Friday, July 02, 2010

A Team of Tools

Jim Riggleman, the manager of the Washington Nationals, is a local guy who made good by getting to run a Major League team in his home town. He is by all accounts a nice guy, but everyone knows where nice guys finish. Last! And that’s the case now, as the Nationals have gone from a record of 20-15 in May to 15-31 since them. The season is now exactly half over, and Riggleman has been manager for just about one full year. He should not return after the All-Star break in two weeks.

Every day after a loss he is quoted as saying how great his guys are, how talented they are and how they never stop trying. With the exception of two young pitchers and hitters Zimmerman, Dunn and Willingham, there is no one on the team with any talent such that any other team would have them in their starting lineups. Yes, there is talent in the minor leagues, but Riggleman is no judge of it, and he is not a leader.

Adam Dunn can hit home runs, but he is a big sissy. He won’t swing for singles, won’t try to take advantage of defenses that give him one half of the field for the taking. He takes too many pitches and won’t use his 6-foot-6, 285-pound bulk to intimidate fielders, and he has the gall to ruin any trade value he has by saying he doesn’t want to be a designated hitter in the American league. Well that’s all this mountainous mass of immovable mung can do because he has a glove that magically repels baseballs thrown in its direction. All he can do Is pile up meaningless home run totals, and since no one is on base when he hits them, they don’t do much to produce victories.

Then there are the cases – head cases – of Nyjer Morgan and Ian Desmond, two of the very imaginary talents on his imaginary team. They personally lose game after game not by failing to hit – which happens to anyone – but because they are lazy and stupid. How Desmond could remain in Thursday nights game after trotting into second base on a ball that hit the fence, instead of running to third for a triple, is beyond me. How Nyjer Morgan is allowed to put on a uniform is a daily mystery.

Friday night’s game was lost on Morgan’s first at bat. After getting a rare base hit, he once again tried to steal second. His natural speed beat the throw and the tag, but his idiotic head-first-, swipe-the-bag-with-the-side-of-my-foot style carried him past the bag and off the bag, where he was tagged out. This year, the leadoff man, who is supposed to get on base, then score after taking extra bases, has attempted 29 steals and has been thrown out 12 times. That is awful.

But here is why Riggleman should be fired.

He does nothing when Desmond and Morgan defy intelligence and lose games by making Little league mistakes. Last year, Morgan lost about a third of the season after breaking his hand by sliding head first. He was ordered this year not to do that again. But he defies management.

H e also gave up on a fly ball to center earlier this year that he thought was a home run, but it hit the wall over his head and in a tantrum he slammed his glove to the ground instead of chasing the ball. The result was the same as if the ball had cleared the fence – an inside the park home run.

Every player comes to the Major Leagues with “tools,” and it is good if he has two or three of the five: hitting for average, hitting for power, speed, fielding and throwing. Nyjer Morgan, dumped by the unbelievably awful Pittsburgh Pirates last year, has zero tools. Yes, he has speed, but his speed kills. Base running error after base running error that cost games.

Desmond leads the Major Leagues in errors, which over time can be corrected. But jogging around the bases on a perceived but imaginary home run fly ball, cost the team a run Thursday night. Morgan, before the first inning was one out old, lost Friday’s game by sheer stupidity. Earlier in the week, he got a leadoff hit, and the second batter was directed to hit the ball to right field but Morgan got picked off.

BULLETIN: As I write, the Nats have come from way back to put the tying runs on base with two outs in the ninth inning. And another bozo blunder by another moron, Roger Bernadina, defies 55 years of my experience watching the game of basaeball. His run is meaningless at second base. The runner at first can tie the game and the batter can win it. But this fucking piece of shit gets himself picked off second base to end the game. But I am sure he will be in Riggleman's lineup tomorrow.

So Riggleman every day says this team never stops trying and has talent. He is plain wrong, and ineffective as a manager to let these two jamokes continue to play.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are pretty bad, too, and yesterday they fired their namby pamby manager and hired Kirk Gibson, who is like the psychiatrist in the new Geico commercial, with Riggleman acting the role of patient. Gibson has the respect of players and will kick someone’s ass when they give up.

This was the year the Nats could have been .500. The season is half over and Riggleman’s usefulness is totally over.


  1. Well, I think a few other teams would start Ivan Rodriguez at catcher and Levon Hernandez in their starting rotation. The bullpen is pretty good most of the time.

    It is bonehead mistakes and the failure, most of the time, to hit in the clutch that has been doing the Nats in. And last night and tonight (before Bernadina's mistake) there were hitting in must-hit situations. Let's not give up on them yet.

  2. Dave,
    Rodriguez and Hernandez, lovable as they may be, have no value to most other teams because they are old, have no future and do not produce over a full season. Ironically, the only teams that could have use for them are contenders who might be missing a single piece of their puzzle.

    BTW, I have despised Guzman since he threw away a game in the second week of this franchise's existence instead of eating a tough grounder on a slippery field. He came inches from losing Saturday's thriller against the Mets by failing to remember that you don't have to tag up on a fly ball that is not caught.

    Guzman, Morgan and Desmond are just plain goddam stupid and they are stuck with being that way the rest of their lives. I just don't want them on any team of mine -- especially one I support by buying season tickets.