By winning, Jim Riggleman wants to keep the Nationals together
Before one game this week in Atlanta, Manager Jim Riggleman addressed the Nationals about the month ahead, roughly the time remaining between then and the July 31 trade deadline. The Nationals had tumbled out of contention, to the point that their team could cease to exist as comprised, and Riggleman delivered his message with that in mind.
"Let's get this thing going so we're not taking this team apart," Riggleman told the players. "Let's get this going to the point where we become more a factor in the division and we're able to win enough ballgames to justify keeping the team together."
General Manager Mike Rizzo has said he could envision making no trades or a flurry of them in the next month, but he will have more incentive to trade key pieces should the Nationals veer further south in the standings. For Riggleman, the specter of key pieces getting dealt creates urgency.
"There's a lot of season to play, but there's not a lot of season to the trading deadline," Riggleman said. "We need to make a move in that direction sooner than later. If we want to keep this ball club together, we've got to do that."
The Nationals went 8-19 in June, the second-worst record in the majors over that span. They have lost 30 of 44 games since May 15, falling from one game out of first place in the National League East to 10 ½ games out of the wild card lead, the fourth-worst record in the NL.
Miles from contention, the crash in the standings has put the Nationals on the brink of potentially breaking up. Riggleman wants the Nationals, with the play, to convince team management to hold off.
"As a manager, you feel like you want more time to get things turned around with this group that we have here," Riggleman said. "That's something you've got to earn, though. You can't earn the right to make that strong suggestion that we keep this group together when you're not winning enough ballgames to justify it. We got time. But time is running short, and we need to get it going. Make it clear that we might want to tweak a little something here or there, but we don't want to overhaul it because we can do better with this group right here."
July 1, 2010; 6:25 PM ET
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