New Washington Nationals' Manager Jim Riggleman Talks To Internet...

The newly-promoted Washington Nationals' manager Jim Riggleman made himself available this afternoon to the online press who follow the nation's capital's favorite MLB team, answering questions about his promotion to full-time skipper and discussing his plans for the twenty-ten Nats, who are looking to recover from back-to-back 100-loss seasons. It got off to a rocky start as he first hung up on the conference call, (he's probably still learning how to use all the electronic equiptment the Washington Times reported that he'd received), but Mr. Riggleman quickly returned, (humorously) blaming a member of the Nationals' front office for the technical difficulties, and from then on he was straightforward and willing to entertain all of our questions...

Mr. Riggleman was reluctant to say what it was he thought made the Nationals decide that he was the best choice as the full-time manager, telling those on the conference call that, "The criteria that the job is based on is in somebody else's hands," but he was, in his own words, "...confident that I'm going to be able to do this job," saying that he, "...has 16-years of experience to draw from when I'm managing a game." As far as putting together his coaching staff, Mr. Riggleman said, "We are in the process of doing that, we don't have anything to announce right now," but, Mr. Riggleman continued, "...there will be a couple of changes on the staff...if we were doing this call two days from now I'd probably have a final list for you."  •(ed. note - "Washington Times' writers Ben Goessling and Mark Zuckerman quoted "club sources" in their 11/4/09 article entitled, "Riggleman could stay with Nationals", who said that, "Riggleman has identified potential staff members, who, combined with holdovers from last season, could fill out a coaching staff relatively soon.")

Asked about the possibility of adding free agents to the roster, Mr. Riggleman would only say that he doesn't want to add offensive players who can't play their positions, and when I followed up on the potential free agent targets, and asked specifically how you would convince free agents to join a team coming off back-to-back 100-loss seasons, Mr. Riggleman responded by saying, "Surprisingly ballplayers are looking for opportunities...sometimes it's not just a matter of where you are in the standings,":

"For some guys it’s where they're going to fit on the ball club? How bad you need that position that they play or pitch. If they are a closer, if they can come in and be the closer, instead of being a set-up guy. There are different reasons for guys to go places. They may want to be the closer, like I said...they may want to know they are coming in as the regular shortstop...or you're offering them the chance to be our catcher rather than go somewhere else and not be the regular guy, they can come here and be the regular catcher..." **

Any possibility of Drew Storen or Stephen Strasburg, who are currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, seeing time in DC this season? Mr. Riggleman pointed out that, "...a higher percentage of those guys chosen to play in that league end up in the big leagues, so that is a great path to go on, if you're respected by your organization enough to be invited to that league...", (ed. note - An AFL fan told me the 'higher percentage' was around 60%...") and on Drew Storen in particular, Mr. Riggleman offered that, though he thought, "Decisions like this are tough to talk about right now," before the team is anywhere near Spring Training, "Drew signed quickly last year and that's a great thing...his path to the big leagues is definitely sped up...", and as far as Storen's role, should he make the team, "...the role would probably be somewhere in the middle, not a long man by any chance but somewhere in the middle." No word on Strasburg...

The Nationals would have liked to try Cristian Guzman out at second last September, but he was injured and shut down right when the opportunity arose...Mr. Riggleman thinks that in the post-steroid-era, teams will get back to speed and athleticism and you'll see more stolen bases...The Nationals need to get Jesus Flores healthy and back in the lineup, and there's a decision to be made when it comes to Scott Olsen...Mr. Riggleman knows there's a great deal of work to be done before Spring Training, but before that there are the Winter Meetings and that gives DC GM Mike Rizzo a few months to shape the roster much the way he has reshaped the Nationals' front office and with Mr. Riggleman in place on the bench and his coaching staff soon to follow, Washington's once again rolling out a new plan for success...

(ed. note - " ** = I didn't have anything to record this conversation, so I checked the full translation that SBF at Nats320 posted to clean up the notes I made and more accurately represent Mr. Riggleman's answers...")

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