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Jim Riggleman talks September call-ups

Starting on Wednesday, Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman will have many more players from whom to choose when Major League Baseball rosters expand. Don't assume, however, Riggleman is in any rush to evaluate some promising young minor leaguers in the Nationals' system at the big league level simply because he can.

The Nationals are almost certain to add several pitchers in September, including Garrett Mock, but position players apparently are another story. Riggleman said while he and the front office will consider calling up players from the minors, it's by no means a forgone conclusion that the likes of shortstop Danny Espinosa, for instance, will be playing at Nationals Park this season.

Espinosa is leading Class AA Harrisburg with 18 home runs, including launching three in a game early this month. He's also third with 101 hits.

"Everything we say here goes right down there, so to get into anything other than saying we would give him consideration is, you know, I don't want to step on anybody's hopes," Riggleman said. "I don't want to give them too much indication of something that might happen. We're playing our schedule here. They're playing their schedule there. [General Manaqger] Mike [Rizzo], myself and the coaches will make recommendations, and then we'll make those decisions."

Part of the thinking regarding September call-ups has to do with the fans, Riggleman said. Many who still are attending games in the final month despite the club being out of the playoff race are doing so to watch established veterans, not necessarily minor leaguers the club may be interested in assessing in the majors.

"Our fans come out and support us tremendously," Riggleman said. "I know they like seeing Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman. To give them days off to play guys who have been playing in Double-A or Triple-A, that's not why they bought the ticket that day possibly."

Riggleman also has spoken about preserving the integrity of the game by not inserting unproven minor leaguers into his lineup when the Nationals are playing a postseason contender. Those moves undoubtedly would draw the ire of other contending teams.

Yet the Nationals' farm system features a handful of players who have excelled in Class AA or AAA and are no doubt in the team's future plans. Getting a glimpse of how they handle major league competition is among the most vital components for a club that's seeking to contend in perhaps another two seasons.

"It's fine line to walk," Riggleman said. "I do want to see the younger players play, but more often than not, it would probably be in situations where I feel like for whatever reason that's my best lineup today that I can put out there and it's against maybe team who's also not in contention."

By Gene Wang  |  August 28, 2010; 4:17 PM ET
Categories:  Garrett Mock , Jim Riggleman  
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Next: Game 130 discussion thread: Cardinals at Nationals

Comments

Yeah, Riggleman, I want to come to the park to see Dunn strike out and muff routine grounders, and also to watch Morgan get picked off. I have no interest in seeing our players of the future.

Posted by: sweetpea365 | August 28, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Riggleman, I want to come to the park to see Dunn strike out and muff routine grounders, and also to watch Morgan get picked off. I have no interest in seeing our players of the future.

Posted by: sweetpea365 | August 28, 2010 5:25 PM

Haha seriously. I want to see Espinosa at 2nd. I'm not paying to see Adam Kennedy.

Posted by: egoodman8 | August 28, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

And, Jim, just a hint. If you're resting Pudge, I want to see Wilson Ramos, not that established star Wil Nieves.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 28, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm a fan and I'd rather watch Espinosa and Chris Marrero play.

Posted by: inthestreetindustry | August 28, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Espinosa is now in Syracuse, where he has continued to perform well.

Posted by: Drew8 | August 28, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

"Riggleman also has spoken about preserving the integrity of the game by not inserting unproven minor leaguers into his lineup when the Nationals are playing a postseason contender"

So let me get this straight the Nationals were preserving the integrity of the game the last 2 year with over 100 losses. Gimme a break! Play Espinosa & Marrero. I went last night and paid to watch the light hitting Kennedy and even worse Justin Maxwell and his .100 average. I've spent a lot more money on the Nats over the last 6 years watching a lot worse than Espinosa and Marrero!

Posted by: PNatsFan | August 28, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Adam it might make sense to edit your post mentioning Espinosa is now in Syracuse and that's where Mike Rizzo plans on drawing players for the call-up. Which is why Yuniesky Maya is there.

I think most reasonably discerning fans (and Jim Riggleman that is probably all you have left at this point, right?) are going to want to see the future ... not the dismal past of 100 loss seasons. Given how every team in baseball has rifled through this franchise leaving it with a bare cupboard not worthy of a newly formed expansion team do you really honestly believe these so-called contenders deserve that "respect"? As a fan
I sure as heck don't. Besides your wonderful "veterans" like Harris, Maxwell, and Nieves have not performed up to AAA standards. And Maxwell isn't even one of those in reality.

So, stop with the "respect the game", "respect the veterans" hyperbole please? Its now bordering on ridiculous given the performance your veterans have put out this year ... if this is a performance leagues, as Mike Rizzo continues to state, do they truly deserve that respect given your record. Sheesh. This from the same guy who wanted to make Desmond a utility guy in right field and start Guzman at shortstop.

Let's take some more air out of the balloon and really make Natstown depressed ... don't bring any position players up from the minors and play your favorites right down to that 100th loss.

Posted by: periculum | August 28, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

It's a long, slow process to depend only on the draft. If you only use the draft as a team-building strategy, losing a first rounder like with SS or Detwiler (a slot player with limited potential who has also been injured) can set you back significantly.

Moreover, such a limited strategy costs you an opportunity to add quality players. Once you get quality players, you open up some options:

1. Keep them and win games, making the Nats fun, attracting fans, and building revenue for further player acquisitions. When the quality players sign elsewhere after their contracts expire, you get compensation draft picks. Or:

2. Trade them for prospects.

How do you get quality players? Signing free agents is one way. Dunn is the Nats only $20 million free agent in the years under Lerner. He could have been traded for prospects or the Nats could still keep him and build around him. The problem with the Nats is not Dunn. It is having too few quality players who have market value.

Trading for quality players is another way. The Nats do not take on much salary when they make trades, and this again limits their options. The last big-money guy traded for was Soriano, who netted a first rounder in the draft and Jordan Zimmermann as a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds when he signed with the Cubs. Soriano was pre-Lerner, and I don't think the Nats have had an extra first rounder or a supplemental pick since. The only extra first rounder I recall resulted from not signing their first round pick from the previous year, so that one, netting Storen, was not really "extra."

By only focusing on the draft plus bargain basement AAA types, the Nats are not only sacrificing their present, but their future as well. It would be great if they opened up a bit, taking a more comprehensive approach.

Posted by: EdDC | August 28, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

But Jim may be on to something. What if the manager made his moves according to the
fans' wishes? Bill Veeck had this idea long ago, but with moderrn technology it's feasible. How about a home game in Sept. where the lineups and every managerial decision is are done according to the fans' votes? Publicize it well ahead of time and the Lerners'll draw a huge crowd. And the Nats' brass should love it--fans' anger will be deflected from Lerners, Rizzo, and Riggleman to their friends and neighbors in the stands as bonehead moves are voted in and blow up in our faces! Or maybe not...

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 28, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I would much rather see Espinoza and some of the other AAA or AA position players than watch Dunn, Maxwell, or Morgan. Dunn has become an automatic strikeout machine (I think he has stopped caring), Maxwell cannot hit big league pitching, and Morgan is the dumbest player in history.

Posted by: MKadyman | August 28, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Shameless Riggles will say anything to keep his job. The fans want to see new blood but cheap old Lerner doesn't want to pay for the extra MLB contracts, everybody knows this is a fact, but Riggles falls on the sword and lies to the fans. Sign on to work for the Nats FO and leave your integrity at the door.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 28, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

"it would probably be in situations where I feel like for whatever reason that's my best lineup today that I can put out there and it's against maybe team who's also not in contention."

Then Justin Maxwell should not have played last night. Why was he in the lineup?

Posted by: periculum | August 28, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Losing Strasburg until 2012, losing Dunn at season's end, and losing more games than almost any other team for the 3rd year in a row....well, that's certainly depressing.
But knowing that the small-minded Riggleman will come back to manage again next year, now that's really fan-crushing!!!

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | August 28, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the Riggleman comments are kind of hilarious... of course we want to see Zimmerman and Dunn... but if you think that we want to see a bunch of washed out bench players rather then seeing a good young core of positional talent, then you really don't know what you are talking about... ugh...

At this point the season is about the Nat's future, because the present stinks... so please, please use the time as wisely as possible... it is not in the best interest of the Nats to play Kennedy and Nieves, etc so they can try and win 1 out of 3 games against the Braves to "spoil" their post season chances... let's some of the more advanced young guys (Ramos, Espinosa, etc) some real big league experience... for real... I'm not kidding...

Posted by: Ghost7 | August 28, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I started a poll on www.wnff.net to see who agrees with Riggleman on this.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 28, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I guess the Nats would be hurting Dunn and Kennedy's feelings if Espinoza and Marrero were called up September 1st.

I'm guessing 99% of the Nats fans don't want Lerner, Kasten, Rizzo or Riggleman speaking for them. How about posting a fans' poll on this blog whether or not the fans would like to see Espinoza, Marrero and other minor league position players called up September 1st.

Posted by: 4U2Know | August 28, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

My god, that man is pathetic. Integrity? Wow! I want to see the future or at least what might be the future. Can Marrero do worse than Dunn has this last month? That would be impossible. I know Kennedy is doing well now, but he's not even vaguely in the future picture, I want to see Espinosa. We can't lose a lot more games using propects. The team barely wins many as it is.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | August 28, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

My god, that man is pathetic. Integrity? Wow! I want to see the future or at least what might be the future. Can Marrero do worse than Dunn has this last month? That would be impossible. I know Kennedy is doing well now, but he's not even vaguely in the future picture, I want to see Espinosa. We can't lose a lot more games using propects. The team barely wins many as it is.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | August 28, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

The negative trolls here want the Nats to bench Adam Dunn and call up Chris Marrero? Wow. Dunn's OPS is a full hundred points than Marrero's OPS at AA Harrisburg and by all accounts, Marrero is having a hard time learning to play first base adequately.

And the Nats are hoping to persuade Dunn (who's ninth in the NL in OPS and now playing only slightly less than average defensively at 1B)to take a cut of less than he could get on the free agent market and stay in DC. Wouldn't it be a great bargaining strategy to bench him for the last month of the season?

These comments really do nothing more than reveal that the posters (a) hate the Nats and (b) do so for completely ignorant reasons. It's too bad that the Nationals Journal, which is excellent this year, has so many stupidly negative reader posts on it (I can take stupid and I can take negative, but the combination is deadly).

Posted by: Snopes1 | August 28, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Am amazed at how many people don't want to see Dunn continue to play. It's his first year at a new position, he still has a good shot at 40 homeruns and could lead the league. His OPS is solid and he also is leading the league in extra base hits. Why do we need to see Marrero who according to most accounts is not ready defensively or offensively. I am still hoping we sign Adam although I am guessing it will be difficult if we don't get it done before the World Series.

Posted by: sjm3091 | August 29, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

A good manager gets a collection of players to play beyond their individual abilities. This year, the Nats are on their way to being 69-93. Riggleman's opinions aren't exactly that appealing...

But at least that'll give us the second or third pick next year.

Will someone wake me up in 2012?

Posted by: charley42 | August 29, 2010 3:06 AM | Report abuse

I could understand if washington was in contention like the yankees. its time to see Marrero and Espinosa in september if the team cared so much about Dunn they would have signed him to a long term deal they just never got what they felt was adequate compesation for A Dunn. A Kennedy is a utility player starting in Washington because of the lack of organizational talent Riggleman's comments are for the naive in attendance which by the way is not a whole lot

Posted by: gilbertlopez | August 30, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I could understand if washington was in contention like the yankees. its time to see Marrero and Espinosa in september if the team cared so much about Dunn they would have signed him to a long term deal they just never got what they felt was adequate compesation for A Dunn. A Kennedy is a utility player starting in Washington because of the lack of organizational talent Riggleman's comments are for the naive in attendance which by the way is not a whole lot

Posted by: gilbertlopez | August 30, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

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