The difference between Jim Bowden and Mike Rizzo is stark. The leather pants wearing, segway driving Bowden was a man of words, oftentimes over-exaggerated and inflated. For a baseball general manager he was flamboyant. Who could forget him calling Ian Desmond "the next Derek Jeter" or his proclimation upon accquiring Emilio Bonifacio that the Nationals had "accquired their secondbaseman of the future."
He was the baseball equilivent of Jeffery Skilling, taking on toolsy outfielders that were high risk, high reward players at the expense of the Nationals future. Pitching and defense meant little to him and the team's rosters during his reign reflected this. He was a guy that was better at marketing the team than building it.
And then you have Mike Rizzo. Rizzo is soft-spoken and much more grounded in the views of the team that is being fielded. He does not wear flashy suits and has not made unrealistic player comparisons. Toolsy outfielders that were accumulated under Bowden, like Milledge and Dukes, were shown the door and, as a former scout, he understands that pitching and defense are a key component of most successful teams. It should come as no surprise that he is attempting to build the Nationals on this premise.
The past two seasons, the Nationals have been in the bottom third of the league in runs allowed. Last seasons, the only team that finished with more runs allowed was the team with the second worst record, the Orioles. How important is defense in the National League? Each of the four teams that made the NL playoffs in 2009 were in the top half of the league in runs allowed. In those two years,