Nats to remain active past Deadline
Interim GM Rizzo: 'We know the targets we have to fill'
PITTSBURGH -- Before the Trade Deadline passed on Friday, the Nationals were able to acquire center fielder Nyjer Morgan and left-hander Sean Burnett from the Pirates and three Minor League pitchers -- Aaron Thompson, Ryan Mattheus and Robinson Fabian -- from the Marlins (for first baseman Nick Johnson) and Rockies (for reliever Joe Beimel).
It's safe to say that Morgan and Burnett have worked out nicely. Morgan has been a catalyst for Washington at the top of the lineup, while Burnett has been solid in late-inning relief.
But don't look for the Nationals to stand pat for the rest of the year. They realize they have holes to fill, and it might take until the offseason to get what they want.
"I'm not saying we are where we want to be, certainly not," interim general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We know the targets we have to hit."
There are quite a few things the Nationals have to address. They want to get a veteran starting pitcher who could mentor their young hurlers such as John Lannan, Craig Stammen and Jordan Zimmermann. The team wants this particular veteran to take the pressure off those young pitchers.
Asked how the team can convince a solid veteran to come to a team that has the worst record in the Major Leagues over the past two years, Rizzo said: "You have to show the veteran pitcher what the plan is, our plan for success, how we are built to perform at this level at this given time.
"We have to have a special type of veteran pitcher, who is willing to give of himself as a teacher and mentor type of guy. We have to get a team-oriented person, a person that is going to give his time and his knowledge. It's not an easy task.
"We think with the additions of an Adam Dunn, a Josh Willingham and Nyjer Morgan, it's going to attract some veteran players. These guys know what we are doing here. It's all over the league where we are at and what we are trying to do. I think they can see this is the beginning of a good, exciting ballclub."
Washington wants to revamp the bullpen, which has been its biggest disappointment. The relievers have a combined 31 losses this season. There isn't a reliever left from the Opening Day roster.
Of the current relievers on the 25-man roster, only Burnett has a guaranteed job with the club next year.
Look for Washington to look for a closer during the offseason. This season, it has used five closers, none of whom have been particularly effective.
There is the issue at second base. The Nationals have already used five second basemen this season -- Ronnie Belliard, Alex Cintron, Alberto Gonzalez, Willie Harris and Anderson Hernandez -- and none has produced the way the team would like at the position.
Currently, they want to find out if Gonzalez is an everyday player and, so far, he hasn't done the job offensively. He is hitting below .200 after the All-Star break.
"We have to find out if Alberto is cut out to be an everyday player," Rizzo said. "We are going to give him an opportunity to play."
If Orlando Hudson becomes a free agent, look for the Nationals to go after him.
After acquiring Morgan, the Nationals would like to add more speed to the lineup.
"We are always looking to improve ourselves. We are on a steady pace and on the right track," Rizzo said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.