Washington Nationals' Manager Jim Riggleman appeared on Ed Randall's "Talking Baseball" this weekend to talk about the Nationals with Mr. Randall and guest host, former New York Yankee and the first DH Ron Blomberg. Mr. Blomberg heaped praise on the Nationals' skipper for the job he's done in his career on the bench, and congratulated Riggleman for earning the full-time job with Washington. Mr. Riggleman replied simply that he was, "Fortunate to have stayed in the game," after his playing days ended and, "...really honored to do it."
Jim Riggleman (on the 2010 Nationals): "We've got nowhere to go but up, we've got our work cut out for us. You know it's a tough division, because the Phillies, their players are pretty much in their prime right now, and they just won the division two years in a row, and the Mets won't be putting the team out there that they did last year, you know, at one time last year I think the Mets had five All-Star players all on the DL at the same time, so the rest of us in the division are going to have to contend with the Mets this year on a more serious basis. It's a lot of work cut out for us, but that's why they call it the big leagues, it's not supposed to be easy..."
• Listen to Ed Randall's Talking Baseball with Jim Riggleman...HERE
• Recap of the interview after the JUMP...
Asked what it was like to wait out the Washington Nationals' search for a full-time GM, Mr. Riggleman describes it as a situation unlike what DC GM Mike Rizzo seemingly went through before he shed the interim tag, telling Mr. Randall that,"...it really was not agonizing," as opposed to the previous year's wait with Seattle before Riggleman lost out on the full-time job to Don Wakamatsu. This time around with Washington, however, Mr. Riggleman says:
Jim Riggleman: "...(we) felt like we did everything we could do, our players responded, we played hard, we were very competitive on a nightly basis when we were out of the playoff hunt early on, we just kept going at it hard, we kept working hard, and I felt like there was nothing else we could do, if it didn't go my way as far as becoming the manager of the ballclub, I would not have had any regrets."
Mr. Riggleman, as Mr. Randall points out, grew up in Maryland, but rather than following the local Orioles, Mr. Riggleman says that, "...you kind of grow up following the team that...whatever paper you read, and we would get the Washington Post, so I was a Senators' fan...," "And loving Frank Howard, right?" Mr. Randall interjected:
Jim Riggleman: "You know people would go to those ball games and just stick around to Frank's last at bat cause the ball club was generally losing, and people would watch Frank gets his last at bat in the eighth inning or whatever and leave."
Mr. Randall began the interview by stating that he believed the Nationals, "...have come a long way...in terms of rebuilding their farm system, and there may in fact be impact players that are going to help them this coming year," and Mr. Randal returns to the state of the Nationals' system later in the interview:
"Ed Randall: When the team came down from Montreal there was effectively no farm system, and now you have guys that not only could come up for you, Jim, in 2010, but make an impact. Everybody of course knows about Strasburg, and I want to ask you about him in a moment separately, but there's another fine pitcher, Drew Storen, who may come, Ian Desmond who was up for you at the end of the year, and frankly, you need this kind of support in order to get out of where the Washington Nationals have been."
Jim Riggleman: "No question. The backbone of the game is scouting and our scouts have done a good job in recent years. They've really put together some talent. I saw one publication ranked us pretty low in terms of overall talent in the minor leagues, but we feel that we're getting real close to the point where, if we need a player, that we're going to be able to go down into our minor league system and bring that player up and play center field, or give us a little bump off the bench if needed, or be that pitcher who solidifies our rotation, whether it's a young guy like Detwiler (Ross), or John Lannan, who's actually become our No. 1 guy right now, those guys are from within the system and it's a product of good scouting."
Asked what the future holds for the Nationals' No. 1 pick, Stephen Strasburg, Riggleman says that newly hired senior adviser to the GM, Davey Johnson told him that, "You might have to send him out to the minor leagues pretty quick, because the more you see him the more you're going to want to keep him," but while Strasburg was the No. 1 prospect in the nation for a reason, according to the DC Skipper:
Jim Riggleman: "...there's a process you go through, the grind of the work you do, the amount of throwing you do, the sidework you do, the preparation, and I think realistically he'll probably get acclimated to professional baseball in the minor leagues, whether that's Double-A or Triple-A, but you know, we all feel like, unless there was something physically that stopped him, we all feel that he'll be with us maybe as early as May, as late as June..."
The current Face of the Franchise™? Mr. Riggleman says that Ryan Zimmerman, and he does call him the Face of the Franchise™, obviously, "...has had some good coaching...":
"Jim Riggleman: "...whether it was his father, or a high school, college coach, combination of all of it, he really knows how to play the game...the physical things he does in the game are All-Star level. He's one of those guys, that you just rarely...off the top of my head, I cannot think of a mistake he made on the field, you know, as far as not taking the extra base or running when he shouldn't run, or going to the wrong base or anything..."
In closing, Mr. Riggleman says that he sees reasons to believe, "We're hoping that a guy like Strasburg and John Lannan, who we already have on the ballclub, are going to solidify that rotation, and guys like Zimmerman and Desmond will be the future of the organization position wise."