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Posted at 3:01 PM ET, 02/20/2011

Mike Rizzo 'very comfortable' with Jim Riggleman

By Adam Kilgore


Manager Jim Riggleman will enter the 2011 season in the final guaranteed year of his contract, a circumstance General Manager Mike Rizzo said today he feels comfortable with.

"I am very comfortable with Jim as our manager," Rizzo said. "I hired him as the interim manager. I hired him to be our manager. So I am very confident with Jim leading our team."

The Nationals signed Riggleman to what was technically a two-year contract in the 2009 offseason with an option for the 2012 season. The Nationals could have bought Riggleman out of the deal for the relatively small figure of $100,000 this offseason, but after a 10-win improvement the Nationals decided to bring him back.

Riggleman is 102-135 in his Nationals tenure, which began when he took over a team with a 26-61 record at the 2009 all-star break. Riggleman has managed 237 games for the Nationals, and their record in the 237 games before he arrived was 82-155.

Riggleman's lack of security following this season could become a point of speculation this year, particularly if the Nationals have a slow start. The Nationals and Riggleman, according to a person close to the situation, have not begun any talks in regard to next season.

Asked if he had any plans to begin discussions, Rizzo said only, "I'm comfortable with our manager."

Any manager operating under an uncertain future faces issues, such as maintaining authority in the clubhouse. Riggleman has indicated he will not allow his contract status to become a distraction.

"I haven't really thought of it like that," Riggleman said when asked if he felt 2011 was a must-win season. "I think we look it more like the game in hand, the day at hand. Let's have a good day. Let's play good baseball. Let's try to win the game. I really haven't thought of it in terms of anything particular on me or anybody else."

By Adam Kilgore  | February 20, 2011; 3:01 PM ET
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If "2010" was a "must win" season, he's toast.

As it is, I think he just needs to show he can hanfle the improved team. 75 wins keeps the job. If they hit 82, I would expect Rizzo will extend him.

Posted by: advocate2 | February 20, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I think McCatty is more on the hot seat than Riggleman. Something good needs to come out of this staff. Riggleman should improve the record over last year somewhat to keep his job. His tendency to play guys who aren't producing over those who are and his moves to reduce offense in tie games late are irritating. Then he needs to get this bunch to do the basics--bunt, run bases effectively, hit the cutoff, etc. If the team declines in wins appreciably or continues to play careless baseball, he should go.

Posted by: JamesFan2 | February 20, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Dog bites man, Adam.

What else is Rizzo going to say at this point in the season?

Posted by: swanni | February 20, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

That's a fair point, swanni, but my question was more geared more at the idea of having a manager with an unresolved contract situation, not just Riggleman's stability. Rizzo wasn't really going there, which is certainly his right. It seemed to me like he was trying not to say anything that could be parsed or misconstrued.

By the way ... One of my goals for this year is to interact more with y'all in the comments. I'll have more spare time to do so at some times more than others, but it's something I want to do more of, if that's alright with everyone. Thanks.

Posted by: Adam Kilgore | February 20, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

For both Riggleman and McCatty its picking the RIGHT guys out of spring training. No small feat given the number of starting pitchers vying for a shot? If it turns out that they choose wrong?

It occurs to me that the other piece of this equation is motivation. Can gentleman JIm motivate the guys he picks? If he picks veterans over promising younger prospects/players who turn out to perform better? As happened way too much last year?

Respecting veterans (like Pudge and LIvo) is all fine, good and appropriate. But isn't Rizzo building this team to win more games in the always tough NL East? What comes first is winning doesn't it?

Posted by: periculum | February 20, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Adam, appreciate the response; agree that it's instructive to get your perspective on why you thought the article was worthwhile.

As for Riggleman, I wonder if Greinke, de la Rosa, Vasquez, etc etc. would have spurned the Nats if Buck Showalter or Bobby Valentine was in charge. A team's choice in managers sends a strong message to the league; keeping Riggs as manager said, 'We're not ready for primetime yet."

Posted by: swanni | February 20, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Great point by Swanni. Unfortunately, Nats can't attract big name mgr for the same reason big name players won't come without a king's ransom. Think we're stuck with Riggs for a while. Nice guy, but that's the provlem. I'd like to see Rick Dempsey. Learned under the Earl.

BTW Adam how about responding to Poopy.

Posted by: bosco3 | February 20, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Bosco - Valentine actually WANTED to manage the Nats:

Posted by: swanni | February 20, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Bosco - Valentine actually WANTED to manage the Nats:

You got me there. Guess that was before Ted decided to open the checkbook.

Posted by: bosco3 | February 20, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Was Rizzo also comfortable with a ss (Guzman) being forced to play rf in the 9th inning of a game the Nats were leading against the Houston Astos last season because all the other position players had been doubleswitched out of the game. And subsequently on the last out of that game which was about to be won by the Nats, Guzman (the ss turned rf) dropped a routine game ending flyball and the Nats went on to lose the game to the lowly Astros and thus began a rapid downward descent. Just one of many games that the manager, not the players, lost last season.

Glad Rizzo is comfortable with Riggleman. Too bad the rest of us will just have to continue to be comfortable with substandard managing.
At least we can watch a real MLB skipper up the road in CrabTown.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | February 20, 2011 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Adam, are you hearing anything from players off the record regarding how they rate Riggleman?

Posted by: DaRube | February 20, 2011 9:44 PM | Report abuse

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