For Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, 2013 has not been the best of years.
Rizzo has seen a team he built, a team projected to finish their season in late October to early November, sit at .500 on June 23 and five games back of the first place Atlanta Braves. Washington’s struggles have been injury marred, which have been extrapolated by the patience and confidence exhibited by manager Davey Johnson and Rizzo. We have seen names like Danny Espinosa, Dan Haren and Bryce Harper either continue to play through injuries, ineffectiveness, or in Espinosa and Haren’s case, both. Yes, 2013 has been the year of the slow reaction, as Espinosa was allowed to play through a rotator cuff injury and a fractured right wrist for 44 games before he was finally placed on the DL and then optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.
There have been bright spots for Rizzo and Washington, however. His decision to call up Anthony Rendon for a second time and have him be the everyday second baseman has been paying dividends, as he is hitting .400 since the second call-up and has solidified himself as a guy that can ht consistently in the two-hole. The emergence of names like Ross Ohlendorf, Fernando Abad and Ian Krol in the bullpen has given Washington some much needed versatility to offset the aforementioned injuries.
Of course, lightning in a bottle signings and call-ups like the above three can only last so long. The question is this: when will we see Rizzo make some sort of big move, like the crazy six-player move day eariler this month when we saw Zach Duke released, Henry Rodriguez placed on waivers, Danny Espinosa placed on the DL, Ian Krol and Anthony Rendon called up, and Jayson Werth activated from the DL.
What will be interesting for Washington is if that move will be a big trade for an offensive player or a pitcher, or will it simply be a call-up of a player. Washington may no longer have the prospects to part with to acquire a guy like a Matt Garza or David Price, so they may have to look at the lower ends of the pitching market, in which case they would probably ask themselves if the trade options are really better than in-house options. Taylor Jordan, currently pitching at Double-A Harrisburg, is 6-0 with a .73 ERA in seven starts. Could Washington bring him up, much like they did Nathan Karns, or will they call-up a Danny Rosenbaum because of the fact that he is solid at Triple-A?
Rizzo will not jump into a move with his eyes closed, bank on that, but there is a bit of an onus on him to do so, especially because of moves he’s been able to pull off the past few years. The spotlight may not be on Rizzo just yet, and that’s just how he likes it.