When "Interim" Manager Jim Riggleman replaced Manny Acta to become the third skipper in Nationals' brief five-year history back in Washington, DC, then-"Acting" GM Mike Rizzo, who has since been given that job on a full-time basis, told Washington Post writer Mark Viera, as quoted in Nationals Journal post entitled, "Rizzo Quotes On Acta And Riggleman", that the team felt, "...with a different voice and possibly a different feel in the clubhouse that we can have a more successful second half of the season." "I just believe the team is better than they've shown," Mr. Rizzo continued:
"...so maybe something in a different voice, a different way of presenting possibly the same material, could have an effect."
That is, of course exactly what Seattle Mariners' team president Chuck Armstrong told the media when Mr. Riggleman was promoted from Bench Coach to Manager to replace John McClaren when the M's parted ways with their skipper in June of 2008. "Now, Riggleman gets a team whose collective performance hasn't amounted to the sum of its individual parts," Seattle Times' writer Danny O'Neil noted at the time, in an article entitled, "New Mariners manager Riggleman not 'hard-line'", which also quoted Mr. Armstrong explaining, "We're happy to have Jim (Riggleman),":
"...Jim accepted our offer and let's see what our players do hearing from a new voice."
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In each of the articles cited above, however, the decision to hire a full-time Manager is put off until the end of the season, with the Seattle Times' Mr. O'Neil writing that, "...the Mariners probably won't make a decision on next season's field manager until after a general manager is hired," but Riggleman, "...could be a candidate to keep the job though," while the Washington Post's Mr. Viera quotes Mr. Rizzo explaining that a choice would be made at a later date, with Riggleman as a possibility for the full-time post, or in Mr. Rizzo's words, "I know the organization respects him greatly, and he certainly will be a candidate to be the long term answer as a manager."
Mr. Rizzo's comments came back in mid-July of '09, and obviously, since Mr. Riggleman was working with the Nationals already as a bench coach at that point, he didn't get the gig as the Mariners' full-time Manager. Seattle found a more attractive candidate once the season ended and all of their options were made clear. Now in mid-September '09, with Mr. Riggleman's status still a source of much debate, SI.com writer Jon Heyman had this to say, in an article yesterday entitled, "Managerial breakdown: Who's staying, who's going, who's next?":
"While Mike Rizzo surprised many folks by having the interim tag lifted and becoming the team's permanent general manager, it would be much more shocking than that for Riggleman to get the managing job full time. Nats president Stan Kasten said in a phone interview that Riggleman's under consideration for the job. However, baseball people consider him getting it to be a major long shot (though Kasten pointed out that reports and perceptions about the Nats haven't always turned out to be exactly on the money). Rizzo will want to put his own stamp on the situation with his own choice. Riggleman, fairly or not, has come to be viewed as a solid interim guy while managing baseball's worst two teams two years running (he took over on an interim basis in Seattle in 2008), and Rizzo is almost sure to try to identify someone seen as a more a inspirational choice."
The line there that caught my attention was Mr. Heyman's assertion that, "Rizzo will want to put his own stamp on the situation with his own choice," which would seem to imply that Jim Riggleman was forced upon the then-"Acting' GM, even though Mr. Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in an August 20th 2009 blog post entitled, "What happens to Riggleman?", more than a month after Riggleman replaced Acta, that the decision to make Riggleman "Interim" manager was his own:
"'...I'm the one who made him the interim manager. It was my decision,' Rizzo said. 'He is an old-school baseball guy with a lot of new ideas. He is certainly going to be a candidate for the permanent managerial job, but that's a discussion we are going to have after the season is over and throughout the winter. There is going to be a process.'"
Mr. Rizzo could just be saying the right thing here, since he's also acknowledging that the Nationals will conduct a thorough search once the season ends. Teams hire Managers on an interim basis during the season so that they can temporarily put off going through the process of hiring a Manager that is required by Major League Baseball until they can get a full view of their options. Mr. Rizzo said as much in a recent CBSSports.com article by Scott Miller entitled, "Different situations but 'interim' tag won't leave Riggleman", where Mr. Miller quoted the DC GM explaining that they weren't necessarily looking for a big "name" to take over the Manager's job on a full-time basis:
"'If it's marquee, fine. And if it's a hidden gem that only we know about, that's fine, too. Nobody knew Don Wakamatsu before Seattle hired him this year, and look at the job he's done. We're going to get the best fit we can for the organization to take us into the future."
Why Mr. Rizzo chose to use Mr. Wakamatsu's name, considering that he was chosen over Mr. Riggleman for the Seattle Mariners' full-time job, I'm not sure, but the fact that the Seattle Times' article quoted above also notes that Mr. Riggleman had history with the Seattle organization before he became their "Interim" Manager, when, "...He was one of four finalists in the Mariners' managerial search in 2002, after Lou Piniella left, when Seattle opted for Bob Melvin," when Mr. Melvin's name was mentioned as a potential option for the Nationals in 2010 just last week in an article by Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin, shows you just how impossibly incestuous the process of hiring a Major League Manager can be.
"Elsewhere in the article, Mr. Sheinin mentions, (just to throw some other names into the rumor mill), the relationship Nationals' team President Stan Kasten maintains with Ned Yost, (who worked in Atlanta with Kasten and most recently managed the Milwaukee Brewers until he was 'relieved of his duties' last season), Jim Fregosi and Terry Pendleton, as well as Bob Melvin who has ties to DC GM Mike Rizzo from the tim"e the two spent together out in Arizona."