Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo discussed how Washington won a World Series after losing Bryce Harper, how they prepared to face the Houston Astros and more.
Most people didn’t expect the Nationals to compete for the 2019 World Series title after falling short in previous seasons and then losing superstar Bryce Harper in free agency.
The Nationals, of course, ended up shocking baseball, going on a run from Wild Card winners to World Series champions.
“We’ve put ourselves in position each and every year. … Over the last eight years we’ve been a really good team, we’ve made the playoffs five out of the last eight years,” Rizzo said. “I think that’s our plan to win the World Series: get to the playoffs as many times as you can and then let the chips fall where they may.”
Rizzo harbors no ill will toward former face of the franchise Harper, calling him “a terrific player and a terrific guy.” The GM believes, though, that the difference was “our veteran leadership this year was better than we ever had.”
The Nationals knocked off the Houston Astros to win their first title in franchise history, but Rizzo didn’t want to wade too deeply into the debate over whether Houston’s 2017 title should be in question after recent findings of cheating.
“I think talking about that problem – ’17, ’18, the Astros and the Red Sox – dilutes and takes away what we did in 2019 and I’m not going to do that,” Rizzo said.
He did say that Washington took plenty of precautions to make sure their signs were secure.
“We had great preparation for the whole playoffs, including and especially the World Series,” Rizzo said. “We went into this thing with great help from advance scouts in the field, our video advance guys and our pitching people. We readjusted our signal calling, our catchers were very intuitive in the way they called games and the signs that we used.
“We were very, very focused on doing our part to allow us to do what we could do and not have anybody steal any of our signs.”
So did they know they should take extra caution against the Astros, who were recently punished for stealing signs?
“We weren’t taking any chances with anything,” Rizzo said. “We were ready for any scenario that came up.”
Most of all, Rizzo was happy to have brought a title to the nation’s capital.
“I’m proud of us and I’m proud of the group I brought in,” the Chicago native said. “I’m mostly happy and proud for our ownership and the fan base of D.C. It’s a special place to be, the most powerful city in the world and they love their sports.”
Mike Rizzo spoke with FanSided on behalf of Budweiser.