I’m still pretty stunned by the Jim Riggleman resignation. And to be honest, I still can’t decide if it was a smart move by Riggleman or the dumbest thing ever.
On the one hand, Riggleman says that he’s been “disrespected.” We’ve heard that from wide receivers and power forwards before, but we’re not used to hearing it from 58-year-old managers. I can picture a level of disrespect from a boss that might make me snap like Riggleman appears to have snapped, but it would be pretty extreme. More than merely not acceding to my demands that a contract option be picked up, as is reportedly the case with Riggleman. I’m thinking more like Riggleman asking that it be picked up and Mike Rizzo giving him an atomic wedgie.
It’s also possible that this was totally calculated. Perhaps Riggleman wasn’t treated with extreme disrespect but he nonetheless knew for certain that the Nationals were not going to keep him on after 2011 no matter what happened. Perhaps he viewed it as a good time to leave — with a team playing great baseball and the perception that he rallied them into over-achievement — thereby setting himself up as a bit of a hotter property on the 2012 managerial market than he’d otherwise be. Risky — by this point I think people have a good sense of what Jim Riggleman is all about — but not inconceivable.
Ultimately, though, I’m thinking this was a bad play for Riggleman. Despite the immediate F-You thrill that telling Mike Rizzo to shove it may have brought him, the perception from all of this is likely going to be that Riggleman quit on his team in a snit. A team that — against all odds — may have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
We tolerate the playing of the disrespect card from those wide receivers and power forwards a bit more because they’re special and rare talents and are given more leeway if they are, on occasion, temperamental. Not so with managers, who are supposed to be a source of stability. As it stands right now, I don’t think I’d want to hire Jim Riggleman to manage my team based on this move alone. I think a lot of teams will feel that way.
Maybe Riggleman too will feel this way before he goes to bed tonight and the adrenaline wears off. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the scene tomorrow afternoon in the Nationals’ clubhouse before they take on the White Sox in Chicago. Can’t hurt, right?
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.