Trading Lombardozzi: The Second Biggest Mistake Mike Rizzo's Ever Made
Michael Morse was one of those heart and soul players. One of those players who was the rhythm of the team. Its beating heart, and when Mike Rizzo ripped the heart out of the Nationals they floundered, withered, and slowly died. in a season that was "World Series or bust" they busted worse than someone who thinks it a good idea to hit on 20.
Having not learned a thing from his evisceration of the Nationals' guts of a year ago Mike Rizzo traded another heart and soul player. Some may say that baseball is about the numbers, but it is about defying the numbers and that is all Steve Lombardozzi ever did. He may not have had the talent, speed, power, or overall ability of the average baseball player but he more than made up for that with effort. Steve Lombardozzi was the little engine that could. He was the Nats inspirational key to winning.
Losing Morse's powerful bat and clubhouse swagger caused the Nationals to drop twelve wins in 2013 and it is certain that they will drop twelve more without Lombardozzi. His gritty presence couldn't help but inspire those around him. When they saw the little guy trying so hard to be a baseball player how could his more talented teammates not be infected to play with the same guts out mentality?
Look at Bryce Harper. He may have hit more homeruns than anyone before turning 21 but every one of those homeruns either was a solo shot or killed a rally where a double would have made the opposing pitcher continue throwing out of the stretch and been more beneficial to the team.
Steve Lombardozzi was a selfless competitor and not only didn't hit homeruns but was more than happy to sacrifice himself for the betterment of the team. Lombardozzi's greatest skill was ability to put the ball in play and make an out. This is especially a useful skill when there is a man on base and Lombardozzi's willingness to give himself up would help his teammate move up one base and that much closer to scoring a run.
A special players isn't always one of those five tool guys that scouts and stat nerds rave about. Sometimes all a player needs to be special is one tool, heart, and Steve Lombardozzi had that one tool in bunches.
He may not ever be able to hit for average, hit for power, run fast, play good defense, or have a strong throwing arm but he will always care more than those that have one or more of those skills. It is the tool of heart that makes Lombardozzi special and why eventually, when the Nationals are struggling once again, Mike Rizzo will regret this deal.
Talent isn't everything and it takes more than talented players to win. Teams need those little scrappers and gamers that are always willing to go hard. Willing to give themselves up for the team. Those with the tool of heart that can inspire all the teammates around them. That is what Steve Lombardozzi was to the Nationals.
For the second year in a row Mike Rizzo has ripped out the heart of the Nationals. They say the proof is in the pudding and in 2013 the Nationals were off-season champs and then missed the playoffs and they are heading that way once again in 2014. In sports you are what your record says you are and at the end of 2014 that won't be very good for the Nationals.
All the brains that write for websites and newspapers and magazines may think this is a good move for the Nationals, but rip out the heart and the brain will die. This is a move, after all, by the same GM that signed Haren, Soriano, and LaRoche, traded for Denard Span, and drafted Drew Storen instead of Mike Trout. And just as he must wake every night in a cold sweet regretting those moves he will regret giving up on Steve Lombardozzi.
Like any creature a team cannot survive without its heart and now the Tigers have one and the Nationals do not. They may once again be off-season champs, but when the real season starts Mike Rizzo's Frankenstein will flop.