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Riggleman Sees Big Picture, but Is He in It?

The question was simple enough: How happy are you that, even though you're losing all these games, your team hasn't given up on you?

But Jim Riggleman's answer was not simple. It was long and impassioned. It took (with only a brief follow-up interrupting the flow) nearly four minutes and 400 words to get out. And it was extraordinary in its defense of the franchise's plan and of its future -- particularly for someone who may or may not be a part of that future. Riggleman, of course, is the Nationals' interim manager, leading a team that entered Thursday night's game having lost 10 of its previous 11 games.

It may have been the most heartfelt and honest state-of-the-organization speech I've heard from anyone associated with the Nationals in a long time, and it conveyed the impression that Riggleman believes in the franchise, whether or not he's part of its future.

I don't believe it was Riggleman's intention to promote his own career -- he isn't the type -- but when he says, "We have to measure our progress on something other than the final score of the game some nights," it's hard not to think Riggleman's own chances of getting the Nationals' full-time managing job hinge on the same sort of big-picture outlook.

Here is the full transcript of Riggleman's answer:

"That's huge. You hate to ever concede losing, but lessons have to be learned, progress has to be made, and we feel like we're doing that. We feel like we're heading in the right direction. There's a lot of pieces here that are going to be here in the future. And a mentality has to be established that we're going to play winning baseball. And there's a way to do that. And right now, we have to measure some of our progress on something other than the final score of the game some nights.


"Again, I don't like having to say that. But we're fortunate. We've had a fan base here that has allowed us to do that. I think the fans understand what we're doing, how hard the players are trying -- that when the umpire says 'play ball,' the players could not give any more effort, that they've been outstanding. We're missing a piece or two, but we're not that far away, and I think [the fans are] getting excited about it. I know our players feel that way. It's progress. But you can never assume anything."

(Brief follow-up: Why do the fans keep coming?)

"I know from [growing up] in this area, fans were hungry for baseball in this area. Without baseball for whatever it was, 35 years or something, I know people wanted baseball in the nation's capital and people right here wanted it here. [They] missed it, and they know we have to support it. It's not a situation where you can only support it when the team is winning.

"They're being patient with us. That's going to wear off. You can't live by that. You've gotta get it turned around. There's some payback there, you know? We owe these fans some wins here in the near future. And it's going to happen. With Stan [Kasten] and Mike [Rizzo's] leadership and the commitment from ownership, it's gonna happen here. But we're fortunate that the fans have put up with the record they've put up with.

"The excitement at the end of these games -- whatever there is, 20,000 people -- if you can imagine those same type of ballgames when we get to the point where that's 40,000 people there, its going to be very exciting here."

**************

One other note: Stephen Strasburg is preparing to leave the Nationals following a week of meeting teammates, continuing his throwing program and acclimating himself to the big league life. He will fly with the team to Florida after Thursday night's game, then head up I-95 to Viera to prepare for the Sept. 16 start of the fall instructional league. He'll also pitch in the Arizona Fall League, beginning Oct. 13.

Strasburg met with the media Thursday. Here are a few of his quotes:

(On the media attention)

"I've kind of accepted the fact I'm going to have to answer the same questions a few times. It's all good."

(On whether he was worried about drawing resentment from teammates over his contract)

"It never worried me at all.... I was just going into it with an open mind, and [to] try to learn as much as I can from these guys. And if they like me, they like me, and if they don't, they don't."

(On how the week went)

"I've enjoyed being up here, being around players and everything," he said. "That's kind of what I was lacking in Florida. I was just kind of down there by myself, doing my own thing. So it's been fun being up here.... I'm just here to get my work in, but it's still cool to be around here and see how they go about their business."

By Dave Sheinin  |  September 10, 2009; 7:22 PM ET
 
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Comments

I'll tell you what, Listash is making me miss Tollman.

Posted by: twinbrook | September 10, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Dunn hits a homer! Thanks a lot! Can't hit 'em every night (like last night).

Posted by: poncedeleroy | September 10, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

OMG, I LOVE Ian Desmond!! He almost had two homers!!! What a debut!! WOOO!!

Posted by: rachel216 | September 10, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Desmond is hitting .667. He's slugging 2.000 (6 total bases in 3 AB).

He should ask God to take him now because he will never ever have a better day in his life than today.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 10, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Translation: Hire me, Mike. Pleease.

Posted by: nunof1 | September 10, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

The guy heard Riggleman speak. Wanting to play veterans who have been there. Wanting to play Guzman. He wants to be a part of the solution right now. And that's good.

Desmond knows there's a guy named Espinosa right behind him that probably wants to do what he is trying to do right now. And a guy named Guzman that wants to keep his job.

And that's good.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Twinbrook, you stole my thought about Listach or however you spell it. In this series, he's cost us at least three runs because of sending a player who shouldn't have been sent (1) and not sending players who should've been sent (2 at least). WTF?
Separately, GREAT to see Desmond's debut. I seem to recall reading here that he's had some troubles with errors? Boy his bat looks alive. Would be great if he could play a great shortstop; we could move Guzzie to second or eat some of his salary/trade him and pick up a free agent second baseman (though I'd rather spend that money on pitchers).
Go Nats!

Posted by: jdsp2000 | September 10, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

The only thing that's concerning about Desmond a smidge is his demeanor. The excitment was really quite obvious in his home run (he absolutely killed that thing, just throwing that out there), and he was upset about the call at home. Maybe it's nothing to be worried about.

Posted by: jaumiusk | September 10, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Jim Riggleman, we've lost enough ... enough is enough is enough is enough.

And you know that too from growing up here?

Stop playing washed up guys who have just brought your .500 record to 10 below.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Periculum: I agree. Play the kids!

Posted by: jdsp2000 | September 10, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Desmond ... destiny! The only way this evening could be better (so far) would be for the Orioles to be losing somewhere.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | September 10, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Root Boy he say batting second Ian Desmond, he don't like sitting the heat vent in Richmond.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Hah,

Old Livan he wants his seven innings. Just barely under 100 ... will he be back.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

jdsp2000: Separately, GREAT to see Desmond's debut. I seem to recall reading here that he's had some troubles with errors?

============================================================

Dibs or Carp mentioned that Derek Jeter once made 56 errors in one season in the minors.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=jeter-001der

If Desmond ends up hitting and fielding like Jeter, I'll take it.

Posted by: gilbertbp | September 10, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it will rain, right now, while I'm happy?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 10, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Soooooo before we cannonize this kid(Desmond) for Cooperstown can we wait for until next spring and see if he's legit, before we send Guzman packing can we make sure the kid doesn't wilt under pressure? I'm just sayin.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 10, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Its going to be interesting to see if Rizzo can orchestrate some trades in the offseason?

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag: Thanks for the cold shower. You're right, we needed it.
But hey, we're just excited. We coulda used some of these runs on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Oy.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | September 10, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

macdougal time?

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Segovia? Hmmmm ... looks like we're throwing "play the veterans" out the window now?

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Segovia, not so hot.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

WHERE IS THAT RAIN?????

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 10, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Yep, Segovia DFA. The Phillies let him go had to have shoulder surgery.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Pittsburgh fans are the dumbest people in the world. They sound so stupid shouting let's go steelers, let's go philles. they sound drunk and RETARDED. Come on Nationals, finish this off!!

Posted by: rachel216 | September 10, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Philly fans and Pittsburgh fans are stupid

Posted by: rachel216 | September 10, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Looks like they are going to find a way to lose this game that had all sewn up.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I tell you who looked mad. Willie looked mad that his triple was wasted.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 10, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

1 run game... wow, total collapse..

Posted by: rachel216 | September 10, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

He's pulled MacD to put in Villone??? That is carrying lefty stuff too far, IMHO.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 10, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Can we revisit the "play the kids" vs "play the vets" issue? (And I don't mean Villone, he's a little TOO old)

Posted by: paulkp | September 10, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are beginning to look like April's fresh flowers: completely and utterly pitiful.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's the lefty stuff that got McDougal pulled. I think it's the single and the wild pitch and the double.

Posted by: swang30 | September 10, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Looks like a Philly sweep in the offing ... Segovia DFA. He wasn't all that great in Syracuse. They were using five alarm Kensing as the closer and not Segovia.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Detwiler, Kensing or Garate?

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

OK, thank you, Ron.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | September 10, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I've never been more of a Villone fan than I am right now. Go Nats!

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | September 10, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Who do we have to kill so that we're allowed a halfway decent bullpen?

Posted by: swang30 | September 10, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Phewwwww ... I'm not sure if its Nyjer or our good luck talisman Belliard that's missing?

Hopefully, the boys from Syracuse will for the most part step up.

Still eight games to 100 losses.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

FILE THIS UNDER: I'd Rather Be Lucky Than Good!!

Posted by: dargregmag | September 10, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

had the nats lost a six-run lead tonight riggleman would have been photoshopped out of the picture. that tony la russa jr. handling of his suspect relief corps would have punched his ticket.

Posted by: surly_w | September 10, 2009 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Had em all the way. Weren't you guys sharing my Maalox and bourbon all night?
Cheers, all.

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

well, maybe photoshopped just once. i was so p*ssed at riggleman's handling of the bullpen. is he the only manager who doesn't know that livo is just breaking a sweat at 100 pitches?

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

OMG what a dodged bullet. Good to finally put away, if just barely, those freakin' Phillies. So sick of hearing 'em in Natstown. God I hope next year we can get enough people in the park--and a team with enough to cheer about--so we can drown out those chumps.

Posted by: jdsp2000 | September 10, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I wonder if all the love around here for Desmond will continue when he goes 0-4 with two strikeouts tonight...

Posted by: Section222 | September 10, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse
_____________________________________

Ok, I guess I'll stick to armchair Monday morning quarterbacking rather than prognostication. Way to go Desmond!

Posted by: Section222 | September 10, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

what happened to riggleman's proclamation of 24 hours ago about playing the guys who have been with the team most of the season? if zack segovia is the answer, don't bother asking the question, i say.

Posted by: surly_w | September 10, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

It's a frickin 6 run lead. You'd think most everybody can hold that lead. Instead, Villone has to come in and get the save.

It's almost as bad as that other dude coming in to save Brad Lidge's rear end the other night.

Posted by: swang30 | September 10, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

I think Rizzo told him that he was tired of giving him players hitting the cover off the ball and then having him sit them until they cool into icebergs.

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

Like Mike Morse Desmond hits. But as everyone saw tonight he can also make errors. Of course Espinosa made 22 errors in advanced A. Between Harrisburg and Syracuse Desmond made 25. "Slick fielding" Pete Orr wasn't wonderful with 11 or so errors playing around the infield. Apparently he can also play shortstop.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I love baseball.

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

Wonder if Guz will volunteer to try out 2nd base just to be in the lineup?

Perhaps a better regular starting line up would be:

Desmond
Harris / Guzman
Zimmerman
Dunn
Willingham
Dukes
Bard / Orr
Gonzlez / Nieves
P.

Posted by: periculum | September 10, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Just got back from NatsTown - or Phillsville - and Riggleman's late-inning bullpen maneuvering was truly horrific. It's another case of a manager being so wedded to going by "the book" that he refuses to believe what he's seeing happen on the field. Livo had only given up six hits and two runs when he was yanked. Outside of the first inning, he wasn't in any real trouble. In fact, according to the ESPN.com box score of his 106 pitches 71 were strikes. If he needed a lefthander in the eighth, why not use Villone with a greater margin of error and save Burnett for a more crucial situation? Why not give Bergmann a chance to close out with a six-run lead with MacDougal and Burnett available if needed? Segovia just fell apart after the Desmond error. Riggleman probably wanted to beat the Phillies so badly that he almost outsmarted himself. Desmond looked good at the plate and in the field - except for the ninth inning heave - against a team that still has something to play for. Word of advice to Riggleman, use guys like Segovia is games where the Nats are getting blown out. No lead, no matter how large, is truly safe with this team.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 10, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm officially jumping on the Desmond bandwagon!!! Man, he reminded me of a young Derek Jeter tonight!!!

Posted by: big_game_lannan | September 10, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Newpost.

Posted by: leetee1955 | September 10, 2009 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Riggs was in panic in the ninth once Stairs "slammed" the Phils back into the game Riggleman like an ealier blogger stated almost outsmarted himself into a loss,when Livo was lifted i thought "hell he ain't even warmed up yet" but Riggs is old school so he played the "fresh arm" approach which almost cost the Nats a win. On another subject according to my latest edition of SI Adrian Gonzalez of the P adres will be available next year if you're Rizzo do you attempt to replace Dunn and how does Rizzo dump his contract, Gonzalez makes sense in my opinion a better fielder and more selective hitter with power what do you think?

Posted by: dargregmag | September 10, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

@dargremag,
I like your thinking when it comes to Adrian G. but he would be a HARD guy to get. Boston will probably get their hands on him. Remember Teixera? Same situation.

Dunn is an easy trade deadline candidate next year.

Posted by: hleeo3 | September 11, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Dunn's contract needs to be "dumped"... he's probably the starting 1B going in to the season next year, there aren't really internal alternatives, and the free agent market is sparse to say the least (Nick Johnson may actually be the best available - check out the FA 1B's, it's not pretty http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2001/05/2010-free-agents.html).

Dunn should be on the team, at least until the trade deadline. Then with about $5M left on his contract and 20 HRs left to hit, and the assumption that the Nats still aren't quite ready to win the World Series, someone should bite.

Posted by: CharlieF | September 11, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

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