Nationals

Chiefs, GM Pioli part ways after 4 seasons in KC

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Chiefs, GM Pioli part ways after 4 seasons in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Scott Pioli is out as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, who have been negotiating the past two days with Andy Reid to become their next coach.

Pioli and the team ``mutually parted ways,'' the Chiefs said in a statement Friday. The decision came after four tumultuous seasons marked by poor draft choices, ineffective free-agent moves, failed coaching hires and a growing fan rebellion.

``I truly apologize for not getting the job done,'' Pioli said.

The Chiefs fired coach Romeo Crennel on Monday after finishing 2-14, matching the worst record in their 53-year history. Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said other changes could be made, and indicated that Pioli's future could be determined by their next coach.

A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the team is nearing a deal with Reid, who was fired after 14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. The person spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because negotiations were ongoing. It is believed that Reid would prefer to work with his own general manager.

``After several productive conversations, we made the difficult decision to part ways with Scott Pioli and allow him to pursue other opportunities,'' Hunt said in a statement Friday.

``This was a difficult decision for Scott as well,'' Hunt said. ``He has a great deal of appreciation for the history of this franchise, for our players, coaches and employees, and especially our great fans.''

Kansas City will have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and with five players voted to the Pro Bowl, there are certainly pieces in place for the Chiefs to make rapid improvement.

But most of those Pro Bowl players were drafted by Pioli's predecessor, Carl Peterson. The former Patriots executive struggled to find impact talent, particularly at quarterback, while cycling through coaches and fostering a climate of dread within the entire organization.

Numerous longtime staff members were fired upon Pioli's arrival, and his inability to connect with fans resulted in unrest unlike anything the franchise has known. Some of them even paid for banners to be towed behind planes before home games asking that he be fired.

Those fans finally got their wish.

The biggest reason ultimately wasn't the banners and posters, but by the performance of the Chiefs. And that was a reflection of the roster Pioli assembled, one that looked good on paper but not on the field.

Things were no better away from the field, either.

On Dec. 1, linebacker Jovan Belcher shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. He then drove to the team's practice facility and was confronted by Pioli, Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs.

After thanking the three of them for giving him a chance in the NFL, Belcher turned around in the parking lot, kneeled down and shot himself in the head.

Pioli hasn't spoken publicly since then but issued a statement Friday in which he thanked the organization for giving him an opportunity to be its GM.

``The bottom line is that I did not accomplish all of what I set out to do,'' Pioli said. ``To the Hunt family - to the great fans of the Kansas City Chiefs - to the players, all employees and alumni, I truly apologize for not getting the job done.''

Pioli often spoke of putting together ``the right 53,'' but he routinely failed to do so.

His biggest move upon being hired was trading for Patriots backup Matt Cassel and then giving him a $63 million, six-year deal. Cassel went to the Pro Bowl in 2010, when the Chiefs won a surprising AFC West title, but he struggled so mightily that he was benched this season.

Many of Pioli's moves in free agency also backfired.

Tight end Kevin Boss sustained a season-ending head injury in Week 2, running back Peyton Hillis was a shadow of his former self, right tackle Eric Winston got into a messy situation by calling out Chiefs fans during an early season loss, and cornerback Stanford Routt was cut under mysterious circumstances despite signing an $18 million, three-year contract.

One of his biggest shortcomings was in the draft.

He wasted the third overall pick in 2009 on defensive end Tyson Jackson, who has struggled to become an every-down player. The only other player who has made a contribution from Pioli's first draft has been kicker Ryan Succop, their seventh-round selection.

Pioli fared better in 2010, when he nabbed Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in the first round, but the past two years have been a disappointment. Wide receiver Jon Baldwin, his first-round pick in 2011, has barely made an impact, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe - the 11th overall pick last April - failed to make the kind of impression the Chiefs had hoped.

Pioli didn't fare much better when it came to coaches.

He fired Herm Edwards soon after he was hired and chose Todd Haley as the replacement, but their relationship was strained from the start. Haley was fired last December and Crennel made the interim coach, and then Pioli made the move permanent a few weeks after the season ended.

While beloved and respected by his players, Crennel struggled in his second stint as a head coach, and was dismissed after a 2-14 finish - only the third time in team history the Chiefs failed to win at least three games in a season.

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Here’s when the Nationals will see Anthony Rendon next season

Here’s when the Nationals will see Anthony Rendon next season

Anthony Rendon has reportedly agreed to join the Angels on a seven-year, $245 million contract that ends his tenure in the nation's capital.

Rendon will head out west to team up with the 2019 MVP, Mike Trout, who may have heard the news.

While the Angels do not travel to D.C. in 2020, the Nationals are headed to Anaheim for a three-game series in mid-May.

The Nats will face Rendon this season from May 11th-13th at Angels stadium, so if anyone is traveling to California next year, plan accordingly.

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Mike Elias expects big things from Adley Rutschman in 2020 and beyond

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Mike Elias expects big things from Adley Rutschman in 2020 and beyond

As excited as Orioles fans are for the future of the franchise, and as desperate as they are for any glimpses of that future in the form of their top prospects, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll see Adley Rutschman in the big leagues any time soon.

The number one overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Rutschman is one of the most highly-touted prospects to enter the draft in years, and as an experienced college catcher, is the prototype of a fast-moving player through the farm system.

According to the man tasked with ultimately making those types of timeline-based decisions, Rutschman will play the biggest role in determining how quickly he advances.

“Well it’s his first full season in pro ball, so it’s hard to put too much expectation on that,” General Manager Mike Elias cautioned to NBC Sports Washington when asked about the hype surrounding his first-ever draft pick. “It’s about starting in A-ball, or High-A, or wherever we decide to start him, and having success. And once he has success, we’ll get him moving.”

Elias told reporters at the Winter Meetings that Rustchman would have a chance to play with the big league club at Spring Training next season, but that will be more about the learning experience and less about a true opportunity to break camp with the team.

It’s hard to imagine a player like Rutschman not having success. He showed flashes of his talent across three lower levels of the Orioles’ minor league system after signing last summer, ultimately landing with the Delmarva Shorebirds.

The skills necessary for success, both on and off the field, were readily apparent to Elias and the Orioles front office throughout the draft process.

They say timing is everything, and Elias considers the Orioles very lucky to have earned the top pick in a year with a player like Rutschman.

“I think we were very fortunate that we had the number one pick in a year when Adley Rutschman was in the draft,” he said while praising the future face of the franchise. “He fits the type of player that we’re looking for perfectly, being an impact hitter but also a really good defensive catcher and team leader type. So it’s a perfect guy to sort of kick off this whole era of our rebuild, and I think it’s going to be fun seeing what he does in our minor league affiliates this year.”

Of course, Rutschman isn’t the only young player fans will be keying in on this season. Austin Hays is one of the more exciting young players in the organization, and he will enter Spring Training as the favorite for the everyday job in centerfield. If the gifted outfielder can stay healthy, he will be given every opportunity to solidify himself as the centerfielder of the future.

“He’s what we call in the scouting parlance ‘tooled out’,” Elias described when asked about Hays’ highlight-reel plays late in the 2019 season. “I mean he can run, he can really throw, he’s got power, all the physical capabilities. And he’s shown that when he’s healthy he can hit at the Major League level too.”

Of course, injuries have been the one thing that can stop Hays early in his promising career. 

“Health has been the issue for him,” Elias continued. “He’s had two injury-plagued seasons in a row, but when he came up at the end of last season he was playing with energy, he was healthy. So that’s all we want to see for him, but I think he’s an impact centerfielder and a huge part of our next good team.”

The next good Orioles team is still a few years away, but the pieces are starting to come into place. Not every top prospect will pan out -- there’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to minor league players -- but the Orioles are stocking the organization with talented, hard-working players.

Looking ahead to another long season in 2020, Orioles fans will have to look beyond the win-loss column to find signs of hope. If things go according to Mike Elias’ plan, Rustchman and Hays should provide plenty of moments worth getting excited.

Rutschman’s time is coming. For Hays, the future is now. For both, the eyes of Baltimore are upon them as the franchise enters the next era of Orioles baseball.

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