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Nats Name 2009 Coaches

The Nats today finalized their 2009 coaching staff, filling the five vacancies with a former manager, a former all-star, a former rookie of the year, and two coaches who were already within the organization. Here's the breakdown.

* Bench coach: JIM RIGGLEMAN

* First base coach: MARQUIS GRISSOM

* Third base coach: PAT LISTACH

* Hitting coach: RICK ECKSTEIN

* Bullpen coach: RANDY KNORR

I'll post each man's one-paragraph bio from the Nationals' release, and post again here soon with some reaction and follow-up...

Riggleman, 55, adds nearly eight seasons of managerial experience to the Nationals' bench. Riggleman, who has skippered San Diego (1992-94), Chicago-NL (1995-00) and Seattle (interim, 2008), returns to the National League, where he has either managed or served on a coaching staff in 14 of the last 20 seasons. Riggleman's managerial career is highlighted by the 1998 Cubs, who went 90-73 (.552) to claim the NL Wild Card.

The 41 year-old Grissom accepts his first job coaching at the professional level and returns to the organization that drafted him in the third round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft. In 17 big league seasons with Montreal (1989-94), Atlanta (1995-96), Cleveland (1997), Milwaukee (1998-2000), Los Angeles-NL (2001-02) and San Francisco (2003-05), Grissom batted .272 (2251-for-8275) with 386 doubles, 227 home runs, 967 RBI and 429 stolen bases and garnered four Gold Glove citations in center field (1993-96). Grissom twice (1993-94) represented the Expos in the All-Star Game.

Listach -- who won the 1992 American League Rookie of the Year award after hitting .290 with 54 stolen bases for Milwaukee -- joins the Nationals after spending the previous three seasons compiling a 231-189 (.550) record managing in the upper levels of Chicago-NL's system. In 2008, Listach's Iowa Cubs went 83-59 (.585), claimed first place in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's American Northern Division and he was named PCL Manager of the Year.

A September 2008 addition to the Nationals' coaching staff, Eckstein has established relationships with various Nationals, including Ryan Zimmerman, Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes and Cristian Guzman. While serving as Columbus' hitting coach last season in the Triple-A International League, Eckstein gained invaluable exposure to young hitters such as Jesus Flores, Roger Bernadina, Emilio Bonifacio and Alberto Gonzalez. Eckstein--who served as Davey Johnson's bench coach during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing--has coached in the Nationals' chain four of the last five seasons, and draws on three seasons of experience as a Triple-A hitting coach.

Knorr, 39, returns to Washington in a familiar role, as he served on Frank Robinson's coaching staff as bullpen coach for the final three-plus months of the 2006 campaign. Knorr is fresh off guiding Potomac to the Single-A Carolina League championship, which came in his fourth season managing in Washington's chain. During his three-year stint with Potomac, he has managed numerous current Nationals pitchers, including John Lannan, Garrett Mock and Shairon Martis.

By Chico Harlan  |  October 24, 2008; 2:34 PM ET
 
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Comments

That looks like a pretty good coaching staff. Riggleman is a solid choice as bench coach and Milledge/Dukes/Bonifacio should all benefit from Grissom. It seems like Pat "pencil thin" Listach has done a great job in the Cubs system and the remaining 2 are deserved promotions from within the system.

Now, if we can do as well in the trade/free agent market, I'll be impressed!

Posted by: NatsWin | October 24, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

If the only information I had to go on was the bios, I'd be reasonably pleased, I think. Eckstein was the obvious choice... and it is good to see Knorr staying within the organization.

I'll be interested to see more comments...

Posted by: wigi | October 24, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

i'm not sold on Eckstein, but it's hard to argue with the rest of the choices. i think Grissom has a chance to be a very good role model for the young outfielders. he's recently retired, so he's still relevant, and was a good defender and base stealer.

Riggleman has a wealth of experience, though i don't think Manny has to look over his shoulder, like if they had hired Randolph or Tracy.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | October 24, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I think the Riggleman choice sends the same message to Manny that hiring Randolph or Tracy would have sent (Win or you will be replaced). To that point, I feel it is unfair to Manny, who hasn't really been given the horses.
Management/Ownership needs to make a statement to their committment to Manny by getting him a big bat and an established arm.

Posted by: TimDz | October 24, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I noticed at the bottom of the team's release that they'll be showing the new uniforms on Nov. 6th. Are there substantive changes or just slight modifications (like a new patch on the sleeve)?

Posted by: Corey42 | October 24, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Grissom may work out fine, but is any more than a coincidence that he played for the Expos? At this point, who's left in the front office with any ties to Montreal?

Posted by: nats24 | October 24, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Nats320 recently had the scoop on all the uniform changes.

Posted by: nunof1 | October 24, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

>I think the Riggleman choice sends the same message to Manny that hiring Randolph or Tracy would have sent (Win or you will be replaced). To that point, I feel it is unfair to Manny<

Manny's toast jack. He'll just continue to make excuses, and mistakes, and he'll be gone by the end of the year.

Posted by: Brue | October 24, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

>Management/Ownership needs to make a statement to their committment to Manny<

What commitment? A series of one-year contracts with club options? Manny's thinner than Calista Flockhart.

Posted by: Brue | October 24, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Sweet, thanks Brue, good to know! I always worry about the future, but thanks to you, I know exactly what will happen.

By the way, when's the first frost?

Posted by: Section506 | October 24, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Are we the only ball club in the majors that continues to give guys their "first professional coaching job"??? Lenny Harris was a disaster, not sure if Grissom hire makes sense. I like to see Riggelman there, but admit I know nothing about Eckstein. We need a really good hitting coach because our players are SO undisciplined at the plate. Of course, these coaches mean nothing if we don't actually sign some players who can help us win. The organization is a disaster regardless of who the first base coach and bullpen coach are...

Posted by: drobins7 | October 24, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Good to see Eckstein brought on. I recall reading good things about his success with hitters in the minors. Also good to see Knorr get the nod, though it's a big loss for the P-Nats, IMO. Chico, if you haven't already heard about it, there's a back story on events necessitated Knorr's previous stint as bullpen coach. Also, not sure that the hiring of a former big league manager is necessarily a threat for Acta, as Corrales also had managerial experience.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 24, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

...events "that" necessitated...

online editing strikes again

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 24, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Why does nationals.com/bill ladson keep saying that Eckstein "is known for helping Ryan Langerhans and Kory Casto improve at the plate" ???

Last time I checked, Langerhans and Casto still sucked.

If those are his only accomplishments, I'm not impressed.

Posted by: artvandelay2 | October 24, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"I think the Riggleman choice sends the same message to Manny that hiring Randolph or Tracy would have sent (Win or you will be replaced)."

And this is a bad thing why?

Besides, if the point of having a bench coach is to have an experience (or at least long-tenured) baseball man help Manny, then its kind of hard to find someone like that who wouldn't be a potential successor. Pat Corralas used to be a manager, was he a threat?

What I'd like to know is . . . do any of these guys have connections to Manny or were they JimBo hires? That would tell us more than anything else about direction.

Posted by: traderkirk | October 24, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

because Mr. Ladson, though he works very hard, feeds mostly what the team gives out since he's an employee of MLB.com. there's not a whole lot of critical thinking in the content he provides.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | October 24, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Because while Eckstein was coaching the hitting in Columbus:

Langerhans .310/.418/.446
Casto .308/.396/.485

and the Nats said, why the hell not? It's not like Harris was doing better at the big leagues, give him a try. That's essentially what any other hitting coach would be doing as well.

Posted by: Section506 | October 24, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

You know what's a big difference between me and so many posters on this blog that I just realized? It's not optimism. It's that the fundamental assumption of many seems to be that these folks are simply complete morons and if smart people came in, then we would win. Many think you can judge smart and not smart by W-L.

I (and I think others, but I am reluctant to tie down anyone else to my own sinking ship) generally assume that these folks must be smart to be at this level and must simply either not have the tools they need to succeed or else just made the wrong tactical and strategic decisions. I'll admit that they're probably not supersmart, but to have a job at MLB level you have to have some decent savvy.

I think that accounts for many of the glaring disparities we see. Okay, flame me.

Posted by: Section506 | October 24, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

...and to further that line of thought, whether you keep them on or not depends on whether or not you agree with their plan for success. If you don't, you find someone that has a plan you'll buy.

Posted by: Section506 | October 24, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I can post again!

When talking about Langerhans, I think his walk rate demonstrates some offensive improvement. His BA was .234 , but his OBP was .380 over less than 140 plate appearances. That may be only the equivalent of a 1/4 season, but a huge improvement over his career OBP of .335. Not quite a silk purse, but he definitely was a sow's ear before Eckstein worked with him.

Looking a little further, it looks like 2007's OBP of .272 in 250 PAs is the aberration. His 2005 & 2006 OBPs were .348 and .350 (over ~750 PAs). Still, Eckstein helped him recover what he did right before. At a .350+ OBP, he will be able to stick in the majors with glove as a backup.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | October 24, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh, with the new sign in policy, I guess the Poster To Be Named Later has to go by a name now. PTBNL RIP.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | October 24, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I think these are improvements, and it's nice to see the promotions from within the club. People are getting rewarded for their good work. I'm really surprised that there is so much talk of getting rid of Manny. The team last year was so wretched I don't care who the manager was, they were not going to win much. Team's still rebuilding here, people.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | October 24, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I would think that PTBNL would still work, as there are shorter monikers showing up here.

506, no flames for you from this keyboard.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 24, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

i was really hoping for mike gallego...

Posted by: theraph | October 24, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

>When talking about Langerhans, I think his walk rate demonstrates some offensive improvement. His BA was .234 , but his OBP was .380 over less than 140 plate appearances.<

Yeah he didn't look like he was leaping at the ball as much, and his power also improved after Eckstein. It's simple things like telling a guy to keep his weight back, or don't swing at anything you don't really see well, because most of those pitches aren't strikes anyway. That's a cardinal rule for a pitcher - if you don't have to throw a strike, then don't. I really don't see why he can't hit 10-12 homers in PT duty. You know he likes that RF porch at home. Seems to me that rightfield is the homer area at Nats Park, and we didn't have any lefties to take advantage of it. Langerhans being lefty, he gets more chances because there are fewer of them and they can be clutch in spots.

Posted by: Brue | October 24, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I think this staff is well designed. In Riggleman, we get a veteran baseball guy on the bench with Manny, and a well regarded, even-tempered guy that, in my view, doesn't look like a manager-in-waiting. A young guy in Grissom who had a complete game when he played and who is young enough to relate to current players. An up-and-coming guy in Listach who, like Grissom, is young, but who has also had success managing a minor-league team. And then some guys in Eckstein and Knorr that have had success in our own minors and know the players that will be coming up through the system (hopefully) over the next 2-3 years. In other words, we have three veterans in Acta, St. Clair and Riggleman; two new guys that not so long ago were the kind of veteran players this team lacks; and two organizational guys that can help make the call-ups comfortable. Obviously, we have no idea whether this will work, and the impact of a coaching staff on a team's performance is somewhat marginal anyway. But I can see some logic in how this staff is constructed.

Posted by: BobLHead | October 24, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the new staff, new post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 24, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Some great moves...nice to see some changes from last year. It would be interesting to hear the player's opinions on them.

I'm particularly interested to see the impact of Grissom who was a class act plus a great base stealer and outfielder on the Nats young outfielders.

Posted by: derwink | October 24, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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