It's impossible to keep up with all the interviews D.C. GM Mike Rizzo and now-former Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman have done today in the wake of Riggleman's decision to resign following Thursday's win. Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg has been pulling apart an interview that Riggleman did on Sirius/XM this morning in which he took on the credibility of the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell, and Mike Prada over at the SB Nation DC pulled the best quotes from the former Skipper's "interesting" appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s the Sports Junkies.
Some of those quotes, accompanied by pictures of the former Nats' field manager "solving the world's problems" have made their way to Yahoo!Sports.com's Big League Stew where 'Duk examined Riggleman's night out in an article entitled, "Jim Riggleman parties as the rest of us pass judgement." The Nationals complete a sweep the Mariners on Thursday, finish an 8-1 homestand with a 38-37 record in third place in the NL East and all anyone is talking about is the clubhouse intrigue that started last October when Jim Riggleman was brought back to the bench. Rizzo told his side of the story to Mike Wise and Holden Kushner this morning on 106.7 the FAN in D.C...
"Jim was under contract through this year," Rizzo said when asked about the Nats' reluctance to pick up Riggleman's option for 2012 now. "We had an option on his contract after this season and it was a decision that he made independent of conversations with us, obviously, and we were as shocked by the news yesterday at about 12:20 as anybody, obviously. It was something that, the option thing had come up with Jim and I over the course of this season starting in Spring Training and it was something we continued to talk about and discuss and it came down to I wasn't prepared to exercise the option in his contract, and he demanded that we would or he wasn't going to continue as the manager and I accepted his resignation because I thought it was an important enough decision that I wasn't going to make a decision in the short-term window that I had and it just went from there."
Asked why Riggleman might have felt that he wasn't in the Nationals' plans for the future, Rizzo said, "I don't know why his perception was he wasn't going to be around. I brought him in as "interim" manager when he was the bench coach for Manny Acta. I made him the manager and gave him a two-year deal with a club option for a third. I've been supportive of him in the media, in the clubhouse, and in the owner's room throughout his tenure, we've weathered losing streaks and bad play and still supported him every which way. I was supporting him at the time he resigned."
"I tried to talk him out of resigning, I told him, I said, 'You're managing great, we're playing great, I don't understand why it's come to this point on June 23rd, with more than half of the season left, and we're talking about a contract that runs out four months, five months from now. All I can say is, I was upfront and honest with Jim from day one. He knew exactly where I stood, there was no gray area whatsoever and he chose to resign and we move on from here. Today we'll have a new manager and in a couple of days we'll have a permanent manager for the rest of the season and we're focusing on the Chicago White Sox tonight, Edwin Jackson and winning baseball."
Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote this morning, in an article entitled, "Jim Riggleman proves he wasn’t the man to manage the Nationals", that, "In Rizzo, Riggleman couldn’t have found a worse boss to nag about a new deal or one who would respond worse to his lobbying in the media (me included) for help,":
Why? Because Rizzo faced the same obstacles when he became GM. Instead of whining about a longer deal, he did such a strong job that the Nats did what was obvious: They gave him a five-year contract. Rizzo replaced Jim Bowden on an interim basis in 2009. Then, the next year, he was on a short leash like Riggleman this year.
Rizzo said ex-president "Stan Kasten told me, ‘Forget the [expletive] contract. Own the job. Just be the [expletive] GM. Prove you’re the guy.’ "
"What about Riggleman's assertions his contract status and the fact that his option hadn't been picked up were undermining his credibility in the clubhouse?"
"I disagree with that wholeheartedly," Rizzo said. "An option year I don't think commands any more respect than you're going to get on a one-year deal. I've been on a one-year deal my whole career. There's been many, many managers on the last year of their contract, many managers that have done a terrific job on one-year contracts. The Walter Alstons, the Tommy Lasordas were on one-year contracts for 28 years. Jim Leyland is on the last year of his contract. Tony LaRussa's on the last year of his contract, and the list goes on and on and on.
"Contract status does not lead to command in the clubhouse and respect among the team. The man has to have the respect of the team and the clubhouse. With the modern player it doesn't matter if you have an option year picked up or if it's the last year of your contract. They're going to respect you because you're the manager of the ballclub. You have the power of the pen to put them in the lineup or not. So, I disagree with the fact that it doesn't allow you to be a leader of the ballclub and to manage effectively."
Contradicting what FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal's sources told him as reported in an article yesterday, about how the two men rarely spoke, Rizzo told Mr.'s Wise and Kushner, "I would say from a communication standpoint, I don't believe any manager and general manager talked any more than Jim and I did. I see Jim before every game and after every game. On the road, we talk about stuff all the time. We're in constant conversation on baseball issues, and we discussed the contract status many, many times. The fact being that we knew what the contract status was and I was not prepared to exercise the option at this time and that was, I think that was the problem that Jim had with it, was we had talked about it, we talked about it several times and we talked about it as recently as yesterday before he resigned, about his contract status and I just wasn't prepared to commit to exercise his option on June 23rd of this year when we have so much more baseball to play."
Riggleman told MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling in an article entitled, "How Jim Riggleman got to the point of resigning", that at this point, "...after 10 years of managing, if you're still evaluating my ability to manage a ballclub, then I'm not going to get on that plane and go to Chicago." Rizzo was asked if there was anything he could have done to change the way Riggleman felt...
"I don't know what he felt. I certainly felt that he was the right man to manage us through 2011 and we would assess if he was the right manager post-2011 at the appropriate time. I just didn't feel that June 23rd was the appropriate time to assess if he was going to lead us into the future. I committed to him last winter ['09] with taking him from the interim manager to a two-year guaranteed contract with an option on the third year. That was the deal we had, because that was the time parameters that I felt comfortable with. I still feel comfortable with it. We had a club option to excercise five days after the World Series, and again, I keep beating a dead horse, but I felt June 23rd wasn't the opportune time to address excercising the option right now."
Rizzo reiterated several times that he simply was not prepared to exercise Riggleman's option. "I can't be any plainer, more black and white than that to the manager. 'I'm not prepared to discuss excercising the option.'" In any further discussions, Rizzo explained, "There's only two things you can do with that, either you exercise the option or you don't and at the time, as recent as June 23rd, I was not prepared to exercise the contract at that time. That was stated to Jim June 23rd and was stated several other times throughout the season, and I don't think it was any secret that he wanted me to exercise the options and I was not prepared to do so at this time."
As for the search for a new skipper, Rizzo had previously said that Jim McLaren would take over in the immediate future, as the Nationals indeed announced this afternoon, and the Nats would find a new full-time manager, but, "This is still very, very fresh. These thoughts are very, very fresh to me because I thought that we had a manager in place and really didn't give a lot of thought to a managerial search. I will certainly have to think about that in depth. It will be a very exhaustive search and process and one that I think is going to be a key to our future success, and suffice it to say, it will not be taken lightly and it will be something that we put a lot of time into and plan out who's going to take this organization and take to the next level..."