"Effort and intensity" Not Enough Anymore

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, June 10, 2011 | , , | 9 comments »

Following last night's lackluster 7-3 loss to the San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman had some pointed comments, but they were couched in a veil of apology.
"It was not a good game. The effort and intensity's there, but it was just not a good game. We had a couple things happen on the bases. We walked people. It just was not a pretty game. I don't know how else to say it."
Riggleman couching his comments by saying the "effort and intensity's there" essentially means two things: "They haven't quit on me" and "They aren't good enough."

Right now, Riggleman has two guys in the bullpen he can trust, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.  He told MASNSports.com after the game that he can't pitch these two when the Nats are losing because "we need to save those guys for when we're are tied or winning."  Forget using your best relievers in the most important situations, because there's a script to follow.

"These other guys gotta pick up the slack."

So what about the rest of the bullpen pitchers entering games and putting more men on base via bases on balls?  "That's not gonna work," Riggleman said, calling Henry Rodriguez and Cole Kimball out by name, and alluding to Sean Burnett, who walked the only batter he faced, rookie Anthony Rizzo in his Major League debut. 

"We can't keep watching that. You can't come out of the bullpen throwing balls. Nobody feels worse about it than those pitchers, myself, and Steve McCatty.  We make those choices to put them in there. But if we're gonna get beat, we gotta get beat over the plate and we just gotta throw strikes there."

Again, Riggleman couched his pointed comments in apology.

We're at the point in the season where apologies and platitudes about effort are pointless.  The Nationals are 27-36, third worst in the National League and sixth worst overall.  The Nats have a bright future, stockpiling a lot of great talent in the minor leagues, and good days can be envisioned on the horizon.  But we still have to watch the rest of this season.  It's not even the all-star break and Riggleman is defending his team's effort.

Riggleman has his hands tied with respect to the talent he's been given to work with, but there should be less talk about effort and more accountability for poor performance.


  1. RoscoeNats // June 10, 2011 at 1:11 PM  

    I hope the Stairs experiment ends after interleague play. He and Ankiel are horrible. If they ditch Ankiel (or if he comes up with a mystery injury) what are the options?

    Can't wait till a coach or player says they are "pressing" - I will drink when I hear that.

  2. Dave Nichols // June 10, 2011 at 2:55 PM  

    Roscoe, that's part of the problem. there's no one in Syracuse to come to the rescue. Corey Brown isn't hitting, and the "emergency guys" Gregor Blanco and Jeff Frazier are even worse.

    this is the team they put together with Rizzo's hand-picked bench. they are what they are unless he can find someone in a trade or off the scrap heap.

  3. markfd // June 10, 2011 at 3:15 PM  

    Well I see there is some action in Rizzoland...Mattheus is coming to the rescue!? My guess is Kimball goes back to Syracuse or more seasoning. I wish I could be as optimistic as other regarding the bullpen going into this season but the two guys who are good Clippard and Storen are the only two guys who are I believed had real staying power with the team.

  4. Dave Nichols // June 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

    Mark, Ladson on MLB.com said someone's going to the DL. my guess is H-Rod. they wouldn't send Burnett out and leave themselves with no lefty in the pen. we'll find out later today.

  5. Anonymous // June 10, 2011 at 3:42 PM  

    I just reading your stuff here. But I have to say I don't think you are the most objective person on Riggs. You make some good points, but I think you take every chance to trash him. Could you consider writing a positive piece on him when there's something you agree with?

  6. Dave Nichols // June 10, 2011 at 4:01 PM  

    Anon, thanks for the comment. you'll forgive me if I don't think I'm trashing Riggleman here. it's a critique. i don't nit-pick every night or use infammatory words.

    i respect Riggleman for his baseball knowledge and the respect he has for his players and the game, but when he continually uses the "effort and intensity" line, like it's a defense for poor play, i think it's fair to critique him for the words he chooses to use in his press conference.

    and I promise, the next time Riggleman does something out of the ordinary that I completely agree with, I will give him mad props.

  7. Sec314 // June 10, 2011 at 4:12 PM  

    How about Middle Infielder Antonelli at Syracuse? He could certainly replace Stairs.

  8. Dave Nichols // June 10, 2011 at 4:48 PM  

    Sec 314: Would love to see Antonelli get another chance in the bigs, but it will come because of injury to a middle infielder, not at the expense of Stairs. Rizzo brought him here for a reason and i don't think his roster spot is in jeopardy, despite his performance.

  9. Sec314 // June 10, 2011 at 5:56 PM  

    I know, I know... Same with Ankiel. I was thinking Bixler would be the marked man when Zim comes back, but if Hairston doesn't heal quick, it could be him. Still no place for Antonelli.

    I can dream though, can't I?