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


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.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.