Thom Loverro: For Rizzo at moment, tradeoff not worth it

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So Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo didn't pull off any trades at the deadline.

So what? He traded Ryan Langerhans for Michael Morse in 2009.

He should be able to retire on that trade -- that's it, I'm done, thank you very much ...

It was that good a deal, the kind every GM should be able to pull out of his pocket every time someone asks what have you done for me lately -- along with Morse's 57 home runs, 178 RBIs and a .297 average in 328 games.

Of course, he can't say that in the middle of a fight for the postseason. What he has done is simply put the team in this position -- a noteworthy accomplishment for Rizzo -- but more is now expected.

In other words, what have you done for me lately?

Here's what Rizzo did: nothing. And as Paul Newman once said, sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.

The trading deadline is perhaps the most challenging time for a baseball GM. Pat Gillick is a Hall of Famer and the best of his time, but when he finally got the expansion Blue Jays in the hunt for the postseason, he was nicknamed "Stand Pat" after he failed to make deadline deals to get them to the next level.

He was right because he was building something that would last longer than a half season. When the time was right, Gillick made the moves at the deadline that sent the Blue Jays to two straight World Series titles.

The time wasn't right for Rizzo, who likes the hand he dealt himself with this team.

"We don't make our decisions upon what other teams are doing just to kind of keep up with the Joneses," Rizzo told reporters. "We've got a plan and a vision in place, and we've stuck to it. And we're going to continue to do so. That's how we made our decisions through this trade deadline and through the ones in the past also."

It's harder than ever before for a baseball GM to know if or when to make the right move. The first wild card in 1995 changed the game, putting more teams within postseason striking distance and forcing GMs to hold on to players who they would have dealt in previous years.

This year there's another wild card team, which further muddies the waters of the best path to take. Combine that with the new rules -- there are no draft pick rewards for renting future free agents -- and it is harder than ever to know when to stand pat and when to trade and what the real cost will be.

Mike Rizzo believes he knew the cost, and it wasn't worth it. He traded Ryan Langerhans for Michael Morse. He knows what he's doing.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner