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Mets 3, Nats 2

Jim Riggleman, roughly 11 a.m., speaking about the decision to play Ian Desmond in right field:

"If he can play short and he can play second, I'm not saying he's going to be a Gold Glove outfielder, but I think he should make the routine play, and if he doesn't, that's on me."

Riggleman, at 4 p.m.:

"Well, it was a very-well hit ball... It was a tough play. Like I said before the game, we're putting him out there, the ball may find him in a tough situation and it did. Ian made a great effort. He just didn't come up with it. It was a well-hit ball, but I know it's just a situation where we took a chance."

And there you have it. The bookend quotes of an intriguing 3-2 Nats' loss against the Mets Saturday afternoon. This game was well-pitched, quick-paced and close. But it also turned on the one play Desmond couldn't make. In the bottom of the seventh, game tied at 1, John Lannan was rolling through one of his best outings of the season. New York's David Wright led off the inning by lashing a liner to right field -- right at Desmond, an infielder making his first professional start in the outfield.

It was a tough play for an outfielder.

It was an even tougher play for a non-outfielder.

Desmond took a few steps in, and the ball sailed over his head.

"That's a tough play -- line drive right at you," Desmond said. "You hear people talking about it for years and years and years, as long as baseball has been going on, it's one of the toughest plays as an outfielder. I've seen a lot of people make that same mistake. It just happened."

Take away that play -- it was ruled a double, not an error -- and perhaps the Mets still might have scored that inning. But who's to say? For sure, Jeff Francoeur's subsequent double down the left field line wouldn't have driven in the go-ahead run. Maybe Adam Dunn would have never booted the Daniel Murphy grounder that allowed Francoeur to score. Either way, the Wright and Francoeur doubles, according to Riggleman, "were the difference in the game."

The Nationals, surprisingly, did almost nothing against New York starter Tim Redding, their ex-teammate. Redding faced the minimum through five, allowing just a Willie Harris bunt single. Entering the seventh, Washington still had just one hit. Lannan was equally effective. The first six innings of this ballgame required only 74 minutes.

Said Desmond: "I was telling the umpire, 'Man, I'm just running sprints back and forth between right field.' Every time I got out there and set, you know, the inning was over and I was running right back in. I was getting winded out there."

Had the Nationals taken the lead in the top of the seventh, Riggleman actually planned to switch Desmond to second base, placing Pete Orr on the bench and sending Elijah Dukes to right. But with the game tied, he wanted to keep Orr's left-handed bat in the lineup, so he stuck with Desmond in right. Speaking postgame, Riggleman said, "If I had to do it over, I might not send him out there even though it was a tie game... But I hesitated to take the left-handed bat out of the lineup, Orr, if we were still tied. And it backfired."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 19, 2009; 4:48 PM ET
Categories:  Ian Desmond , Jim Riggleman  | Tags: Ian Desmond, Jim Riggleman  
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Comments

Hey Riggs, I got an idea for you. Play Desmond at SS.....all day everyday. Why do we get the such idots for Managers. WHAT IS RIZZO THINKING CHICO.....would it be too much to get that out to the fans?

How hard is it to see that Ian D is the future and we are the worst team in baseball yet again. PLAY HIM AT SS and tell Guz to get his feet fixed for next year at 2nd Base.

Posted by: JayBeee | September 19, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Sort of agree w/JayBeee on this one, in that Guzman needs to get the bunion fixed in the off-season. Whether or not Desmond is the answer at SS for 2010 remains to be seen; If he splits time there with Guzman for the remainder of 2009, then in ST 2010, we'll see.

Posted by: BinM | September 19, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Ronnie Belliard hit a grand slam in the first inning of today's Dodgers game against the Giants.

Posted by: longhorn64 | September 19, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

You may be right that he is not the 2010 SS but how better to get him ready to complete that play him there now. Guzman is done for the year. Maybe he get his feet fixed and rests up but right now he is not helping the team at all. What is he hitting now over the past two months?

Posted by: JayBeee | September 19, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I was out and didn't see the game. Sounds like that may be just as well.

In other news, would that Fox was showing the Dodgers game rather than the Cards and Cubs (with commentary by Ken WhatsHisName).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

We were beaten by whom? Tim Redding.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

That said, some classy quotes from Redding in Biff Bobson's gamer:

"Playing with him last year, he seems to come home here to New York where he's comfortable. He doesn't really get caught up in the hoopla, media and the limelight," Redding said. "He's got a good head on his shoulders, you know, to be honest. I didn't think about him having success against us this year.

"You know when you get into the fifth inning and it's still 1-0 and he's got 48 pitches through five innings, it's just like, he's doing it again. You know he's keeping hitters off balance, keeping guys off balance and you know all I could do was just feel fortunate. Hats off to him for doing a great job, he's going to be a staple in that rotation for a while. He doesn't get to[o] overzealous."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

There are really not all that many games in a year where you can pin the win or loss directly on a mangerial decision. Today's game was one of them, and this loss is all the fault of Riggleman.

Someone tell me again why it's any better having Riggleman out there than it was to have Acta?

Posted by: nunof1 | September 19, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

>Hey Riggs, I got an idea for you. Play Desmond at SS.....all day everyday. Why do we get the such idots for Managers. WHAT IS RIZZO THINKING CHICO.....would it be too much to get that out to the fans?

How hard is it to see that Ian D is the future and we are the worst team in baseball yet again. PLAY HIM AT SS and tell Guz to get his feet fixed for next year at 2nd Base.

Posted by: JayBeee

It's an organizational thing. Riggleman just didn't decide on his own to put Desmond out there without telling anyone. At least it's highly doubtful. Knight ripped the organization a new one on the post-game show about it. They don't know what the hell they're doing. The only reason Desmond isn't at SS is because Guzman pitched a fit and they caved in. Which is exactly what bad teams do. The inmates running the asylum. This type of disorganization never happens with well-run teams. On top of that, they put Desmond in right without telling anyone!! It's hard to prepare if you get stopped by a complete shock. He hadn't played outfield since he was a kid. Ridiculous. No wonder Dukes went into Riggo's office and asked him what the hell was going on. They sit Dukes, and play a 34 year old Orr at his expense. Absolutely stupid. Radical experiments are what the fall league, and Florida instructional league are for, but these morons apparently don't know that. 46 under .500 - flat out unbelievable.

Posted by: Brue | September 19, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman, delighted with his brilliant outside-of-the-box idea of Desmond in RF, and has just posted tomorrow's lineup tonight:

Bard - P
Dunn - SS
Gonzalez - CF
L Hernandez - 1st
Guzman - C
Zimmerman - RF
Burke - LF
Willingham - 2nd
Maxwell - 3rd
Desmond - 9
Bard - 1
Lannan - 1

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | September 19, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, I agree with Brue (although I don't remember him calling it an "organizational thing" when Manny played Milledge in CF and at leadoff; then Manny was doing it because he was an idiot. But I digress...). I can't believe an interim manager would be able to do that on his own. It's still a dumb move, though, and leads to some questions:

--If you're going to play Orr and Desmond at the same time and play one of them in the outfield, why not play Orr out there? He's already played there a few times in the big leagues, although it looks like he played LF. So play him in LF and Willingham in RF. Orr's not a prospect, so who cares if he plays out of position?
--Is Desmond really a prospect? If he is, why mess with him by playing him out of position?
--Is Desmond a prospect, but not necessarily in the infield? He's obviously a good athlete but has been spotty at best in the field. Maybe they're thinking about a position switch.
--If you're thinking about playing him somewhere other than his usual position, why not wait until winter ball to experiment? I'm not sure John Lannan deserved what he got today from his manager.
--If you're willing to experiment, why not play Guzman at 2B now and play Desmond at his usual position? We keep hearing they're thinking about it. So do it already.
--The biggest question of all might be, "Is this fracking season over yet?"

Sheesh.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 19, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I heard that Randy Knorr would be behind the dish tomorrow, with McCatty available to close should a save situation arise.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

ON the bright side the "tragic" number to clinch Bryce Harper has dropped to a single digit -- 9.

Posted by: twinbrook | September 19, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Re. the Dodgers, I'm guessing that Penny's still not an LA fan. Nicely done, Ronnie.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

riggleman as a manager is the kind of guy you can like, or even admire, from a distance but when he's in your house you wonder what so initially attractive. if you have the choice of starting desmond and gonzalez in your middle infield to take advantage of their superior defense versus guzman and orr - a defender with diminishing range and a journeyman - how can you say with a straight face that you're putting your best lineup on the field every day? these middle-aged "team" guys will kill you every time.

Posted by: surly_w | September 19, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

To follow up on surly_w's point, how do you explain this to John Lannan?

Posted by: baltova1 | September 19, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm not interested in flogging Riggleman for trying this, or flogging Ian for not making the play.

But I disagree with the assessment that Ian Desmond or Pete Orr are the future of this ballclub. If they are, we're going to be using the phrase "hundred losses" instead of "in the hunt" for several Septembers to come.

Sorry, guys. They're serviceable players, but they're not great.

Posted by: ihatewalks | September 19, 2009 8:22 PM | Report abuse

He had no business out there period!had Acta done something as stupid as that we would posting until the cows came home it was idiotic,like when i let my mom back my dad's brand new 68 Chrysler New Yorker out of the driveway (she had no drivers permit) and she promptly jumped the curb across the street and WHAMO!! right into the neighbors front porch(my dad was away at a NAACP meeting in NY)i think my dad used every curse word in the perverbial sailors dictionary i was sixteen at the time,had just passed the DC drivers exam but my mom insisted on moving the car out of the sun and i let her, my dad used the now famous Fred Sanford line "DUMMY" to describe my giving my mom the keys,the same applies to Riggleman!

Posted by: dargregmag | September 19, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I was out all day and I didn't see the game or the earlier post explaining why Desmond was in RF until a moment ago.

Like many others, I'm scratching my head. I usually try not to second guess the manager or GM but it seems to me that move sends several signals:

Desmond is NOT going to be at SS next year. Desmond is NOT going to be our 2B next year. Maxwell is NOT considered a starter, he's a bench player (at best). Dukes is NOT a sure thing in RF next year.

I won't go into a long analysis. I'll only note that if Desmond was thought to be the answer at MI, there is no way in hell they would make him trot out to RF. You don't ask your regulars to have defensive versatility, that's the role of players like Harris and Orr.

IMHO this was a shockingly stupid decision.

Posted by: grforbes | September 19, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

A Mets win tomorrow officially gives Riggs and the Boys title to the NL East cellar. Somewhere Lastings Milledge is laughing at Desmond's whiff in the OF.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 19, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully you see the words Mets and Nats next to each other and conclude that Nats should NEVER EVER be the nickname for our team, never be used by our on-air personalities, never be part of the user names of our fans on discussion boards. Can't you see that? No? Ha! Maybe we could call ourselves the Rogers? The Hankees?

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 19, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Fire Riggs tonight and put Foli in the job. Riggs has lost his mind, the fans and the teams respect. What is the point?

Posted by: JayBeee | September 19, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Dang, in "a" corner. Never mind.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

@dargregmag: So that was YOUR '68 Chrysler New Yorker that hit our porch?

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 19, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

LOL!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 19, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

We all know how easy it is to second guess the manager.

That noted, as has been pointed out, if it was so important to get Orr in the lineup, he should have been in the outfield instead of Desmond, or how about putting a major league outfielder (Willingham) in right and Orr in left? That's not rocket science.

The mantra for outfielders on a ball hit at 'em is "first step back'' - better to have a ball fall in front of you than go over your head.

Posted by: nats24 | September 20, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Why do I get the feeling that the Nats' management (if you can call it that) is cowed by Guzman's temper. First he throws a hissy fit about his place in the lineup, so he gets back up there after Nyjer, and does quite well, so OK. Nyjer's out, and there goes Guzzie's bat, which apparently is attached to TONY'S wrist instead of his own brain.

The guys on Natmosphere in your Ear had it right, IMO. You tell ID that the SS job is his for the next 24 games (as it was at the time) even if he strikes out 4 for 4 and makes 3 errors in a game. You see what he can do in a daily situation. This jerking him around, it AIN'T right.

And if I were John Lannan, I would be demanding to be traded. And why the f-- can't they arrange the pitching rotation so Livo can take his revenge against the Mets who s---'ed him over.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 20, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

If Ian Desmond is our future at SS, we're screwed. He's a notoriously bad fielder. So many of our young/up and coming pitchers are pitch to contact pitchers. And we are putting out what kind of middle infielders? 2 gold glovers would be nice. 2 -range people or -fieldingPct people are going to be a significant problem.

Posted by: swang30 | September 20, 2009 2:35 AM | Report abuse

I was at Citifield earlier in the year and watched Dukes missplay a similar ball into a double in CF. I'm just saying....

Posted by: pryorcommitments | September 20, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

As a baseball fan, reading about the sorry Nats: players, coaches, manager, and front office, is painful.

Perhaps an hour in church this a.m. will provide salve.

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 20, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

@natslady: It's not like Guzman sucks THAT bad. And Desmond has made a couple errors himself playing SS. I don't think they're as cowed by Guzzie as they are aware that he can still be an asset. How do you know he threw a hissy anyway?

Posted by: NatsNut | September 20, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Yea NatsNut is right how can we KNOW Guzman through a hissy fit....all we have is multiple reports in multiple paper and quotes from Riggs and Rizzo about how unhappy he was with the idea of moving to second NEXT YEAR let alone this last month. Same amount of reporting on his move out of the second spot in the order......yea NatsNut is right we do not KNOW anything first about this so we should just shut up and watch the dysfunction as and love it as all true Nats fans do right?

Posted by: JayBeee | September 20, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

It has to be a sign of the frustration brought on by this train wreck of a season that there is this much kerfluffle over a kid from the minors with dreadful fielding stats and a cooling bat. At best, Desmond is competing with Gonzalez and possibly Orr for a roster position as back-up to Guzman and whatever "defensively gifted middle infielder" Rizzo brings in (I have no doubt he will find a good one). His chances are not good if he can only play shortstop and has made two bad throwing errors from that position since being called up. It would have been a feather in his cap if he had shown the versatility to play a decent right field and I can't fault Riggleman for trying.

I hope Desmond can use winter ball in the DR to at least learn to play second base. Otherwise I see him spending more time in Syrcuse.

Posted by: longhorn64 | September 20, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Dumbest move since they moved Soriano to left, and we all saw what a disaster that was.

Geesh, it's the end of the season, the guy has made a ton of errors in the infield, it was an experiment.

Posted by: markfromark | September 20, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

>He had no business out there period!had Acta done something as stupid as that we would posting until the cows came home it was idiotic,like when i let my mom back my dad's brand new 68 Chrysler New Yorker out of the driveway (she had no drivers permit) and she promptly jumped the curb across the street and WHAMO!! right into the neighbors front porch(my dad was away at a NAACP meeting in NY)i think my dad used every curse word in the perverbial sailors dictionary i was sixteen at the time,had just passed the DC drivers exam but my mom insisted on moving the car out of the sun and i let her, my dad used the now famous Fred Sanford line "DUMMY" to describe my giving my mom the keys,the same applies to Riggleman!

Posted by: dargregmag

Now THAT'S funny. Damn. A '68 New Yorker? I'm surprised it didn't go all the way into the living room>

Posted by: Brue | September 20, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

>Dumbest move since they moved Soriano to left, and we all saw what a disaster that was.

Geesh, it's the end of the season, the guy has made a ton of errors in the infield, it was an experiment.

Posted by: markfromark

Desmond ain't gonna hit 46 homers. Like Knight said, Desmond's value is strictly as an infielder. They've spent five seasons in the minors banking on him being just that. Like the man Raymond Disco Knight says, you can find a right fielder anywhere, and it's true. Either Desmond plays 2B or SS. And if he keeps flying his hips open and hitting fly balls like he's starting to do, he'll be lucky to stick at second base.

Posted by: Brue | September 20, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Who/what is Natmosphere in Your Ear? Seriously, I don't know.

Also, are there links for the multiple newspaper reports and quotes? I was away when the Guz meeting took place.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 20, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Why is everyone movable but Cristian Guzman? What is so special about him that he can't be touched? It was the same thing in '06 with Jose Vidro. Soriano had to move because 'we have Jose Vidro'.

Why are these barely adequate, minimal effort middle infielders so protected by this team???

Posted by: raymitten | September 20, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Lots of strong feelings.

1) There is zero indication that Desmond is a major league SS. He is average at best there.

2) There is some evidence this year that he may be a major league hitter. Has hit great in minors and the bigs.

You can't get made about him not playing SS because he's no better there than Guzie.

However, it's shockingly stupid to me to play him in the OF. Play him at 2nd and put someone else in RF. All this left handed bat crap is stupid. Orr's left handed bat hits career .266. That's something we can't replace???

How is Desmond not worth taking a look at at 2nd for the rest of the season?

If you want to try him in OF, do it winter ball. VERY frustrating. Why are Rizzo/Kasten letting this happen? It worries me.

Posted by: Avar | September 20, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Are you ready for winter ball? Some béisbol lessons from Jesus Flores:

http://masnsports.com/2009/09/flores-learns-english-teaches.html

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 20, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

1) There is zero indication that Desmond is a major league SS. He is average at best there.

2) There is some evidence this year that he may be a major league hitter. Has hit great in minors and the bigs.

You can't get made about him not playing SS because he's no better there than Guzie.

How is Desmond not worth taking a look at at 2nd for the rest of the season?

Posted by: Avar

Desmond and Guzman are limited in different ways. Guzman's range isn't great, but what he gets to, he's on the money. Desmond apparently gets to more balls because he's younger and more athletic, but his throwing is screwed up. Just like he missed 1B by 20 feet when he tried to turn a double play at second the other day. Imo, I think he'll be a better at 2B because he'll have more time to set his feet and throw. And that's most of the problem - the footwork and picking out a target.

Posted by: Brue | September 20, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

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