Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Catching Up #1 - Riggleman's Running Game

What with one thing and another, including a flight back home to London for a month's visit, I've not been tracking the Nationals so closely as before. So, time to catch up on so many things.

Let's start with an observation I noted from last Wednesday's game against the Atlanta Braves. It really relates to Jim Riggleman. 'What a horrible job he was handed. The team was badly built to start and dogged by constant injuries to the starting rotation particularly...' Well, actually, that relates to his Mariners' experience, but it might sound eerily familiar. Tom Boswell, in a chat, had this to say about Riggleman and the lack of aggressive baserunning under Acta: 'But I think Jim wants to fiddle with the lineup, maybe try to use Morgan, Harris, Gonzalez and Guzman to have more of a running game, more hit-and-runs, which he likes.'

If you check that Baseball-Reference.com play-by-play, you'll see in the first inning that Nyjer Morgan was out stealing. He went on a 1-0 count to Guzmán. If the objective had been to get Morgan to second, the fact that Guzmán worked a 4-0 walk achieved the same goal, but by that time it was too late. Worse still, Zimmerman and Dunn both came up and singled, and the Nationals took a 1-0 lead. Except it would have been 2-0 had Riggleman not wanted to 'have more of a running game'.

Unlike the Acta-bashers of earlier this season, I'm not trying to show my contempt of Riggleman in making this point. I merely illustrate that small ball comes with costs, and philosophically some managers think their players make those risks unacceptable. What were the chances of Guzmán getting a walk? Actually, in the second half of the season much better than in the first. He's got 6 walks in 105 plate appearances already, against 7 walks in 323 in the first half.

I wish Riggleman well, but the Actaphobes and their small-ball fetish (and I use the word most precisely) can go to heck in a handbasket, because they are full of muck, for the most part.

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