Mike Rizzo, freshly signed, returns to comfort zone of praising others

Chris Lingebach
April 05, 2018 - 10:19 am

106.7 The Fan

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is now under contract for another two years, signed through the 2020 season on a contract extension announced Thursday.

READ: Nats Announce Rizzo Extension

"It was something we've been talking about," Rizzo told The Sports Junkies during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance, sponsored by Burke & Herbert Bank. "We finalized it a day or so ago, just kind of dotted the i's and crossed the t's."

"Did you save it for the PR of Opening Day," he was asked.

"It really wasn't that. It just kind of fell into it and then we kind of rushed to get it done this morning," Rizzo said. "But there really was no deadline to it, there was no plan to get it done before today. But once we got to the point, we felt that Opening Day here at home would be a good day to announce it since we got it done last night."

Asked if he was ever concerned a deal wouldn't get done, Rizzo said, "No, I really wasn't. The trust factor that we've built, the Lerners and I over the years, has been great. They have my respect, I have theirs, and there's a bond between us that I thought was stronger than anything else. But it's a business decision. There's business involved. You've got to feel good about the deal. It's got to be the right money and the right time limit and that type of thing, and it was."

The Nationals -- at 559-418 -- are just two wins shy of the Dodgers for the winningest club in baseball since Rizzo took over the Nationals, a source of great pride.

"We take a lot of pride in it," said Rizzo. "That's no easy feat, man. That's a great accomplishment. There's hundreds of people that are responsible for it, I'm just kind of the figurehead of it and kind of the leader of it, but it's great."

Asked for the key to all his success, Rizzo called that an easy question.

"It's getting the right people around you," he said. "You've got to get smarter, more talented, harder-working people than you are to make you look smarter."

"I've been in the business a long time," he said. "I've been in it continually since 1982 as a player, coach, scout, front office guy and then GM and I've known a lot of people. I had a plan in place years before I got this job of who I was going to hire as my scouting director, farm director, and how we were gonna run things, my philosophy, who we look for in players, what's our prototypical pitcher look like and our position players, and how do we scout things, and how do I develop them."

"We've got these quick-and-fast rules about where you're at in your career and your minor leagues kind of dictate if you are a prospect or not, what type of prospect," he added. "It's just, years of foundation and seeing players and talking to people in the industry, you're lucky that you have that law to go to."

"Is it still a thrill to unearth a guy," he was asked. "To find someone that no one else is in on?"

"It's the best feeling that you could have in baseball, is to see a young player that you saw at 16 years old," Rizzo said. "Victor Robles, for example, or Carlos Gonzalez back in the day when I was in Arizona. You're scouting some of these guys, there's literally cows in the outfield that you're working them out in in Venezuela, and now they're in the big leagues. Some of them are signing multi-year contracts. It's a great feeling."

"I have to expound on it, this is a team effort. This isn't a Mike Rizzo show," he said. "This is what Mike Rizzo's put together, a great bunch of guys below him and we grind it out every day. We talk baseball. We talk analytics. We do a lot of different things here. And the fact that we've come full circle and adapted to kind of the new ways of doing baseball, and incorporated them nicely, and blended them nicely with the old."

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