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Riggleman Says Nats Were Flat In 6-2 Loss

Neither science nor sabermetrics has yet devised a method for measuring energy, so any attempt to moderate a debate on the Washington Nationals' energy level Sunday afternoon might be as futile as the baseball itself. It's hardly worth assembling the anecdotal evidence, either, because that would require some brave steward to revisit the details locked away within three hours of best-forgotten baseball. Just know this: Sunday, a 97-loss team became a 98-loss team. The Washington Nationals were down early, soon down by more, and quickly down for good. Even their own manager, a charitable judge of quality, called the game "lackluster."

But after a 6-2 loss Sunday against the New York Mets at Citi Field, Jim Riggleman reserved the harshest criticism for his own team. Though he could point to no particular misdeeds, Riggleman after the game described an "overall lack of energy in the dugout," noting the lack of chatter among players and the absence of an "aura about our club... that said, 'We're going to win this ballgame.'"

In the minutes following the team's latest defeat -- its fifth in sixth games -- Riggleman gathered his players in the clubhouse (a standard procedure) and reminded them that future jobs were at stake.

"We just were flat, and that's not acceptable," Riggleman said in his postgame media session. "We got down a run, and it was almost as if, 'Well, let's see what we can do here to get through it.' You know, I just wasn't pleased with the overall intensity of the game. The thing is, the other guy (Mets' starter John Maine) was throwing a pretty good ballgame; good pitching will make you look flat. But we can't allow that to happen. We've got a lot of guys on this ballclub that are fighting to make an impression for the future, and so I just reminded them that these last couple weeks count. You can't play with a lack of energy. If you do, it's gonna show up in somebody's mind who's gonna be making a decision about your future."

A few of Washington's veterans weren't quite as harsh in appraising the energy level. Adam Dunn, in fact, vehemently disagreed with the assessment that the Nats were flat.

Asked if he thought Washington's energy level was lacking, Dunn began by saying, "That's tough. I was in the game; I'm not going to sit here and say I was flat because I don't think I was and I can only speak for myself. As far as the team -- I don't think we came out... I'm gonna say no, I don't think we were flat. I don't. I just think that we ran into some guys that pitched pretty good, we weren't swinging the bats really well, and I think that's the problem.

Later, Dunn added, "It's easy, man, [to keep your energy level up]. Good weather. What else are you going to do? Energy -- that has nothing to do with it. We've playing one-hundred-and-X amount of games. Why would we decide on Sunday whatever-the-day-is to not play hard? That's bulls---. That's one thing we do. Winning or losing, we do play hard."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 20, 2009; 5:58 PM ET
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Next: A Semi-Historic 115th Pitch


Does this bring the tragic number to 7?

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | September 20, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Lessee...the Phillies beat the nats 15 games to three this year and the Sawx pounded the AngelO's 16 games to two. Do the local teams get playoff shares for their contributions for getting Philly and Boston to the postseason this year?

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 20, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman's record without Nyger Morgan: 5-16 (.238) That's way worse than Acta's record without Nyger Morgan. I guess Manny Acta was not the problem with this team, eh?

Posted by: nunof1 | September 20, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman's record without Nyger Morgan: 5-16 (.238) That's way worse than Acta's record without Nyger Morgan. I guess Manny Acta was not the problem with this team, eh?

Posted by: nunof1

OK, nonof1, you win. You're right. Let's rehire Acta right away.

Sir, watching this club has begun to rot your brain.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 20, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

What's their record while putting a career SS out in RF for the first time in pro ball? I would rather see Dunn at SS.

Maybe the lack of energy is really lack of enthusiasm for putting on the hit-and-run all the time, and playing people in the wrong positions.

Posted by: sidbluntley | September 20, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

They do still hold the option to hire Acta for 2010, don't they? Might be nice to see what he could do with a healthy Nyjer Morgan. Bound to be better than what Riggleman did, if you go by their relative records without Nyjer.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 20, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Still trying to get Pete Orr work Riggleman? Everyone else doesn't seem to matter? The guy probably won't be here next year, Ian Desmond seems a far better bet?

Posted by: periculum | September 20, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm feeling the lack of energy, too. Baseball Prospectus ran a story on the Nats today, and reminded everybody that they had predicted the team to get 77 wins. I suppose some day I will be glad to have Bryce Harper, but for now I know I would appreciate 77 wins a lot more than 51.

This has been brutal, and even my wierd devotion to this team has been strained. I feel I should hold off from posting so I don't make rash proclamations about how Willingham needs to go, or how Guzman should be released, or half the pitching staff needs to be banished permanently to AAA. When less punch drunk, I wouldn't say any of these things.

Riggleman does, in fact, have to go, however.


Posted by: kevincostello | September 20, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Didn't see the game but nunof1 is right. Acta and Riggleman are irrelevant. It's talent. The Nats don't have enough of it. Until they do, it won't matter who manages this team.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 20, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

+1/2 - Half the pitching staff, yes - except who will replace them??

Guzman - no , they owe him $8m next year so that would be dumb. After next year - yes. A #2 hitter w/ OBP of .310 is crazy.

Willingham - What are you crazy??? He has 60 RBI in less than 350 ABs and is slugging .528. Do you know how hard it is to find solid fielding OFers who slug .528? He is one of the best bargains on the team and is a total class player to boot. Plus, they have him under team control for two more years.

I have to say, I'm not convinced Riggleman should stay.

Posted by: Avar | September 20, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse


I'm with you. I was giving examples of silly things I might say in a fit of despair. I don't want to do any of those things except replace Riggleman.


Posted by: kevincostello | September 20, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

time to start talking about managerial candidates for next year? Davey Johnson? Bobby V?

Posted by: imlazar | September 20, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

nervousnatsfan -- The number is 8 according to my calculations. Pitt lost do SD. With 13 games left for the Nats to play, they need to go no better than 5-8 in order to clinch the worst record in baseball, and to get the right to negotiate with Boras for Bryce Harper. And that is if Pittsburgh happens to win out, which we know they won't.

Posted by: twinbrook | September 20, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

time to start talking about managerial candidates for next year? Davey Johnson? Bobby V?


Don't think Johnson would because of health reasons, and Valentine is a Bowden man, however Don Mattingly would the best choice if he wants to come...

Posted by: bromisky | September 20, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

this has been dead team walking since april and NOW a manager notes how lackluster the players' attitudes are?

Posted by: surly_w | September 20, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

We are playing a lineup of AAA players right now. What do you expect for this team? The holes for next year are glaring at this point. I just do not see Maxwell, Orr, and some of this pitching as the answer to our problems for next year. This team will need to be active in the winter and get quality free agents. I would rather we get some talent than spend the money on an unproven talent like Harper. Plus, I can not take another year of the Boras watch.

Posted by: Tom8 | September 20, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

As far as managers maybe its Stearns or Foli?

Lackluster? Well, at least they win for my man JD Martin. That's right WO. J D MARTIN.

AAA/AAAA Zimmerman never eve did that yet he is starting? They need some MI, catcher and pitching. They will probably have a good enough starting outfield with some decent depth. The corners are set. So, yeah its a lot but they do have quite a number of prospects some of whom may pan out as far as the pitching. They do still have Guzman, now Desmond. Maybe Espinosa before they year is out?

But catching? Looks like they need a trade?

Posted by: periculum | September 20, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse


You seem to have the feeling that I give a sh*t about your a**inine pronouncements from God. Goodnight Cliff.

Posted by: WashOut | September 21, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

a1: Sorry not to replay sooner. Natmosphere in Your Ear is a weekly podcast about, well, y'know, our future World Series champs...

Here is a link

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 21, 2009 4:13 AM | Report abuse

Great. Riggleman's on-field management is dedicated to one-run producing "small ball," which is completely unsuited to this team's talent -- and now his inane attempt at mind-reading is infuriating his best players. And it has to be demoralizing to his rookies. I mean, what are the chances that any of the kids fighting for a roster spot next season weren't highly motivated yesterday?

The FJB blog reported that Zimmerman confronted Riggleman in the dugout earlier this week because Riggleman had called for a truly idiotic hit and run with Zimmerman at the plate and Dunn on deck.

A manager who is committed to demonstrably wrong "old school" on-field strategies and who is disliked by the team's two best players, and who makes silly public accusations about the team's young players ... hmmmm. Let's hope the "interim" never comes off his title.

Posted by: Snopes1 | September 21, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Nats_Lady.

Interesting to read the Zimmerman and Dunn reactions to Riggleman's criticisms.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 21, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Also, some of us appear to be arguing with ourselves at this point. The fan base is *really* split, evidently. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 21, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I watched the whole series between the Nats and the Mets for two very important reasons.

1. Nothing better then seeing the Mets on the wrong side of the scoreboard, well that only happend 1 out of 3.

2. I'm a Nats fan and as hard as that might be, baseball is the only sport (at least to me) that offers a glimmer of hope on a everyday basis.

Now here is what I came away with after spending 8 hours in front of the tube. Riggleman is not, repeat not what this team needs going forward. Lots of bone-head decisions. Great confidence booster having Ian Desmon playing RF, huh? This crazy notion about Pete Orr behind the plate, watching Guzman mail it in day after day, it just goes on and on and on.

Stupid statement of the weekend goes to Rob Dibble; "you have to love what Rizzo is doing here, sticking with guys like Orr, bringing in a Josh Bard, trading for a 37 yr old career 4A'er catcher, these are the kind of guys you can win with"!

Guess Dibble is looking to re-up in contract with MASN!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 21, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I said it before Riggleman was hired,Tim Foli should have been this team's choice but i drank the Riggleman kool-aid too, so now i'll stick with my original observation, hire Tim Foli he's paid his dues give him a shot. I read in a post yesterday that Bobby V or Davey Johnson should be considered NO! to either one of those candidates Valentine is a self promoter and i don't think Johnson is up for the grind of a one hundred and sixty two game season. Riggleman seems to have lost this team with his hard handed approach and calling out players in public,hire Foli and let he and Rizzo map out a plan for the future.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 21, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Riggleman's performance is like 90% of the Nats' roster: a cypher. Why would he do deliberately dumb things over and over? Does he not want the job next year and is making sure he won't get it?

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 21, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

hehe. I didn't drink any of that particular Kool-Aid. :-)

Also, new post is up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 21, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I lost it with Riggleman over the weekend when he let the pitcher come up to hit with 2 0uts and 2 men on in the 6th inning. Big surprise what happened. I am wondering if the presence of Tim Foli is a sign that he's being checked out for the big job. As I understand it he did a great job in Syracuse.

Posted by: lostein | September 21, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

>Riggleman seems to have lost this team with his hard handed approach and calling out players in public,hire Foli and let he and Rizzo map out a plan for the future.

Posted by: dargregmag

Some of these managers like Riggs and Acta don't bring any respect, because they never even had a cup of coffee in the big leagues. At least Foli had an MLB career. It's like Trembley in Baltimore - he may know everything there is to know about baseball but who's gonna listen to some guy who never played any pro ball? The guys on the team openly question Riggs' moves. They don't respect him, they just tolerate him. It's all about getting the players' attention. It's a unique situation where almost everyone makes more money than the manager does, so he has to find out how to motivate players. When Riggs says that baseball isn't physically demanding, how does that help your team - it's like you don't respect the effort they're giving every day and you have to criticize the whole setup for some reason. It makes him sound bitter and petty. I used to play three times a week in high school, and I can remember getting banged up and playing hurt. And being tired as hell after the Friday night game.
They need someone the players will listen to and commands respect. Whoever that turns out to be.

Posted by: Brue | September 21, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

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