Riggleman chats with media
Nats manager Jim Riggleman met with the media around 2 p.m. Here's the full transcript of his chat, courtesy of ASAP Sports.
Q. What did you think of the [Bruney] trade?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, I'm happy with it. You know, I don't know Brian myself. I've seen him pitch a couple times. But I really don't know much about him. I've heard a lot of good things about him, kind of a power arm to go toward the end of our bullpen, and just we feel like we needed a little help out there. He's got experience and he's got a good arm, so we're very excited about having him on the ballclub.
Q. Is he a setup guy, or could he share the closer's role?
RIGGLEMAN: As we sit here right now, it's undetermined who would be our closer. I think that's a healthy situation, to have some competition out there, and maybe the hot hand takes it. But who knows, by the time we leave these meetings in Indianapolis or somewhere during the course of the winter, maybe something happens where we identify one person who's going to be a closer. But I think that this gives us another option to look at through spring training to see how it evolves.
Q. How nice is it to get another guy to reach the high 90s, just have another power arm?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, it is. It's real nice to have it because, you know, you just -- pitching ultimately is what wins ballgames. This is another nice piece to the puzzle. We feel like we've got some pretty good arms, some guys who have made some development down there, made some progress, guys like Clippard and Bergmann and so forth. But this gives us one more guy with some experience. He's pitched in a big market, he's pitched in some big ballgames. Again, just fortunate to have him on board.
Q. Does the fact that he has pitched on that big stage in New York really matter that much?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, I think it can only help. It wouldn't be a determining factor if you're maybe picking between player A and B or whatever. But I think it's a great asset that he's been in those type of ballgames with the Yankees, and he's closed games for the Diamondbacks, too. You put it all together, where he's pitched, the arm strength and experience that he has, I think it's all a very nice package.
Q. Do you have any concerns -- he's been on the DL twice last year because of elbow problems. Any concern there?
RIGGLEMAN: I don't know if "concern" is the right word, really. But you know, in today's world, it's hard to find somebody who hasn't had something, you know. They've all had some tenderness or DL time, or sometimes it's almost precautionary. But still, it goes in the book as DL. You know, if you only made a move on somebody who's never been on the DL, it's hard to find people.
Q. I know you said you won't know until the end of maybe Thursday when everything is said and done, but one of the things you did want to do when you came out here was to bolster that bullpen.
RIGGLEMAN: Yeah, and you know, Thursday is not a magic day. You know, the off-season really goes up until opening day of next year. We continue to look. Mike is working very hard, him and his staff are working very hard and trying to identify some people that can help the ballclub, and this is a good start.
Q. Do you know yet how you're going to use him exactly?
RIGGLEMAN: Not really. He's -- we say back end of the bullpen. That's kind of vague, but basically just however we need him. We'll get to know him a little bit and see how comfortable he is pitching a couple days in a row or pitching more than many. We've got to find of figure those things out as we go along.
Q. Can you give us the latest on the Cristian Guzman situation and his possible change from short to second?
RIGGLEMAN: Yeah. Cristian, that's probably a good way to describe it as a possible move to second base because we don't know yet how that's going to play out. Again, with moves that could be made through the off-season, it might be that Mike acquires somebody who is strictly a second baseman, so then Cristian is back to being a shortstop. We're just very encouraged with what we're hearing in our meetings with our doctors who talked about his recovery, how that cleaning up in his shoulder went, and he's doing very well. He should be 100 percent by Spring Training. He's a good player. You know, whether we play him at second or short, he's a good hitter, he's a good player, so he's going to help our ballclub.
Q. So you haven't given up completely on him as a shortstop?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, only -- as I said, the makeup of the ballclub. If we need him to play second, that's what it'll be. If something happens where, as I said, another second baseman is acquired, then we need him to play short.
Q. For all the talk about acquiring people here, do you approach the season with the knowledge that you'll have Morgan and Flores for an entire year?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, we'll have Morgan. Flores is -- he's a guy that he's had a lot of work done on his arm. He's such an important part of our lineup when we can get him back, that if it was opening day, that's the best scenario. We don't know that yet.
Q. What are your plans for Stammen? There was talk of maybe putting him in the bullpen. What's your plan?
RIGGLEMAN: Again, depends on how these talks go with other clubs and so forth between now and opening day of next year, what we acquire. The thing about Stammen is he really did a good job for us, and he did it under pretty tough circumstances. You know, his elbow was a little tender with the bone chips, or whatever it is, bone spur, bone chips, whatever. And it says a lot for him to pitch that effectively and not really near 100 percent. We think we're going to see better things from him, and we're encouraged that he's a guy we feel can pitch as a starter or pitch out of the bullpen. We feel he's got a good chance to be on our ballclub and help us in one of those two areas.
Q. The team's offense in 2008 was one of the worst in baseball, and then you add, Adam Dunn, Willingham, a couple other pieces and had a real good offense for most of last year and now there's a lot of talk surrounding Willingham. I was wondering if you feel like the offense can lose a guy like that, a productive player.
RIGGLEMAN: Well, Willingham, he's not just a good player, he's just a top-flight individual. He's a great person, very well respected by his teammates. He's a good presence in the clubhouse, in the dugout, tough guy. He's all man. He's big in our lineup. When you have a guy like him, he fits a lot of teams' needs. So we don't have any desire to move Willingham, believe me. But he's a guy that a lot of teams call about because he's not -- doesn't have an exorbitant salary. He does have a history of production. So teams are going to be interested in him. My guess is that he'll be our left fielder next year, but again, between now and opening day, if somebody overwhelmed you with somebody I guess you've got to listen.
Q. When you step back and look at his season for maybe three quarters he was exceptional and then tailed off. Do you think he can be for a whole season that guy you most -- or do you kind of know what his mean is?
RIGGLEMAN: Rick Eckstein and I talked about this, Mike Rizzo and I have talked about it a little bit. But I think we really saw him so hot that when he cooled off a little bit, you hesitate to sit him down because you saw him so hot that he's liable to turn it right back on today and he's huge. Probably after being around him for a year, I realize now probably I would give him a day off a little more often just to not let a negative streak get prolonged and get started even, because you know, my thinking wasn't that way. My thinking was just put him out there every day. And looking back an it, I probably would get him a few more off-days. I think that would help his -- I don't think we would have seen him struggle in September the way he did if I had sat him a little more often maybe in August, sat him a little bit in September.
Q. Are there guys that -- you talk about giving Willingham a day off. Are there guys that could be fourth, fifth outfielders that jumped out to you as possible options to make the club next year?
RIGGLEMAN: Yeah, a lot of guys. You know, Maxwell, Bernadina, Morse. I think all those guys could give any of our guys a day off now and then and do a good job.
Q. What are your thoughts on Whitey in the Hall of Fame?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, we don't have that much time here, I guess, because I could go on forever about Whitey. I'm just really, really happy about that. I guess to minimize it as much as I can, he's the best baseball man I've ever been around. He's the whole package. He's played in the big leagues. He ran a great minor league system for the New York Mets. He coached in the Big Leagues, he managed in the Big Leagues, he won the World Series as a manager. He's just a brilliant guy. He's the best baseball person I've been associated with. That's my opinion, but he's -- anybody who's been around Whitey is just, to say the least, impressed by him. But to have gotten the privilege to have coached on his staff, I wouldn't have got the chance to manage in the Big Leagues if I didn't coach under Whitey. The example I use is he's the Bear Bryant. If you've got a chance to be an assistant coach for Bear Bryant, you can go coach Georgia or USC or something some day, and that's the way it was if you worked for Whitey. It helped you get a chance to manage in the big leagues.
Q. You've personally come a long way in the last year with a lot of different jobs in between. Last year at the winter meetings were you even there?
Q. Were you keeping tabs or did you have an interest in it?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, I really enjoy this time of year. I love the winter meetings. I think when you get this many baseball people in the same room, you get a lot of great baseball talk, things happen, ideas get exchanged that you maybe wouldn't have thought of, somebody brings some things up and you go, wow, that's pretty good. Deals get expanded, trades are talked about, not made. I think it's just a great time of year for fans and for all of us who are in the game. It's just a really interesting time. I always enjoyed it when I was managing with the Cubs and Padres and then as a Minor League field coordinator the Cardinals would bring me into the winter meetings, so I enjoyed it. It's a great time of year, and I'm sure some interesting things will happen here in the next couple days.
Q. Is Bruney kind of one of those guys that you get here and an idea pops up or is he somebody that's on the radar a little bit?
RIGGLEMAN: For me it popped up here. When I got here Mike was talking about it, and you know, Mike, he's got a real extensive background throughout a few organizations, done a lot of jobs, and he has some history with Bruney, I think, from Arizona. He's one of the guys that Mike had been targeting to see what he could do with it, and I'm glad to see he got it done.
Q. With the economy the way it is, not just for your ballclub but for other ball clubs, that's the importance of the Minor League system now as compared to maybe ten years ago?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, it's always been important and will continue to be important. Ultimately I think whoever scouts the best and develops players the best, they're going to have the best chances. You know, the teams with big payrolls, it's a great way to go if you can do it. But if you can sign and develop your own, I think everybody would prefer to do that. Some great organizations have done it. Minnesota has done it for years, and I think a lot of teams like ourselves and others try to pad yourselves after that, sign quality players and develop them and be able to fill your needs from within your system instead of having to go out on the free agent market all the time to fill a void.
Q. Have you seen Manny [Acta]?
RIGGLEMAN: I haven't seen him yet, no. I talked to him a few times recently, but I haven't seen him here yet.
Q. Did you talk to him right after he got the Cleveland job?
RIGGLEMAN: Before and after. We talk quite a bit.
Q. You had always kind of been talking about your own job as bitter sweet because somebody lost his job. How glad are you for him?
RIGGLEMAN: I'm very happy about it. I never had any doubt that he was going to manage again. I don't even know if Manny knew it would be this quick. But he's really a good baseball man. He's a good manager, and he's a quality guy. Again, I could go on and on about him. But really happy for him. And he landed in a great place. That's a good place for him to be right now.
Q. Just curious, I understand why you released Saul Rivera, but why him? Why did you make that decision?
RIGGLEMAN: You know, our roster is full. Obviously that's why we had to do somebody. Just kind of an organizational decision. With adding Bruni, you know, it gives us a little bit more cushion there with arms in the bullpen, and that's where we saw Saul Rivera as being in the bullpen if he was with us. Of course it doesn't close the door on Rivera, either. I mean, he's going to be out there looking to sign with somebody, and who knows, it could be us.
Q. Back to Manny, to get fired in the middle of the season and having two teams make him two offers, how rare is that in your time of the game to see somebody go --
RIGGLEMAN: Yeah, that's -- I want to say when Joe Girardi got let go a couple years ago, there was two or three teams trying to get him. You know, they just develop a great reputation in the game and exhibited their skills as managers, and people recognize it and decide he's the guy. You know, you end up -- two or three teams looking for that one guy, so it's rare, but I think Joe is probably the last guy I remember who had two teams trying to get him the same year.
Q. That's obviously pretty good company to be in right now.
Q. I guess that sort of speaks to the reputation Manny seems to have around the game, that people recognize that even if the wins and losses aren't there.
RIGGLEMAN: I didn't really know Manny that well until I took the job. I noticed, you know, as we would travel around these other clubs the respect that other teams had for him, some veteran guys on other clubs, coaches on other clubs, because Manny had such an extensive background with player development. When you've been in player development a long time, you meet a lot of people. A lot of people come through, and they go on to the Big Leagues, and now when they're done, they appreciate what you did for them, meaning Manny, and so they always came by and paid their respects, whether it was veteran guys like Sandy Alomar and Tony Perez or whether it was a young player who was still playing, Manny touched a lot of people.
Q. How good was it to get the chance to follow through on what you were able to do in the second half of last year and be able to get this job and continue on what you started?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, you know, obviously it beats the alternative. The alternative would be to not have the job. I'm thrilled to have the job. But as I said earlier at the press conference, I wasn't going to be devastated if I didn't get it. You know what I mean? Because I felt so good about what we did that I felt like it's the right thing to do if I get the job. But if I don't, I can't kick myself. Whereas the previous year I didn't feel good about the way I left Seattle. I felt like I left some things undone there. I wanted to get back there and get it right, whereas this one I felt like, no, you know what, we did everything we could do. Now it's somebody else's decision, and I can live with myself. I didn't live with myself too good the previous one.
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