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Riggleman and Rizzo Talk Future

With the Nats settling in for their final home game of the season, the pre-game gab sessions with Jim Riggleman and Mike Rizzo dwelled on some bigger-picture questions. Will Jim Riggleman be back next year as manager? (He'll be a candidate; he doesn't know more than that.) Will the coaching staff be retained? (The team will figure that out once the manager is selected.) What's on the offseason shopping list? Etc. Read on.


Q: Jim how would you describe the second half of the season?

That's hard to sum that up. I don't want to paint too rosy a picture of what I saw... but to sum it up, I'm just pleased with the progress the team has made. I think that they've -- as I've said many times -- played hard, given a great effort. You know, it's been a great opportunity to do some evaluating. We've had a chance to look at a lot of young starting pitching and some arms in the bullpen. We've had a chance to not only look at them, but now look to the future with some of those guys -- particularly the progress with Clippard and Bergmann down there in some set-up type roles. I think that's something we really can build on. But, you know, we know we've got to be better. We're in last place by a fairly large margin. We're in a very tough division. The Phillies are going to be good again. The Mets will not be missing five all-stars the way they were this year. So there's great challenges ahead to just be competitive, and I think that will be exciting for us to go into the offseason with what we've looked at this year to say, 'You know what, there's some people here who can compete with those guys, but we need a few additions.'

Q: The way the team played for you, do you think you'll be back next year?

[Chuckles] I don't know. I really -- those types of things, like I've said, after going through it last year, I make no assumptions. I know that I love to manage, and as I've said before, the greatest thing to do in baseball is to play. If you can't play anymore, the next thing that really excites me is managing. So, you know, I love to manage. Period. As to whether I'll be back, I always try to tell players that there's a chain of command. You've got to respect the chain of command. Veteran players, young players, coaches, a manager, a general manager, a president. And if you're a young player, you respect those veteran players. ... So that means you've got to respect decisions that are made. So you're not always going to agree with the decisions; you've still got to respect the decision that was made and move on with the process. I can only say I want to come back and manage, but you've got to respect the decisions that are made, and there are different criteria that go into why these decisions are made. So I don't even know what the criteria is, but you hope you get the call.

Q: What have you been told about where you stand?

Well, I really haven't been told anything except that I'm a candidate to be the manager. But that's okay. That's a good thing. The process is going to play itself out. I know there are a lot of good people who aren't managing who'd love to manage before. Whether they've managed before or haven't, there's changes made, guys become available to manage. There's a long list of quality people that want to manage and can manage. So you know, these are precious positions. If you get one of them you want to keep it. ... That term 'interim' -- anybody who's on a one-year contract is an interim manager. If you're on the last year of your contract, you might as well be interim, because you're just going to go to the end of that year and you'll see what they do.

Q: You're going through this for the second year in a row. Is this tough to deal with?

Well, tough -- it's all relative. I'd rather be in a position than not be in it. I love managing. It's not the perfect situation to be in, as interim, but the downside of being an interim just means that somebody that you respect and work with got let go, so now you become the manager. So you've got real mixed feelings about that other person. But to get the opportunity to manage, it's a great opportunity. And you do the best you can with it. Like I said, this is baseball. I'm able to step back and say, You know what, I love it, I'd love to do it for many more years, but we're not curing cancer here and stuff like that. It's not tough in that respect. It's not a single mother raising five kids. I think that would probably be tough. What we do, relatively speaking, we've got it pretty soft.

Q: Last year when you went through this, you had the ability to look for other jobs and ended up agreeing with these guys [as bench coach] without yet knowing whether you'd get the Seattle job. Do you foresee another scenario like that?

I haven't thought of that. That's an interesting question, because I haven't played it out that way. Last year when I went home I didn't make any phone calls. If the phone rang I was gonna listen, and I got a call from the Nationals. So I listened. But nah, I haven't played out any scenarios as to the what-ifs.

Q: So as somebody who's already been working with Rizzo and Kasten, would you even have an interview? Or is this essentially your interview?

I think this is probably the interview -- what we've been doing here is probably the interview. But I don't know that.

Q: When you come to the end of the season, is there a feeling of melancholy or is there a feeling like, Let's get done and put this behind us?

For me, this is the way I was as a player: I can always remember, if I was involved in a bad year I didn't want it to end. I always felt like, Man, I've got to get out of this slump. I've got to turn this around. I've got to get it going. And same thing if you're a manager. You don't want it to end because you feel like, You know what, we're going to start winning here. We're going to get it going. I wish we had another month.



Q: How has Riggleman done?

I think Jim's done a really good job handling the ballclub since the All-Star break. I think he put us on pace to really focus in and bear down on the fundamentals of the game, to play cleaner, more efficient ball. He's got the guys playing at a high level of attention. I think he's done the best job he could with the ability level he had on the field.

Q: How tough does that make the decision about whether to retain him?

Well, this is an evaluating time of the year. We're all being evaluated, Jim included. Like I said, he's done a great job. It's going to be an intense offseason and a busy one. The process is, the ultimate goal is to make us a better ballclub in 2010.

Q: What's the timetable for a managerial decision?

I think we're going to begin as soon as the regular season ends and get it done as quickly as possible.

Q: Is Riggleman a candidate?

Jim is a definite candidate to stay on. Like I said, he's done a great job. I would say he's a legitimate candidate to be the manager in 2010.

Q: When will decisions about whether to retain the coaching staff be determined?

They're obviously being evaluated by me and by Jim Riggleman. The coaches will come after the manager. Because the manager is going to have obviously a lot of input on what his staff is going to be.

Q: Will the evaluation of Jim be a little different because you've seen him in action last three months?

I'll have a much better idea. I'll probably know Jim Riggleman the candidate better than any candidate that we'll talk at all to for the job. I've had a lot of time to get to know Jim and to see his body of work. So I'll have a good feel for that.

Q: What about the process of finding your next assistant GM?

We're going to begin the process of interviewing soon after the end of the season. It's just the calendar didn't work out. There wasn't enough time. There's a process. You call for permission and you do the interview process and you make a decision. I just haven't had the time to do any of that process. So we're going to wait til the season's over, and soon after the season's over, we're going to dive in on all our openings that we have.

Q: How would you sum up season?

Well I'm certainly not satisfied with the won-loss record. That's a disappointment. But there's a lot of shining lights that I can put on when I think back on the season. We look at the offensive output, specifically by the middle of our lineup. We feel it's very solid and will bode us well in 2010. The fact we believe we found our defensive center fielder, our leadoff hitter, our base-stealer and our energy with Nyjer Morgan. I think he's a big piece for us. To help the bullpen and solidify it with the acquisitions of MacDougal and Burnett, the emergence of a Clippard, I think bodes well for us in 2010 also. And I just see the young starting pitchers getting innings and starts under their belts. I think that bodes well for us also. So there's a lot of positives that we're taking into the winter, and we're looking forward to putting a better product on the field in 2010 than we did in 2009.

Q: What are your offseason priorities?

I think it's pretty well documented that we need to focus on pitching. We need some veteran help at the top of the rotation to kind of ease the burden on our young rookie guys who will be second-year guys next year. I think the emergence of Lannan as one of our legit top of the rotation guys is exciting. We certainly need help in the bullpen. We need to keep adding to the players that we already have there. And I think we need to be more defensive-minded, especially in the middle of the infield.

Q: Normally after a second 100-loss season you'd see major changes. Do you think those are necessary here?

No, I don't see a mass blowing up of the ballclub. Like I said, I think we have a lot of good, core pieces in place. I'm excited about the youth and the players we can control over a long period of time who are going to be on the team in 2010. I think a few shrewd, strategic moves in some key areas I think will improve the ballclub for 2010.

Q: When do you think this team will start to win?

Well, we're going to try to improve the club in 2010 better than we did in 2009. These things, they don't happen overnight, as you all know. We're building something, and I think it's going to be special here. We're building from the ground up, stocking a scouting and development staff that's going to bring us a fruitful farm system. That's where everything comes from. You either have players that you drafted and signed perform for you, or you trade them away and get players from the trades that will perform for you at the major-league level.

By Chico Harlan  |  September 30, 2009; 4:24 PM ET
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Next: Maxwell Hits Grand Slam Walk-Off


Welcome to Washington, Bryce Harper! With their victory this afternoon, the Pirates clinched the #1 pick in the 2010 draft for the Nats!

Posted by: HistoryBoy | September 30, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Instant replay against the Mets. We're screwed.

Posted by: BGinVA | September 30, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

It is clear to me that Riggleman is not the man. He made too many mistakes in taking out veterans at the wrong time. He did not require infield work before every game when the defense was the problem. Those are obvious problems.
Start next year with a new group on the field to help the players, not hinder them.

Posted by: bamabug | September 30, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

With the Pirates' win this afternoon, we now officially have the Number 1 pick in the Draft, and the worst record in baseball.

Posted by: bhwiii | September 30, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

This has been a recurring theme recently - Nationals' give up a couple of early runs, while the opposing pitcher is tossing a no-no. "Make a hole, Make it deep".

Posted by: BinM | September 30, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

And it's Redding who is no-hitting us??

Posted by: PattyinSJ | September 30, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Sweet - that didn't take much.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | September 30, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

two things i think i think....

1) charlie is wrong. the most knowledgeable nats fans sit in the 400 level.

2) the new post homepage in beta reeks.

Posted by: surly_w | September 30, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I'll admit i'm a little conflicted about Riggleman,on one hand i think he' the right fit on the other i think we clean house(McCatty incl.) and start over with Foli, but i am sure about one thing, i don't want to see Bobby Valentine anywhere near this ballclub.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 30, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse


if gthere is going to be an internal candidate to replace j-riggs, i endorse stearns rather than foli. he's done a good job at a critical development stage in HAR. SYR is more of a finishing school.

Posted by: surly_w | September 30, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

dargramps: Agreed on Bobby V - just.say.NO. I'd like to see Eckstein get another year as Hitting Coach, which he probably would if the Nationals stay internal with their Manager (Riggleman, Foli, Stearns). If they go outside the organization, all the coaches spots are open for consideration.

How many games are you going to at the TED to finish the year (You're near ATL, right)?

Posted by: BinM | September 30, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

one thing about starting over--it's no help to keep the same ineffective staff, but churning the coaches just for the sake of shaking things up confuses the young players. This not being a veteran roster, mainly, that's a consideration. I'd keep McCatty and Eckstein.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

What do we think of an Elijah Dukes that has the following numbers:

Average .260 - .270
OBP .330 - .350

Slugging is still too hard to predict, I can't figure out which numbers from this year and last are the outliers. It goes between .350 and .600.

RBI should be between 75 and 100 over a year, it's looking like.

Do we want that guy on the team?

Posted by: Section506 | September 30, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

if it wasn't for the nats, would tim redding still be in the majors?

Posted by: surly_w | September 30, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

506, I think that OBP is going to come up, so yes, we want that guy.

Personally, I'm convinced he's not aggressive enough at the plate, playing "too small" for his size and strength, but maybe that's just me.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

sec3, I agree with you about Dukes. His loss of power this year is concerning. He seems to be trying so hard not to swing at the outside breaking ball that he's lost his aggressive homerun power. i still think he's a keeper, particularly because he seems to shine with men on base, but this was not a good year for him.

Posted by: Section222 | September 30, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I will be concerned if his power doesn't return in two years. For next year, I'm okay with him learning to hit curveballs, then coming back to be aggressive.

Posted by: Section506 | September 30, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Why these softball questions to Riggleman and Rizzo?

For Riggleman, I'd like him to explain how moving Desmond, Morse, Willingham, etc., all over the diamond make them better players. How can they be evaluated when they don't have a clue as to whether or not they're playing any particular day, and if they are, where?

For Rizzo, I'd like him to explain how his "solid" middle of the lineup too often has made journeymen starters for the opposition look like Cy Young winners. Too many shutout innings, IMHO, to take any satisfaction in the middle of the Nats' order.

And then there's the Nats' pitching staff, mediocre at their best. How can Rizzo say with a straight face that his goal has been to put a competitive team on the field that can win ball games? Since when? Consecutive 100-loss seasons, with starters who can barely make it through the fifth inning, do not add up to a competitive anything. Who is he kidding?

Under these circumstances, who cares whether Riggleman stays or not? It will make little or no difference. The organization stinks from the top down, and it's time the Post reporters recognized this instead of throwing softballs.

Of course, it took them 12 years to take the true measure of Danny Snyder. At that rate, we have to wait another 9 years before reality sinks in.

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 30, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

John, I hear you, but then again, I'm not really looking for the Post to report like the CityPaper, either.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, Lannan won't get his 10th win (a damned shame, imo).

leetee struck on something the other night - Lannan is a current-day re-incarnation of Claude Osteen, who was a solid #3SP for Washington & the LA Dodgers in the 60's & early 70's. He went 9-14 in 1963 for WSH, in his 2nd year as a full-time SP, and later won 20 games (twice) with the Dodgers.

Posted by: BinM | September 30, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Of course, we had it tough.
We had to run 40 yard wind sprints pure vertical, catch line drives with our teeth--top teeth only!--and when we came down, our coach cut everyone one the team, and I don't mean from the roster.

Rotting corpses of roadkill animals? What we wouldn't have done for a rotting corpse of a roadkill animal!
Posted by: Section506 | September 30, 2009 1:42 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

So, BinM, as usual, I'm too lazy to look it up. Does Osteen show up on the list of comparables for Lannan?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

You know who won't be back? Willie Harris.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

and Segovia. I think he needs a new skill, preferably something with computers.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

seven words i never hope to hear again after sunday "ron villone is warming in the bullpen."

Posted by: surly_w | September 30, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Is that Felipe Alou sitting behind the Mets' on deck circle?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

surly_w, how about "the lefthander Ron Villone coming in now"?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Who cares about having the worst record in baseball if you are not going anywhere anyway.

I've been waiting over 30 years for my team to return so I have alot of patience.

I've been watching the standings and team records all season, hoping to get that 1st pick, and now we have it.

Repeat after me, WE ARE #1


Posted by: REDSKINRAYINCA | September 30, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

and Segovia. I think he needs a new skill, preferably something with computers.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:16 PM

and here i always thought segovia was a non-aligned european principality like monaco.

Posted by: surly_w | September 30, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

.353 as a pinch hitter ought to get you a job somewhere, Morse. Nice hit.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

OK, Willie--that's playing some baseball.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm not interested in putting the Mickey on them, so I'm not going to mention that they're down 2, so a sac fly had better be good if they go.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

sec3: I feed you "teasers", and you ask for more - you're such a slacker. BTW, Willie is under contract for 2010, but might become "frangible" if players like Desmond (SS-2B;CF?), Morse (1B-3B-LF-RF;2B?), or maybe L.Davis (2B-LF-RF) & Orr (2B-3B-RF;C?) show continued versatility & staying power in Spring Training, 2010.

Posted by: BinM | September 30, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

man, those pissed-away runs hurt.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

3-2, 2 outs, bases loaded, down 1 ... look curve ball away, but watch out for the one in your ear.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

YES!!!!!!!!! J-MAX!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: thepostischeap | September 30, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Kids, this is a lesson not to throw 38 pitch innings. Bad Things (tm) happen.

Posted by: swang30 | September 30, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: surly_w | September 30, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

wow, they didn't even wait for debbie --- shaving cream all around!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable! What an ending!

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | September 30, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Man, I don't think I could handle it if this team was a contender. I was a wreck during those last ABs.

What an amazing inning. What a great game. And a much better home finale than last year.

I hope everyone at Nats Park had a ball tonight.

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 30, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

How cool was that!

Posted by: joemktg1 | September 30, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Go Nats - what a great home finale!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | September 30, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

HELL YES! More of that, please!

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | September 30, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

And what a great call by Slowes.

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 30, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Maxwell for President!!!

Posted by: REDSKINRAYINCA | September 30, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse


Just when baseball lulls you into thinking it's nothing but heartburn and bad hangovers, it gives you a little thrill to keep you hooked.

Posted by: Section506 | September 30, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I was listening via iPhone from Seattle and I almost fell out of my seat with tension from Charlie's calling. It was awesome.

Go Nats!

Posted by: AtomicOvermind | September 30, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't get any better than this game: down by 1, bases loaded, 2 outs, 3-2 count...What a great game!

Posted by: thepostischeap | September 30, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Out-freaking-standing - Way to go, JMax! A series sweep to close the home season; Bang-Zoom, a Curly-W, and more - BOO-YAH!

Posted by: BinM | September 30, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

That's my defining moment!

And, yeah, great call by Slowes.

Posted by: natsguy1 | September 30, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Nice, patient at bats by Dunn, Dukes, and Maxwell! And not too shabby by Gonzalez, Morse, and Harris with his bunt!

Too bad Lannan didn't record the win!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 30, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow! What a way to close out a (home) season! The place was pandemonium and the team stayedout for a bit to thank their hapless fans for sticking around.

I have no voice left from screaming at the end. Unreal ending to the home season! Something good to leave the home fans for six months of wait-and-see!

Posted by: mo_dc | September 30, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

So I'm driving home from the office at 3:30, going down Kenilworth Avenue/I295, thinking, "Should I go to the game?"

Dang. It's the last home game of the season. They're giving out freebies. I know I could get a five-buck walkup ticket and meet up with some of my friends who I know are there. Sure, why not?

Dang. It's raining and I'm in my office clothes and I don't even have a windbreaker. And I have some stuff I really need to take care of at home.

Decisions, decisions. I get off at the Howard Road exit, as always. If I turn right at the end of the ramp, I'm at the park. If I turn left, it's to get to I-395 south and Alexandria.

I turned left.

Sometimes I don't decide so good.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 30, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Now that's an at bat for the ages! After K-Rod carved up Zim I figured Maxwell had no chance and would go down quickly. On the 10th pitch he gets him to come down Broadway with the fastball and SEE YOU LATER!! Don't know why K-Rod got away from the changeups -- they looked pretty wicked.

Posted by: SackMan | September 30, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Man i just found out about Maxwell(not the singer) grand slam to win it all what a close! Bin M, i was just informed by the boss(my wife) that our daughters and grand kids are comming over for my B'day on Sunday(my b'day falls on saturday) but i'm scheduled to work that day so i might go friday night since saturday's game is on national tv and i doubt that i'll be able to get off that day,but what a finish today, JMAX might have given himself a shot at making the team next year.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 30, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who heard the Slowes call, go listen to the Carpenter call. If you click on the video link for the Maxwell HR on the official site, you'll see (and hear) the TV feed.

"The ball is apparently gone" is quite easily the worst walk-off HR call I've ever heard in my life.

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 30, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

God bless that the Nats closed out season 2009 with a walk-off win!!!!

Yet, two things that essential for Nats 2010 improvement:

1) Get a new NEW, outside-the-box manager.

2) Get rid of lil' airhead Debbie!


All will be well if all be well heeded!!!!

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | September 30, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang......Amen, 506, JohninMpls and all the rest of you wise friends - amen....and I'm conVINCED that when we have a team that has even a HINT of October possibilities-man, the rest of this town will become as wise as present company, and fall in love with this most wonderful game. I'm already primed for next year! I'm calling 86 wins for my morning line!!!!
Oh GAWD when that day comes........
GO NATS!!!!!!!!

Posted by: zendo | September 30, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert, so there I was, at work but posting weather updates here, 10 minutes from home and home 6 stops from the park on the Green line. Looks like rain. Got a big meeting tomorrow, a report overdue, and I'm still a little steamed over getting tossed last month. I was going to go anyway. Some of my favorite denizens were going.
I can just listen to C&D, and watch when I get home.

For a couple of smart guys, we can be such chumps, eh?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and dargramps -- this is a little early, but I'm in a mood

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 30, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

See you in the new post, chumps. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 30, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh...the Cubness of it all.

Posted by: MartinZook | October 1, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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