A Dark Day for the Diamondbacks?

July 25 may go down as a very dark day in Arizona Diamondbacks history. It will have nothing to do with the debacle of the game in Philadelphia where it seemed neither team wanted to win. It will not be the day we look back at pitcher Miguel Batista padding his league leading wild pitches. While neither of these events will stand out much past the end of the week, there was news that could have major implications to the long-term fortunes of the Diamondbacks. That news came out of Washington DC where the Washington Nationals announced that they had hired Mike Rizzo as assistant general manager.

Those who casually follow baseball may ask, who is Mike Rizzo and what position does he play? Rizzo is not a player on the field but he is definitely a major player. Mike Rizzo was the vice president of scouting operations for the Arizona Diamondbacks for the past seven years. During this period, the Diamondbacks accumulated better minor league talent than any other franchise in Major League Baseball. Rizzo’s hard work did not go unnoticed and was acknowledged when the Arizona Diamondbacks were recognized as the baseball organization of the year in 2005. The farm system is stocked deep with talent allowing the Diamondbacks to become younger and better at the same time. Mike Rizzo had a hand in the scouting or signing of several of the players now on the Diamondbacks roster including Stephen Drew, Brandon Webb, Carlos Quinten, Justin Upton, and many others. He also is responsible for scouting Diamondbacks talent that have gone on to have success with other teams such as Chris Capuano, Dan Uggla, Junior Spivey, and Lyle Overbay. Obviously other franchises saw value in Mike’s work and this week the Nationals took a major step to building a strong franchise by adding someone of Rizzo’s caliber to their front office.

I don’t pretend to understand the inner workings of the Diamondbacks. I didn’t get it when general partner Ken Kendrick made a public spectacle of Jason Grimsley. I didn’t understand when he brought up Luis Gonzalez’ name during discussions on steroid usage, and I still don’t understand how the team could pay Russ Ortiz that much money and for that long even before his meltdown this season. So it should not surprise anyone that I don’t understand how the Diamondbacks could let someone like Mike Rizzo leave the organization. I would think that General Manager Josh Byrnes would welcome the opportunity to have a right-hand man like Mike Rizzo helping to maintain a rich farm system while grooming a potential general manager. I can’t imagine this being a money issue where the Nationals were offering more money. I mean if the Diamondbacks can pay Russ Ortiz over $20 million to not play for them then they surely could afford to give their director of scouting a raise to retain his services. I wish Mike the best of luck and I hope that this decision to let Rizzo leave doesn’t come back to haunt the Diamondbacks in years to come.

1 Comment

  1. Jeff – I found this post via Google, 8 years later, while looking for some further background on the initial hiring or Mike Rizzo by the Nats. I just want to congratulate you for your prescience, and as a Nationals fan thank you for being right about this.

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