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Posted at 12:52 PM ET, 02/24/2011

Long toss: Who are the Nats' leaders?

By Washington Post editors

Yesterday, Adam blogged about Manager Jim Riggleman asking his players to establish their own guidelines for the clubhouse.

Early this morning, as the other Nationals began warming up, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond ducked into Manager Jim Riggleman's office. Riggleman had already met with Jason Marquis and Alex Cora, and he plans to meet with several other Nationals veterans.
Riggleman wants to let his experienced players establish ground rules for the clubhouse - "their clubhouse," as Riggleman said. He gave them a list of issues and encouraged them to create their own guidelines. Riggleman wants order, but he's willing to let the players he trusts most establish it. ...
It is telling that Riggleman included Desmond with Zimmerman and Werth, a second-year player mixed in with the face of the franchise and the team's highest-paid player.

What do you think? Who are the Nats' best leaders? And how can you tell?

By Washington Post editors  | February 24, 2011; 12:52 PM ET
 
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Comments

Not sure they really have any at this point. Its a new team, an updated roster. Team chemistry is TBD.

Is it telling that Riggleman included Desmond, Zimmerman and Werth? No. Rizzo is the one who like to call it a "performance league". If their performance can't match the challenge then its unlikely they will be considered true leaders.

Riggleman has a penchant for picking older vets who can no longer hit, no longer pitch, and no longer field. Willy Harris comes to mind. As does Cristian Guzman. How could younger players consider these guys leaders? Ron Villone made a great mentor/coach but leader?

That said, it seems to me that Zimmerman and Strasburg are the closest this team has to true leaders. Beyond those two its a wait and see proposition.

Posted by: periculum | February 24, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

By your very definition, peric, Strasburg can't be a true leader on the team this year. He can't hit, pitch, or field for the major league team until September, if at all this year.

Posted by: faNATic | February 24, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

position players are Zim and Werth, pitchers are Livo, Lannan, and Marquis.

Posted by: destewar | February 24, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe Riggleman picked Kennedy, Guzman,and Harris to be leaders for his team last year. Especially since both Guzman and Harris predated his arrival. Managers can only pick from the players that make the roster. And many of the roster decisions are arrived at directly or indirectly by the GM. The Manager then manages them.

Leaders have followers. Dimitri Young was a leader - its just not clear if it was a good idea to be following him. How do you know you have a good leader? Look around and see who is following them.

Posted by: whatsaNATaU | February 24, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Desmond needs to concern himself with solidifying his game. The other guys are established; his long-term profile is still unclear. Not time to lead anything except number-of-grounders-taken in practice.

Posted by: trebor0012 | February 24, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Sean Burnett. When he shined shoes for his bullpen mates last year, they usually won!

Posted by: poncedeleroy | February 24, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"I do not believe Riggleman picked Kennedy, Guzman,and Harris to be leaders for his team last year. Especially since both Guzman and Harris predated his arrival. Managers can only pick from the players that make the roster."

Horse hockey and dog puckey to that notion. Rizzo did not tell Riggleman to make Guzman "starting utility man". Rizzo did tell Riggleman to start Desmond at shortstop and not try to make him a "super utility guy". Rizzo did not tell Riggleman to start Guzman at second over Kennedy with his terrible OBP and complete lack of power. Rizzo did not tell Riggleman to put Guzman in right field.

Its Riggleman's penchant to put favored veterans in games even when they are underperforming and underwhelming fielding-wise. Not Rizzo's.

Posted by: periculum | February 24, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

And there's sub-Mendoza Willy Harris ... "we have to get Willy going" said the great Jim Riggleman ... instead of Michael Morse we got Willy Harris.

And yea @faNATic Strasburg is a leader on this team even though he is rehabbing. Name a pitcher nay, a player that performed at his level last season? None and zero end of story.

Posted by: periculum | February 24, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I am as excited as an 81 year old can get looking forward to this season. Adam, thanks for keeping us informed. You are doing a great job.
I hope we can keep the notes constructive and not allow some of the goof balls to mess up a great journal.
Bill T

Posted by: wtait1212 | February 24, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Typically your leaders would be amongst your position players rather than your pitchers. Your starters are going once every 5 games and your relievers are down in the bullpen. (I'm sure that group has it's own leaders.) But it's not easy to tell who the leaders are unless you are in the locker room. Riggleman would know. Some people don't want to be leaders and some non-stars are very good leaders. It's been reported several times that Desmond get's people fired up, so he must have that kind of a personality.

Posted by: Jurgensen9 | February 24, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

"Desmond needs to concern himself with solidifying his game. The other guys are established; his long-term profile is still unclear. Not time to lead anything except number-of-grounders-taken in practice."

Posted by: trebor0012 | February 24, 2011 2:00 PM

Could not agree more.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 24, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

This is a pointless discussion. None of us are in the clubhouse day after day, so none of us are qualified to comment on team chemistry any more than we're qualified to discuss the Pope's choice of underwear. WP, you're the ones with the access. Tell us more about who YOU think has emerged as the leaders.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | February 24, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I said that Guzman et al were not selected by Riggleman to be LEADERS. If you disagree that is fine, but it appears you may have thought I meant roster selection. I just don't think Riggs was looking to that crew to be leaders.

Posted by: whatsaNATaU | February 24, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris was one, but he was also tied to the losing ways. I think the biggest change is getting the Dukes and many other elements out of the clubhouseso leaders can develop. What do we know though? We read the papers and watch them chew gum on hte field.

Posted by: DCSec112 | February 24, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

>>I am as excited as an 81 year old can get looking forward to this season. Adam, thanks for keeping us informed. You are doing a great job.
I hope we can keep the notes constructive and not allow some of the goof balls to mess up a great journal.
Bill T

Posted by: wtait1212

I like this guy. Reminds me of the time that John Wooden was asked whether he liked solid players with experience or inexperienced ones with talent and he said:

Take the talent every time. Chemistry and leadership is automatic when you're winning, and that you actually have choices for captains when everyone is on the same page. I suppose they could get the few truly talented players they have and ask them whether they would like to lead. Otherwise, it ain't going to happen. You don't declare leaders, they just step up on the field and become them. And for that you need continuity.

Posted by: Brue | February 24, 2011 6:39 PM | Report abuse

You're kidding right?

Of course it's Werth, Zim, and Desmond.

Werth is the hardnosed complete player vet who's been missing from our lineup for forever. He's who's going to establish our future working-the-pitchers ethic, since he's the best at it, and since Rizzo observed we were lacking in that area.

Zim is the Cal Ripken even-keel superstar guy, but who has the benefit of observing the restrictions within Cal Ripken's career. With all due respect, Cal Ripken's career was less like Bill Russell and more like the guy listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for growing the longest fingernails.

Look, I really appreciated Ripken, but I'd hope he would have traded that streak for another pennant or WS.

I think Zim has some sense of what it takes to win, and is not looking to carry all the leadership weight. I think he looked up to Dunn and and tried to make him out to be a team leader, but the Dick Stuarts, Dave Kingmans, Jack Clarks, Jose Cansecos cannot ever be leaders.

Desmond is the young, leave-it-all-on-the-field-guy, and I'm tired of the rehashed second-hand commentary about his errors. Last season Desmond was outstanding rangewise, led the league in putouts, and had to have an inordinate amount of his assists with throws to second base. I think he broke through his eager-beaver wild-chucking win-the-game-with-one-great-Sportscenter-throw phase.


This is a great trio, and Riggleman gets the kids to develop confidence in themselves. This is exactly what he's supposed to do. He's part of developing who our team is. Tony La Russa and Phil Jackson don't take jobs like Riggleman's and he hasn't been given a job like theirs. When we get as good as the Lakers in basketball or the Cards in baseball, then we can discuss Riggleman in that job. I believe Riggleman is terrific in this job.

Posted by: OldDad | February 24, 2011 10:36 PM | Report abuse

If you were under fire in a foxhole, and Desmond came running by saying "Follow Me!", would you?

Posted by: JohnRDC | February 25, 2011 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Depends on which way he was running.

Posted by: whatsaNATaU | February 25, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Pudge Rodriguez. Period.

Posted by: Sojouner | February 25, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

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