After completing his morning run, Washington Nationals' Skipper Jim Riggleman phoned in to the Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio show "First Pitch" with Rob Dibble and Jim Memolo to discuss the Nats' 2-1 win over the NY Mets last night, the approaching trade deadline and the topic of the week when it comes to the Nationals, whether or not Washington's '09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg should appear in the Anaheim All-Star Game on July 13th. It's the third of three topics there that will probably get the most headlines when the quotes get around, because Riggleman's response concluded with him stating, "If you put a gun to my head and said 'Should he? Or shouldn't he?' [go to the All-Star Game] I would probably say, 'No.'" Here's the full quote from the Nats' Manager:
• Jim Riggleman: "Well, you know, any time you have a player you want to sing their praises and do the politically correct thing and give them accolades about 'They deserve the honor', but in this case, this is a little different. You've got a lot of guys out there who may never get on an All-Star team again, but they've actually earned it this year, this is the 2010 All-Star game, it's not who's going to be the best player ever, it's 2010 and who's earned it, and if [Philly and NL Manager Charlie Manuel] thinks that a combination of Strasburg earning it and the win or the loss in the game is meaningful so that maybe he can help them win the game whereas in the past that wasn't the case, you know it does matter if you win or lose now for home field advantage in the World Series so Charlie may take that into consideration, but, if you put a gun to my head and said 'Should he? Or shouldn't he?' [go to the All-Star Game] I would probably say, 'No.'"
• Trade Deadline: Buyers or Sellers?
Jim Riggleman: "...this is the challenge I put to the ballclub recently when I talked to them. I said we're getting into July, we've got a lot of baseball left between now and September, but we don't have a lot of baseball left between now and the Trading Deadline, so let's make this job tough on [DC GM] Mike Rizzo, let's make Mike make us be buyers instead of sellers. Let's keep this team together. I know there's a lot of friendships and camraderie that is built on the ballclub and I don't think they want to lose that, but we're going to lose it if we don't win enough ballgames, so let's get out there, turn this thing around and be buyers instead of sellers."
Philly Skipper Charlie Manuel voiced his own opinion on whether or not the Nats' right-hander should be added to the NL All-Star squad in an interview with Philadelphia Inquirer writer Kevin Goheen entitled, "Charlie Manuel stresses importance of All-Star Game", where Mr. Manuel is quoted stating:
"'People start talking, especially TV, all of a sudden, 'It'll be a shame if he's not in it,' Manuel said. 'I say there's a lot of shame every day in the world. I think he's very talented. I think we'll let him pitch and see what happens. I have an open mind about it.'"
ASG: That's not a "No." The problem now is the ridiculous fact that the All-Star Game and not say a team's overall record decides which league has home field advantage in the World Series. "Now it counts" we've been told since the estimable Bud Selig introduced the new rules. It shouldn't but it does, so the question is going to be left up to Mr. Manuel and then possibly the fans, if Strasburg is included in the "Final Vote" promotion that determines the last names added to the rosters.
Trade Deadline: It was about this time last year, July 5th in fact, that the former Nats beat writer for the Washington Post, Chico Harlan quoted the then-Acting DC GM Mike Rizzo promising fans that there wouldn't be any major deals going down before the '09 deadline:
"A big transition period? I don't think that," Rizzo said. "We'll make deals based on good baseball decisions. 'Fire sale' means you want to dump people. We don't want to dump people."
The names in the news then were similar to the ones Nats fans are hearing about this time around: Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Cristian Guzman, (Nick Johnson). Dunn and the Hammer have had the most headlines recently, with some among us (as much as we like Guzman) noting that the Phillies really could use a middle infielder right now. (Don't sleep on Kennedy!!). Asked about trading the likes of Willingham and Dunn last year, Mr. Rizzo responded incredulously (or at least that's how I read it):
"'Why would you want to dump Willingham? We control him for two years, he's  years old, and he's a good hitter,' Rizzo said. 'I still think it's a young team. Willingham and Zim, those are guys in their primes or entering their primes. Including Dunn.'"
Dunn's a year older and at the end of his 2-year deal with the Nats. Willingham's stock probably hasn't been higher. Zimmerma...C'mon now. Guzman, Kennedy, Pete Orr, Alberto Gonzalez? Tyler Walker? Doug Slaten? 29 days and counting til we find out which Nationals will be with the team the rest of the way. Do you think the Nats have to have a deal done with Dunn to keep him past July 31st? Should they take the chance of settling for draft picks if he opts for free agency? Matt Capps? Should he be dealt? He's under control for another year, just like the Hammer, does that make the two more compelling to other teams? Can the Nationals win ten in a row on the homestand to get back near .500 and turn the team into buyers as Riggleman suggests? Game two of ten on the homestand starts at 7:00 pm EST tonight...