Riggleman talks with Baseball Prospectus

062409-263_jim_rigglemanBaseball Prospectus sat down with Nationals manager Jim Riggleman as a post holiday treat, and lucky for us (well you, I have a subscription), it’s all free content. Riggleman spoke on a few topics, including his baseball philosophies. It seems like BP cautiously gives him the thumbs up.

Here are a few excerpts:

BP: How similar are you to Manny Acta?

JR: You know, I think that Manny and I have a lot of similar traits, or qualities, about how we manage a ball game. We’re both somewhat old-school guys, but I think we both like to feel that we’re current enough with today’s world, and today’s player, to… again, I’ll use the word “adapt,” to what makes players tick, and so forth. But I think that maybe the thing that we both have in common, more than anything, is respect for the game. Manny has a tremendous respect for the game, as I do, in terms of how you play the game, and how hard you play the game, and your respect for the fans, for the umpires, for ownership. There’s a protocol there that Manny really respects, and I’m very much with him on that.

BP: From what you’ve seen of him, where is Ian Desmond defensively?

JR: I only saw him in September, but he was really good. And Tim Foli managed him, so I talked to Tim, who made it very clear that this is a special player. He’s got some growing to do yet in terms of the routine play, and that idea has been imbedded into his head. But he’s a good player; he can make all the plays.

BP: What did Nyjer Morgan bring to the team last summer?

JR: He added… I don’t even know where to start. He added so much. He added energy, enthusiasm, he added on-base percentage, he created chaos on the bases, and he also played such a great center field that he changed the dynamic of our ballclub.

BP: Stephen Strasburg is the most highly regarded pitcher to come around in some time, and if he were to suffer a career-threatening arm injury under your watch, you would likely go down in history—fairly or not—as “the manager who broke the best young pitcher since sliced bread was invented.” Does that concern you?

JR: I was there with Kerry Wood when he went down, you know. I was talking to some people about this yesterday, and so many pitchers have been hurt. We had a pitcher this past year, Jordan Zimmermann—an outstanding young pitcher with a great arm—and Jordan was monitored as closely as any pitcher could be monitored. His pitch count was limited, his innings were limited, he was not going to be allowed to pitch in September; we weren’t going to let him get that many innings. And that ligament blew out. So, sometimes it’s just unavoidable. Guys are just going to…a shoulder, or an elbow, is just going to blow out. Something is going to happen. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. In the case of Stephen Strasburg, we will do what we did with Jordan Zimmermann. We’ll be extremely careful, and as careful as we can be, there is no guarantee. That’s the thing where the ownership has really shown great courage in making this kind of financial commitment to a pitcher, because he clearly was the best in the nation, but there is nothing saying that he isn’t going to get hurt. We can try to minimize the risk, but we minimized the risk on Jordan Zimmermann, and he got hurt.

BP: Injury risk aside, how do Wood and Strasburg compare?

JR: They’re probably very similar. I would say that Kerry, at that point in his career, probably his mechanics were not as solid as Strasburg’s mechanics are, in terms of the stress you put on your arm. But in terms of the ability to throw the ball, the way the ball comes out of their hands, is very similar.

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