Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Can’t Blame Him…


What a deflating end to a great run of wins for the team. Photo credit unknown.

Jim Riggleman shocked the Natmosphere by abruptly resigning after today’s 1-0 win over Seattle (a win that gives the team 11 wins in their last 12 games and pushes them over .500 for the first time this late in the season since 2005).

I can’t blame him.  He’s more than proven his worth managing a team in the lower 1/3 of major league payroll, without its best pitcher all of 2011, missing Ryan Zimmerman for the bulk of the season and having to deal with the loss of his “other” major FA signing Adam LaRoche.  He’s worked a group of players that includes more than a few 2011 minor league free agents into the hottest team in baseball.  Mike Rizzo should have realized that picking up his option was the right thing to do.  The team let him toil as “interim manager” for months, even while vastly outperforming his predecessor (Manny Acta was 26-61 in 2009, then Riggleman went 33-42 with a group of players hampered by injuries late in the season).

Riggleman certainly has his detractors (small ball, quick hooks, sentimental pitching decisions all being mentioned) but I find it hard to believe there’s a manager out there who could have gotten more out of this group.

Flat out, the team should have picked up his 2012 option long before it came to this.

A disappointing piece of news.

Written by Todd Boss

June 23rd, 2011 at 4:36 pm

10 Responses to 'Can’t Blame Him…'

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  1. He demands a mid-season extension when the team gets to .500? If this were the end of the season and the Nationals were 81-81 and we were talking one-year vs. multi-year, I would understand.

    This was Riggleman trying to take advantage of a hot streak, then running when it looked like he wasn’t going to get what he wanted. If he truly believed in this team, he would have faith that they and he could get him the extension he wanted.

    I do blame Rizzo for being a uncompromising, but no way is Riggleman in the clear.


    23 Jun 11 at 5:35 pm

  2. You can’t blame him? Sure you can. This was an absolutely classless move, quitting and undercutting the team just at the moment that it was finally accomplishing something. They were under no obligation to discuss anything and were rightfully going to see how the whole season turned out.

    If I pulled something like this, I’d be blackballed in my profession. I hope he never manages in the majors again.


    23 Jun 11 at 6:03 pm

  3. I’ve said it before, Mike Rizzo is a brilliant draft & development guy, but comes across as green a rookie as you’ll find at the major league level.
    The Nats F.O. treatment of Riggleman has been a joke for quite awhile, stringing him along on these 1 year contracts at bottom level pay for too long.
    In short, Todd, I agree with you.

    Mark L

    23 Jun 11 at 6:35 pm

  4. Rizzo made the “classless move”. Here is a manager that has taken a team racked by injuries and molded it into a .500 playing team and can not even get promissed a conversation in the near future?

    Was he expected to to wait until the end of the season when nothing was at stake to make any demands? No, Riggleman saw the sands running out on him. This way he was able to have some dignity. What would Riggleman had gained by waiting it out–a gold watch? A promise to be an organizational consultant?

    It appears that Rizzo has manager in waiting. Let us see if he is able to maintain this team’s spirit and resolve. If not, then 2011 never meant anything to Rizzo anyways.


    23 Jun 11 at 6:44 pm

  5. Clearly there’s two ways to look at this, and 4 comments thus far are 2 agreeing with Riggleman’s choice and 2 killing him for it.

    I’m guessing this was part of a larger issue between Riggleman and Rizzo. He was left to dangle as “interim manager” for months, then had his option left un-renewed for months into this season. We’ll never know what kind of conversations went on between the two w/r/t this option in the off season, but clearly from Riggleman’s actions he was pissed about it. If his thought process was “hey i’m the 29th best paid manager in the majors and have turned this untenable situation into a .500 team, its time for management to make a statement about their faith in me and pick up the option.”

    Todd Boss

    23 Jun 11 at 6:54 pm

  6. Fair enough. Perhaps he thought that he’s proven enough and didn’t want to go into the offseason without the security. Perhaps he read the tea leaves and felt like he was the one responsible for this team’s improvement but was going to get replaced anyway. He was underpaid, dealt with a ton of adversity this season thus far, and felt it was time. Opportunistic for himself perhaps, taking advantage of a hot streak by the team, but no better time to make demands right? When are you going to go to your boss demanding a raise; when you’ve just delivered a fantastic work product or made a big sale right?

    In terms of the effect on the team, sure he has undercut them. But, in the end he’s gotta look out for himself too right?

    Todd Boss

    23 Jun 11 at 6:59 pm

  7. I just don’t see it. If you really want to leverage the timing, you don’t do it that morning. You just don’t. Ultimately this rebounds on him, not on the club. Rizzo has something that only 29 other people have, the power to hand a manager league managing job to someone. He will have his pick. Riggleman’s move was not only classless, it was clueless. I was growing to have some grudging respect for the guy, cause if I blame him when they lose, I have to credit him when they win, but this just shows he had no clue about the long term, about leverage, or about managing relationships. If he couldn’t find a better way to manage his relationship with his boss, then he was going to be lost when the Nats started to get good and he had to manage a bunch of successful ballplayers.

    Other Marc with a C

    23 Jun 11 at 9:25 pm

  8. I’m reading reports that Riggleman was asking, not for immediate action on his option, but that he just wanted a *meeting* with Rizzo to talk about things. And Rizzo wouldn’t give it to him. I try to think how i’d react in that situation and i’d probably be just as pissed. Clearly though he had his “bluff” called, and he’s gone. But if he was reading the tea leaves properly and was going to get hung out to dry at the end of the season, i guess he felt like he should just leave now.

    I wonder how this is going to be interpreted in inner baseball circles (not by bloggers and fans, or even the sports writers who are killing Riggleman right now). Because that’s really the important part for Riggleman’s career. Or what’s left of it, if this move is interpreted as some say. If the inner circles understand that working for Rizzo sucks then perhaps he’ll get another shot. Or maybe he’s done and will retire. I dunno.

    Todd Boss

    23 Jun 11 at 11:31 pm

  9. […] stands) was getting squeezed on the strike zone.  Too bad this great outing was out-shined by the abrupt resignation of manager Jim Riggleman immediately following the […]

  10. […] even take a meeting with him to discuss his job status, leading to Riggleman’s resignation (my take on it here from the […]

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