"It's not going to be easy to replace him, and I don't know who it is going
to be yet," Diamondbacks General Manager Josh Byrnes said yesterday of the
departing Mike Rizzo, who leaves the Diamondbacks to take on an Assistant GM
slot with the Washington Nationals.
Rizzo, who was the Director of Scouting for the Diamondbacks and has been the
primary architect of the D'Backs draft for the last five years, leaves behind an
incredible legacy in Arizona, highlighted by today's Scout.com Top 300
2006 Minor League Player
Rankings. The D'Backs placed 17 different players on the list, and
would have had one more had pitcher Enrique Gonzalez not passed 50 innings
pitched with the big league club, thus ending his eligibility. Every
single one of these players was acquired under Rizzo's watch, and even players
like Alberto Callaspo, whom the D'Backs got from the Angels, came as a result of
a Rizzo move, in that case taking reliever Jason Bulger, who was sent to Anaheim
in return for Callaspo.
For Rizzo, clearly there is excitement in the new job.
"It's a step up, a move forward, and something I've wanted to do," Rizzo said
of the ascension to AGM.
It will years before Rizzo's complete impact on the organization can be felt,
but a quick look at the box score for the big league club's game on Wednesday
certainly shows part of it. Conor Jackson, Chad Tracy, Brandon Webb,
Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, and Greg Aquino all saw time on Wednesday, and all
came to the D'Backs as part of Mike Rizzo run drafts.
And the pipeline doesn't stop at Triple-A. Rizzo is also responsible
for drafting, among others, Justin Upton (Lo-A South Bend), Chris Rahl and
Carlos Gonzalez (Hi-A Lancaster) and Greg Smith, Mark Reynolds, Ross Ohlendorf,
and Garrett Mock (Double-A Tennessee).
For now the Diamondbacks front office will attempt to cover for Rizzo until
the organization can find a replacement.
"It will be an 'all hands on deck' situation," Byrnes said of covering
Rizzo's duties, which included, but are not limited to, acting as principal
negotiator with the club's 2006 draft picks, including unsigned first round pick
Max Scherzer, who coincidentally is celebrating his 22nd birthday today, and top
D'Backs high school selection, lefty Brett Anderson, "I will pitch in, so will
(Assistant Director of Scouting) Chad MacDonald, and pretty much everybody in
the front office. If something needs to get done, we'll get someone to do
Byrnes did not want to speculate on who might replace Rizzo, but the D'Backs
would likely look to promote from within, hoping that Rizzo's philosophies and
ideals have been passed down to his staff. For his part, Rizzo attributed
much of his success to those assistants.
"I had a lot of help in Arizona, it was a real team effort. I might
have the final say, but I had a lot of great people, hard working people, who
helped me make those decisions."