After 162 games as manager of the Washington Nationals, Jim Riggleman's record was 70-92.

OK, not so great -- and the result is likely to be a last-place finish after a complete regular season. But given the circumstances he was faced with when handed the job, it's probably a shade better than you might've predicted.

I'm not entirely sure what Riggleman's contract status is. The Nationals are not in the habit of giving out real concrete information along those lines, a point team president Stan Kasten has made several times. For the sake of argument, though, let's say he got a 2-year deal and is on board through 2011.

Before we proceed any further, I'll lay my cards on the table. I like Jim Riggleman. I like him as a manager, as a baseball man and as a human being. I believe his ascension to the job was destiny. Like me, he grew up in the area rooting for the Senators, and never in his wildest dreams thought he'd end up with the hometown nine. He's paid all the dues a veteran baseball man should have to pay to reach this point in his career, and it would be entirely appropriate if he never had to work for another big league club the rest of his career.

Having said all that, let's look at the job itself. One of Riggleman's mentors, Whitey Herzog, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this month. Herzog took clubs in both leagues -- the Royals and Cardinals -- to postseason play. He won three National League pennants and a World Series title with St. Louis. Both franchises had a lot of All-Star caliber players when he was there, and a few Hall of Famers: George Brett, Ozzie Smith, Frank White, Hal McRae, Terry Pendleton, Bruce Sutter and Willie McGee to name a few. Both clubs' pitching staffs and bullpens were solid, if unspectacular.

The point is, Herzog's teams weren't coming out of nowhere to win. At the winter meetings in Indianapolis last December I spoke with Herzog, who made it very clear his teams won because of good personnel, not because he pushed any magic buttons. He brought up his experience with the Texas Rangers, his first managerial job when he replaced Ted Williams in 1973.

"We scored fewer runs than anyone and gave up more runs than anyone," he said. "That job was going to take some time, but [Bob] Short fired me when Billy Martin became available. Did me a favor, as it turned out."

Herzog's record in Texas: 47-91.

Bottom line, it's always about personnel. Yes, there will be the occasional aberrant season where some team plays over its head and wins 82-plus games "out of nowhere." It happens, but it's exceedingly rare.

In time -- sooner than later -- Jim Riggleman will have a winning record in Washington. The Nationals' roster will continue to evolve over the next season-and-a-half, and pro scouts tell me that their starting rotation will compete with anyone's by 2012. From all appearances, Riggleman and GM Mike Rizzo have a smooth relationship. Everyone seems to be on the same page.

A contract extension should be in Jim Riggleman's future. If not by this October, then by the All-Star break in 2011.

It's too good of a story to end any sooner.

Phil Wood is a contributor to Nats Xtra on MASN. Contact him at