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About the Coaches

It's apparent, by looking at the skills/experiences of the new coaching staff, that the Nats put this group together very much mindful of how it would fit the current group of players. Think about what Washington has right now: A relatively young manager. Lots of raw players who need to learn a professional approach to the game. A host of speedy middle infielders and outfielders. A still-developing bullpen. A group of hitters who must improve their technical knowledge.

Who knows if these five coaches will help, but that's certainly the intention.

Consider:

* Grissom is a former center fielder who twice stole more than 70 bases. He'll now instruct the team on baserunning and outfield.

* Listach had a career (which included a 1992 ROY award) as a middle infielder.

* Riggleman has almost a decade of managerial experience and will be a sounding board for Acta.

* Knorr and Eckstein have already worked with much of the roster. Eckstein knows almost every player from his time in Class AAA Columbus or his month with the Nats in September. And Knorr, who managed at Class A Potomac, has dealt in spring training with Jesus Flores, has managed Luke Montz, and has managed almost every member of the bullpen. (Or so he joked today.)

"Randy was my first manager [after getting drafted]," Ryan Zimmerman told me today.

So, let me attack the rest of this in an FAQ style.

Q: No Willie Randolph -- what happened?

A: The Nats were definitely interested. But ultimately, they stayed away because they felt that selecting Randolph would raise unfair questions about Acta's authority and job security. Too much of a circus, in other words -- certainly enough to counteract Randolph's virtue as a baseball mind. Plus, Randolph is still a candidate for a managerial job.

Q: So is Riggleman, right? He has a chance at the Seattle job?

A: Yes, and his gig as the Washington bench coach will only happen if Seattle passes him over for the head job. He remains a candidate in Seattle, in other words.

Q: Who actually picked these coaches? Was it Bowden? Acta? Stan Kasten?

A: According to Acta, this was all Bowden-Acta. A two-person selection job. "Jim and I put together the whole staff," Acta said. "There isn't one coach there where I'm not on board and Jim isn't on board. We did it as a team, the best way possible."

Q: Did anybody turn the Nats down for coaching offers?

A: At least two, that I know of. Both Devon White and Barry Larkin were offered jobs, but didn't take them.

Q: Any common thread with this group?

A: Well, not really, but it's noticeably younger than the group it replaces. Today, Bowden in varying moments described the staff as "high-energy" and "diverse" and able "to engage with the players." Acta called the staff "a good combination of experience, youth and high energy." For sure, Washington wanted a staff with a few guys who had recent playing experience -- ready-made models for the guys like Flores, Milledge, Dukes, Bonifacio et al.

Q: Can Pat Listach coach third?

A: He did so as a manager with various Cubs' minor league affiliates, so that's where his experience comes from. Acta made a similar transition -- coaching third in the minors, then in the majors -- and he thinks Listach will be up for the transition. It's not so major. "When you do have good instincts and you study the game like he does," Acta said, "I don't think you're going to have any trouble."

By Chico Harlan  |  October 24, 2008; 6:05 PM ET
 
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Comments

I like these moves a lot. It does send the message to Acta. Jim R is much younger that Pat C and has recent managerial jobs....Pat C was way far removed from his past Manager jobs and never getting one again.

I base coaches had more MLB experience. I like the words energy.......the old coaching staff was dead.

I like Eckstein as a hitting coach verse Harris. That move should have been made in June like many many many of us could see the need and the solution.

I am planning to go to Spring Training this year to see if indeed this new energy translates into baseball fundamentals that are so sorely needed.

Now start taking infield 2-3 times a week and we might get somewhere.

Posted by: JayBeee | October 24, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the additional info, Chico. I'm encouraged by these moves.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 24, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

They need to put Listach in charge of teaching the entire team how to bunt properly in every situation. He had a slap/dash approach. And only a guy with good bat control can do that. It's like Maddon said about doing the safety squeeze, bunting the second time is easier and less expected in certain situations.

Posted by: Brue | October 24, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Looking back over the previous years, my favorite coaches were Lopes, Beasley, and Rofriguez -- all Frank Robinson coaches. Beasley was an excellent thirdbase coach. Lopes added alot on a number of levels. Hopefully Grissom can follow in that same tradition. My recollection of his playing career is that he was an excellent bunter as well. Perhaps he can teach the pitchers how to bunt. For that matter maybe he can teach Emilio and Lastings too. He certainly can help teach the baserunners how to read pitchers. Riggleman should provide some point-counterpoint to Acta's conservatism. You have strong position coaches too - catcher (Knorr), infield (Listach), and outfield (Grissom). Grissom never had a great arm, but he learned to compensate. Perhaps he can help Lastings too.

Posted by: natbisquit | October 24, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

To, more or less, continue from two posts ago, with more info.

While we may or may not agree on the progress and worth of the 2008 season, there are some things that are more than worth taking a second look at:

1. Elijah Dukes' plate discipline. Normally, a hitter with his power potential would be expected to be a free swinger. On a number of occasions, he was comfortable taking a walk, instead of trying to win a game all by himself, with a jack.

2. Lastings Milledge has made significant improvement as a center fielder. Not great, but now very far from lost.

3. The team never seemed to phone it in, even at the point in the season where they were just struggling to try and avoid a 100 loss season.

In looking at the choices for coach, it seems that whoever picked them (my money is on Stan) is a very knowledgeable baseball man and has the proper understanding of putting together a staff geared towards serious improvement in the club.

This is no longer an "old boys" club, as it was the last two years. Let's try and remember that, with Robby "retired" as he was, putting together a first rate staff was really guess work. We actually lost some good coaches in the changeover (Lopes, for one).

The hitters seem to have confidence in Eckstein. That confidence level is more than vital in a coach who is going to point out their flaws.

BTW, getting back to the earlier. It should not be a Major League manager's task to teach fundamentals. I'm not saying that is not what they are forced to do. I'm just saying that is not what they are supposed to do. Just as a piece of anecdotal evidence, let's remember that, for most of the pitchers on this team, Major League games are the first time in their lives that they have actually had to lay down a bunt.

Posted by: Catcher50 | October 24, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

>Grissom never had a great arm, but he learned to compensate. Perhaps he can help Lastings too.<

Yeah he can teach him to play second base and make him an all-star candidate. Probably within a month or two. Ask him how he knows. The club is wasting their time trying to find Milledge a spot in the outfield imo.

Posted by: Brue | October 24, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Slightly more meaningful than our opinions about Lastings potential is the opinion of baseball professionals. Within the baseball world I think the opinion on Lastings is significantly higher. I think there is general agreement that he should move to leftfield, but his potential as a hitter and baserunner continues to be seen as very strong. Because he is young, cheap, and loaded with potential the team should continue to develop him.

Posted by: natbisquit | October 24, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

New unis to be unveiled next week just in time for holiday shopping? Who knew? Any word on whether we're talking about a slight modification or a radical change?

Posted by: leetee1955 | October 24, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

nats320.blogspot.com has the scoop on the uniform changes.

Posted by: nunof1 | October 25, 2008 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Catcher50: "In looking at the choices for coach, it seems that whoever picked them (my money is on Stan)"

Chico Harlan: "Q: Who actually picked these coaches? Was it Bowden? Acta? Stan Kasten?

A: According to Acta, this was all Bowden-Acta. A two-person selection job. "Jim and I put together the whole staff," Acta said. "There isn't one coach there where I'm not on board and Jim isn't on board. We did it as a team, the best way possible." "

So who is making stuff up here? Catcher50, Chico Harlan, or Manny Acta?

Posted by: nunof1 | October 25, 2008 1:04 AM | Report abuse

From the desk of Biff Ladson (and the team site):

WASHINGTON -- When Pat Corrales and Lenny Harris were dismissed as coaches on Sept. 28, there was some indication that they would remain in the Nationals' organization in some capacity.

It was learned on Friday that Corrales will be a special consultant to the club, whereas Harris will join the Dodgers as a hitting instructor in their Minor League system. The Nationals most likely will make an announcement about Corrales as early as next week.

Corrales and Harris spent the last two years with the Nationals as a bench coach and hitting coach, respectively.

In other news, the Nationals are tentatively scheduled to unveil their new uniforms on Nov. 6 at the ESPN Zone, according to two baseball sources. Manager Manny Acta and outfielders Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge are scheduled to attend the event.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 25, 2008 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Glad to hear that Corrales will still be around. BTW, is the site blowing up on anybody else when they try to log in?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 25, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Yep, this confirms my initial read on these selections from yesterday -- good to see everyone is on the same page (meaning Manny and Jimbo, I am, of course, irrelevant). Also good to see that Corrales and Harris landed on their feet.

Finally, kudos to the NJ and Post technical staff for implementing the sign-in feature in a way that does not seem to have interfered with our normal discourse here.

Posted by: BobLHead | October 25, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the Nats took the extra money they got out of the DC govt. for giving the Nats an "unfinished stadium," and used the $4.5 million DC bonanza on new coaches and new unies. They will probably still have some money left over from this haul for free agents who fall within the Nats' price range. Johnny Estrada is still available, and his elbow is probably a little better by now.

Posted by: EdDC | October 25, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

As others have noted, the Nats' players are way lacking in fundamental baseball skills. It's up to the coaches to change that.

Watching the Tampa Bay Rays play, it's clear that executing fundamentals are an integral part of the Rays' approach to winning.
Baldelli picking off Werth at first from right field is just one example among many. Same small-budget problem as the Nats, but a lot more wins.

Will sloppy baseball return to DC in 2009? Stay tuned.

Posted by: JohnRVA | October 25, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

espn has a different story about randolph and the nats.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3663162

...Newsday reported Saturday that Randolph, who was fired as Mets manager in June, declined a chance to join the Washington Nationals either as their bench coach or third base coach.

...Randolph turned down the Nationals because of the contentious relationship he had with Manny Acta, according to Newsday.

Posted by: sec231 | October 25, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Listach has a very easy act to follow when it comes to being a third-base coach, the same way that Eckstein can't help but be an improvement at hitting coach.

This coming year, in general, is one when it will be difficult not to improve on last year's results.

Posted by: kevincostello | October 25, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Of course, I'm making things up. Or at least trying to read between the lines.

If you're a DCite, you parse everything and maybe I'm overparsing, but maybe I read it to say that Jim is on board with everyone and I'm on board with everyone, which would mean that Stan did the actual picking.

Got to get out of this mindset.

BTW, If you buy what Randolph told Newsday (or what they thought they heard), I've got some land in Florida and a Bridge built by the Roeblings that I'll sell you, cheap.

Posted by: Catcher50 | October 25, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Let it be known that Riggleman is a graduate of Frostburg State University and in in their athletic Hall of Fame

http://www.frostburgsports.com/hof.aspx?hof=32&path=&kiosk=

Posted by: ChrisinSS | October 25, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you re. Randolph and Newsday, Catcher50. I'd also posit that if you can't get along with Acta, you can't get along.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 25, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the Randolph thing would have worked, so we'll see.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | October 25, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The thing that has not been announced about the coaching changes is who will be performing the important and minor ancillary activities that were performed the last two years by the fired coaches. For instance, Tolman had the important task of planning and directing spring training and the minor task of carrying out the lineup card each night. One wonders whether Manny Acta will take on these tasks himself now, or delegate them to one or more of the new coaches.

Posted by: nunof1 | October 25, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Willie R. - I don't think he wanted to play 'second banana' to a younger manager, so that was a non-starter. On the new hires, at first blush, it looks like a good group, except Knoor in the bullpen (might be a mismatch). Sorry to read that B. Larkin refused / declined the offer - maybe he's looking out for a slot with CIN (as rumored).

Posted by: BinM | October 25, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

@nonof1: Ohh, gee - let's see. The Planning & Directing of SPA will probably be shared by Manny Acta / Jim Riggleman / Jim Bowden / Stan Kasten / the Lerner 'pup' / anybody who has an 'inside' with the FO, while the 'Critical" task of carrying the line-up card to home plate will be handled by (drumroll, please)..... Any coach on the Bench!! That required something close to Rocket Science, now didn't it?

Posted by: BinM | October 25, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I can't imagine that Randolph would have fit in well here. I wonder where he will end up next year. Seattle?

Posted by: CountDemoney | October 25, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

supposedly Randolph is in the running for the Brewers job.

Posted by: MrMadison | October 26, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

>I can't imagine that Randolph would have fit in well here. I wonder where he will end up next year. Seattle?<

He gets 2.25 million if he sits out regardless. He's too set in his ways to get a job. I don't think he really gets it. Anybody that thought Randolph could be bench coach for Manny had to be out of his mind. It's either one or the other. Bowden's out of control.

Posted by: Brue | October 26, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I did not realize that AJ Burnett lives in the Baltimroe area. Would he be a #1 to go after? Decent health the past two years, which has been his knock. Pitchers tend to do better going AL to NL.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | October 27, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

A website that tracks Japanese Baseball lists potential Japanese free agents. Unlike Dice-K, Iwamura, and potentially Yu Darvish, the players are not posted and can sign with anyone. A lefty closer and 2 starters are the ones most prominently mentioned.

http://www.npbtracker.com/2009-npb-free-agents/

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | October 27, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know if there is any way to sign in to the blog from a blackberry? I am at a computer for this post, but have been trying to figure out how to post when I'm mobile, no luck so far.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | October 27, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, CiL, but I don't even own a Blackberry. Hope somebody else will know the answer to that.

In other news, the P-Nats have a 2009 schedule up on their site (but no promotion info yet).

Also, there's an item there re. the award that they won as best Class A Advanced team for the year.

http://potomac.nationals.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t436

Go P-Nats!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 27, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, CiL, but I don't even own a Blackberry. Hope somebody else will know the answer to that.

In other news, the P-Nats have a 2009 schedule up on their site (but no promotion info yet).

Also, there's an item there re. the award that they won as best Class A Advanced team for the year.

http://potomac.nationals.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t436

Go P-Nats!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 27, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Oops.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 27, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Can'tbreathenospacesinanyone'sname.tooclaustrophobiceek

Posted by: Section506 | October 27, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Try a paper bag, 506.

Also, new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 27, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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