Ironically, though, Riggleman’s untimely resignation likely will result in Rizzo having to put more managers in place than he ever expected.
So Rizzo stood pat. But that’s as far as he was willing to go with Riggleman, who was eager to have his 2012 team option exercised for the same reasons Rizzo was reluctant to commit to him.
In a surprise move, Jim Riggleman resigned as manager of the Washington Nationals on Thursday. The resignation came immediately after the Nationals completed a sweep against the Seattle Mariners.
The Nationals could make a significant move in 2012 if Strasburg returns strong, minor leaguer Bryce Harper continues his rapid ascent and appears ready for a midseason call-up, and promising young players such as Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos keep improving. And if Rizzo chooses well in free agency, that would provide a bigger boost.
In his three previous managing stints, Riggleman worked with bad teams in San Diego, Chicago and Seattle. He led the Cubs to two winning records and the 1998 NL wild-card berth and hoped to have his best managerial run guiding a Nationals team that could be on the rise.
Riggleman believed he deserved the opportunity based on the job he had done. He thought he earned it for his effort throughout mostly tough times here as much for his current leadership during the team’s best stretch since 2005.
Strasburg hasn’t pitched an inning this season. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman missed most of the first half. Werth was batting .232 with runners in scoring position entering Friday night and has his lowest on-base plus slugging percentage since 2005 during the first year of a seven-year, $126-million contract that also includes a complete no-trade clause.
By this point, if Rizzo hadn’t seen whatever he supposedly was looking for in Riggleman, the likelihood is he never would have.
The Nationals elevated Rizzo to a position some in baseball believe he’s ill-equipped to handle. This is his shot. He should surround himself with only the people he wants, and he just wasn’t feeling the right vibe with the manager. Riggleman also had the right to walk away from a situation in which he felt unwanted, and that’s what he did.
Ultimately, this is where Rizzo and Riggleman have been headed all along. They just arrived faster than expected, and that’s probably best for both of them.