wilnieves: Elijah Dukes has been playing well since returning from Triple-A. Have you noticed a considerable change in his approach?
Rizzo: The staff has noticed a substantial and positive change not only in his approach on the field but also in the way he conducts himself in the clubhouse and in his game preperation. Since Elijah was recalled, his OBP percentage has been 62 points higher and his BA has been 24 points higher.
itsmeMark: Mike, why should I commit more than $10K in season tickets to you and the Nats for 2010?
Rizzo: We have genuine excitement about the potential of next year's club. Let me lead off with our leadoff man. Having Nyjer Morgan at the top of our lineup for a full season and patrolling center field improves us both offensively and defensively. Secondly, we'll be returning one of the most potent middle-of-the-order combos in the NL. Third, our stable of young starting pitchers will build upon the innings they've logged on the Major League level. Fourth, the anticipated arrival of [Stephen] Strasburg, [Drew] Storen, [Ian] Desmond ... Last but not least, Teddy might win, and you never know when.
gnatsnut: How much is a prospect's character taken into consideration when evaluating him?
Rizzo: It's an important factor in the evaluation of the skill set of any player that the Washington Nationals will be looking toward acquiring in the future.
GoldenEye: Can you bring in an impact player during the offseason?
Rizzo: The Lerner family has given us ample resources to improve the club in any way we see fit.
spwineguy: Hello Mr. Rizzo. Justin Maxwell looked great last night, in all aspects of his game. When Nyjer's broken hand heals, where do you play Maxwell?
Rizzo: Maxwell is an extremely talented young player who is going to compete for a roster spot at the Major League level next year. His defensive ability, combined with speed and power potential, is only amplified by the fact that he is a front-line quality character person on and off the field.
brian2323: Hi, Mike. Will Strasburg be in the starting rotation to begin the year in 2010?
Rizzo: With Stephen, not unlike any of our other talented young pitchers, we are going to take a cautious but realistic view of his ability level. His spot in the rotation will be earned by his performance on the field.
Donkeyfarmer: Will you try to extend Adam Dunn's contract?
Rizzo: Adam is a cornerstone member of the Washington Nationals family. His performance on the field and presence in the clubhouse are paramount to our success.
sthogan: Which year's Draft are you most proud of (Nationals or Diamondbacks)? You have found quite a few diamonds in the rough.
Rizzo: With all of the success that we had with the Arizona Diamondbacks, I feel confident and comfortable saying that we are on an accelerated path to improving our farm system. There are many things here that remind me where we were with the Diamondbacks four to five years ago.
itsmeMark: Mike, despite the 2009 record. I'm encouraged by the play on the field -- [Ryan] Zimmerman, Morgan, Dunn -- but each year I feel this way, someone drops off. Is there finally light at the end of the tunnel?
Rizzo: We feel that our core players are for real -- the consistency of excellence that Dunn has demonstrated over his career, the emergence of Morgan as a igniter at the top of the lineup and, according to his peers, one of the top center fielders in all of baseball. Lastly, Zimmerman taking the final step and establishing himself as one of the premier players in the National League. In my opinion, we are fortunate enough to be observing the best defensive third baseman in all of baseball to go along with his All-Star offensive numbers. I expect him to win his first Gold Glove in 2009.
futuregm26: What was your first job in baseball??
Rizzo: I started out as a professional player in the California Angels' Minor League system, and following my playing days, I became an area scout for the Chicago White Sox.
edfromfb: How much do you think playing in the Dominican Winter League will help Dukes?
Rizzo: I feel that the extended at-bats he will absorb in the Dominican Winter League will allow him to take his positive second half of the season and give him a good mind-set heading into the 2010 season.
Thanks for all of the intelligent and well-thought-out questions. Thanks for all of your support this season. I look forward to chatting with you this offseason. Thanks again!