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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I am so confused

No, I'm not confused by this report in the Washington Times' chatter section. As I've noted before, the Times does an excellent job with its Nationals blog and I'm surprised it doesn't draw a lot more commentary.

I'm also not confused by Don Mattingly's decision. As much as I'd like to be mad at him, I can't. If he's truly a serious contender to be the next manager of the Dodgers, can you really blame him? I would have enjoyed reminding him of the time I ate at his restaurant in Evansville, Ind. A Don Mattingly baseball (not obtained that night) is one of two autographed balls sitting on my display case. Livan Hernandez is the other.

What confuses me is what the Nationals think of Jim Riggleman.

Also noted before here: I have no problem with Riggleman being named permanent manager of the Nationals. There was definitely a different, better vibe to that team in the second half of the season and it may have had as much to do with Nyjer Morgan as Jim Riggleman. But I suspect Riggleman had a hand in it.

What I do not want is for Riggleman to get the job because he's the cheaper alternative. I want him to get the job because the braintrust - a braintrust I trust now that you-know-who is gone - thinks he is the best for the job, price tag be danged.

If Bobby Valentine is better and wants the job, pay the man Shirley. If Buck Showalter is better and wants the job, open up the vault.

If Riggleman is the best man, hire him. Please. But hire him for that reason.

Don't go cheap on your manager. Not now. If the optimistic proclamations are to be believed, this team is closer than results make it appear. The next manager could well be the one to lead the team to respectability and - am I really typing this? - the team's first playoff berth. It is a crucial hire. Lots of these prospects we've been beaten over the head with will be showing up over the next couple of seasons. Stephen Strasburg is going to make his debut under the next manager.

You want this next manager to be one you firmly believe is capable of handling all this.

If you think that's Jim Riggleman, I'll stand and applaud. If that's someone else, I'll support that, too.

Do it because he's the best, please. Not because he's the cheapest.

One other point of confusion: Why would they give Jim Riggleman "new electronic equipment" if he's not the guy? What is that? A computer? A BlackBerry? A HighDef TV? Satellite radio? A blender? A microwave? What exactly did they give him? An iPod? Curiousity is killing me.

UPDATE: One part of the confusion cleared. I'm told quite reliably that Mr. Riggleman got a new computer and BlackBerry. The information came with the notation that such gifts would seem to indicate he's going to be around a while. "Here, use this for a week." I don't think so.


Sasskuash said...

I agree whole-heartedly on your salary point.

I did not want Riggleman to be named the full time manager, but the way I see it there are not necessarily better options. I think the Nats want somebody with experience as a manager in the big leagues, and do not want to take a chance on another Manny Acta at this point in time. Especially after what happened with the Manny Acta. That leaves the team with limited options: Doug Melvin (fired mid-season), Clint Hurdle (fired mid-season) and Bobby Valentine (unimpressive in Cleveland interviews, prima donna reputation). Maybe Riggleman is just the most comfortable choice of several options that don't offer a whole lot to get excited about.

I think if their original criteria left the team with no good options, they should adjust the criteria and consider an unproven guy like Tim Foli more seriously. But I wonder if they are going to give Riggleman a short contract so they have the flexibility to move on to the true long-term future manager in a year or two. Riggleman certainly isn't going to be managing for the next ten years!

An Briosca Mor said...

All this angst about the Nats possibly cheaping out on the manager search is really misplaced. The figure I saw that was cited as the number they did not want to go over for a manager was $1M/year. Well, in 2007 (the latest year for which I've been able to find complete data) only 14 of the 30 managers in MLB were making $1M or over. The guys at the top of that list were the guys you would expect to find there - Torre, LaRussa, Cox, Francona, Piniella, Scoscia, Leyland etc. The key thing about managers who are worth more than $1M per is that they are currently working elsewhere and are thus not available. Those guys out there who are available at that price are the legend-in-their-own-mind types like Valentine. The Nats do not want or need a manager like that, so if they don't hire one it's not because they're hiring on the cheap.

The whole idea that you can hire a manager today who will be with the team for the next ten years is ridiculous as well. That kind of thing happens only by serendipity or luck, not by design. Recall that this is exactly what was wished for Manny Acta from the day he was hired right up until the day he was fired. How'd that one work out?

An Briosca Mor said...

BTW, I'd be willing to bet that when/if Mattingly does get the Dodgers gig, he'll start at less than $1M. It would be totally asinine for the Nats to bid up the price of an unproven guy like him just to pry him away from LA. That would be a total Snyder move.

MikeHarris said...

You mentioned Snyder and I lost 10 years off my life! The good thing about Snyder is he's made me stop caring about the Redskins.

I just want them to hire Valentine or Showalter if they truly feel that's best for the team - cost be damned. "We want Buck but Rigs is cheaper" is not a good reason.

An Briosca Mor said...

My impression is and has always been that they really don't want Valentine or Showalter. They know what those guys' over-inflated price is going in, and they know they're not going to be able to sweet talk them into coming for less. So if they are interviewing either of them, it would be for the purposes of information gathering, which is a well known Kasten tactic. (Was it in a Boswell column or chat that I read that?) Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if Kasten or Rizzo talked to one or both of them because, you know, they talk to everybody, and then the press misinterpreted that as an interview.

Mattingly OTOH I think they really were interested in, until he blew them off to take his chances with the Dodgers post-McCourt divorce. Good luck with that, Donnie...