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Frustration mounting

May 5, 2011, 4:15 AM EST

US Presswire photo
Jim Riggleman was ejected by Alfonso Marquez after arguing a called third strike.

PHILADELPHIA — Jim Riggleman was ejected Wednesday night for the first time this season, arguing a called third strike on Adam LaRoche in the top of the fourth inning of what would eventually become a 7-4 loss to the Phillies. Riggleman had a few choice words for plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, who wasted no time in giving the Nationals manager the heave-ho.

Clearly, Riggleman must have seen some compelling evidence from the dugout to suggest Vance Worley’s two-seam fastball to LaRoche was outside. Right?

“I can’t see anything there,” the manager admitted afterward. “I can’t really see anything in[side] and out[side]. The height of the pitch, I know, was good.”

So why argue so quickly and so vehemently after LaRoche muttered a few things to Marquez on his way back to the dugout?

“I just basically was … you know, Adam doesn’t say anything. He’s so composed and quiet,” Riggleman said. “He doesn’t complain. So if he’s complaining, I felt like it’s worthy of complaint, you know?”

LaRoche, for his part, acknowledged his dissatisfaction at that moment had less to do with Marquez’s judgment of the strike zone and more to
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  1. Ernie - May 5, 2011 at 4:36 AM

    It would be very interesting to read something about the reasons the Nats keep Eckstein. There must be something they see him bringing to the team. What is it? And I don't mean cute or heartwarming stuff about helping his family out with a kidney donation or how hard he works or what a great guy he is. What specifically does he do that makes him the best man for this job? I ask not because I think he is unqualified but because i seriously want to be educated about what Rizzo and Riggleman think makes a good hitting coach and what I should look for when I watch the games. How do they judge a hitting coach?

  2. Drew8 - May 5, 2011 at 5:36 AM

    Hey Mark,The fans realize this is just the John the Baptist year, preparing the way, etc., etc.The antidote to present frustration is hope for the future. On Friday we'll be a month out from the draft. Keith Law and the Baseball America guys say this draft is very deep and chock full of pitchers.Any word on who the Nats are targeting? Looks like they could have their pick of three or four exciting college pitchers at No. 6.Also — given that the Nats likely will soon have at least three new starters in their rotation — Strasburg, Cole and the No. 6 pick (not to mention Solis, Ray, Peacock, Detwiler) it seems something's got to give.Couldn't the Nats package a catcher and a starter for a third outfielder to go with Werth and Harper?

  3. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    Yeah, ol Riggs really let the ump have it. He tiptoed out there and shivered. He's a mouse of a manager.

  4. Big Cat - May 5, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Ray Knight had some good stuff about our hitting. Basically saying guys are having bad approaches up there. Taking pitches right down the middle, swinging at balls out of the zone. Guys like Hairston and Cora up there swinging for the fences. No one battles…..fouling pitches off etc. Too many strikeouts etc.You gotta ask yourself Why does Eckstein draw a paycheck?

  5. dale - May 5, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    I will echo Big Cat here. There is something absurd with hitters wearing a 220 average swinging for the fences after two strikes. So far, the only professional approach at the plate has been exhibited by Ramos. The legacy of Adam Dunn continues, the culture that thinks that 200 strikeouts a year is OK. Hitters used to take pride in never striking out. I guess that philosophy is only for more successful organizations.

  6. Rabbit - May 5, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    Werth is one who takes a lot of pitches down the middle. I mean, he just stands there and watches them. What's he waiting for, a better pitch? A real good curve? It doesn't even seem like a good fast ball down the middle has fooled him! He just stands there and watches! Jayson, you gotta SWING the bat. Geesh, you're paid enough to be called a professional. How about acting like one.

  7. Big Cat - May 5, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Here's another thing. Marquis pitched great for 4 innings. Ball down….sinking etc. Now in the 5th his first pitch is a homerun. He proceeds to give up 3 runs. Ok, these things happen. After all, this is the Phillies. But don't you think if you are the manager, you got Marquis on a short leach going into the 6th….if you send him out there at all? So Marquis walks the leadoff hitter in the sixth….BOOM…he should be pulled right there. But Sad Man leaves him in for 3 straight line drive singles. By the time the dust has settled, 4 more runs are in and its 7-1. Ballgame over. What was Riggs looking at? How about McCatty?

  8. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    They should make Ray Knight the manager and Johnny Holiday the hitting coach

  9. masnstinks - May 5, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    You know, our record isn't that bad at this point, especially with Zim down. We also have not been seriously routed, have lost our games by not-too- many runs. It's just that we have a seriously puny offense and watching it just sucks. If we were hitting and posting the same w-l record and losing 8-7 it might feel less ugly. Agreed that Eckstein maybe a great guy but is not effective – however, Jayson Werth and Adam Laroche should have know how to hit when they came here – their frigid streaks should have nothing to with the present hitting coach. By the way — LOVE Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos – and Matt Stairs still needs to retire – one hit – oh, rah, rah, rah.

  10. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    Do any of you really believe that a hitting coach makes any difference at all? You either paint with oil or paint with water colors. When all you have are water colors, no manner of artist can a master piece out of hay…UNTERP

  11. Doc - May 5, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Rick Eckstein is one of the least interviewed of the coaches. I presume that is by design, his or FO.I don't think that he is to blame. Reportedly, he is one of the best in baseball, and certainly hard working.Still at a time like this it would be worthwhile for the fans to get his perspective. I'll bet Eckstein has similar criticisms, of the hitters, to that which we read and post here, as to what the hitters should be doing.Rizzo has a nasty habit of trying to control everything, whether it's a player's injury or the team's hitting woes. There are writers and fans who follow this team, whose experience with baseball isn't a lot different from Mike Rizzo's. He seems like a very insecure kind of guy.

  12. Ernie - May 5, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    @Big Cat: Riggleman was ejected before any of thie issues you mention. Hard to blame him for pitching decisions when he's not even in the dugout. But your point is the same I think. Our long/middle relief options still seem limited though. I felt like the moment Broderick walked out of the bullpen we were conceding the game.

  13. mjames - May 5, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    I think we have given our hitters enough time. If the rotation or bullpen performed as the hitters have there would be wholesale chances. Enough with this good character guys BS. We are not going to win with Cora, Hairston, Ankiel, Bixler, or Stairs. We need someone who can hit a ball. I would keep Ankiel for defensive purposes and move the rest. I would also find out what the heck is wrong with Laroche. Is his shoulder impacting his hitting. If so go get it fixed. Marreo at 100% is better than Larouche at 50%. Bring up some of these young kids although I am not sure we have any. I will tell you our drafting of position players stinks. I look at young guys the Marlin and Braves drafted. We have passed on them to draft others which are palying low A ball. The trade for Willingham does not look great. We need the Marlins baseball operations to run the Nats. I would love to put it to Loria.

  14. Manassas Nats Fan - May 5, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    Actually a hitting coach can make a lot of difference if he is listened too.IF Eckstein is telling them to to take pitches right down the middle, and over swing when you have strike 2 (or worse yet not bother to swing at strike 3). He is 100% at fault.If he is telling them to swing at good pitches over the middle (regardless of the count) and to shorten their swings to get good contact and not to take close ones on a 2 strike count, he is 0% the cause. My guess is that the truth is somewhere in between.No matter which is the case, the hitting approach is awful and has not changed since the first game of the season. It needs to change to take some pressure off the pitchers, as things are now one mistake by them and our chances of winning drop a lot. That shouldn't be.

  15. Feel Wood - May 5, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    "At the end of the day, Jayson Werth is still hitting .227 with seven RBI in 29 games. And LaRoche is still hitting .186 with six extra-base hits in 28 games."And Adam Dunn is still hitting .153 with five extra base hits in 25 games. But at least Dunn and LaRoche have their defense to fall back on – they're both fielding 1.000.

  16. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    mjames said… I think we have given our hitters enough time. If the rotation or bullpen performed as the hitters have there would be wholesale chances. Enough with this good character guys BS. We are not going to win with Cora, Hairston, Ankiel, Bixler, or Stairs.It's not just the above. It's LaRoche, Espi, Werth, Morse, and Desmond.

  17. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Feel Wood said… But at least Dunn and LaRoche have their defense to fall back on – they're both fielding 1.000. Dunn…both fielding 1.000. LOL.

  18. Will - May 5, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    UNTERP,Read up on Rudy Jaramillo, the long-time Rangers hitting coach, who's now with the Cubs. He's widely thought to be the best around.While it's impossible to quantify what exactly a hitting coach adds to a game, Jaramillo has famously turned several batters around, and it wasn't just Arlington that was padding his players' stats. Upon moving to Chicago, Soriano and Soto both improved their game markedly from between '09 and '10 (an increase of .300 OPS points between the two of them). Perhaps 2009 was just a down year, but Jaramillo's track record is too good to discount the idea entirely.

  19. Big Cat - May 5, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Come on Ernie….are you naive enough to think that the manager doesn't call the shots when he is ejected? He just goes back in the lockerroom and watches on tv and calls the shots from there. Well, almost all do this. With Riggs, you never know. He might go back into his office and stare at his desk

  20. SCNatsFan - May 5, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Tell me again after another pitiful offensive showing that I shouldn't be worried and the team will turn it around. Maybe if it is said often enough it might come true. It seems that is where our hope lies.

  21. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Will said… I guess. I can't argue against success. Ted Williams did wonders with the Senators/Rangers 1969-1972. I'm having a séance tonight and will be contacting Ted to see if there's anything he can do to help…UNTERP

  22. masnstinks - May 5, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    After two losses to the Filthies , it's hard to remember the joy of sweeping the Brewers and taking 3 of 4 from the world series champs – including the Freak. Those of you who have the time and interest in research – what has been our biggest losing margin?( seems like most of our losses are not by a lot of runs) and what are our longest winning/losing streaks?( seems like neither are extreme). Mediocre is just boring.

  23. Feel Wood - May 5, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    "The trade for Willingham does not look great."Josh Willingham 2011: .240/.321/.448 Josh Willingham career: .264/.375/.473So why does the trade not look grear?

  24. Feel Wood - May 5, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    "Dunn…both fielding 1.000. LOL."Sometimes you believe in the stat. Sometimes you believe in the player.

  25. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    It sucks to lose. I am not a good loser. And I don't care too much for good losers. I'm a bad sport when it comes to losing. That said, the Nationals are a better team than people realize; the Phillies are a very good team and the Nationals play them close. Marquis really and the rest of the starters have pitched well and are better team than we realize, even given their success. It's hard to be perfect or think you have to be perfect all the time, especially when you're not getting almost no help from the hitters. You can't relax as a pitcher, everyone plays too tight, throws too tight, fields too tight, and when they come to the plate swings too tight. This teams needs to find a way to relax at the plate and let it go…UNTERP

  26. When you think about it - May 5, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Feelwood: That stat doesn't help your argument when you consider that Willingham at .240 is still hitting better than 8/9 of our lineup…

  27. alexva - May 5, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    You hit as part of a lineup and the lineup is flawed in that they don't have a leadoff hitter and are missing RZ. The first was a known problem (if you want Morgan back heaven help you) the second was unexpected.They canned St. Clair and he was snapped up, if they do the same with Eckstein expect similar results.Step back from the ledge and give it some time. I mean it can't get any worse, right?

  28. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    alexva said… I mean it can't get any worse, right? couldn't agree with you more. The lack of hitting is what is killing them. They're at their nadir and no where to go but up [except I think they will be no hit a couple of times, so this leaves room for more nadir :~) ]…UNTERP

  29. CBinDC - May 5, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I really do not understand the position that people you let go get another job you were wrong to have let them go in the first place …..often the reason something does not work is the timing of those involved …..effort is rarely the reason ….but right now the Nationals can not hit if you placed the ball on a tee…… and the 126 million dollar man is hitting no better then a AAA journeyman pinch hitter …..who is to blame is not the question it is who can help change the situation…..right now the whole city is in WHY WHY mode but it is not because of the Nationals hitting troubles…… it is just another deep dark day for sports in DC

  30. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Maybe I'm way off about this, but watching Werth et al, seeing Werth watch call strike three right down the middle of the plate and swinging and missing at fast balls right down the middle of the plate, I believe collectively the Nationals are just thinking too much. I don't know ding about hitting, couldn't hit squat or even recognize squat if it hit me in the face, but these guys seem to complicate the game too much for my taste. Sometimes it comes down to this, see the ball, hit the ball…UNTERP

  31. JaneB - May 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    But it's sort of a chicken and egg thing. alexva is right…the line up is flawed. There's no one to protect the middle of the order because our biggest hitting threat platoons at catcher and the next biggest threat, on some days, is the pitcher. That's on top of no lead off hitter (and can we plase move Danny back down? It's killing his production to be up there. But I guess it's doing that to every guy they install there). maybe it's time for one of the older guys to play sacrificial lamb so we can keep Espi and Desi down lower, where they produce better.

  32. Nats fan in NC - May 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    In Vegas today…..wondering if they are offering odds on potential Halliday no no?

  33. Jeeves - May 5, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    I would hope Dunn's fielding is perfect. He is usually the designated hitter.

  34. SCNatsFan - May 5, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    I understand a player pressing and trying to hit a 5 run homer, but everyone pressing for this long tells me that there is more going on. We weren't going to win the division so in the grand scheme we still won't, but it stinks to see parts you hope would get us closer – specifically Werth, LaRoche and Morse – performing at AAA level, knowing we just get that much farther from making real progress. Plus, as a fan, it makes for horrible games to watch as the Nats offensively are as exciting as watching paint dry right now.

  35. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    Jeeves said… I would hope Dunn's fielding is perfect. He is usually the designated hitter.Feel Wood was making a joke.

  36. CBinDC - May 5, 2011 at 1:48 PM

    Well the Nationals plate performance has let Carpenter hone his strike out call which has improved greatly ….not so much his home run call …so that is a upside cheery thing is it not

  37. Will - May 5, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    I'm not really sure what to make of this, except that the pitching in MLB has been susbtantially better this year.As of today, MLB batters are batting .250/.320/.390Last year, they finished with a slash of .257/.325/.403, in 2009, it was even higher .262/.333/.418, which was similar to 2008's .264/.333/.416.Over the past five years, average OPS has fallen substantially.2006: .7682007: .7582008: .7492009: .7512010: .7282011: .710A cumulative .058 drop in OPS is enormous. For example, that's the difference between about 1,000 HRs per season.Perhaps we're just moving into another deadball era, and will have to come to accept averages in the low .200s as normal.

  38. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    Will said… I'm not really sure what to make of this, except that the pitching in MLB has been susbtantially better this year.Don't know whether many have heard this or not, but supposedly MLB is entering the second consecutive year of the beginning of the era of pitching.

  39. sjm308 - May 5, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Not sure what keeping Willingham would do for this club. I think HRod will prove to be an excellent addition to the bullpen and even though we are obviously stuggling, I look at Storen, Burnett, Clippard, Balester, Kimball and HRod as possibly one of the best bullpens in the majors for years to come.If Corey Brown can develop then this trade becomes a huge steal for Rizzo. I would put money on Willingham NOT playing the entire season. He has been hurt each year and I liked moving both Dunn and Willingham.Not sure how we break out of this slump but the best advice I read above was from UNTERP – stop thinking so much, see the ball, hit the ball. I join him as not knowing squat about how to hit but that makes all the sense in the world to me.Watch us break out against the best pitcher in the game tonight!!Go Nats

  40. Knoxville Nat - May 5, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Is the pitching really "substantially better" or are we witnessing the cumulative effect of PED's being removed from the game over a period of years?

  41. Water23 - May 5, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    As the losses mount, the team will look a medium term options to help out. With some decent FAs available maybe a trade is the best solution. To help fill out the offensive woes a few players come to mind but two players seem to fill the Nationals need: Matt Kemp and Michael Bourn. Both would be able to player CF and would be decent medium to long term solutions. It would take a haul to get them – Desmond, Flores, Bixler and a SP (Top Minor Leaguer) but that is why you have roster depth. The primary loss would be Desmond and only b/c we do not have a specific replacement other than moving Espy to SS. On the other hand, either of the aforementioned CF would be a major upgrade.Not saying it is going to happen but if next we had Kemp/Bourn and possibly sign Reyes then a roster ofBournReyesZimLaRocheWerthHarperRamosEspySPLooks pretty good. And would probably play better defense than the one we field now.

  42. JD - May 5, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    I am a big believer that eventually performances regress to the mean. Werth should be .270 .380 .600; he is .227 .320 .400. I believe in home park effects but I don't put too much stock in protection nonsense; so in order to get where he belongs he will have a couple of seriously hot streaks. Laroche should be .270 .340 .480 and he is .186 .300 .309; some good stuff coming. Unfortunately Ramos is very likely to regress back to a more reasonable .280 .330 .450 down from .344 .406 .541 (and the regressed numbers are still very optimistic). JaneB; you suggest moving Espi and Desi down; OK; who is hitting 1st and 2nd? Yesterday someone suggested moving LaRoche down from the cleanup spot; OK; who is hitting cleanup? Someone suggested removing: Ankiel, Bixler, Stairs, Hairston and Cora; great; who are you bringing up? have you looked up the Syracuse batting averages lately? You can bring up Bernadina but if you think that this takes you to the promised land you are dreaming in technicolor. And for the posters who said it can't get any worse; yeah it can; check out the White Sox, Twins and several others and realize that 14 – 16 without Zim ain't so bad.

  43. Victor Conte - May 5, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    @Knoxville Nat – We're definitely seeing the cumulative effect of PEDs being removed from Rick Ankiel over a period of years!

  44. Manassas Nats Fan - May 5, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    the overall record of the team 14-16 is about where I hoped it would be. The pitching in general much better, hitting much worse, but it balances out.I do believe doing nothing the hitting could improve a little, but not a lot. Something needs to be done.

  45. Will - May 5, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    Matt Kemp is by all accounts is the Adam Dunn of CF. No thanks.

  46. Knoxville Nat - May 5, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Victor Conte,Ankiel and Morse……wasn't he also named in the Mitchell report? How about Pudge….and how many others in ML baseball?

  47. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Hairston in Mitchell report as well. Why is a guy with 60 HR in over a decade of playing ball trying to swing for the fences? Play the kids.

  48. Anonymous - May 5, 2011 at 7:41 PM

    Halladay tonight for the Phils. That is like playin with house money. Phils…..guaranteed. A shutout almost for sure…..possible no-no





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