After one year as Nationals manager, Jim Riggleman is 72-92

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Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post notes that today is the one-year anniversary of Jim Riggleman taking over as the Nationals’ manager.
Washington is 72-92 (.440) under Riggleman, which doesn’t look very good until you compare it to their 158-252 (.386) record under the man he replaced, Manny Acta.
Acta is now the manager in Cleveland and the Indians are 34-54 (.386), so it’d be pretty tough to argue that replacing him with Riggleman was the wrong move.
Riggleman was definitely the right man to restore some order in Washington and get the Nationals heading in the right direction, but it remains to be seen if he’s the right man to actually lead Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, and company into contention.
Riggleman has a .444 winning percentage in 11 seasons and 1,339 games as a big-league manager and his only two winning seasons came with the Cubs way back in 1995 and 1998. I tend to think the Nationals are a lot closer to being contenders than their current record suggests, but when the young talent starts gelling and “respectability” is no longer the goal will Riggleman be the right guy to lead them?

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.