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Kasten calls Rizzo extension 'a great step'

Kasten calls Rizzo extension 'a great step'

Former Nationals president Stan Kasten was happy to learn that the club promoted general manager Mike Rizzo to executive vice president of baseball operations and gave him to a five-year extension.

The Nationals started talking to Rizzo about an extension after Kasten resigned from his role as president of the club. He retains his minority ownership in the club.

When reached by phone, Kasten said Rizzo's extension is an important demonstration of stability for the franchise.

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"It's something every successful franchise needs," Kasten said. "It a great step for the franchise and also a great indication to the fans about how serious the organization is about building long-term success."

It was Kasten who lured Rizzo away from the D-backs in 2006 to become the Nationals' director of scouting. For the next two-plus seasons, Kasten groomed Rizzo for his future role. Rizzo was named interim GM in March 2009 and received full-time status a few months later.

"Mike has a real gift for examining players and being able to tell which players are going to be successful and the ones who are not. It's not a perfect science obviously," Kasten said. "It was very clear he wanted to be a GM. He was preparing for it while he was a scouting director -- learning everything he could. He asked good questions to the best people in the business."

Rizzo will work with a club that is loaded with young pitchers -- including 2009 No. 1 overall Draft pick Stephen Strasburg, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery -- who are expected to make an impact in the big leagues very soon.

The team also has its share of sluggers in the system, including this year's overall No. 1 pick, Bryce Harper, who could reach the big leagues in as little as two years.

"In the last two years, we've seen, I think, all of the good things that Mike has been able to do. And I think you could look forward to even more of that now and going forward," Kasten said.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter -- @washingnats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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