After the Nationals infurating 7-5 loss to Milwaukee on Friday after being ahead 5-1, I imagine that the folks in Natstown are not particularly thrilled that Rizzo just announced that Riggleman will be back to manage the Nats in 2011. After all, Riggleman is 75-97 as the Nats skipper.
But really, how much difference does a manager make? Sure, the decisions to insert Willie Harris over Michael Morse are infuriating. Or Adam Kennedy over Guzman or Gonzalez. I understand the logic of wanting to flip out over it, because I've done so regularly on this very blog. Just check the archives. And I'll probably continue to do so in the future.
Let's be real, though, before performing some immature rant about how Jim Riggleman is the worst manager in the history of baseball. He was given a pitching rotation this season where John Lannan was your "ace" to start the season. And without even considering Lannan's meltdown, Lannan should never be an Opening Day starter for any MLB team. But what else did he have to put out there? Jason Marquis: The former All-Star that ended up having a 20+ ERA and ended up hurt for most of the season? Garrett Mock: The guy who got hurt the first week of the season, and most people were shocked that he even made the rotation? Craig Stammen: The guy who has already been sent down to the minors once this year, and I imagine it will happen again before 2010 is over?
The bullpen started out strong, but now it seems like Clippard gives up as many runs as he gets in outs in each appearance. Burnett has been terrible. Batista has proven to be an ineffective long reliever. Brian Bruney got fired after a month on the job. Tyler Walker can't get it done and is on the DL. Jason Bergmann got DFA'd, and because no one else in baseball wanted him, he got reassigned to the minors.
This is the cast of characters that Jim Riggleman has had to deal with in 2010. Sure, he has guys like Strasburg, Zimmerman, Dunn, Willingham, and Capps (at least for now). But he had almost nothing to start the year, and he has made remarkable strides. Last 2 years the Nats ended the season with more than 100 losses. Recovery from that type of terrible baseball takes time, and the Nationals have decided that Riggleman is the guy to do it. He's already miles ahead of the last 2 years, and next year will be better. But until then, it's Riggleman's team.