So what was Jim Riggleman thinking?

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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?

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”