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Brian Eller

Is Rizzo ready for some Risky Business?

While the final four teams left in this year's baseball playoffs continue to do battle, the other 26 teams are busy looking toward next season.

In Washington, that has meant quite a bit of activity, most recently the contract extension/promotion of newly-appointed General Manager Mike Rizzo.

It's been a long journey for Rizzo, who started with the organization in 2006, working in player development before assuming the role of assistant general manager in 2008. During his time there, Rizzo split duties with then-team president Stan Kasten and between the two ran the day-to-day operations of the team.

Now, Kasten is gone, meaning Rizzo's role as GM will be at the forefront of the public eye moving forward. Rizzo will be responsible for attempts to increase payroll and oversee both the front office and manager/coaching staff.

It can be a heavy burden to bear, but fortunately for Rizzo, he's coming into the role with plenty of optimism both in the clubhouse and front office.

Despite finishing fifth in the NL East and a 69-93 record, the Nationals made strides on the field, including getting a glimpse of their future franchise pitcher in Steven Strasburg and drafting Bryce Harper with the first overall pick.

If and when those two find themselves on the same diamond, Nationals fans will finally have something to cheer about on a regular basis. But before anyone can start celebrating, Rizzo must make sure that scenario comes to fruition.

While we saw Strasburg show his stuff for a month this summer, the injury to his arm will likely set him back a full year, meaning 2011 won't be known as the "Year of Strasburg." Also, with Adam Dunn coming off of another monster year -- 38 home runs and 103 RBIs -- and claming he'd like to stay in the nation's capital, Rizzo must make sure he gives the slugger the money he deserves, in order to keep who has been a cornerstone in the lineup.

With Rizzo's contract set for five years, we'll have plenty of time to see whether this move was beneficial. Over the past decade, Rizzo has proved himself to be a worthy candidate at each level and now that he's at the top, the potential risks and rewards are seemingly equal. It's up to him which side is revealed.

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