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November 10, 2008 at 7:34 PM

Riggleman: “I have to look in the mirror”

And so, the brief tenure of Jim Riggleman in Seattle is now officially over. Riggleman will move on to serve as Washington Nationals bench coach. He was disappointed, naturally, at not being included in the final list of candidates for the Mariners job. His first reaction was that the presence of all first-time hopefuls on the list of seven candidates signifies that the Mariners are about to go younger with their players. I agree with this. Much easier for a first-time manager not to have to inherit a ton of veteran players who all have their own ideas of how a big league team should operate. Not that some of them aren’t right. All I’m saying is that it could be easier for a first-time guy to deal with younger players.
Riggleman made no excuses when he was managing the M’s. And he wasn’t making any today.
“We just didn’t win enough games,” said Riggleman, who took over from the fired John McLaren on June 19. “You can dance around a lot of things and try to rationalize a lot of things, but when comes down to it, since Abner Doubleday, when you don’t win many games, the manager is going to be let go.”
He said there was one message he tried to instill in his players during the three months he ran the team.
“I was adamant with players that ‘If you want to pitch more, you’ve got to pitch more effectively’,” he said. “If you want more at-bats, then hit more. The same goes with the manager. If you want to manage longer, you have to manage more effectively. Basically, it comes down to wins and losses. I asked players to look into the mirror, so I have to look in the mirror. I really believe that.”
No excuses. But also, no surprises. As we wrote back in September, in our season-ending series of stories, when your team loses 101 games, it’s tough to make a case for yourself to stay on as manager. So, no more managing for Riggleman. At least for a bit. Manny Acta isn’t on the firmest ground in Washington, so who knows? We may see Riggleman running the dugout again before long.
As for the Mariners, I keep hearing about how they want to go the Joe Maddon route. In other words, find a first-time manager with a high ceiling and give him a shot. Sounds great, in theory. The only problem I have with that approach is that the Mariners have to ultimately fill their end of the bargain. Maddon inherited a ton of talent in Tampa Bay and has added high draft picks in ensuing years. The Mariners have some young talent, like Felix Hernandez and Brandon Morrow. But there’s no young Evan Longoria about to light it up at the plate. Seattle’s version of B.J. Upton got traded in the Erik Bedard deal. When Jeff Clement starts doing it with the stick, then we can talk.
But seriously, for the new manager to go the Maddon route, this organization will have to get a lot better at making trades that pay off, signing players who prove their worth and also just plain get better at the overall job of building a baseball team. Some of that building can start this winter. There are a number of veteran players here who simply won’t be of much practical use for a team I honestly can’t see contending for another three years at least. Not the way things are headed, with Raul Ibanez about to leave, Adrian Beltre in his departure countdown and the offense full of holes as it is. Maddon didn’t manage a winner overnight. And the new Mariners manager, whoever he is, will have to be patient. And he will have to be shown some patience by those who hire him.



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