Riggleman: “Subtle” move will pay dividends for years to come

Manager Jim Riggleman is excited about how the 2011 Nationals shape up with a new right fielder - and now a new first baseman in Adam LaRoche.

“I think the acquisitions that Mike Rizzo has made and that the Lerners were supportive of throughout this off season have been outstanding,” Riggleman said. “They are going to pay dividends in (2011) and the future.”

Riggleman points to the Jayson Werth signing and Josh Willingham trade as the first two big alterations that really could adjust the direction of the franchise for years to come.

“The first move with Jayson Werth caught a lot of attention around baseball,” Riggleman said. “And secondly, sometimes you have to lose a quality ballplayer now and then if you think down the road it may be to your benefit in some way, shape or form.”

Riggleman says everyone tends to focus on the big names in the deals and signings. But he is particularly impressed with the trade for one well respected reliever.

“We lost a quality guy in Josh Willingham,” Riggleman said. “But one of the things that happened in that deal that we are very happy about is the acquisition of relief pitcher Henry Rodriguez. You know with all the talk of Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth, I think that the Rodriguez deal is a subtle move that is going to pay dividends for us for many years. That was a very nice move.

“If you are going to trade Josh Willingham, you need to get some quality back. I think between Corey Brown and Henry Rodriguez, Mike (Rizzo) was able to do that. When you look up at the end of the year, there might be a few less homers and maybe a few less RBIs. Certainly you can speculate that in fairness.”

“That is two big guns in your lineup. (Adam) Dunn and Willingham are not there, but now it is LaRoche and Werth. We feel like we got a little more athletic in those two positions. I think that is one of the things Mike has talked about since day one, just getting this team to be more athletic. These two guys (Werth and LaRoche) are certainly putting us in that direction.”

The entire Riggleman interview is available now at nationals360.com and can be heard Sunday at 6 p.m. on Federal News Radio, 1500 AM.

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