"Nyjer, he's hitting eighth there, but that's his game. I can't ask him to hit eighth but don't run. I really thought that he'd get that base. The pitcher wasn't real quick to the plate but the catcher made a great throw, and he got him. That's Nyjer's game, I can't take that away from him." --Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman.

The Washington Nationals lost another game to the Florida Marlins.  It's a yearly exercise in failure, these series with the Marlins, so the result of the game isn't really news.  John Lannan pitched well enough to keep his team in the game, but the bats were once again silent, especially with runners on base.

It was a 3-1 loss where the Nats went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

In the grand scheme of things, the play in the bottom of the third wasn't that big a deal to the outcome of the game.  But the play, and the reaction of the manager to it after the game, speaks volumes about where this team is now.

And, of course, it centered around Nyjer Morgan.

With two outs in the inning, Morgan did his job by lacing a single up the middle, successfully bringing the pitcher to bat so Lannan wouldn't have to lead off the next inning.  However, on the very next pitch he inexplicably took off for second in a stolen base attempt.

Naturally, he was thrown out by Marlins catcher Brad Davis, a 27 year old rookie catcher.

Davis wasn't impressed by Morgan's attempt after the game, as he told reporters, ""I had a feeling [Morgan would run].  I knew it was the wrong situation, but it was the wrong situation for him to steal after we hit him that one time. He's not really playing by those rules, so it was definitely in my mind."

"With all that happened, I think he kind of wants to put it to us," Davis said. "Which is understandable. I would, too."

Morgan was unavailable to comment, as he's not speaking to reporters until Bob Watson, head of discipline for MLB, makes his ruling on Morgan's two pending suspensions.

Morgan's manager, Jim Riggleman, said after the game that he couldn't ask Morgan to hit eighth and not run.  "That's Nyjer's game, I can't take that away from him."

Actually Riggs, you can.  And you should.  You're the manager.  And Morgan is hurting your team's chances of winning on an almost nightly basis with his self-serving actions.

It's the league-leading 17th time Morgan's been caught stealing this season.  Since the Philadelphia series, when all this started, Morgan is hitting .189/.267/.208.  He's reached base just 15 times in 63 plate appearances, and been thrown out three of his last five attempts.

There are times a team should be agressive and try to steal a base, or take an extra base, or try to run over the catcher in an attempt to score a run.  But Morgan has proven time and again that he's either not capable of making the correct decision or simply doesn't care about making the proper decision.

It's the manager's job to put his team in the best position to win.  It's one thing to keep putting Morgan in the lineup.  It's another thing to continue to give him the "green light" to run in any situation.  It's what caused the brawl last week, and it cost the Nats an out tonight when every out was precious.

Riggleman is an old school manager.  He knows how the game "should be played."  He also knows Morgan's not doing it that way.  Riggleman's tirade about Morgan the day after he initiated contact with St. Louis Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson was surprising in its honesty and openness.

Tonight's comments defending Morgan rang hollow.

Tonight, Riggleman sounded like he was resigned to the fact that he has to keep trotting Morgan out there regardless of what he does until Major League Baseball finally rules on these suspensions.

C'mon Bob Watson.  Get it over with.


  1. AD // September 11, 2010 at 10:44 AM  

    Bravo, Dave! You've said what a lot of us are thinking. Riggs is walking a very fine line between supporting his players and keeping his job.