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Jim Riggleman's revealing thoughts

Morning roundup


One thing, from talking to players and coaches, has become clear this season about Jim Riggleman. The manager who sticks up for players and defends mistakes and takes blame in public is not the same manager the players deal with. He scolds. He calls players into his office. He deploys language that would make a "Hard Knocks" producer squeamish. He's the bad cop.

Some of that intensity surfaced yesterday after the Nationals lost their fifth straight game. He shared that he had spoken with the team and then had his coaching staff grill them, too. Here, from yesterday's press conference, are Riggleman's full thoughts on the day:

Did you address the team?
I addressed the team. Sometimes, when the same person keeps giving the message, it starts to fall on deaf ears. I had all the coaches address the team. It kind of confirms what I thought I was watching there for a couple innings. When every coach gets to speak up and confirm it, then it's not coming from the same person all the time.

Did you feel the approach, some of the at-bats weren't good?
No. You know what? I never get on at-bats. I just thought our energy level, our body language early in the game was not up to the standards it's going to take for us to be a ball club that goes to the next level. I just didn't feel like that we were getting after it early. And I know when Jordan [Zimmermann] was struggling a little bit to throw some strikes early and the innings get longer that can happen, but it shouldn't happen. Got to make them aware - this is what I see, this is what the coaches see, this is what Mike [Rizzo] sees, this is what the fans see. If anybody in the room thought that was acceptable, then they need to be made aware that we certainly don't think it's acceptable.

Do you sense the losing is wearing on players?
I think the losing, it wears on you. But it's a 162-game schedule. It's a nine-inning ballgame. That's what you sign up for, that's what you give. Until we get everybody on the same page, that it takes a great effort every day to get out of where we are, it's not going to happen. It can't happen. You cannot go to the level that teams such the Padres, Giants, Yankees, Tampa Bay - those teams who are going to be right there at the end - you cannot be in the same class with them until you have everybody on board pulling the same way, putting personal statistics behind them and milestones behind them and all that nonsense. Until every body is pulling the same direction, getting after it every day, it's not going to show up in the win column. If you're an elite team in baseball, you can have a day where the energy level is not where it is and it goes under the radar. But it don't go under the radar when you have lost 100 a couple years in a row. We're going to figure out who the keepers are and figure out who is going to be a part of this club in the future that's going to help us get out of these doldrums.

FROM THE POST

The Nationals hit a low point in their 6-5 loss to the Marlins, dropping 23 games below .500 for the first time.

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

On Saturday, Class A Potomac beat Frederick, 10-3, to win their Carolina League playoff series, three games to one. The Nationals will face Winston-Salem for the Mills Cup, a series that begins tonight. Bill Rhinehart went 2 for 4 with a double and three RBI in the clinching game. Derek Norris reached base 11 times in the four games.

Class AA Harrisburg was eliminated over the weekend by Altoona with a 10-5 loss. Chris Marrero finished the year hitting .294./.350/.450 with 18 home runs and hit a homer in the finale.

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 13, 2010; 9:05 AM ET
 
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Next: Today's lineup

Comments

Adam,
I asked this in another post yesterday, but do you think that we could be on Riggleman death watch the next three weeks. With all of the Nyjer problems and Riggleman coming to his rescue, a lot of folks have soured on Jim,

What are your thoughts????

Posted by: Golfersal | September 13, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Riggleman has a tough job. Rizzo and ownership has not exactly given him a stack of arrows 3 feet deep to pull from the quiver. Suspect rotation, lousy D, iffy lineup with question marks all over it. Sure the club was improved from 2009 but not markedly, and the rest of the Division did not stand still. The club was set up from day 1 with an eye toward being decent, not being a winner, not being a contender, but with the thought that the club would be less than awful. When you start with that kind of attitude as an organization, getting great energy from the roster night in and night out is going to be tough. The fact is that all that has been left to play for for these guys since before Stras oppoed up in about mid June is the personal stats and milestones.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 13, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

For those history buffs who read NJ. Check out our theory for the Nationals' Mediocrity in the Baltimore Sun, They are cursed by the Ghosts' of Lincoln's Assassins. I wrote this with Mark Greenbaum a freelance writer based in D.C.

-David O'Leary
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-nationals-curse-20100913,0,7973649.story

Posted by: vo_37 | September 13, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Ha, nice piece D.O. I cannot rule out the ghosts of Lincoln's killers as haunting the Nats. But, my guess is that somethings that are far less extraterrestrial, like bad pitching, the inability to move a runner, a SS who cannot catch and throw with regularity, a lousy lead-off man and the like are the stuff that keeps the Nats from exorcizing the losing.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 13, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Golfseral: Quit it with the Nyjer blame game, there you go again with that bullsh#t Nyjer's hardly to blame for this team's poor performance there's plenty of blame to go around,this blame Nyjer crap is getting old, they are losing as a team not as individuals!!.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 13, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Yikes! I go on vacation for two weeks and the team goes further south than it already was..ugh!

Adam: Any thoughts about Jim is referring to when he mentioned "putting personal statistics behind them and milestones behind them and all that nonsense."???

Posted by: markfd | September 13, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, you're right, darg, golfersal should have pointed out lots of players besides Nyjer are starting bench clearing brawls and getting suspended and causing teammates, coaches and managers to be suspended, too.

Oh, wait...

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

Here might be another freaky reason the Nats are cursed. If you Google map the Washington Nations and you zoom in on C it points you to a cemetery.

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=washington+nationals&um=1&biw=1280&bih=861&safe=on&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=il

As for the Nats and next year; Riggs has got to go. If the Cubs do not select Ryne Sandberg as their skipper the Nats need to jump on him. Imagine how good Desi and Danny could be under his guidance?

Posted by: hansenjo | September 13, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Riggs should bring in some P-Nats players to talk about what it takes to have a winning personality....

Posted by: Juan-John1 | September 13, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Am I wrong, but I can swear that Rizzo said that Riggleman would be back in 2011. I don't see anything changing especially now that Strasburg will be out all of next year. We had our chance to get Buck and we blew it.

Posted by: brothbart | September 13, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Anyone have any thoughts as to why MLB is taking so long to determine the number of games Nyjer will be out? He had the appeal on Friday...what is Watson doing? conferring with a Ouiji board?

Posted by: TimDz | September 13, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Any time something goes wrong with the nationls there is a tendency to blame a few people (Morgan, Desmond and Dunn) never the golden boy star Zimmermann, who has 17 errors at third base oh sorry I guest all his errors are Dunn fault and do not forget the top two starters John L and Jason M took off 80% of the season and still do not have 10 wins between them.

Posted by: mark268 | September 13, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

There is no doubt that blame can be spread pretty evenly over this club, but it has to fall back on Rizzo and ownership ultimately. They assembled a club that had little chance of competing.

Rizzo has not shown himself yet to be the genius we all had hoped (maybe there was a reason he'd been a scout and not a GM for years on end). The Lerners are so risk adverse that it hampers whatever abilties he does have (maybe Rizzo would be great but for the Lerners holding him back -- who knows). The players have largely not played inspired ball -- for years. The coaches, even though many have turned over, seem ineffective. The farm, even after 4 years of it being priority Numero Uno, is not awe-inspiring. The NL East competition is way ahead and getting better.

This club needs to be bold for once. They need to shake it up, take some risk, spend some money on guys who come into Spring Training as studs, not coming back from injury hopefuls, or prospects with upside -- actual MLB high level players. Other clubs seem to assemble them in bunches, why the Nats can't/won't do so is beyond me.

Posted by: dfh21 | September 13, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

With this team the blame game has nowhere to focus, because the entire organization from top to bottom is mediocre. Rookie owner and GM, Stan the Man, have provided next to nothing in continuity or in MLB-level talent for a successful season.

The coaching staff (composed of MLB castoffs)? Well, they've had little to work with and have performed as one might expect. In other words, they've met expectations.

To expect a different manager to come in and give fans a better result is to indulge in wishful thinking. The main problems are with ownership, Kasten and Rizzo. And none of that is fixable.

It looks as if Strasburg's signing was the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, to bail out an otherwise hapless organization, and it has fallen incomplete.

Posted by: JohnRDC | September 13, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if Riggs is a good manager or not - and I suspect he isn't in the top 1/2 of managers in MLB - but you can't argue that he has been given the talent to succeed.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 13, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag
Ask anyone and they will agree that all of this Nyjer mess is what has put the cherry on the cake of what is happening.
Yes the Adam Dunn saga has gone on too long, losing Strasburg was a major blow even the Dibble saga has wade in on fans who liked him.
But at the end of the day Nyjer Morgan is bringing to light the weakness of Jim Riggleman. He has gone under the radar screen until he started talking about how he puts no reins on Nyjer running. You can't have a team when the inmates rule the roast and you have to wonder, who the hell is the manager that makes decisions on weather runners should try to steal or not?
I was a big supporter of Riggleman until last week when Nyjer, in his usual knucklehead move of trying to steal second with two outs and Lannan at the plate, got caught and after the game media asked Riggleman is thoughts and he said that he couldn't stop Morgan from running, especially since he had been demoted to 8th in the order.
So my question is, if this is happening with Morgan it has to be happening with the whole team? Have you seen a team win that has no discipline? We need a Buck Showalter type to run the Nats.
The Nats need to do three things to help themselves in October. First resign Adam Dunn,
second find another manager, frankly I have no names or suggetions but we need someone that has experience in getting teams to the playoffs, winning and don't except losing. When Johnny Holiday goes to the managers interview I want to see someone that doesn't give excuses for lousy play and blame it on youth. I want a person that says that he tells the Nyjer Morgan's of the world when to run and when not to run.

Third get rid of Nyjer Morgan. Trust me the only reason that Rizzo and management puts up with his crap is because Morgan is dirt cheap and the Nats control him for another year. I can tell you if Morgan was a veteran player like a Adam Kennedy, Willie Harris or a Josh Willigham in which they have to pay real money for there services, Morgan would be gone in a New York second. Just wait and see which teams are interested in Nyjer, bet you it will turn out to be another Eljah Dukes problem were you cut ties with him.

Posted by: Golfersal | September 13, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I no longer think it's fair to call the Lerners "risk averse" after their signings of Strasburg and Harper. They have taken a huge financial risk and at the moment have little to show for it.

With respect to Riggleman, I think most of us have assumed for some time that the guy who says every night "I saw good effort" on TV was simply deciding not to call players out publicly (cf., Frank Robinson) and was taking these issues up with them more discreetly.

Still, ballgames are lost in a lot of little ways, and yesterday's was a good example.

One part bad luck: Nyjer's near-hit with the bases loaded.

One part bad execution: The disastrous pickoff play at second that cost a run, eventually the margin of victory.

One part bad approach: Espinosa swinging at the first pitch when PH'ing.

And one part bad strategy: Why on earth allow Zimmermann to swing with two strikes instead of bunt, with runners on 1st and 2d? For that to make sense, you have to believe that the chances of him getting a hit are significantly greater than a successful sac bunt, otherwise the risk of an inning-ending DP (which is what happened) is too great.

Riggleman is accountable at the very least for questionable in-game moves, and in part for continuing defensive lapses. Plus, his comment last week -- even if it was only meant for TV -- about not taking away Nyjer's game, all suggest to me it might be wise to replace him depending on who else is available.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 13, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

JohnRDC, is disagree; you can't blame Nats mgt for S injury and odds are he will be back. With the signings of SS, Harper, Cole, Solis and Maya the Nats have shown they will spend money but won't spend it haphazardly. Unless you believe that Stan K just got lucky while he was in Atlanta then you have to think why are we performing so bad every year - and maybe its because MLB chose to decimate the franchise and what talent it had while they were the stewards of the franchise, not Stan K. As for Rizzo, it's tough to deal from a position of weakness and no GM could turn the Nats around in one year.

Think of it this way; on average, your team should win the world series about every 30 years; Nats fans are expecting a team that finished dead last two years in a row to be one of those teams quickly. Not going to happen. I would suggest if yoo don't have patience then choose another team to root for because there is no quick fix here.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 13, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

mark268: Thank you for being the V.O.R.(voice of reason) people like batlova1 and Golfseral see what they want to see, one brawl does not ruin a season nor should it condemn a player and the suspenions don't mean a thing,it doesn't alter this teams playoff chances(LMAO!) but some so called fans(that means you batlova1 and Golfseral)think Nyjer's ruined the Nat's season.Ryan Zimmerman will never get criticized, why? because he never takes a stance on anything he won't rock the boat he won't call anybody out he's the face of this franchise he's a very good player but a leader? not a chance because a leader would have said something maybe about 40 games ago when it would have mattered and when it was apparent that this teams season was slipping away.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 13, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag, to be fair you don't know what Zim says to players faces; saying in the press gets more face time but may not be the best way to deal with things. Unless you are behind the locker room door and seeing that Zim sits with his ipod on ignoring the sinking ship then I don't agree with your remarks about him and leadership.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | September 13, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me there is at least enough talent to do better than 40-68 since May 15.

If Riggs goes, any thoughts on Tim Foli? He seemed to do well at SYR, and wasn't there talk of his getting the position for 2010? Do I recall correctly that he is still with the Nats in some capacity?

Posted by: KenNat | September 13, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

One other thing Mr. dargregmag and the rest of you posters.

What is this Riggleman crap at the team meeting yesterday in which he needed his coaches to tell the players how bad things are and what they are doing wrong?
What, has Riggleman lost the respect of the players in the team room?
Is Riggleman too scared to rip these guys apart?
Does Riggleman know what is wrong?

Riggleman has managed for over 20 years and has never been on a winning team that has gotten to the playoffs. A couple of years ago he was a coach at Seattle and took over the last part of I think 2008. Management had such little faith in Riggleman that they got a person that had never been a manager in the major leagues instead of giving the job to Riggleman.

The same with the Nats, he was in the right place at the right time when Manny Acta was fired.
Last October Kasten and Rizzo went out and tried to find a better manager and either they weren't willing to pay for someone better or they just couldn't find one. I remember last August they tried to talk with Don Mattinlily of the Dodgers about the job but didn't get anywhere.
Basically after spending all of October and most of November in a search they frankly couldn't find anyone any better and resigned Riggleman. But what did they do, give Riggleman a very crappy contract for $600,000 making him one of the lowest paid managers in MLB and putting a clause that if they wanted to get rid of Riggleman after this year they pay him $100,000. So the writing is on the wall, they are looking for something better and I hope they find it.

Riggleman has to be replaced

Posted by: Golfersal | September 13, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

brothbart - Rizzo comments were non-committal. (paraphrasing *Riggleman's doing a great job, absolutely deserves to come back next year*).

Riggleman is under contract for another year, but he can also be bought out for only $100,000. So sometime after the season, Rizzo will decide whether Riggleman comes back.

Hey all, take Nyjer out of the picture for a moment.

An MLB manager says he can not control when his players attempt steals. Seriously?
An MLB manager says he asked his veteran players whether they should retaliate after a HBP. Seriously?

Sign Dunn, let Dunn go, either does not generate much emotion for me.

Keeping Riggleman. That will really tick me off.

Posted by: Sunderland | September 13, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

KenNat: We've all heard good things about Foli, but given the circumstances, I think it's essential that we have an experienced major league manager who has total confidence in his abilities and a proven track record.

Plus the fact that Foli knows a lot of these guys could actually work against him. We need a tough taskmaster who has no buddies on the team and is not worried about losing his tenuous grip on a big-league job. (See, "Manny Acta")

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 13, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I no longer think it's fair to call the Lerners "risk averse" after their signings of Strasburg and Harper. They have taken a huge financial risk and at the moment have little to show for it... Posted by: Meridian1 | September 13, 2010 12:16 PM

Every club in the MLB would have signed SS and Harper for those same amounts. So if you are willing to do what everyone else would do, how does that constitute taking risk?

On Riggleman, I'm not sure that the Nats want a talented manager with MLB standing and credibility. He would certainly, (a) want to be paid accordingly, and (b) insist that the Nats retain and attract talented ballplayers, requiring an increase in payroll. The Nats' leadership want to be able to call their own shots, which means you get a lapdog for manager without any leverage to stand up to them. I sure hope the Nats prove me wrong about that someday!

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Oh one last thing,
For those that think I am not a loyal Nats fan you are so wrong it's not even funny. I love the Nats and have bought into all of the plans of building the team with youth.
I think that the players that they have could be great if given the right coaching and help.
I have been a season ticket holder from day one and go to about 40 games a year. I use to go with my son, who just turned 15 and no longer goes to the games because he is totally frustrated with going to games and seeing a losing team. By wife and daughter thinks that the Nats are a waste of time and also don't like going to the games with me. So I go to the games myself, giving away the ticket to someone that looks like they can't afford to go to the game.
I write this because after six years I see the Nats do the same things that they did last year and the year before. Honestly the team that were the Nats in 2005 was talent wise not very good but Frank Robinson did a great job in making sure that players do the right thing and brought out a lot from them and it was fun to watch them win. By son loved those early Nats and the ball park was hopping.
Now it's become a major frustration and I see that management has some great players in Zimmerman, Dunn, Desmond and Morse but they don't seem to have the direction to know how to win. Look at how inconsistent they are, winning 3 in a row with big offenses last week and then not scoring in the last five games.
So you have to think and I would like to hear from you all, what would help the Nats win????
That is the million dollar question but I don't want to hear anyone say that I am not a true Nats fan, Christ I am not a machine that gets programmed to like whatever is set in front of me.
Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Kasten. Just do your magic and for those wondering, the team needs a lot more Ryan Zimmerman's that are quiet, don't rock the boat but do there jobs and know baseball. I find it unbelievable when someone questions Zim and his motives, I bet you he kicks butt on players in his own way and again we could use about three or four more Zimmermans
I have written enough for the day, go Nats and hopefully managment can do what the Redskins are doing now and give use something to root for.
Christ, I hope it doesn't take 11 years like it took Snyder to find the right combination and who knows if last night was just a lucky day

Posted by: Golfersal | September 13, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Pitchforks and torches!! Let's get them !!!!

I do not share the opinion that Riggleman is inadequate as a Manager. I think he is everything we asked for him to be - an accountability first, teacher/coach, who can balance a sabermatician analysis with a knowledge of the game. He clearly seeks balance in personnel usage and since some of his personnel suck, some of his decisions look questionable (e.g., Harris for Morse).

But all managers suck when they lose, and all managers are good when they win. This year Dusty Baker and Ron Washington are genious; Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa idiots. Buck Showalter will be renowned as a difference maker until roughly May 15 of next year when the world discovers the O's still suck.

Adam Kennedy was sitting on his haunches at second base between pitches yesterday before and after he made two very bad plays. When the ball got past Kennedy into the outfield, Kennedy slowly jogged into the outfield to retrieve it and neither Morgan or Morse raced in to get it with much enthusiasm. Batters did not run hard to first base on ground outs.

I've got my pitchfork in hand, but it's not Riggleman I'm looking to spear. There are probably 8-10 players/pitchers that ought to go before Riggs.

(and on a separate - no pitchfork note - they should consider letting Storen start next year at AAA until he sharpens pitch location and execution. He's learning at the majors and I'm not sure that is in his best interest.)

Posted by: natbiscuits | September 13, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Harper got $9.9 million over 5 years. Let's say the Nats let Dunn go and do not otherwise build a strong team around Zim. That means Zim leaves in 2013. So you need Harper, a low-cost option relatively speaking, to take over as a focal point of fan interest. You need guys exactly like Harper to keep your revenue up at the ballpark.

On the other hand, suppose the Nats take a different route. If the Nats do decide to build a strong enough team around Zim to have a chance to retain him and start winning 80 or 90 or more games a year, Harper could be a major piece of that strategy too.

So under either of the above scenarios, signing Harper was not a risk. It would be excessively risky to pass on either SS or Harper, since the fan base would have been jeopardized.

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

natbiscuits, you made some very good points in your post, mainly that managers are (shockingly!) only as good as their players. And you're right, the Buck Showalter worshippers will probably realize that around May 15.

I think your last sentence, about Storen, applies in a much larger way: "He's learning at the majors and I'm not sure that is in his best interest." So are a lot of other guys on this team, which is why they've been inconsistent or ineffective. It's also why Riggleman has done things like bat Desmond down in the order for part of the year and keep the inning and pitch count light on certain pitchers. He wouldn't admit it, but he's sacrificing wins now to keep these guys on a sane path for the future.

As always, the question is, why do the Lerners or their front office want to develop a team this way? They throw in a few veterans like Dunn, Marquis and Pudge to keep the Nats from looking like the Pirates but don't bring in enough talent to allow them to compete. Supposedly the Plan will take care of this problem but not any time soon, IMHO.

That's why I don't sweat Riggleman's decisions very much. I don't agree with all of them and I'm sure there are other guys I'd rather have as manager if this team ever gets good, but there are bigger issues to deal with first.

But what do I know? I'm just a "so-called fan."

Who's been watching baseball for 40+ years.

And who had a job for 15 years that enabled me to learn more about the game directly from the pros.

And has been addicted to this team since they got here, even ditching my long-term support of the Orioles along the way.

Obviously, since I don't appreciate the true greatness of our CF'er, I know nothing. I'll leave now, and try to deal with my shame.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 13, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I love it...blame Zimmerman.

Zimmerman needs to be more vocal in the press and stop committing those errors!

Hardy, meet har har.

Posted by: LosDoceOcho | September 13, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Golfseral: I think Riggs took the Cub's to the playoffs, can't recall the year but i thought he did have one playoff appearance as manager.

Posted by: dargregmag | September 13, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Same as it ever was.

At least we now got some real baseball and a real baseball mgr up in BMore.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 13, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

meridian1 - Signing draft picks is the LEAST riskiest way to build a ballclub.

Imagine if Strasburg and Harper joined MLB as free agents (as Aroldis Chapman did...and got twice what Strasburg got!).

You think either of them would be wearing the curly W?

Posted by: Sunderland | September 13, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Just to say I agree with natbuscuits. Riggleman is indeed not only adequate but a quality guy in many ways. For his salary (600K), how can the Nats do any better?

I can hear the comments now about a new manager coming in, toward the end of another last place season: "He should have made the double-switch in the 7th! Then we would have had a better hitter up in the 9th with the bases loaded."

Posted by: EdDC | September 13, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag is correct. STOP IT!

Posted by: Badwisky | September 13, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

>>Jim Riggleman's revealing thoughts:

I'm getting tired of just double-switching. I wonder if I can triple-switch?

Hmmmmm. Donuts.

Nyger Morgan picked off again? Aww he so silly.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 13, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

MLB gutted the team and current ownership isn't willing to pay MLB salaries and field an MLB team. Top rung in profits, bottom in salary is right where they want to stay. Two splashy rookie signings won't change that, or result in a good team if they won't pay to build around them. Instead, they are about to let a possible HOF player walk, which will adversely the few remaining good players, contribute to a further diminishing season ticket holder base, and cause talented free agents to avoid this team.

Riggs is stuck with a low talent team. Could he have done better? Maybe. It is of concern when a manager says he has to play poorly performing vets (just because they are vets) and can't tell a player not to steal. It is quite true that rebuilding a gutted team takes time. However, we should have been further along by now and the Dunn saga indicates to me that there is no intention to field a watchable team anytime in the near future. If I am wrong about that and they do sign Dunn and make some good moves in the offseason, I will re-up my season ticket package. Right now, it doesn't look like that will be happening. I will still follow the team, as I have from day one, and hope that someday things will change. It looks like that pointy ball team owner may have woken up after 11 years, so maybe some day the Nats ownership will too.

Posted by: NatsFly | September 13, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the Natinals will be looking for, yet another new manager, (like what their 4th since moving to DC?).

Meanwhile, the Fighting Showalter's have a very competent manager who has been there, and done that.

O's > Natinals.

That's the truth, cause Stone Cold says so!!!!!!

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | September 13, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

If we can agree that Riggleman wasn't given the talent to avoid an embarassing season, then we should probably start building a bronze statue of Manny Acta right now. He managed to win 59 games with teams that significantly less talent than this club has.

The bullpen is improved. The RF production is better than 2009 (believe it or not). Zimmerman is on pace for career highs in multiple offensive categories. The team ERA is down to 4.17 (from 5.00 last year). And yet they're on pace to win just eight or nine games more this year?

Instead of watching a terrible team play bad baseball, we're now relegated to watching a sub-par team play terrible baseball.

Posted by: JohninMpls | September 13, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I like the comment that the nats got better but the rest of the teams in the division did not stand still.

They have the potential and the players, The lineup is decent. Lots of rookies so there will be slumps.

As for Nyjer Morgan fair weather fans- remember last year and think that he while having a lousy year is still hitting only 260
granted he needs to take more pitches and is having a generally mediocre to not great year at the plate but it seems that every other game he makes a great catch and he covers lots of ground.

The outfield defense is not the issue. When Espinoza made a play that Uggla Utley Cano, Roberts and others make regularly you would have thought he was Joe Morgan based on the nats announcers. that is the problem

plus clutch hitting. Dunn is great but I would like to know his run production (or anyone else's) after the 6th inning.

Posted by: golo1 | September 13, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Am I wrong, but I can swear that Rizzo said that Riggleman would be back in 2011. I don't see anything changing especially now that Strasburg will be out all of next year. We had our chance to get Buck and we blew it.

Posted by: brothbart

It's gonna suck even more when Dunn signs with the O's. 318 down the line? Rizzo doesn't have the stones to fire Riggleman. They'll be happy with the status quo next year because they'll have the Strasburg excuse. They'll keep him on for another miserable year, and then can him in 2012 like they planned to all along. This organization is so contrived.

Posted by: Brue | September 13, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Responding to the various people who said that signing Harper and Strasburg did not involve risks, at least compared with signing free agents:

They both represent risks, but different kinds of risks. The risks associated with free agency tend to be overpaying, paying for someone after he has ceased being productive, etc.

The risks of signing draftees is that, unlike the big-ticket FA's, they may never become stars or, especially in the case of pitchers, may have radically shortened careers.

Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes ACCEPTABLE risk, whether it's free agents, draft choices, or anything else. Maybe the Lerners have a lower tolerance than some would like, but I see an awful lot of franchises that have saddled themselves with a lot of debt for B-level free agents who aren't "game changers." I also remember the rending of garments over Aaron Crow, who is pitching where, now?

Tom Boswell's column last week did a pretty good job of arguing both sides of the case with regard to Dunn. He represents a risk whether you sign him or you don't. Assessing that risk is difficult and ultimately involves predicting the future, which none of us is very good at. In retrospect, however, these things often look quite different, as the Soriano experience illustrates.

Of course, it is easy to put someone else's money at risk; hence the big talkers and high rollers -- not only here, but on sports talk radio, among columnists, etc.

I have been VERY critical of the Lerners over the last few years, both regarding the on-field product and their other management decisions (marketing, publicity, etc.). But I do believe they have become more willing to spend large sums of money to build a contender. Whether they and their baseball people are doing it wisely is another matter.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 13, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Get to the next level? I'd be happy if they'd go back to the previous level.

Posted by: markfromark | September 13, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha, markfromark - previous level. That would be 2005 the only year they had a .500 record? The Frank Robinson year (the guy the Nats are good at ignoring - they're good at turning folks into nonpersons, this organization)?

IMO, occassional talks aside, it's become clear that the team manages Riggleman, not the other way around. It's also clear that Riggleman knows how the Front Office wants things - so when the FO wants Nyjer to be a star child, Riggs puts up with anything from him. And when the FO wants to jetison Dunn, they have him make comments like "putting personal statistics behind them and milestones behind them and all that nonsense." Since Dunn, Livo, Pudge & Zimmerman are the only guys who might have such milestones, who do we think he's talking about? But if he's talking about Dunn, he better just shut up cause he's embarrassing himself. Dunn is the last person to even know what his stats are or whether he's met a milestone or not. And I think the TEAM knows Dunn is great in the club house, even if Riggs & the FO are lining up against him.

Posted by: PostIDJYP | September 13, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

just to clarify - it looks to me that the Organization is building a Pearl Harbor file to afterwards justify getting rid of Dunn. They know he's a fan favorite (I'm not coming to Nats Park next year if they don't re-sign him), so they start insinuating that he's focusing on his personal milestones to the detriment of the team. No, Riggleman didn't say Dunn's name, but who else do you think he's talking about since very few Nats have any personal stats or milestones? I predict that next MASN's tweedledum & tweedledee Front Office suck ups (that would be Bob & Ray) will start getting down on Dunn. They want the momentum to build so that when they dump him even the fans will be saying oh well, he was worried about his stats, etc. And the beauty is, it works whether or not Dunn picks things up & gets 40 HR etc. or whether he remains in a slump. If he gets hot, well, he's clearly trying to pump up his stats; if he doesn't, well, he's clearly just worried too much about his stats. This Kasten/Rizzo organization is byzantine. It's well-suited to Washington, DC.

Posted by: PostIDJYP | September 13, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Since 50-31 start in 2005 -- your Washington Natinals are 166 games under .500 -- I didn't think that was even possible! This is Nats Town!

Posted by: jwing14 | September 13, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Since 50-31 start in 2005 -- your Washington Natinals are 166 games under .500 -- I didn't think that was even possible! This is Nats Town!

Posted by: jwing14 | September 13, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Lollygaggers!

Posted by: 24thStNE | September 13, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I can't see how Desmond's league leading errors are acceptable. Given that many of Desmond's errors are off-balance throws in the dirt or off-line, I don't know why the Nationals don't try Espinosa at short and Desmond at second. Espinosa is a natural shortstop, has a better arm and the throw from second would be easier for Desmond.
On the Dunn saga, I'm not so enamored with him. Defensively he costs games. I wonder how many of Desmonds's errant throws would be caught by a better fielding first baseman. The giddy numbers notwithstanding, Dunn is not a clutch hitter with men on base. He can be pitched to by most quality pitchers, so he would be useless in a playoff. Like many other ballplayers with big numbers who don't produce in playoffs, their numbers are fattened up by the overall dearth of quality pitchers. When those hitters see good pitchers ervery game in the playoffs, it's no surprise they don't produce at the same level as during the season. My guess is what was offered for Dunn before the trading deadline in July was worth less than the draft picks the Nationals will get when Dunn signs elsewhere - see Soriano. If we don't get a quality free agent first baseman in the winter, I have no problem with Morse, who hits righties well, at first base. If we do get a first baseman, the outfield should be Willingham-Bernadino-Morse. If not, we could try to get a free agent outfielder to replace Morse. I have given up on Nyjer - I'm tired of his mental mistakes on the field and on the bases. And his on-base percentage is too low for a leadeoff hitter.

Posted by: elfugitivo | September 14, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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