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Today's lineup

Danny Espinosa stays on top of the lineup and Nyjer Morgan creeps up from eighth to seventh as Wilson Ramos takes the catching duties with Jason Marquis on the mound.

Nationals
1. Danny Espinosa, 2B
2. Ian Desmond, SS
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam Dunn, 1B
5. Roger Bernadina, LF
6. Michael Morse, RF
7. Nyjer Morgan, CF
8. Wilson Ramos, C
9. Jason Marquis

By Adam Kilgore  |  September 11, 2010; 10:15 AM ET
 
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Next: Jordan Zimmermann feeling confident, healthy during return

Comments

Reposted, responding to eh2k's complaint about Riggleman's managing:

Riggleman would not manage a team that functions at the MLB level. But what about the Nats?

The Nats save considerable money by paying Riggleman $600K, which helps them finish near first place every year among MLB franchises in the Forbes profit rankings. This is an achievement not to be taken lightly. Manny worked for about that salary too. Who else can you get for that amount? No, Buck Showalter would not do it, and he and others of his caliber would be insulted if offered this low amount.

You do have to wonder if the Nats could do better, given the low salary they are willing to pay. Moreover, Riggleman has a roster full of marginal big league talent to work with. What talented manager would be willing to manage the low-budget Nats, who have demonstrated no financial commitment to winning?

Most of the Nats are happy to be in the big leagues, are happy with their minimum wages (which are hefty salaries in the real world), and, accordingly, they give Riggleman the respect he needs to do his job. They are almost all players who can be dumped and easily replaced for 2011--like Nyjer Morgan--if they show they are difficult to manage. Riggleman does not have to worry about trying to manage guys who do not follow his direction, since these marginal performers have no leverage. They can't pout or storm around like the big contract guys sometimes feel they can do.

At any rate, last we heard, the Nats are picking up their option on Riggleman for 2011.

http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2010/07/23/gm-jim-riggleman-will-manage-nationals-in-2011/

The Nats probably are pleased that fans get upset over Manny, Jim Bowden, Randy St. Claire, and now Riggleman, since a focus on the immediate distracts fans from what is happening at the ownership level. That's where the real problem is. Everything else follows.
Posted by: EdDC | September 11, 2010 10:20 AM

Posted by: EdDC | September 11, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

>>The Nats probably are pleased that fans get upset over Manny, Jim Bowden, Randy St. Claire, and now Riggleman, since a focus on the immediate distracts fans from what is happening at the ownership level. That's where the real problem is. Everything else follows.
Posted by: EdDCPosted by: EdDC

Nails.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | September 11, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey skins_fan_22,

Can you imagine Mike Shanahan working for the $600K the Nats pay Riggleman? Even Jim Zorn would not work for that!

Posted by: EdDC | September 11, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

My lord EdDC your right on the money with your latest post. I was at the game last night sitting with a rather influential MLB person (whom shall remain nameless) and dollars to donuts this is exactly what my friend was saying. Sometime as a fan you get blinded by the obvious because you want to believe that something might click and push these guys over the top. What I heard and saw last night is really summed up in EdDC's rant. Clearly there is a real problem here and nothing is going to change. Look you get 17K to show up, they spend an avg $30 per ticket and another $20 on food & beer, that $50 per head X17K and the LernerStanK reel in a cool 850K to 1M. The way they see it as long as they can avg 20K+ for a marginal team with spikes during the summer when the Filthys, Mets, Cards, Braves, Cubs pull into town why change a good thing (at least to them).

Rigglemen is just a symptom of a long chain of events that we will see go on and on. This winter is really the turning point, if they are serious about shifting the balance and becoming at a minimum .500 team this will be the winter that they have to put all of those pieces in place. Now more excuses, what was in the ballpark +/- a few thousand is all they have left and in this market they need lots more then that.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 11, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm just still blown away by Riggleman's statement that he can't take away Nyjer's game.

That reveals a manager that is far too passive, and who has lost control of his team. It is a problem that goes far beyond Nyjer Morgan and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with how much (or how little) Riggleman is paid.

I have been ambivalent about Riggleman; I think there is some value to continuity and in some ways he has been dealt a tough hand, but I have been leaning against him because of the defensive lapses, the poor baserunning, and the "everybody gets a chance to play" mentality. This comment, however, seals the deal for me.

It's essential to get an experienced big-league manager who is willing to really run the team. Not sure who is out there available, but a manager who has said he can't control a player who is determined to make disastrous decisions is no longer a manager. Maybe he doesn't believe that, maybe he just wanted to give Nyjer cover in public while privately chewing his a**, but either way, he has lost all respect.

Posted by: Meridian1 | September 11, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Just curious if ANYONE on the team told Nyjer what a stupid move that was? And if they've told him that before when he makes bone-headed running plays? Either no one is teaching that guy, or he refuses to learn. Either way, it spells a problem for the team. Nyjer can't go out there thinking that it's okay for him to try to steal every single time he gets on base.

Posted by: DavidandDonald | September 11, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Responding in general to the same rants we have all herard for the last four years from Learners are Cheap and his or her followrs. The team is 13 games ahead of last year's pace and will win 70-73 games. It also will not pick 1st in the draft and had the same record (before last night) as the payroll burdened Chicago Cubs. The lime up today is better than the opening day lineup. The lineup next sesson will be better than this seanson's whether or not Rizzon follows the adbice of this blog's (and others) general managers. Most of you have not suffred through an owner who trade away the middle infield for an over the hill drunk former 20 games winner and then the next season moved the team to Texcas. This ownership is committed to keeping this team in DC. That's the bottom line.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | September 11, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

However, under Rizzo's purview the talent base in the minors really has increased exponentially. One or two more good drafts and the Nats could have one of the better prospect laden farm systems. Paying Harper, Stras, Solis, Cole, and Ray what amount to over slot bonuses shouldn't be completely discounted.

Ownership through Mike Rizzo is now investing their money in younger talent that will remain under team control longer. Someone like Zimmerman as opposed to well over 30 types like Ramirez. I see nothing wrong with that frugal approach as long as it leads to success. I assume that's your point EdDC?

So, the gauntlet has been laid down for this offseason. Mike Rizzo himself has said that the goal is to get someone to lead the pitching rotation from the top ... not back-end innings eaters like Marquis, Livo, and Lannan. To me that means Cliff Lee. He did manage to sign Maya, and Maya does look like he will be a better starter than Chapman who has ended up in a relief role. Mike Rizzo also said they need contingencies in case Zimmermann (and Detwiler) don't pan out.

The key is pitching first ... then an orientation toward good defense. Rizzo himself has said it. San Francisco and San Diego are examples of it. Guess we'll have to wait for the drama to unfold.

As far as Riggleman, Rizzo did come out with glowing accolades and talked about taking a 2011 option on Riggleman, but he stopped short of doing it until "he spoke with Kasten and ownership about it".

Noting that Livo has already been re-upped. But Riggleman has not? Seems strange to me and one has to wonder if that isn't a harbinger of a change in management. If it is I suspect you won't be happy because they might just go internally for someone like Tim Foli or one of their minor league managers. They probably won't make the big bucks initially either.

Posted by: periculum | September 11, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I was at the game last night (gag). But I am not writing to rant about the cheap owners and AAAA team. I've done that a lot lately and it just raises my blood pressure.

Instead, I am writing to respond to Kev29's inquiry about whether anyone had gone to the new Yards park yet. After the game (gag) we walked over. By all means, everyone, go! It is really wonderful, and when the last bit is complete (some spots still under construction) it will be one of the most special places in the city. They have an opening celebration going on through this whole weekend, so drop by before or after the games and look around. Last night they had live music, an art show, BBQ and other food. There were quite a few people there, so even though you have to walk through a not-quite-finished entry, it was a lovely and fun place to go. By night the fountain, which cascades into a pool which cascades into the river (a real wow effect) is lit up in blue lighting that precisely matches the bridge lighting. The bridge itself is a pretty sight at night. Within the park is a terrific pedestrian bridge from which you get a great view of the waterfront. And, as an added attraction, the park affords a spectacular view of the Friday night fireworks, reflected in the river. By all means people, give yourself a treat and GO!

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

Those are good points, periculum. I do believe you can improve on the cheap, and I give them credit for that.

Let's take the draft. Not signing Aaron Crow for his over-slot money is working out well, as was signing Drew Storen for under-slot money, about half of Crow's requested amount. Storen's ERA of 3.23 is decent for a rookie, and is even better than his college ERA in 2009 of 3.80 at Stanford. Yes, signability was his attraction, and the so-called experts had him going toward the end of the first round. So chalk one up for the Nats. Storen's 1.27 WHIP is also decent. Trevor Holder, the third rounder who signed for well under slot, could also be OK. He is 23 in high A ball and notched a 4.09 ERA at Potomac. Not bad.

In 2008, the Nats paid over-slot money for JP Ramirez, a 15th rounder who hit .296 with power in A ball this season. At the time of his last minute signing, I was horrified that the Nats said that they only signed him because they saved money by not signing Crow. If you like the guy, sign him regardless! But looking back on it, it was a frugal move that is working.

The whole 2010 draft looks superb, with two over-slots plus Harper. I just hope the Harper signing with Boras ($9.9 million, but over 5 years) wasn't part of some hidden deal to bring Carlos Pena here as a Dunn replacement. Yeah, I know--paranoid!

Sure, you can grow toward respectability some day with smart, frugal moves. Still, improvement would take place much more rapidly if the Nats were willing to expand their budgets. We have one of the largest and wealthiest regions in America, but are nowhere near close to average in the team budgets. What is the rationale toward staying near the bottom in payroll? do you realize the Twins, in a small market, have a 60 percent larger payroll than the Nats? They expanded their payroll because they had a new stadium, their ownership said. Their goals are higher than respectability.

You lose me on Maya over Chapman. Chapman is 22 years old and can learn greater pitch variety so that he can start. He has been throwing 104 mph. He has an ERA of zero and a WHIP of under 1 in his six games with the Reds. It's early in the kid's career, but I would not hesitate to trade Maya for Chapman, even up.

Posted by: EdDC | September 11, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

"Most of you have not suffered through an owner who traded away the middle infield for an over-the-hill, drunk, former 20 game winner, and then the next season moved the team to Texas."
Posted by: adhardwick | September 11, 2010 11:31 AM
*******************
That's entirely unfair. He was a former 30-game winner.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | September 11, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Ted Lerner, Bob Short, Clark Griffith and Calvin Griffith all have to be considered well below average owners. For many, many decades, the Nats have not had an average MLB owner. Once we get one, we will see that DC is indeed a "baseball town." My hope is that Mark Lerner will not only be average, but far above.

Posted by: EdDC | September 11, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

At some point, Rizzo will be entrusted with a higher team payroll. I expect it will be at least be in the 80-85 million range which should be enough to build a winner in DC. However, the foundation is going to be built from the farm up. The talent in the farm system will be used to build winners ...

The management is so UNLIKE Short and the Griffiths (which is one big reason they were convinced to sell their respective teams in Texas and Minnesota) with Rizzo in charge. Its a night and day difference in my opinion.

Then everyone was waiting on Jeff Burroughs. Supposedly the next Ted Williams ... the other franchise finally did get an Oliva and Carew Internationally ... and developed young pitchers like Bert Blyleven. But just looking at these Nats new MI with Desmond and Espinosa ... and that deal for Ramos is looking good as well. According to Mike Rizzo it takes 6 years to build a winning system from scratch. He has been here since 2006? Asst. and interim GM. Officially GM just 1 year.

Most of the FA's who will be available will be well over 30. Cliff Lee is over 30. Most teams keep the good younger ones under control and away from free agency. There might be some deals to be had as some of the small market teams trim budgets ... doubtless not many good choices to be had though ...

And because its a team of AAAA with a farm system that is still being rebuilt from worst than scratch that the MLB left it ... there really isn't much to use in those trades. Now is there?

Posted by: periculum | September 11, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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