Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rizzo Fires, Punks Cabrera

Chico says that the inevitable has come to pass, and Daniel Cabrera has been designated for assignment. Chances are he's a former National, though if he passes through waivers and accepts an assignment to the minors, he theoretically could stay in the organization.

I'm glad to see him go. I don't think he's any good, and I think there's very little chance of him getting better. Unlike the conventional wisdom, I think his problem is more a matter of physical talent than mental strength (being able to throw a ball accurately is a physical skill as much as being able to throw it fast). So bye-bye D-Cab.

But I wonder why Rizzo felt like he needed to add this gratuitous swipe as Cabrera departed:
"I was tired of watching him."
Hey, I was tired of watching him too, and I don't even get paid to do it. But that's a classless quote, the kind of disrespectful, mean-spirited thing that made Bowden persona non-grata among a lot of GMs over the years.

This isn't the first time that Rizzo has taken an unnecessary swipe at a player on his way out. Remember what Rizzo said about Steven Shell when he shit-canned the guy despite his 50 innings of 2.16 ERA service to the 2008 Nationals:
"I just didn't like the way he was performing," Rizzo said. "I didn't like the mindset on the mound and off the mound and the preparation for the game and just the whole aura behind him on the mound."
Hey look, Shell's nothing special. It's totally defensible that Rizzo dropped him. Rizzo hates flyball pitchers. Shell was a Bowden guy. So we're moving on. Fine.

But why is it necessary to question his preparation, "mindset," and "aura." What does that even mean?

Ballplayers hang around the league. We may never want Steven Shell back, but maybe Shell's friends with Chone Figgins or John Lackey from his days in Anaheim, and they take offense after reading the quote in the paper and decide that DC is off their list of possible free agent destinations. Or maybe Shell's agent represents our tenth pick in the draft. Is there any situation where unnecessarily alienating people is helpful?

I'm still rooting for Rizzo. He's doing enough good things that I'm not down on him overall. But I hope he can cut this kind of thing out of his routine. It's not helping him or his team.


Deacon Drake said...

Damn... I had June 1st in the office pool...


flippin said...

I agree with you about Rizzo throwing darts at guys as they leave the clubhouse. It was fun to read, but long term, not good. Unlike Bowden, however, I don't think Rizzo was intentionally bitch slapping D-Cab, alah Jimbo. Rather, he didn't adjust the sentence to meet the GM speak guidelines. He should have said: "I was tired of watching him struggle with his control in critical situations." Or something with a hint of sympathy. The back story may be that Rizzo was venting his frustration at having to take Jim's smelly garbage to the curb, again.

dcusimano123 said...

I was tired of watching him too. He's not just bad, he's historically bad. He's worth punking - how can somebody with that kind of heat throw 70 MPH change ups? Get rid of him. Should never have been signed.

James Bjork said...

I'm with Steven. It's a small world with rarefied atmosphere in the bigs. This kind of cheap shot (however deserved) can't possibly help the organization. It just adds one more nugget of creepiness to the whole Nationals operation in the minds of MLB players.

The only possible reason I can see for this comment (aside from heat of the moment unguarded carelessness) is that Rizzo does not want to see Cabrera again, but wants the political cover of assigning a guy down to the minors instead of releasing him outright, which would be the boldest concession the organization made a mistake.

Nate said...

Truth is an absolute defense to punking. Nobody liked JimBo because he never gave a straight answer to any question. Now nobody likes Rizzo because when asked for the rationale behind a decision, he gives it to you.

Just because modern front office management has evolved this elaborate kabuki ritual of severing ties with overpaid, under-performing professional athletes while pretending they're all still swell fellas and first-class talents doesn't mean that's the only way to run a railroad.

Shell may be a different animal, he was a career minor leaguer on a minimum deal. But Cabrera will have $2M plus to cushion his hurt feelings. You say cheap shot, I say honest assessment. Toe-May-Toe, Toe-Mah-Toe.

For every GM, player or agent that reacts with, "The Nats are big meanies!" I'll bet you there's a least one that appreciates an unusual bit of straight talk out of DC.

Elan said...

good point Steven. Your job as GM is to get the best players on your team, there's no way that offending former players is a productive way of accomplishing that.

Steven said...

Yeah I don't think this is a really big problem now. I think it's a trend that bears watching though, and there's really no upside to it.

@Nate--I don't think the problem with Bowden was that he didn't give straight answers. That's a Kasten gripe, but I tend to think Bowden had pretty loose lips (eg, firing Cordero on 980).

Anonymous said...

When you've been around the league since high school and your 26 years old like Steven Shell is you certainly come into contact with a wealth of players, coaches, scouts and front office people. Believe me players do consider how players are treated by teams and generally steer clear of those teams that bash their players in the media. That type of behavior is uncalled for and very classless.

Souldrummer said...

Good post. I'm not sure I totally agree, but I'll keep my ears perked to see if it's a pattern. The other aspect of this is that there's a need for some kind of passion in this organization. Kasten doesn't show it. Manny doesn't show it. The Lerners don't show it. I'm sure guys in that clubhouse must have been feeling that they were "tired of watching" DCab and maybe this is a note to them.

I'm more concerned about the Shell comment.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised zimmerman didn't come out and say "hey rizzo, I'm tired of playing for a team this pathetic. Get some better talent in here, DB"


okiestro said...

Rizzo won't be a GM that others will emulate - like most of you state he is classless - his comments about Shell show who he really is - truth be known he didn't like it that Shell was eating a slice of pizza too close to game time - he wasn't going to come in for hours but it bugged Rizzo - Steven isn't Cy Young but he is respectful and dedicated - I doubt Rizzo's mom feels that way about her son