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Mike Rizzo and the Nationals are feuding with their own Single-A team and things are getting ugly

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Last week Washington general manager Mike Rizzo went public with his complaints about the field conditions in Potomac, which is home to the Nationals’ high Single-A affiliate, calling them “dangerous” and “a safety threat.”

That apparently didn’t sit very well with Potomac owner Art Silber, who fired back in the Washington Times today:

He clearly doesn’t know what he was talking about. He has no idea what has happened at our ballpark and really shouldn’t be commenting on it. The field is fine. We’re not sure why Mr. Rizzo made the comments he did, which were, really, very unfortunate. They certainly did not reflect the reality for us.

There are perhaps valid reasons for the poor conditions in Potomac, such as a recent storm flooding the field, but for Silber to suggest that “the field is fine” is absurd. Does he think Rizzo didn’t hear complaints about the field from numerous players, coaches, and Nationals staffers before spouting off? Does he think fans who’ve watched games at Potomac’s ballpark this season haven’t commented about what a mess things are there? There’s a reason why Silber has been working on building a new ballpark.

Heck, Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times notes that as recently as last week five Nationals executives were in attendance when managers from both teams and the umpiring crew agreed that the field was unplayable. All of which is why Rizzo “stood by his statement” after being told of Silber’s response.

And Silber’s isn’t the only person upset over Rizzo’s comments. In fact, his response seems downright pleasant compared to Prince William Board of County Supervisors chairman Corey Stewart:

Rizzo ought to focus on doing his job, which could probably use some improvement. He’s talking out of his rear end. He doesn’t know what’s happening because he didn’t bother to check. Frankly, he’s not a good manager. He’s received a lot of criticism for his performance for the job he should be doing. He should stick to the job he’s supposed to do instead of getting involved in something he doesn’t know about.

Fenno writes that Stewart’s voice was “shaking” with anger as he uttered the above quote and he went on to call for Rizzo to be fired.

I’m not exactly the world’s biggest Rizzo fan, but a crucial aspect of his job is the development of minor leaguers and keeping them healthy is a big part of that, which is why there was speculation the Nationals promoted Bryce Harper from low Single-A to Double-A because they didn’t want him playing on Potomac’s field. Rizzo later denied those claims, but the notion that keeping tabs on the playing conditions in the minors doesn’t qualify as “doing his job” is silly.

And here’s a pretty simple solution if Silber and Stewart want Rizzo and others to stop criticizing the playing conditions in Potomac: Fix the damn field.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.