Pacific Rim. I’ll keep asking
    • Finalized a deal to build a new Dominican complex in Boca Chica. Good to see they are getting their own place after having to scramble for a location at the last minute this past year.
    • Nats scouts have already watched potential 2010 #1 overall Bryce Harper and that he is not as clear cut a #1 as Strasburg was in 2009. That could just be posturing.
  • Tracee Hamilton has a feature on NFA favorite Josh Wilkie. Nice to see Josh get some publicity in the local media.
  • and a blog post on Jeff Mandel and how the Baby Nats will be competing for the AFL title this weekend with Strasburg starting the championship game
  • The Syracuse Chiefs lost money again in 2009 but less than they did in 2008. An extended assignment of Stephen Strasburg is what they are hoping for in 2010. I don’t think Strasburg will start the season in Triple-A. Coming from a guy who was born in Syracuse and still has family there, it’s still pretty cold in April in upstate New York and I’m not sure the Nationals will want to risk injury having Strasburg pitch in a chilly environment.
  • Geoff Morrow of the Patriot News has an update on the renovations on City Island.
  • and news that Randy Tomlin will be returning as Harrisburg’s pitching coach in 2010. Tomlin will again be working with Randy Knorr (they previously worked together in Potomac in 2007-08)
  • John Sickels has his preliminary Nats Top 20 up at Minor League Ball and the #1 is as expected. I’m working on my own top prospect list and should have it up within a week or so
  • and on a final note, Dan Steinberg tweeted that the Post is now looking for a new Nats beat writer after Chico Harlan decided to pursue other opportunities. I enjoyed his writing as he attempted to find different angles of a really bad team. I’ve learned over the years how much of a drain the day in and day out can be … and that’s just me doing the Across the Affiliates and other stuff I do here at NFA. I don’t have to see the players, managers, management every day, fostering relationships yet still attempting to be critical when the need arises. I don’t have to work under tight deadlines attempting to bring an interesting perspective to gamers. The other major sports have many more off-days that allow for a battery recharge. Harlan has his detractors, especially after his Washingtonian interview earlier this year, but I want to thank him and wish him the best of luck.


Two More Hires

Just out from the Nationals …

The Washington Nationals today named Bryan Minniti Assistant General Manager and Jay Sartori Director of Baseball Operations. Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Minniti joins the Nationals after spending the previous nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the last two as their Director of Baseball Operations. With the Pirates, Minniti’s focuses included rules compliance, transactions, budgeting and contract negotiations. Minniti graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a double major in Mathematics and Statistics.
Sartori worked for the Commissioner’s Office as Salary and Contract Administration Manager in Major League Baseball’s Labor Relations Department before accepting his position with the Nationals. His expertise included knowledge and interpretation of the Basic Agreement, contract language, salary arbitration and Rule 4 Draft bonus recommendations and analysis. Sartori graduated with a Finance and MIS degree from Boston College and is currently working on an MBA from the same institution.

It appears Mike Rizzo found his contracts guy in Sartori


Conversation with Doug Harris

This morning, I had the opportunity to speak with the Nationals new Director of Player Development Doug Harris. Harris joined the Nationals on October 15 in a role overseeing the Nationals minor league affiliates.

First a little bit of background … Harris started his professional career in 1990 as a 4th round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals out of James Madison University. He spent seven years pitching in the minor leagues for the Royals, Baltimore Orioles, and Florida Marlins. Shoulder reconstructive surgery ended his playing career but set the stage for a future that has lead him to Director of Player Development.

Harris told me that Jeff Taylor, a scout who crosschecked him out of college, helped get his start as an area scout for the Texas Rangers in 1997. “In fact, I started my scouting career with my arm in a sling [from shoulder surgery],” he said.

He spent the next twelve years working first as an area scout, responsible for scouting a specific area of the country (in this case the Delaware/Maryland/West Virginia/DC areas). It was during this time that Harris signed his most notable player for the Rangers, Kevin Mench. Mench was a 1999 4th round draft pick out of the University of Delaware. He eventually moved up to the role of East Coast Crosschecker, overseeing the scouting and following up on players identified in the East Coast region for the Texas Rangers. During his time with the Rangers, he was part of a scouting department that turned the Rangers from a bottom tier system to one of the best in the majors.

After the 2008 season, he moved onto the Cleveland Indians as a Major League Scout/Advance Scout. It was role that saw him travel around both the majors and minors with stops in places like Potomac, Harrisburg, Syracuse, and Washington DC (to name a few). He mentioned that initially he also had responsibility for Hagerstown but was pulled from that role as the Indians utilized him to scout players for the Indians deals of Cliff Lee (to Philadelphia) and Victor Martinez (to Boston) during the season.

While working as a scout, Harris had some limited exposure to the oversight of a minor league system/player development and in spring training of 2009 his eyes were opened to a future in the player development side of baseball operations.

When I asked him about his philosophy of player development, specifically player promotions, Harris commented that he didn’t have one set philosophy, believing having one mindset puts you into a box, not allowing the ability to be creative as the situation may dictate. He did confirm that he believed players should earn their promotion to the next level and not simply be graduated up the chain, adding that things in player development is not necessarily black and white and that different situations may call for different decisions.

Harris comes down firmly on the fence when it comes to traditional scouting versus sabermetrics. He mentioned that the idea of looking at the numbers is not something new to him. When he pitched in the minor leagues, his teams did not have an advance scout so he would pick up the stat sheet on an upcoming opponent to see who struck out alot or who walked the most or who had the most power in order to prepare himself for an upcoming series. But at the same time, he knows the value in actually seeing a player perform in person. His feeling is that he should not close his eyes to any information, that it is all important in evaluating players.

He has made a trip to the AFL and is impressed with what he has seen from the Nationals out there. He believes that the time in the AFL has helped all of the Nationals prospects out there, from Stephen Strasburg “cutting his teeth” as a professional to the others getting some exposure to a higher level of competition. I asked him specifically about Josh Wilkie and he commented the cutter Wilkie was working  should help complement the change up he has, and that he continues to impress.

I concluded the conversation asking him about the status of the management among the affiliates. He was not able to comment on the reports about Trent Jewett heading to Syracuse or Randy Knorr headed to Harrisburg, but “it shouldn’t be long” until the official word is released.


Knorr to Manage Harrisburg

Bill Ladson has the news that 2009 Nats bullpen coach Randy Knorr will manage Double-A Harrisburg in 2010.

Knorr had previously managed in High-A Potomac before taking on the bullpen coach role.

In other news, former major leaguer Rick Schu was named the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator, replacing Ralph Dickenson.

Still TBD are the coaches in Syracuse (where Trent Jewett is managing), coaches in Harrisburg (for Knorr), and the entire staffs of Potomac, Hagerstown, Vermont, the GCL and DSL.


More Front Office Hirings

Just out from the Nationals

The Washington Nationals today named Ron Schueler Special Advisor to the General Manager. The Nationals also promoted Bill Singer to Director of Professional Scouting. Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcements.
A 42-year baseball veteran, Schueler joins the Nationals after serving the previous two seasons as Senior Advisor of Player Personnel for the San Francisco Giants. Schueler is perhaps best known for an 11-year stint (1990-2000) as General Manager of the Chicago White Sox, during which his clubs compiled an 817-734 record and a .527 winning percentage while finishing first or second in the AL Central or West eight times, including a pair of division titles in 1993 and 2000.
In 2000, his final season as General Manager, Schueler’s White Sox were named “Organization of the Year” by Baseball America.
In addition to his tenure as White Sox General Manager, Schueler has served in various special assistant capacities with the Cubs, Cardinals and Athletics, earning World Championship rings with St. Louis in 2006 and Oakland in 1989. He was also a pitching coach with the White Sox (1979-81), Athletics (1982-84) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1986). Schueler pitched for eight big league seasons (1972-79) with the Braves, Phillies, Twins and White Sox.
Singer’s new duties will include coordinating, scheduling and administering all Nationals major league, minor league and winter league scouting efforts. He most recently served the Nationals as a Special Assignment Scout and Coordinator/Pacific Rim Operations.
Singer joined the Nationals in 2006 after a three-year stay with the Arizona Diamondbacks as Major League Scout, where he worked under Rizzo. Singer was a two-time All-Star during his playing career, which included a pair of 20-win seasons (with the Dodgers 1969 and Angels in ‘73) and 118 wins. He has well over 30 years of professional experience as a player, area scout, national crosschecker, professional scout and international scout.

Another veteran set of eyes for the front office and an official Director of Professional Scouting.

But my call for a head of Pacific Rim scouting becomes more important now that the “boots on the ground” there has moved to a new position.

(Attached is an update to my guess  of the Organizational Chart)


Paging Roy Clark

Keith Law has the following item over at ESPN’s MLB rumors

The Atlanta Braves have fired Tom Battista amidst a number of changes to the club’s scouting department, ESPN Insider’s Keith Law has learned. Battista served as the club’s regional crosschecker and is responsible for the scouting and signing of right-hander Tommy Hanson.

Not only was Battista a key part of signing Hanson, he is also signed RHP Kris Medlen and 1B Freddie Freeman, both top Braves prospects.

Time for Roy Clark to bring some additional talent on board with the Nationals.


Nationals Add Two More

The Nationals had the following release yesterday

The Washington Nationals today named Casey McKeon Director of Player Procurement and Jay Robertson Special Assistant to the General Manager. Nationals Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
McKeon joins the Nationals after spending the previous seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies, where he was Assistant to the General Manager to Dan O’Dowd, the Rockies Executive Vice President and General Manager. The Rockies won the 2007 National League Championship in the first of two post-season appearances made during his tenure in Colorado. McKeon previously worked for Cincinnati, Cleveland and San Diego in various scouting capacities, including a stint as the Reds Scouting Director. McKeon served on Team USA’s Selection Committee in 2003. A graduate of San Diego State University, McKeon played two professional seasons as a catcher in the Tigers chain. He is the son of longtime baseball manager and executive Jack McKeon.
Robertson spent the previous eight seasons as Special Assistant to the General Manager with the Texas Rangers, where he worked under the leadership of John Hart (2002-05) and Jon Daniels (2006-09). Previously, Robertson spent 11 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, culminating with an appointment as Special Assistant to General Manager John Hart for the 2000-01 campaigns. His tenure in Cleveland included time as Scouting Director, during which Cleveland signed Richie Sexson, Sean Casey, Russell Branyan and Jaret Wright. Robertson pitched for five seasons in Toronto’s chain before enjoying both coaching and scouting stints with Philadelphia and Minnesota.

Here are McKeon’s and Robertson’s entries from Baseball America’s Executive database. It’s possible that McKeon and/or Robertson may be the person Rizzo has referred to when he mentioned he wanted an assistant GM to handle contractual language.

Aside from the obvious need to hire a manager (and his coaches) at both the major and minor league levels, I believe there is still a need to add someone as the lead for Pacific Rim scouting.