Friday, November 13, 2009


Yes. I've been co-opted. Reigned in by the classic Washington technique of granting "access".

Just hung up on a conference call with new Nats manager Jim Riggleman. That's right, me a lonely pajama-clad basement dwellar had a chance to speak directly to one of only 30 major league managers.

All thanks to: Dave Nichols, Nats News Network and his DC-IBWA idea. And the Nats PR staffers who set the whole thing up.

Anyway, you little people on the outside didn't miss much. The other bloggers asked the same kind of questions that any interested observer of the Nats would want to ask given this opportunity. And Riggleman answered just as you might expect . . . nothing flashy or glib. Just solid baseball focused answers. Not a thing wrong with that and exactly what could reasonably expected.

I'll take away three things:

1) He didn't want to talk about himself which is an admirable trait IMHO. He did say that he considered his role to be one of not letting the team get too high or too low. Sort of a Stay Medium message. We all know how the last Stay Medium guy is faring.

2) When asked about stolen bases, he said they had gone away thanks to the Steroid Era when managers just waited around for someone to hit one out. He thought that the stolen base would make a slight comeback. Nothing particularly odd about this opinion. I found his use of the term "Steroid Era" to be significant. First, if I were involved with baseball, rule #1 would be "Never mention steroids in public." Second, I wonder if those involved in baseball really think of the late 90s and early aughts as dominated by juiced up sluggers? AFAIK, we have 104 positive tests back in '04. Given a 65-35 split pitchers to hitters that would be about 68 hitters. Is that enough to change the entire strategy of a 100 year old game? Or was the problem so widespread and so known inside baseball circles that managers managed differently knowing they had roided up sluggers up and down their lineup. * note -- I couldn't care less about steroids in baseball. But for those who do, here you go.

3) When asked why free agents would want to come to a team with 100 losses in consecutive seasons, Riggleman answered that "ballplayers are looking for opportunities." A player would rather be a starter than a backup. Essentially, this means that playing time is an asset the Nationals can use. They could guarantee a guy coming off an injury, hey you'll stay in our rotation now matter how badly you get pounded. We'll give you the best chance to get yourself healthy and back in game shape. Then we'll make sure you land on a contender come July 31. Brad Penny didn't do himself any favors signing with the Red Sox last year. They had to win and couldn't wait for Penny to be fully healthy and ready to contribute so they cut him loose. I'd make that my cautionary tale when I went after say a Ben Sheets or a Mark Prior.

Please don't stay tuned for more inside info from Nats land, I doubt there will be any more here. In fact, I don't think there is any now. But at least I feel more important and that's what a blog is for right?

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