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Rizzo defends Williams, himself as Nats season gets worse

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Rizzo defends Williams, himself as Nats season gets worse

With the team he constructed fresh off being eliminated from playoff contention, with his manager under fire and his team in the national spotlight for a public brawl featuring the best player in baseball, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo took the podium after Monday's game to a barrage of camera flashes, ready to answer as to why the Nats had found themselves in one of the more embarrassing baseball moments in recent years.

Rizzo fiddled with the microphone as he did his best to explain how Jonathan Papelbon, the closer he acquired just days before the trade deadline, had turned the Nationals' home dugout into a UFC octagon just 24 hours prior. He gave his personal opinion on the unfathomable decision to put Papelbon back into the game after he grabbed one of the game's brightest young stars by the throat and slammed him into a wall on live television.

And then the conversation took a sharp turn, as questions of not only Matt Williams' job performance arose, so did queries about the man at the podium, the brilliant baseball architect whose deal to bring Papelbon to Washington has arguably turned into one of the more colossal mistakes made by a baseball front office in recent memory.

The job security of Rizzo has not seriously come into question publicly, but the future of the manager he hand-picked before the 2014 season certainly has. Rizzo was asked point blank of Williams will be back with the Nationals in 2016.

"We're going to make 2016 decisions after we finish 2015. He's under contract to be the manager next year," Rizzo said.

Rizzo then explained why he thinks Williams has struggled to keep the Nationals afloat this season:

"I think Matt has persevered through a lot of different injuries, a lot of different ebbs and flows of the season. He's had to juggle maybe as many different lineups as any manager has in baseball and many injuries at different times and groups of players coming off the disabled list at the same time."

Multiple outlets including CBS Sports and The Washington Post have reported on a rift within the Nats' clubhouse, some suggesting Williams has lost the support of key players. Rizzo would not respond to those accusations directly.

"If I knew who that person was, I would respond to it. When it's some blind accusation from an unnamed source, I don't react to those," he said.

But Rizzo would give a direct defense of his own job performance, keying in on preseason predictions which have become a sore subject for the team as a whole.

"I could say that the roster we put together in preseason, we felt it was a strong roster. You guys felt it was a strong roster. I think 17 of 18 of you picked us to win the World Series. So, I think you guys thought we created ourselves a good, balanced, high-character and high-quality lineup," he explained.

"A lot of things went wrong. When things go wrong, you find out where your deficiencies are. Things went wrong quickly and they went wrong very often. Probably, I would say that, looking back at the season, when I look back at it, I'll probably see some things that I should have done different, things that I didn't do. Everything rolls down from the general manager and the president of baseball operations' office. I take full responsibility for the quality of players that we put on the field. That goes from the 2009 season, when I took over, to after today's win."

Rizzo won't have to wait much longer to look back at the Nats' season, as it will be over in a matter of days. Then, he will have to make the difficult decision of whether to give Williams another chance.

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Have the Nationals missed their opportunity to re-sign Anthony Rendon?

Have the Nationals missed their opportunity to re-sign Anthony Rendon?

Despite numerous conversations and GM Mike Rizzo's assurances that a deal will get done, the Nationals and third baseman Anthony Rendon still have not come to an agreement on a new deal.

But that stalling might have cost the Nationals. According to Grant Paulsen on Tuesday's Grant & Danny show on 106.7 The Fan, the Nats have missed their opportunity to re-sign him. Rendon becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

"Here's something I heard from someone who recently talked to Scott Boras," Paulsen said. "Apparently, he told that person that the Nationals already missed the boat on getting a deal done with Anthony Rendon." 

"Now, that's up to Anthony Rendon, not Scott Boras. And I think that's probably an agent starting to float (interest in Rendon)," Paulsen continued. "If I'm Scott Boras, I would want people to think it's too late. But he is at least already telling people the Nationals missed the boat."

The optics of losing Rendon and outfielder Bryce Harper in back-to-back seasons is something that fans are already thinking about.

"What would it look like if he walked within a calendar year of Bryce walking?" Paulsen said. "And this is an organization that was a division winner year in year out, a playoff team, precipice of a World Series run perhaps. And in a span of two off-seasons, you could have lost your two best players."

"The history says already this team doesn't pay their own guys a lot of money," Paulsen noted. "I would wonder and worry about the health of the fan base, baseball in D.C. as a growing entity and as this beloved organization if the Lerner's allowed Anthony Rendon to walk."

One place Rendon could end up would be in his home state of Texas should he choose to walk.

"A team with immense money is the Texas Rangers," Paulsen explained. "Anthony Rendon is from Texas. That would make a lot of sense."

Paulsen's position is the Nats need to sign Rendon soon before he hits free agency.

"If I'm the Nats, Grant Lerner, I'm putting a $250 million offer in front of the guy today."

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Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

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Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

NEW YORK -- Normal is not something the Nationals do this season.

Monday’s pivot from the mundane -- an otherwise run-of-the-mill 5-3 baseball game -- came when Adam Eaton was jogging toward the visitors dugout in the bottom of the third inning when he stopped to respond to New York third baseman Todd Frazier, whom Eaton said was chirping at him all night.

This is not new. The two were teammates on the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and did not get along. Last year, Frazier and Eaton also had an exchange. The one Monday night at Citi Field prompted several members of the Nationals to hop over the dugout railing while Frazier and Eaton were being restrained near the first base bag. First base umpire Mike Estabrook cutoff Eaton who was walking toward Frazier after initially heading to the dugout following a 4-6-3 double play which ended the inning for the Nationals. When Frazier came toward the Mets dugout from his position at third base, the two began their spat.

Afterward, Frazier declined to comment in the Mets’ clubhouse, saying only, “It was nothing.” Eaton took the opportunity to expound on his displeasure with the incident, its continuation and Frazier himself.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Eaton said. “Gosh, who knows what goes through that guy’s mind? He’s chirping all the way across the infield. He must really like me, [because] he wants to get my attention it seems like every time we come into town, he really cares what I think about him. I don’t know what his deal is, if he wants to talk to me in person or have a visit or what it is. But he’s always yelling across the infield at me, making a habit of it.

“He’s one of those guys who always says it loud enough that you hear it but can’t understand it. So, he’s making a habit of it. I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point. So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

Asked if he is surprised such exchanges are still happening three years after they played together, Eaton said he was.

“Yes, absolutely,” Eaton said. “He’s very childish. I’m walking with my head down, play’s over, I’m walking away. I can still hear him. I’m a 30-year-old man with two kids, got a mortgage and everything. He wants to loud talk as he’s running off the field. At the end of the day, I got to be a man about it. I tried to stay patient with the childishness, but it is what it is. I got to stand up eventually.”

He did, and what could have been merely Game 47 for a struggling team turned out to be something else.

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