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Jim Riggleman one year in

One year ago today, the Nationals fired Manny Acta and named Jim Riggleman their interim manager. Riggleman went 33-42 to finish out the year, compared to Acta's 26-61 2009 record, and when the season ended he told his agent he wanted to stay in Washington or wanted to sit out this year. Thirty-nine days after the season ended, the Nationals named him the third manager in their short history.

Halfway through his first season as the full-fledged Nationals manager, Riggleman has stewarded them through a momentous half-season -- the first full year under Mike Rizzo, Stephen Strasburg's debut -- without much bottom-line progress. The Nationals had a .440 winning percentage in the second half of last season. They have a .438 winning percentage this year.

For Riggleman, the stakes are high for the second half of the season. The Nationals signed Riggleman to a two-year contract with a team option for 2012, but for all intents and purposes, Riggleman is operating with a virtual one-year contract. A reminder from the story linked above:

The Nationals owe Riggleman $600,000 this season. While the Nationals cannot technically opt out until after 2011, they will be able to buy Riggleman out of the contract for $100,000 after this season. Therefore, Riggleman is guaranteed only one year. The Nationals could pay Riggleman $700,000 for this season and not retain him, a total that, even with the buyout money, is less than a typical year's pay for a major league manager.

During his year as manager, interim of full-time, Riggleman has won support inside the clubhouse. He mixes a demanding approach -- no team I've seen this year runs as many defensive or base-running drills before a game as the Nationals -- with unrelenting optimism.

"Jim does a great job," Ryan Zimmerman said. "He keeps us focused on the little things, which is important for our team. With a younger team, you have to stress those things. He just brings a calm air. He's not too high, not too low. He's just kind of even-keeled. He does the same thing every day whether we're winning five in a row, losing five in a row. I think that's a good attitude for us to have."

As for the "younger team" part, well, the Nationals' average age among position players is 29.5, 17th youngest in the majors. But that's beside the point.

Back to Riggleman. In his first calendar year, the Nationals went 72-92, a .439 winning percentage. He has helped turn them from an absolute laughingstock into a respectable team. The Nationals are still buried in last place, owners of the fourth-worst record in the National League and the seventh-worst in the majors.

What is your opinion? Give your answer below, and leave your reasoning in the comments section.

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 13, 2010; 10:34 AM ET
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Next: What to do with Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham? Something.


Well, one thing I think we all remember from last year was that dumb ol' Manny Acta stubbornly refused to run infield practice before games. So no matter else you might think of Riggleman, you have to give him credit for bringing back this venerated ritual of baseball to the Nats. Clearly, it is the reinstitution of infield practice that has propelled the Nationals to be the shining beacon of defensive excellence that we now see on the field every night.

Posted by: joebleux | July 13, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I have been very disappointed by Riggleman and really hope he is not our manager next year. His lineups are headscratching at times. His in-game substitutions are absurd most of the time. Nyjer Morgan not being benched after his tantrum in centerfield led to an inside the park home run was inexcusable. Overall he has done a really poor job with a team that is much better than it is playing. I believe Riggleman has probably cost the Nats a number of victories by his terrible decisions. Just vote No on Riggleman.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | July 13, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

hehe, that one went over the top of the dial and left my snarkdar detector smoking, joebleux. Niiice.

I've been ambivalent about Riggleman from the start and am not sure how much difference a managerial change can make generally. I would think that having a roster full of quality players makes more of a difference than who is managing a team. I love my Nats but, um, I also think that there is a tad bit of room for improvement in some areas. heh.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 13, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

He's better than the cold dead body that was Manny Acta, but not much better. The constant bunting, continuing to leave struggling starters like Morgan and Desmond in the lineup, and other inexplicable decisions baffle me. Heck, he pinch hit J.D. Martin for Strasburg when he reached his pitch count, when he had Mike Morse and Bernadina available. Then he pulled Martin for Storen before he pitched.

Posted by: trezmartin | July 13, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Although the team may not be young, many of the players are "young" in terms of major league experience. I'm guessing that's what Zimmerman was talking about.

Posted by: rodeoclown | July 13, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

The ineffectiveness of Stammen and Atilano, the weak bat of Nieves, the lack of mobility from Dunn at first base, there's nothing Riggleman can do or could have done to remedy this.

But the pathetic baserunning of Nyjer and the Nats as a whole, the sloppy infield play, the throwing to wrong bases, this is stuff that a high school coach should be able to manage and rectify.

Riggleman has had more than enough time to show that he can deal with and improve the baserunning, fielding and decision making by the guys he puts out there. And he's been unable to improve it.

We'll finish the season out with him, a change now would be pointless.
But I can't see Rizzo looking back and deciding he wants Riggleman around for another year.

Posted by: Sunderland | July 13, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Riggs can only play the players he has, so performance isn't really his fault. Can a manager make someone field a ground ball of throw to the right base? At this level. probably not. My fault with him is overmanaging, all the double switches, one batter relievers, defensive changes... let your best players play.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | July 13, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-nice bleux, Joe! Yea-I-as always-wanna like Rigs (and every Nat). But I'm with you again, Lady A(sorry for the liberties with your handle)...and 22's accurate observation on the lineup mysteries make it more difficult to stay with my heart rather than with my head. And (to comment on all of the above Gang members' posts!) Yea again to Trez...I mean, at least use Livo! He's got a history of decent hitting....and Stammens' been OK this year.
Go Nats!

Posted by: zendo | July 13, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Let's not forget his sticking Guzman in RF because all of his meaningless substitutions left us with no players and a routine game-ending flyball turned into a game-losing hit. The Nats never recovered from that series.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | July 13, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-of course, my slow typing coupled with my slower brain means there are a couple of more posts up...and with points that are all valid, in my (limited, LARGE type) book!
Off to the outer world (rumored to be not quite so consumed with all things National)....looking forward to plenty of the Gangs insights when I return...
MAYbe even some more pieces from our intrepid internetworkers (p.s.-is that you 1a1 over on Mark's Insider as 1a? I STILL can't figure out how to get on over there...)
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | July 13, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Also, not sure if I'm the only Os fan here but what is the opinion here of Buck Showalter? Yay or nay as far as a manager and a good choice for the Os or not?

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | July 13, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

skins_fan_22, I have dual citizenship when it comes to baseball teams (Nats certainly first, though). I'm not that thrilled with the hire, frankly. They have so little talent, especially established talent, that it may not matter who manages them. But Showalter has always had the reputation of being a micromanaging pain in the keister. I'm not sure how that works with what's going to be a young team. OTOH, it may help their image to hire a "name" manager.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 13, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

No really positive comments, but a lot of people are giving him a B. That's a very lenient curve he's grading on. I guess it shows just how bad Manny Acta was.

It's true that no manager can make a team with only average talent a World Series winner, but let's list a few places where Riggs has fallen short this year:

1. Inexplicably thinking that infielders can play outfield. Guzman, Desmond, and Gonzales have played RF since he's been here. It cost us one game (in Houston) for sure, yet he did it again. Perhaps not as bad as putting Lo Duca in LF, but foolish and unnecessary.

2. Slavish devotion to leftie/rightie matchup. Willie Harris is hitting .180/.282/.386 against mostly right handed pitching, yet Riggs refuses to give Michael Morse (.310/.364/.561) a chance to see what he can do against righties. Surely he'll do better than .180. There have been many games where Morse didn't even pinch hit, and Harris did. Morse has 50 less at bats than Harris at this point. Why, why, why??

3. Defensive substitutions and too often -- he's been letting Willingham stay in more recently, but replacing him or Dunn too soon has left us with a depleted lineup when the opponent catches up or goes ahead. I just don't think Kennedy is that big of an upgrade over Dunn to take Dunn's bat out of the lineup.

4. Bringing ineffective relievers in too often and leaving them in too long -- I'm looking at you Clip.

5. Foolish bunts. It just isn't good strategy to bunt with a man on 2nd and nobody out in the middle of a game with a lead. Especially when the guy on 2nd is fast enough to score on most basehits, and the guy bunting can't really be relied on to lay one down effectively.

Ok, that's enough. I give him a Gentleman's C. My advice is to buy him out at the end of the year, unless we show significant improvement in the second half. This team can do better.

Posted by: Section222 | July 13, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Listening to Greg DiPalma, Dave Nichols, Brian Oliver. All agree that a team that will likely not win more than 70 games can ill afford to play "utility starter" Cristian Guzman taking reps away from someone who might be part of the future: Alberto Gonzalez.

Riggleman's middle infield rotation experiment failed, as the 75 errors will attest to. His team does not play clean baseball in spite of the veterans he appears to favor far too often and too much (Guzman, Harris, and Batista). His attempts at filling right field also failed and would have seemed worst except for the persistence of two guys he really doesn't want to play there: Bernadina and Morse.

If he continues to "respect" veterans who have no future on the club, and bring very little to the table ... fait accomplis?

Posted by: periculum | July 13, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Uh, skins_fan, Mike Morse could have gone into RF in the 9th inning of that Houston game. That one I lay directly on Riggleman.

Posted by: bertbkatz | July 13, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I think sunderland is right. A change at this point doesn't accomplish anything. But the 1 year contract was probably our fair warning that the FO didn't see Riggleman as the long-term answer. He likely had one year to make the case for staying. But natsfan1a1 is also right when she says Riggleman doesn't have a roster that would give him a chance to be successful. On Riggleman's in-game managing: remember, he is a LaRussa disciple, and he does this stuff all the time.

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 13, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

zendo, yes, that's me over on NatsInsider (and, no, I don't mind the handle liberty). The WaPo appended a "1" to my handle when they changed up the registration back in the day. You might try using a different browser over on NI, if you haven't already done so. Also try resetting your browser to the defaults, as you may be missing/blocking a plug-in or some such. Good luck and (as Carpy would say) see you later!

(STAGE WHISPER MODE ON. pssst...222. I usually don't disclose my voting choices, but if we're sharing, I voted the same way that you did. STAGE WHISPER MODE OFF.) :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 13, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

joebleux's snarky response sums up a lot of my feelings about Riggleman. It still seems strange to me that some folks who were grousing about Acta still look at Riggleman as a suitable replacement.

Unlike Acta, Riggleman argues calls and requires infield practice. However, just like Acta, Riggleman loses, and his team performs poorly on defense. Meet the new boss, so to speak.

The Nats have a better winning percentage because they have a better roster, pure and simple. No bullpen pitchers from 2009 are on this team. Pudge was signed. Johnson was traded, allowing Dunn to move to 1B. Desmond earned a promotion. Jeezus has arrived.

Acta wasn't afforded a chance with this team, and Riggleman was never relegated to managing the woeful 2008-09 Nationals.

In the end, 1a is right. The increase in the quality of the players is the reason the team had made nominal strides toward mediocrity. I'm not qualified to even be an armchair manager, so I won't comment on his lineups. But I gave Riggleman a D.

Posted by: JohninMpls | July 13, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I like Riggs and gave him a B. I don't like everything he does -- like substituting Adam Kennedy (who can't even field a ground ball right in front of him) for Adam Dunn in a one run ballgame, and some of his pitcher choices, but he has essentially taken a team with a bad starting rotation and the worst middle infielders in the league into respectability. And he has these guys working hard and a good clubhouse. He's not perfect, but I'm not sure I could name a manager that could have done better.

Posted by: raymitten | July 13, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with periculum that the MI rotation has failed. Since this is an off-day, and we have a bit of time, I'd like to use his post as a jumping-off point for a conversation where you all think out loud. Besides playing Desmond at SS every day, what do the Nats do for the rest of the season at 2B? And who is the likely/reasonable answer going forward (next year)? It seems like this is the time for the Nats to figure that out. No fair going back to Hudson; that's done. That said, I will go back to my LaRussa comment. Riggleman will likely keep playing small ball and playing lots of people to increase their effectiveness for all of those switches, etc. What do you think?

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 13, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I gave him a B. I did that because he had to taken over in mid-season for a team that was playing historically poor baseball.

His job shouldn't be guaranteed for next year. If team loses 95 games he needs to go.

The defense is bad because most of the players aren't good on defense. Bos has written that moving Guzman to second would extend his career and he would have a good glove there. He looks more like Ronnie Belliard to me. Next year is a big question mark. What is going to happen to Dunn? Guzman and Kennedy will hopefully be replaced by someone esle. Put Bernadino in center and Morse or new player in right. Hope Flores can come back and catch well.

Posted by: Pensfans | July 13, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, one other #RiggsFail -- use of the DL vs. American League teams. Willie Harris as DL? Inexcusable.

Can you tell I'd like to see Morse more in the second half? He's not the savior, but he deserves a shot to show what he can do. The guy has 4 home runs in 71 AB. That's a better ratio (1 HR per 17.75 AB) than Zimmerman (1 per 18.06) and Willingham (1 per 18.73). Dunn is 1 per 14.55. No one else on the team more than 1 in 30. (Well, except for Carlos Maldonado who it one homer in his 11 at bats.) Isn't Riggs at least curious whether Morse can keep up that kind of power hitting in more at bats? I sure am.

Posted by: Section222 | July 13, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm in the camp that a manager is usually next to irrelevant to a team's success. Tony LaRussa is a genius when he has Albert Pujols or Wainwright or Carpenter or McGwire or Canseco or Eckersey on the team. Otherwise, he's a pretty good manager who probably doesn't win any more than anybody else.

Also, do you really want to fire your third manager in five years? And then expect to get a good candidate for the job or to convince free agents that you have a stable organization?

Stick with Riggleman for now and work on solving the player personnel problems (starting pitching, fielding, lot of offensive depth). I'd also start to develop managerial prospects inside the organization, which I'm not sure they've done.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 13, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

fpcsteve, I can't say the middle infield rotation has failed because you agreed to grade on a curve at the start of the year, by playing Desmond. That guaranteed a lot of errors at SS. You have to suck it up for a year and then decide what you've got.

Gonzalez is not the answer at 2B, not as a full-timer, and I don't think he has any meaningful role in this team's future. He's a utility man.

Unless Espinosa is ready more quickly than expected, the Nats will have a hole at 2B for at least the next year. They're going to have to bring in somebody to fill that spot. No idea who.

Posted by: baltova1 | July 13, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

>>I'm in the camp that a manager is usually next to irrelevant to a team's success.

Disagree. His lineups in the DH American League series probably cost us those two games against Cleveland. Instead of having an extra bat, he basically cost us a bat, inserting Willie Harris into the game.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | July 13, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

baltova1, I agree on Desmond. That has been tough to watch even from this far away (no Nats games on TV in NE). I agree with you on Gonzalez. If you take Boswell's theory to heart, Espinosa has to dominate AA, then AAA before showing up in DC. That means seeing him in 2012. If you don't go back to Guzman and Kennedy, then we have to find a shorterm solution at 2B. You are right about talent. La Russa's players make all the difference.

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 13, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The batting orders cost us the Indians games that they lost 7-2 and 7-1?

The hitters did that?

Posted by: baltova1 | July 13, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

A manager can only be graded on team performance vs potential. I gave him a benefit-of-the-doubt C. I think he's fought the pitching to a draw overall. Defense, well, except for Nyger's fall off the cliff, everyone's catching the ball about per potential. Willingham better than expected. We didn't know Dunn's real potential, and he's been ok.

Offense - he keeps throwing low OBP guys at the top of the order and the offense keeps creaking. Go figure. Not that his choices are much.

In-game. D at best. STOP GIVING UP OUTS!!!! We need all the at bats we can get, with a guy on 2nd and no outs, let somebody drive him in! Particularly since....

Skills - not so hot. Poor bunting, although we keep doing it. Poor baserunning overall, with some good moments. Adventure whether OFs will hit the cutoff man.

I bet he's stuck with some front office decisions, like playing Morgan so much, and at leadoff - giving him a year to determine if he's the answer. Looks like not so much.

General dignity and respect - A.

But the general conclusion is that the team has underachieved. That's pretty much on him.

Posted by: utec | July 13, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

The Gentlemen Jim "man-love" ended for me when he;

-Couldn't seem to trot the same lineup out for more then two days in a row.

-Watches Tyler Clippard implode.

-Never read the riot act to Nyger Plush Morgan for his little league tantrum plus other dreadful baseball offenses.

-Insisting on playing everybody that shows up for the game. Three innings and one at bat is the rule! Whats this Williamsport?

-Mouthing the party line...., we are trying real hard, we are still not firing on all cyclinders, we are fighting every night, he's a real charecter guy, great club-house guy, he's just a young guy, he's a super person, sometimes we just don't get all the breaks....., la,la,la,la!

Bobby V would shake things up, but he would probaly cost between 4-6M. Uncle Ted and Minnie Me wouldn't even give that a second thought. This team is doomed if even the manager is considered at a "bargain basement price".

Posted by: TippyCanoe | July 13, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman is the kind of guy you hire if you believe the manager doesn't win or lose games, the players do, and you don't have much in the way of players, i.e., he'll work cheap and probably not screw up the few good guys you've got--the Replacement manager for statistical purposes. So he gets a C unless he screws up. I think he's foundering. I gave him a D.

That said, turn around just one series in B'more--three games they absolutely positively had no business losing, and all on the pitching, and they're only five under .500, half a game back of Fla., and maybe this is a different conversation.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

It's an interesting problem for the players. Riggleman is, by all accounts, a players' manager, but if the team can't attract a top talent unless they get credibility, by winning. If they win, they keep Riggleman, but if they lose, they can't get anybody better.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I gave Riggs a C.

He doesn't have the horses to win the division and you shouldn't hold that against him. Having said that, he's made some mistakes. He's overused his bullpen - all those 1 batter matchups have burned out the arms down there.

He's overused Willie Harris and Nyjer Morgan - when it's obvious to me, that Nyjer needed some time on the bench to get his head in the game. Riggs seems willing to try every lineup combination except the one we all are asking for: Roger in CF, and Morse in RF.

I agree with the poster that said that you cannot make a player field a grounder - right, physical errors happen. But as for throwing to the right base, that's about preparation and being ready. If Nyjer doesn't know what base to throw to, he can sit next to John MacLaren on the bench until he knows what to do. WRT Morgan, I think mistakes like that are more of the case of him "trying to make a play" to make up for a previous mistake, which is also why I think he needs some more rest to get his mental game straightened.

As a manager, my motto would be "Don't embarrass me, and I won't embarrass you." Meaning, don't get picked off while day dreaming, run everything out, and if you think you deflected a ball over teh fence, before you have a tantrum, check with the umpire or the other outfielders first. I would have pulled Morgan next half inning.

as for my opinion on the Orioles and Buck Showalter, look for my posts over on Orioles Journal.

Posted by: comish4lif | July 13, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Whoops, hit that one a little too quick.
Meant to say

It's an interesting problem for the players. Riggleman is, by all accounts, a players' manager, so you'd think the players would like to keep him around. He only gets replaced if they have players and still lose. But if they keep losing, they probably won't be able to attract anyone better. So to get a better manager, they have to win, but if they win, they get the same manager.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I concur with comish4life, but add the following criticisms:

- tolerating a CF who won't throw to the cut-off man repeatedly, despite bad results each time

- an itchy trigger-finger for canning pitchers, unless his name is Clippard, in which case he waits all week

Posted by: Section506 | July 13, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Riggs clearly cannot be blamed for a payroll too low to hire even mid-market talent. The bargain basement busted pitcher staff isn't his fault, nor are the other holes in the lineup. However, like many posters above, I am baffled by his tolerance of Morgan's repeated bonehead plays, his use of Harris to pinch hit, his refusal to give Morse a fair shot, and his pulling Dunn so often (or Willingham ever). The error rate is just awful, and some of that is on the manager. I don't fault him so much on pitching moves--his starting staff is just lame. Literally. So overall, a C.

Posted by: NatsFly | July 13, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I give him a C as well. I would lean C+.

Is he a genus, no. But you can tell this guy knows baseball, that he has something going on. I think you just watch him and you can tell that he has the air of a sports guy around him. He is a cool and calm class act, but its not like Acta who never fought for his players, we see Jim out there talking to the umps on bad calls.

The team was woefully bad the past 2 years under Acta. RIggelman stabilized them from that, and that is worth something.

Now personally I would not mind if the team were to get a big time manager. But if they do I would probably say Jim Riggleman could be useful in some other capacity.

But here is how I will judge Riggleman right now, at the end of the season the team is on target for 71 wins. I say to you, if Riggleman can bring up the average and get above that total by the end of the year, then I would view this as a successful season for him, if he comes in under that total, then I would say the team should move on.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 13, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

So far, Mr. Riggleman's managing job has been average at best. I believe his poise during games is his greatest asset. His facial expressions can tell the story of the game, but when things aren't going well, he doesn't pull an Ozzie Guillen. I also like the way he is handling our young pitchers, making them effective but not putting pressure on them. However, his decisions with lineups can be questionable. I see Bernadina as our best 1st or 2nd hitter, not a 6th or 7th spot "run producer". Face it, Guzman is declining and Roger, a great five tool player, is on the rise. Also, he is giving Nyjer too many chances to be that promising leadoff hitter like he was last season. Quite honestly, I feel more confident with Willie Harris being the leadoff man because of his potential power and decent speed. After reviewing everything, he has still improved our ballclub after Acta left and I would like to see how the second half goes before any decisions are made about our manager.

Posted by: natsOVERyanks | July 13, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with a lot of people on the questionable lineups and stuff. But the lack of depth on this roster is partly to blame for that.

People can complain about Morgan all they like, but the fact is he is better defensively than most of our other OF's and the only one that is close when it comes to speed and defensive ability is Harris, who is an even bigger liability batting.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 13, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I gave him a B. Just about everyone predicted the nats to win 70-something games this season and they are on track to meet that goal. I think Riggs has the team playing hard, and getting better in the last few weeks.

As far as the defense, yea its been bad. But Riggs can only paly the personel he has. He has no everyday 2nd baseman, no backup catcher. They have alot of guys learning new positions, rookies, etc... As far as CF, the plan was Nyjer is the everyday CF and he is following the plan, guiving Nyjer a full season to find out what they have.

I think the knocks on riggs are not using the bench better / lettign them get stale sitting around, getting too cute with match ups & over managing, and over relyance on the bullpen, pulling the starters too quickly, not letting them work through stuff.

Posted by: tr0man0 | July 13, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman's been OK, but as long as this team is going to be owned by the baseball equivalent of Donald Sterling, the manager isn't going to matter.

Posted by: RiverOtis | July 13, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Grades....Just Awesome:

Rob Dibble, 1990 NL All Star!

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | July 13, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse


Riggleman has TWO everyday second basemen who actually can field the position: one is Adam Kennedy signed as a free agent and the other is Alberto Gonzalez who may be the surest fielder of the bunch and he isn't hitting sub Mendoza like erstwhile second baseman Willie Harris. He has actually done well when given a chance.

This is Riggleman making these choices. When Rizzo, Davey Johnson, and the braintrust told Riggleman he had to play Desmond as the everyday shortstop ... he, entirely on his own, decided to make Cristian Guzman the everyday second basemen. Precluding Kennedy and Gonzalez. Guzman is a terrible fielder with a crappy OBP for a number 2 hitter (Guzman must mostly hit #2 otherwise he pouts?) and is a terrible hitter batting left handed against right handed pitchers? He is Ty Cobb batting right handed against left handed pitching ... but he still doesn't walk.

What about that ISN'T ON Riggleman? He gets a "D" because clearly this team is underachieving as Rizzo put it and he is a major reason why. His managing seemed far better last year with Acta's coaching staff. This year it is quite different and mostly idiosyncratic.

Posted by: periculum | July 13, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Come on Peric, look at the facts. While I'm not a fan of Riggs (I gave him a C) 2nd base is hardly his fault. Kennedy played himself out of his position. Guzman played into it. He hits better and fields good enough.

Kennedy can't hit, and is barely better at fielding. I don't see how anyone can justify playing Kennedy over Guzman at this point.

Posted by: swang30 | July 13, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

periculum, this makes no sense: "When Rizzo, Davey Johnson, and the braintrust told Riggleman he had to play Desmond as the everyday shortstop ... he, entirely on his own, decided to make Cristian Guzman the everyday second basemen."

Why would the "braintrust" force him to play one guy at SS and let him do what he wants at 2B?

Posted by: baltova1 | July 13, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Does Riggleman have much say on who gets sent up and down from the minors?

Posted by: alex35332 | July 13, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to @WaPoLive for the link to the 1990 ASG photogallery -- a bunch of juicers before they went on the juice. Just awesome is right:

Speaking of Grades....Just Awesome:

Rob Dibble, 1990 NL All Star!

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | July 13, 2010 2:50 PM

Posted by: Section222 | July 13, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I know we are taalking about Riggleman but I think the pitching coach should go before Riggs does.

Posted by: Badwisky | July 13, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I gave him a C and would have given him a B last year if anyone asked. I would have given Manny a D for not recognizing Josh Willingham's talent and the lack thereof of Lastings Milledge.

The different line-ups don't bother me. This is not a team with 8, or even 6, everyday players. When he stuck with the 8 during the slump I was scratching my head. He is not responsible for the AAAA rotation, Stras and Livo excluded.

He does overmanage and tinker in a bizarre Gene Mauch-like way that makes me think he is tightening up and letting everything get to him. And so the team tightens up. It's really odd how much better and clutch the offense and defense were till mid-May, then the wheels fell off. He does deserve some of that. Part of managing is managing the gestalt of the team. Can you put the players in the proper frame of mind, etc.

But ultimately the Lerners are to blame for giving another manager such a ridiculous contract. I'm glad AK brought it up again. No manager other than Walter Alston succeeded with such terms, and in this case it signals a lack of respect for Riggleman. At the end of the day, with that contract, why should the players bust their butt for him?

Posted by: paulkp | July 13, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Just curious. What grade do you think the players would give him and does that have any weight? I don't know if the players would rather play for a guy that shows them respect, or one who makes smart decisions during the game so I don't know how valuable their grade would be, but I'm wondering your thoughts? For what it's worth, I gave him a C and would probably stick with him next year. If they are under .500 next year, he gets fired.

Posted by: DavidandDonald | July 13, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

A D, though it could have been a C.

joebleux, excellent, excellent. It's just silly to think a few drills here and there are going to reduce the number of errors.
The manager really can't do anything about that. We have a rookie at short and a few other bad fielders, so it's going to be the way it is. Also, he can't do anything about the fact that he has three fringe-major league pitchers (at best) in his rotation (Stammen, Atilano, Martin). So he also gets a pass here.

I'm in the camp of "a manager can't do a lot, but his first job is to avoid making it more likely for his team to lose". Really, all a manager can do (and has to do, in my book), is not screwing up and putting his players in positions and situations where they are most likely to succeed.
In that respect, a few things about Riggs have driven me crazy, all of them related to "over-managing".

1. LINEUPS: The constant unnecessary lineup shuffling, culminating in the downright insane use of the DH in the Baltimore and Cleveland series. Way too often has two bad hitters in there at the same time in order to "keep them sharp". On top of that, he unbelievably said a few days ago that this shuffling approach worked well for the club.

2. BULLPEN: His over-eagerness to play matchups with the bullpen, plus over-using Clippard early (sometimes unneccesarily for two innings). Also I'm not sure if he has realized Burnett is way better against righties than against lefties. And something like that is a very bad sign.
BTW, if the relievers overall had not been this good (as opposed to last year), we're looking at a 33-56 or so record. This is the one (and only!) area where Rizzo has really improved the club (he also gets a plus for drafting Storen).

3. The rest: The odd bunting decisions, the occasional inexplicable (and unforgivable) blunders with double shifts (especially in RF)...

I hope Rizzo re-signed Riggs as an interim solution until the team can compete in 2012 (mayyybe 2011), and not because he thinks he might be it.
Riggs might be a good baseball man but way too often he is stuck in either outdated or simply crazy (DH use) thinking, harming his teams chances along the way.

Posted by: amo36 | July 13, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Call Bobby Valentine this offseason and tell him you made a mistake but not siring him. Stroke his ego by telling him how lucky they are that the Marlins job didn't work out. This guy is a very good manager, who get the most out of his team. Go get him on October 1st!

Posted by: tcostant | July 13, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse


Kenedy used to be an everyday player. Guzman has never had much range and is still adapting to 2nd.

Alberto is one of the guys who got stale sitting on the bench while Guzzy was hot. He should see more time at 2nd becuase his defense.

Posted by: tr0man0 | July 13, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I think most of you know how i feel and if you don't here goes; Rigg's lost me when he didn't sit Nyjer after that crazy play in CF and when he let the woefull Indians and Orioles beat us 5/6 that almost drove me to the liquor cabinet(only for holiday's)and when he didn't retain Marquis Grissom but brought in his buddy Dan Raddison,Rigg's gives me the impression that these guy's think it's allright to lose(i know they don't) i would just once like to hear that he closed the clubhouse doors and you could hear his voice outside those doors just once. I like him but i don't think this team moves forward with him at the helm.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 13, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Why do people here think Riggs is a Tony LaRussa guy when he has never coached under LaRussa? Riggs got his big league start under Whitey Herzog not LaRussa.

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | July 13, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Can any of the ~52 people that gave Riggs an "A" please chime in? What are you seeing that you like (besides he isn't Manny Acta), that most of us are not seeing.

Posted by: comish4lif | July 13, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Can everyone who rated, list their grade and how many wins they thought the Nats would end up with when the season started? I gave him a "C" and thought they'd have around 75 wins (somewhere just under .500). Right now, they're on track for around 71. For those giving him a "D" or worse, how many wins did you expect to get and how far off do you think we'll be? For those giving him an "A" or "B", did you expect the Nats to be much worse this year?

Posted by: DavidandDonald | July 13, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Just a little different perspective on Riggs--- his career win percentage as a manager is 0.444, very close to his combined time with the Nats (0.439). While comparing to the Nats the early ninties Padres and late nineties Cubs is inherently fraught, is there a valid larger point to be drawn?

Will Riggs never really push an overall middling lineup beyond its natural sub-basement of the 0.500 plateau?

Posted by: hlaxness | July 13, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-regardless of our individual take, right now Riggs stands at 94% combined C or other words average or above. So wherever we fall in that spectrum, it points to an acknowledgment of the fact that WE DON'T HAVE THE PLAYERS. So now it becomes more of a referendum on those ABOVE Jim. Is it Rizzo? While he appeared to have a hot start,both in trades and in f.a.,things are not so dynamic appearing anymore.Now, by all accounts, he inherited a shambles of an organization, and the moves he's made to bolster the f.o. have been widely lauded.Plus, as a 1st timer I expect he's still learning as well.And let's face it-it appears he inherited a Sisyphean task. I'm inclined to think that he'll be just fine-and possibly better than most - IF he gets the resources. Which brings me to the most problematic aspect of "when are we gonna be good?" Much as I want to believe that the Slow Lerners are merely ...well, slow learners!....and much as I want to also believe that they'll finally treat us-and the team-as something other than tenants in a mall....and much as I DO believe that they truly want to build a perennial winner....the sad fact is, given any number of chances to show more than financial acumen-they just seem like the looming cloud of a "plan" which is never now, always stretching out into a future which is never gonna arrive. Please understand, Gang-I'm not saying they're cheap (well, I'm not ready to convict them, yet) but to this point-Soooo short sighted in their claimed long sighted vision.
NOW:Gang-how would you grade the OWNERS?
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | July 13, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman has TWO everyday second basemen who actually can field the position: one is Adam Kennedy signed as a free agent and the other is Alberto Gonzalez...

kennedy lost 2 or 3 games on the west coast trip with his fielding.

Posted by: Vze2sr66 | July 13, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

@zendo -- I think the Nats will be good in 2012, barring any major injuries. They *could* have a great starting rotation at that point with 2 potential 20 game winners (Strasburg, JZimm, Detwiler,Marquis, Olson?) plus a decent bullpen led by Storen. They'll have Bryce Harper up and hitting up a storm while bolstering their defense and could have 2 or 3 position playing all-stars (RZimm, Harper, Desmond?). They just need to solve the lead-off hitter (CF) and long-term catcher positions, I think. If Dunn is still there hitting 35 homers, they'll be contending.

Posted by: DavidandDonald | July 13, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

First off, this blog and this subject make for great reading. I gave Riggs a C. Maybe it's because my wife still watches her Yankees every night( on the small TV), I get to see a real MLB pitching staff. I laugh at our starting rotation (sans SS). Frankly, it's amazing we have as many wins as we do. His coaching staff brings his grade down a bit. I have been to at least a dozen games this year when I am screaming for McCatty to come out and settle the pitcher. And he does come out to the mound, two or three runs later. His lineups are suspect because his depth us poor. Maybe it's coincidence, but most Sunday games I've gone to, he clears the bench. And yet the team we're playing gas their regular lineup.

Posted by: Santa72 | July 13, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I gave him a B. True, the players he has are better than last year, but they're not THAT much better. He has only two bonafide starters, and the everyday batting order is full of holes you can pitch around. He really has no bench. In short, it's a roster that lacks any depth anywhere except the bullpen, whose strength is 3-4-5 in the lineup a solid bullpen, and, (as someone put it) Strasburg and Livo, then turn on the Tivo. That's not much; when you have twelve holes in the dike and only ten fingers, you're going to have leaks all the time.

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 13, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I think he is a D. The starting pitching is beyond his control. Losing Marquis was painful. It could improve with Detweiler and Zimmermann coming back. Also Hanrahan's regression was a surprise. Wang is a wild card.
The Bull Pen has the talent but he did overuse Clippard and continues to do so. He pulls people too quickly.
Gonzales should be playing second. He is by far the best fielder. Also having a good fielder a second should help Desmond. Bernadina belongs in Center. He is a good fielder better that either Morgan or Harris. Give Morse a chance to either prove or disprove himself. He seems to be a good hitter and has done well when he has played. Then let them play regularly.
Others have discussed how bad he is during in game situations.
Rizzo has done a good job. The potential is there. If they resign Dunn and the Hammer it gives us a good base. I think there were better pitchers than Marquis available but Marquis was a reasonable choice. Getting rid of Dukes was a great move.

Posted by: brachabatrachel | July 13, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

To a certain extent Riggleman has had to hold his nose and find out who can play CF, RF and 2B. Morgan and Kennedy have been major disappointments with Guzman becoming a starter by default although his hot bat early and good attitude made it an easier decision. The defensive problems with Morgan and Kennedy are puzzling but with Morgan they just have play him to find out if he can be kept short term. His fate will be decided in the second half. I think Kennedy has a one year deal so he may be a moot point. Didn't like the Guzman in RF experiment at all. Desmond needs to settle down and he will probably be here long term. The starting rotation fell appart, the bullpen proved to be weak early and is faltering again. Seems like a pretty weak hand to play and I think Riggleman has done a creditalble job holding things together. If things don't change by mid-August in CF, RF and 2B I expect to see some new faces - Bernadina in CF, Gonzo at second and Morse in RF. The starting rotating evolution will be interesting to watch and hopefully takes some pressure off the bullpen.

Posted by: Natmeister | July 13, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Heck, he pinch hit J.D. Martin for Strasburg when he reached his pitch count, when he had Mike Morse and Bernadina available. Then he pulled Martin for Storen before he pitched.

1) He didn't want to use up a regular hitter so early in the game, 2) he didn't want Strasburg to hit, and 3) Martin is a starting pitcher, so of course he did not pitch. Ortiz didn't pitch after he pinch ran, either. This all makes perfect sense. Being smarter about baseball than people with access to fan boards is not grounds for dismissal.

Posted by: markfromark | July 13, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Addendum: Forgot to add that the inability of starters to consistenly get to the 7th inning (or 6th or 5th sometimes) has been crippling for the bullpen and burns up the bench as well. Not to mention having to play behind early in the game. Coupled with terrible defense the negative ripple effect is significant.

Posted by: Natmeister | July 13, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

@CHAMP1464 - re: Riggleman as a LaRussa "guy" - this comes (copied)from the Nat's website:
Riggleman was "STL's 1B coach from 1989-90...served 9 seasons as a minor league manager in the STL (1982-88) and LAD (1991-92) chains, recording a winning mark at 558-554 (.502)...made coaching debut as a coach with Double-A Arkansas in 1981...spent 3 seasons as STL's minor league field coordinator from 2005-07...also served stint as STL's Farm Director, replacing Lee Thomas in 1988...has served stewardships under Tony LaRussa" - hope that helps

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 13, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Ex-New Yorker here, former Mets fan, from childhood.

You don't want Bobby Valentine as your manager. Trust me on this.

Rig's non-handling of the Nyjer Morgan tantrum did make me nostalgic for Gil Hodges, though...

Posted by: Alan_A | July 13, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I think Riggleman is managing to the mean, so I gave him a C. He has certainly guided the Nationals to a better record than his predecessor, and seems to have the players' respect. The question in my mind would be - If he were given the "tools" (better players) to rise to the next level, could he handle that team?
Right now, his "core" is RZim, Dunn, Willingham, & Desmond in the field, and Strasburg, Livo, and the Bullpen (as a group entity) pitching; Both Guzman & Morgan have been "hot & cold" this year, while Pudge is winding down a HOF career, but still contributing to what success this team has had. Bernadina has contributed as well, but the jury is still out as to whether or not he can be a core player (I'm on the 'not' side of the fence right now, but he could turn into Torii Hunter for all I know).
The key going forward is acquiring better players at 'positions of liability' (CA, MI, CF/RF, & SP, imo), either through the draft, or Free Agency.

The Rule4 draft has seemingly shifted from the "toolsy, great projections" strategy under Bowden to a "find real baseball players & sign them" strategy under Rizzo. As a result, the farm system is in much better shape than it was even two years ago, and could start 'bearing fruit' by 2012.
Trades or free agency is a bigger up-front investment for the owners, as the exchange/purchase is usually considered 'major-league' ready, and expected to succeed immediately. If the Lerners are willing to commit funds to either the salary acquisition (trade), or F-A side of the equation, plugging one or two more of the gaps in the 'positions of liability' during the current season or coming off-season, then the Nationals can take the next step toward not only respectability, but actual competetiveness.

To summarize:
1) Re-sign Dunn (he'll be cheaper than the alternatives, imo).
2) Find a #2 behind Strasburg (JZimm is a #3 right now in my book).
3) Get Harper under contract.

Posted by: BinM | July 13, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman is a formula manager. Does everything by rote. He does not get on his players and man, do they need it. He watches the same mistakes over and over and never corrects them. Nobody can bunt and he doesn't make the practice till they puke. He thinks he's the only mgr who can do a double-switch and he acts like he's the only one who can do it. He locks in on players like Morgan and will not consider a change. I could go on, but what's the point. He is as bad as it gets. Nice guys finish last, exactly where he has finished since he started managing.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | July 13, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree more - Bobby V. could be the MLB equivalent of Larry Brown (NBA). He'll thwow players 'under the bus' on a regular basis, play to the press constantly, and offer no more strategically than any other manager in MLB.
Actually, in that respect, he's less a coach/manager than Larry Brown - At least Brown tries to get his players to understand defense.

Posted by: BinM | July 13, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

"kennedy lost 2 or 3 games on the west coast trip with his fielding."

I'm sure Guzman has LOST MANY more batting second with a horrendous OBP and meager walks, with his really terrible fielding, brain dead base running, and lack of speed.

But hey, he needs to be "respected" according to Riggleman. I'd rather see if Boomer Whiting can emulate Morgan.

Posted by: periculum | July 13, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

"To summarize:
1) Re-sign Dunn (he'll be cheaper than the alternatives, imo)."

Sign him 3-4 years, with a no trade clause? That's a bad deal for a 30+ year old marginal first baseman who looks like he is going to be a DH in a year or two.

If its 2-3 years without the no-trade clause that would work. IN a year or two he can be traded to an AL team when his fielding really starts to decline.

Otherwise Marerro is getting close enough. And Morse might surprise you. Marerro will probably become a DH too but he, unlike Dunn, is only 22 years old. Big difference there. And Justin Bloxom is looking pretty damned good in Hagerstown, and he is a switch hitter.

2) Find a #2 behind Strasburg (JZimm is a #3 right now in my book).
Cliff Lee? Possibly Harren from AZ? But it makes sense to have a power lefty in the rotation.

3) Get Harper under contract.
And Solis, Cole, Grace, and Smalling. Solis, Cole and Grace may be just as important as Harper in the end, you never know.

Posted by: periculum | July 13, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

periculum, what do you see as the primary difference(s) between Morgan and Guzman in what they are contributing (or not contributing) to the Nats' record? Just wondering...

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 13, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

"periculum, what do you see as the primary difference(s) between Morgan and Guzman in what they are contributing (or not contributing) to the Nats' record? Just wondering ..."

Are you kidding. Even on his worst bone-headed play Morgan is still the superior fielder to Guzman. Guzman lacks range at shortstop, at second he often is lost, and right field was a disaster. How important is good fielding? Look at San Diego with just 1 good hitter in Adrian Gonzalez. The rest aren't even close to Zimmerman and Willingham ... even Pudge looks good.

Compare Guzman's stats to Bernadina and Morse combined? Note they have far fewer at bats.

So, what's the difference? SD features consistent pitching and a strong defense up the middle. Something the Nats lack (but were supposed to have this year) with Guzman at second and this year many times with Morgan.

Morgan appears to be trying to hard, trying to do things beyond his own limits to make up for his gaffes. IMHO he (and not .180 hitting "I'm right where I want to be" Harris) should be the utility outfielder just to take the pressure off.

Use Bernadina in center and Morse in right and let Morgan work his way back in. He's a lot better than Harris that's for sure.

Finally as Dave Nichols, Greg DiPalma, and Brian Oliver said, Guzman should not be playing/starting in the second half for what looks to be a 70 win (or less) team. Those critical reps should be given to a player like Alberto Gonzalez who appears to have earned it, and he is young enough that he might be an important cog in future roster.

Posted by: periculum | July 13, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Justin Bloxom: 1B in Hagerstown.

1st half: 25 doubles, 4 triples, 9 homers and 58 RBI with a .318 BA. 9 SB against 4 CS. He apparently has some speed and agility.

20 walks against 65 K's looks disconcerting.

Posted by: periculum | July 13, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

1) No trade clause for Dunn? Dunn's agent could ask for one, and that might be a hanging point in the discussion. IMHO, Dunn is worth a 4-5 yr deal, at somewhere between $16-18M/yr; If he wants a no-trade, the value drops to $13-15M on a 4-yr, but could increase to $17-19 on a 3-yr signing. Marrero is 1+ years away; He's either trade bate, or a .245/.305/.350 slash at the ML level, with a weak glove (8-14E). Morse might suprise all of us, and the Easter Bunny could be real, too. At least Morse has the size (6'5") to look like a 1B.

2) - Anything is possible, as long as the Lerners' are willing to spend the $$$. Up to now, they have been a bit unwilling, shall we say, playing a low-to-mid market stance.

3) - No argument there. Cole is the tough one there - My gut tells me he won't sign this year; I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: BinM | July 13, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Bloxom is 22 yo, and at least two years away from the majors. At this point, he's less than Nick Johnson in a lo-A uniform (12 Errors between 1B & RF in 85 games).

BTW, how's your boy Kearns doing?

Posted by: BinM | July 13, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone besides me watching the game?

Scoring the national anthem. Here are my pet peeves that she rang up:

1) She "slid" into notes ("Oo-ooh say can you see-eee...").
2) Didn't have the range - an octave plus a fifth. She had the top notes, at the expense of the low ones.
3) Was actually out of tune several bars at the beginning.
4) Changed/jazzed up the tune.

Pet peeves she did NOT ring up:
1) Singing too slow.
2) Mispronouncing "perilous" as "per-O-lous."

I give her a C+.

Anyone know if this game is going to start before 10:00 eastern?

Posted by: gilbertbp | July 13, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse


In regards to your quoting the Nats media guide let me make a few observations.

1. Riggleman managed in the minors for much of the 1980's for the Cardinal organization under Whitey Herzog.

2. When he took over for Lee Thomas in 1988,when Thomas left to become the Phils GM, he was Director of Player Personnel a front office job with Herzog still at the helm in St Louis.

3. Riggs moved to the field in 1989 as the first base coach under Herzog for a year and a half (I think) before Herzog stepped down in the middle of the 1990 season.

4. Left the Cardinal organization and went to the Padres, first at AAA Las Vegas and later to the ML level.

5. From San Diego to the Cubs, a short stay in Cleveland for one year and then to the Dodgers with Tracey for a few years.

6. I'll give you that he served for a 2-3 year period as the Cards minor league coordinator or whatever the title was while LaRussa was/is managing in St. Louis.

7. Went to Seattle in 2008 and joined the Nationals in 2009.

My whole point here is that if anything Jim is more a disciple of Herzog and not Tony LaRussa. When Jim was managing in the Cards farm system in the 80's and as a coach with the Cards, LaRussa was in Oakland.

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | July 13, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

gilbertbp: Anyone know if this game is going to start before 10:00 eastern?

I'm with you gilbertbp. I'm worn out from waiting for this to start. Hope to make it through at least the 3rd inning.

Posted by: KenNat | July 13, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Anybody notice Boras behind home plate? Staying close to his money...

Posted by: baltova1 | July 13, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Yanno, I always liked Marlon Byrd. I'm sure I'm record as being sorry to see him go.
I wonder what it would cost to get him back?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

on record

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

First: I like Riggs and I gave him a B. I do disagree with some of his lineup decisions, and I got ticked the times he left Clippard in to implode, but this team is much improved from last year. There's still a long ways to go, but the team is headed in the right direction. Riggleman also shows passion and that's something that Manny never did, which ticked me off. I figure that whatever move he makes or whoever he plays or doesn't play, someone will complain.

On another note, MASN2-HD will now be available to Verizon Fios customers in the DC area (but not in the Baltimore area!):

"Many of you have asked when MASN2 would become available in HD on FiOS TV. Well, the time is now. Whether you’re rooting for the Nationals or the Orioles, or if you’re looking forward to seeing the Ravens in high def, you’ll now get it all on FiOS in HD.

"MASN2 HD will be available on Channel 501 on FiOS1, our local channel for news, sports, traffic and weather. We offer FiOS1 throughout the D.C. metro area, including parts of Maryland and Virginia. Right now just the MASN2 programming will be in HD, but we hope to bring Verizon’s local programs to you in high-def down the line. And for those of you in the area outside the FiOS1 footprint, we’re working on a technical solution to make the MASN2 HD feed available to you as well.

"Once the All Star Game is over, there will be plenty of action, starting this Friday when the Nationals play the Marlins. Let’s see what Strasburg can do in HD."

Posted by: thepostischeap | July 13, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

The ESPN radio crew just interviewed Matt Capps (who stands to be the winning pitcher if the NL holds on), and he had some very positive words to say about the organization, epecially Rizzo and Kasten, and that his treatment has been "first class."

Posted by: thepostischeap | July 13, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

So having read the comments so far, I'm wondering, how would the grading have gone if we had some clear standards? Besides "He did X in game y, and I would have done z, and it turned out badly," -- in other words, just a judgement call; or "they have a much better bullpen and rotation" -- which he probably had less involvement in than Rizzo and the scouts, what sort of marker can you objectively put to the manager? There must be something--clearly there are good managers and bad managers. What would be the PIM--Player-independent-managing?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

the two orderlies in the Burger King commercial are cast to look like the orderlies in the movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Just got that.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

The Nats gave Byrd a couple of extended looks and he didn't get it done, although at the time I thought it was good to get him.

It's really great to read the opinions of true Nats fans, so many of which I agree with.

But Perc and others, you are so down Guz. Please, can we stop with: He can't hit left-handed. Two years in a row, hot streaks have carried him to the top of the leader board in batting average in late May. Most of those ABs were left-handed. The last time this came up, he got 4 hits left-handed that night.

As for his fielding, well, I have nothing to say.

And fyi, i gave Riggs (who as a contemporary and a DC guy, I'd like to see succeed) a C. I agreed with all who tend to dismiss the value of the manager. It's a given that all of us could do better.

Posted by: nats24 | July 13, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Man, that Brandon Phillips is smooth. Too bad we don't have a guy like that.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

wouldn't you assume the most simple measure of a manager's ability would be how much better the team is performing than the Pythagorean won-loss projection? Perhaps combined with the won-loss record in one-run games.

Posted by: nats24 | July 13, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and did I mention I wanted Valverde, and I'm not sorry?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

"For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple--and wrong,"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, I think the only fair measure of a manager's ability to affect outcomes is career numbers, over several seasons.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

and by numbers, I mean W/L

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

"Common sense is a collection of all our prejudices''

You want quotes? I got quotes.

Seriously, Sec3, if you're looking for a measure, you gotta start somewhere.

Posted by: nats24 | July 13, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

(a quote from any Candlestick fan, c. 197*)

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

You got me there.

But here's a motto of the Nats fan: "Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they shall never be disappointed.''

And, heck, we're probably the only jerks looking at this blog right now.

Let's go, Nats (when it's time, of course)

Good night, and good luck

Posted by: nats24 | July 13, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

MAN I SO want Marlon Byrd back.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Hey, who you callin a jerk??
(Wow, first time I won a quote contest with "Dodgers suck!". But I'll take it. Truth will out.)
See you next year!
My Man Marlon is POTG!!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 13, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Good for Marlin. Perseverence really paid off for him. A great AB (really a good AB in the 9th, too, despite the K) and a great defensive play in the 9th. MVP next to McCann.

Can't think of other ex-Nats to shine in the midsummer classic; of course we haven't had that much talent. . . .

Posted by: paulkp | July 13, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Wooohooo...Matt Capps. REPRESENT!

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | July 14, 2010 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Speaking for myself, I wasn't on here commenting because I was downstairs watching the game. Re. Byrd, I always liked him, and I've commented on various blogs in re. my being pleased to see him make the A-S roster (to...crickets...if memory serves). But, yeah, he stepped up last night. Great to see Capps get the W, too. And, of course, great to see the NL finally take one from the AL. All's right with the world... :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 14, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

According to ESPN, Jim Riggleman, in his 10 years as a big league manager, has managed ONE winning season (1995 with the Cubs.) He's never been to the playoffs and has a career .429 winning percentage (504-671.)

It's not going to get any better. He's a below average manager trying to make silk purses out of a sow's ear. Is he better than Manny Acta? Clearly. But let's be completely honest. It wouldn't take much to be better than Acta, but Riggleman's career numbers tell the tale.

Posted by: medic2010 | July 14, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Hey Sec3 and nats24: Thanks for last night's dialogue.

I enjoyed the read this morning, in the absence of new posts here.

Posted by: KenNat | July 14, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Matt winner! High trade value?

Posted by: M20832 | July 14, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse


If ESPN published that information or one of their talking heads spoke it they are wrong. Riggleman had two winning seasons with the Cubs, 73-71 in 1995 (season started late due to the strike carryover from 1994)and again in 1998 winning 90 games and going to the playoffs where they lost to Atlanta in the NLDS.

As for Jim's overall winning percentage in his career I would not use that as the sole measure of how good or bad a manager he is. Two winning seasons in Chicago out of five,very average as Cubs teams go in my opinion. Look at the other clubs he has had to work with and how bad some of them were. San Diego was a zoo with ownership dumping all the high priced talent and playing a lot of AAA type players. Seattle?, we all know how bad a team that was when Riggs took over in mid season, similar to what he has experienced here in Washington. In both cases Riggs got the team to win at a better record than the managers who came before him (McLaren and Acta). The difference is that the M's never gave him a chance to manage there for the full season and he has gotten that chance here in DC.

Check the record on Elias baseball stats or some other reliable site(not ESPN)if you doubt me.

Posted by: CHAMP1464 | July 14, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Keep Capps,

You can never have too many good bullpen pitchers.

Drews not a proven closer yet, and personally I think having Clipperd, Storen and Capps is better than only having 1 or 2 of the three.

Unless people think we have more good relievers than those three and they are just hiding underneath bullpen awning.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 14, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

A great part of the Nats early success this season was due to Clippard and Capps. Starting in June Clippard has fallen apart. Don't know what a manager can do about this other than find another setup guy.

Here is what I would have done after Morgan and Desmond's gaffes.

Put Gonzalez in at short. He did it for one game and he got 4 hits. Then back to the bench. Let Willie Harris play second instead of Kennedy. I would let Kennedy go and bring up one of the minor league players. Willie is a 200+ hitter when he get more time in the lineup. Bench Morgan against lefties, move Bernadina to center and play Morse in right. I believe anybody who has a good game at bat should stay in the lineup. Morse was hitting well and went back to the bench.

Trade Cuzman to an American League team.

Posted by: bigj7999 | July 14, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Um Willie is listed as an Outfielder

Posted by: alex35332 | July 14, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Willie should be listed as a custodian.

Posted by: egoodman8 | July 14, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Willie should be listed as a custodian.

Posted by: egoodman8 | July 14, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I hear they had him mop up the floor once, but he just kept missing spots.

Posted by: alex35332 | July 14, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-What...still no new post? AK, you been hobnobbing with the Slow Lerners? And I'd still like to your take on the Lerners.... Gang?
Go Nats!

Posted by: zendo | July 14, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse


"Two years in a row, hot streaks have carried him to the top of the leader board in batting average in late May. Most of those ABs were left-handed. The last time this came up, he got 4 hits left-handed that night."

Read it and weep.

Cristian Guzman has a .268 avg against right handed pitching. He has a .325 OBP and a .658 OPS. He has most of his strike outs (31) against just 13 walks against right handed pitching. Riggs has made him the STARTING A # 2 HITTER!!!! And most of his at bats have been left handed against right-handed pitching because there are mostly right handed pitchers out there!? (183)
He has 6 doubles but yes HE DOES HAVE 3 of his 4 triples from the left side. SLG percentage for a guy who hates to walk? .333!

These are the sort of stats that have everyone (including Riggleman) down on Morgan!!!!?? You want to know why the 3,4.5 guys aren't productive? Why they lose games because no one is on base? Look no further than Guzman, and not just at Morgan. 2 easy outs for opposing right handed pitching.

Morgan is worst hitting .253 against right handed pitching with a .306 OBP and a .624 OPS. He has 16 walks against 32 strikeouts. He has 9 doubles and 3 triples. This is in 233 AB's against right handed pitching.

Yes, there is a serious flaw at the top of the order but it certainly does not begin or end with Morgan ... both Morgan and Guzman are easy outs for right handed pitching. Guzman is a terrible fielder who has lost arm strength and speed. Morgan is inconsistent but brilliant at times in the field. The Nats MAY win 70 games if they are lucky.

So, why are the Nats playing an decrepit ex-shortstop at second base instead of trying Alberto Gonzalez? In a word: Riggleman (and it ain't Rizzo dudes!)

Just to hammer the point home about Riggleman (and to disparage BinM's attitude toward him):

Against right handed pitching Mike Morse is batting .364. That's right .364. Isn't he right handed? Yes. What is Riggleman thinking when he trots out Willie Harris? Neither Herzog nor LaRussa would ever do it ... against right handed pitching Morse has a .417 OBP and a 1.053 OPS. Three doubles and 2 home runs in just 33 at bats against right handed pitching.

The lefty, Roger Bernadina is only hitting .286 against right handed pitchers, an OBP of .348 and an OPS of .783 in 161 at bats. 8 doubles and 2 triples and 4 home runs. He is far, far worst against left-handed pitching with a .250 BA, 1 double, a .318 OBP and a .768 OPS.

Posted by: periculum | July 14, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

periculum, good use of stats in your last post, but I don't buy this at all:

"So, why are the Nats playing an decrepit ex-shortstop at second base instead of trying Alberto Gonzalez? In a word: Riggleman (and it ain't Rizzo dudes!)"

How can you possibly know that, especially after claiming that Rizzo and the front office told him to play Desmond?

Posted by: baltova1 | July 14, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Some of the criticism is justified, but everyone on this blog thought Morgan was our long-term solution in CF. In addition to his poor hitting and on-base percentage, how many times has he misjudged balls that went for extra base hits or threw to the wrong base? Bernadina would be a slight upgrade but he hasn't shown he's a leadoff hitter. I'd like to see Morse play more in RF with Bernadina in center over the 2nd half. Either way, we have a big gap in CF that needs to be filled as well as a need for a power hitting corner OF.

The Nats front office made the decision to go with the three-headed rotation of Desmond, Guzman, and Kennedy at SS and 2nd. The poor fielding of the first two has caused the Nats to have the worst fielding in baseball. You can't blame that on the manager who runs a lot of extra infield drills. He's playing who the front office provided and the results have been poor.

The starting rotation is hard to grade given the injuries and ineffectiveness of Marquis and Lannan. The Nats had them penciled in at worst as the 2nd and 3rd starters after Strasburg. Rizzo has tried Stammen, Atilano, and Olsen with mixed results.

Posted by: wizfan89 | July 14, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I hear a real desire for accountability in many of the most recent posts. I get that (thus the grades on JR). Riggleman and Rizzo have come in for some justified criticism. Ditto for Kennedy and Guzman. I am mystified, however, by the pass Desmond generally gets. I hear people sighing and then saying, "He's a rookie. We just have to live with him." Really? Accontability would have him sitting from time to time and letting Gonzalez play if he is in fact a solid player. Critique away. But bring Desmond into the conversation with more than a deep sigh and a shake of the head. I do think younger players are getting a pass. They're major leaguers, and, as Rizzo has siad, the majors are performance leagues.

Posted by: fpcsteve | July 14, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Some of the criticism is justified, but everyone on this blog thought Morgan was our long-term solution in CF."

That's not how I remember it. I'm too lazy to look it up, but more than one person insisted at the time that last fall was an anomaly, and he wouldn't sustain it, which he hasn't.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 14, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I gave Riggleman a C on this poll. On the MASN poll, how is the team doing, I gave the team a D. No matter what the manager's strategies, it's still the team that needs to perform, especially the defense up the middle (except Ivan) and pitching. Hopefully with some new blood in the second half we'll get back to .500.

Tough town! Some of The Post's own online writers call our team of last year a laughingstock. They mock readers of their own paper's print edition. And a major sports talk radio station in town airs the Baltimore games instead of Washington's. No respect.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | July 14, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I recall that as well (though I can't claim to have been one of them and I am also to lazy to look it up).


That's not how I remember it. I'm too lazy to look it up, but more than one person insisted at the time that last fall was an anomaly, and he wouldn't sustain it, which he hasn't.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | July 14, 2010 1:11 PM |

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 14, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

If you have been watching the Nats since they got here, Willie Harris was used at 2nd and 3rd to relieve the current starter. He also played left and center and right. I know of two games he saved with the last out in the ninth. Willie will never be much of a hitter, that's why he is a utility player. When he gets to play a few games his average will be above 200. My suggestion is to use him more at other positions. Kennedy blew more than one game at 2nd. He didn't have an RBI for a month. He has no future with the Nats.

Posted by: bigj7999 | July 14, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure Riggleman is a "good guy", but his defensive drills obviously aren't working and his line-ups and the frequency with which he changes them are guaranteed to NEVER sustain any type of winning streak. He has a terrible habit of sitting someone as soon as they get hot. He Loves Nyger and Kennedy and no matter how much they suck he keeps putting them out there, sitting the likes of Guzman, and either Morse or Bernadina. Why Willie Harris is still in the majors is beyond me, but that's probably not his call.....had to bring it up though.....

Posted by: Kolchak | July 14, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman has solved one problem with Nyjer Morgan, getting him to bunt to the first-base side. Now he needs to fix the other glaring problem, failure to throw to the cutoff man. Nyjer continuously fails to do this and give the other team's base runners an extra base as a result. This is simply intolerable. Riggleman has to straighten him out or sit him down.

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | July 14, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I would advise him to not read blogs.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 14, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

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