September 25, 2021

Poetic Justice

December 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Following the winter meetings is like watching grass grow. Washington baseball fans are waiting anxiously to see whether Santa wraps Mark Buerhle up and places him in the Nationals stocking and if so, what else might there be under the tree.

There is the issue of center field with so many options there that even Santa’s head must be spinning. And finding a package big enough for Yeonis Cespedes could be difficult. Will the team that signs him have to display a rolling version of the video at the ballpark?

For relief from the grind of pulling up the various rumor sites every two or three hours, there is consideration of Jim Riggleman. Our favorite Washington manager of 2010 is back in the saddle again, having signed with the Cincinnati Reds to manage their Double-A affiliate in Pensacola.

My friend Marc Hall opined that it is poetic justice for Riggleman to be managing a team called the “Blue Wahoos.” I mean no disrespect for the people of Pensacola and they can call their Double-A baseball team whatever pays the rent. But don’t count on Riggleman to help much in that regard. The grass grow doesn’t grow under his feet long enough to pay for much of any thing.

The real poetic justice in the hiring of Riggleman is the idea, surfaced in a Cincinnati Reds blog, that he will be putting pressure on Dusty Baker, the reigning Cincinnati manager. Riggleman was driven crazy last season by the idea that Davey Johnson, hired as a “special assistant” to Washington GM Mike Rizzo, would take his job at season’s end. For Riggleman to be the manager waiting in the wings might offer some consolation if it were true.

Realistic comparison of the two situations is strained at best. First, Dusty Baker is actually a fine manager who has had remarkable success over the years. He was a consistent winner with the San Francisco Giants during the Barry Bonds years and has had success elsewhere including winning the NL Central for the Reds in 2010. His win-loss percentage is well above .500.

Compare that to Riggleman who brought in two winners on the north side of Chicago, but whose overall won-loss record is relatively anemic at .445. That record spans 12 seasons, but includes six partial seasons. Other than his tenure with the Cubs in the second half of the 1990’s, Riggleman has been brought in most often to clean up a mess as precursor to a permanent hire. He had seen all too often the situation that unfolded in Washington. He knew what Davey Johnson was doing sitting with Rizzo at games.

There are many here in DC that can only wish Riggleman well however his situation evolves with the Reds. He is a local guy who has made good. Would he have had better options for this year had he been the one who piloted the Nationals to a 80-81 record at season’s end? Even if after that success he had been displaced by Davey Johnson I think he would be able to find something better than the Blue Wahoos.

One thing for certain, he would have put more pressure on the Nationals had he stayed and succeeded, than he is likely to put on Dusty Baker from Pensacola. Baker is in the last year of his contract and if he leaves and Riggleman takes over in the off-season, my bet is that Jim is once again a transitional figure. He might get the Cincinnati job, but he won’t have it for long. Things just haven’t worked that way for Jim Riggleman very often

I wish I could worry longer about Riggleman but there is rumor central to check out. By the way, Santa, we have been very, very good here in DC.   Either way, Happy Holidays!!

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