This has been a year of ups and downs for the good ole Nationals. Yesterday obviously changed the course of their season and really stirred up this town. If you haven’t heard yet, Jim Riggleman resigned abruptly after the team beat Seattle. What makes this more interesting, is the team just got above 500 and they are on a tear (winning 11 of 12). Let me argue the both sides of this decision.
First, let’s look at this from Rigg’s side. During the course of his career, he has been a part of a lot of smaller contracts. He has never signed the “big one” and probably wanted the opportunity. He had just gotten his team above 500, and I’m guessing, thought now was a time to make a stand. He has stated that he only wanted a conversation about his contract and Mike Rizzo (VP of something) wouldn’t give him a chat. Super freaking duper. Suck it up and coach, Riggs. I don’t get this move at all. You signed the contract in the first place, now you need to coach under it. If he would have performed all year-long, I’m sure he would have been signed to a longer deal.
Let’s now look at this from the National’s perspective. Mike Rizzo doesn’t owe Riggleman a conversation about his contract mid-season. Yes, Riggs was performing decently, but the Nationals are building something great… if not scary for the rest of the division. Lets add some more color to that thought. We all know about the massive contract for Jason Werth and the electric stuff of Stephen Strasburg. The latter comes back at some point this year and Bryce Harper looms as a scary threat. That brings us to this year’s draft where the Nationals had the #6, #23, and #34 picks in a very deep and strong draft. All of this is to say that the Nationals are legitimately poised for something good. They need and deserve the right manager. Riggleman could have been that manager, but they needed to be sure. I don’t fault them for not re-signing him mid-season, I actually applaud them. Riggs blew it.
Some genius baseball monk stated before the season that the Nationals should be about 500 by midseason and then fall back. They look like they should make his prediction true. Let’s see how they perform under interim manager John Mclaren.
*editor’s note: the Nationals hired Davey Johnson to replace Riggleman today.