The Nats Manager Search


I haven't written about the Nats ongoing search for a manager before this point because I honestly don't care that much. I do think that a manager is important, but they aren't more important than talent. Joe Girardi just got a raise and is still paid about the same as a free agent middle reliever. That is how baseball teams value a manager. The same as a player that will add 0.5 to 1.0 wins above replacement. If teams don't view a manager as that important then maybe they aren't, and in recent trends teams have put more importance in the pitching coach than the manager. One of the reason's the Nationals may be looking only at first year managers is so that Steve McCatty stays. McCatty is Mike Rizzo's guy and the Nationals are, more than anything, Mike Rizzo's team.  

With all that being said I do think Mike Rizzo wants a strong personality as manager. We saw it with Randy Knorr when he managed briefly with Davey Johnson ejected. In one appearance he yanked Rafael Soriano when he was struggling to earn a save and in a second he called out the team's star player, Bryce Harper, for not hustling. Knorr strikes me as too reactionary, but this might be the exact type of manager that Rizzo wants. Davey Johnson has had a great career and is admired by Mike Rizzo but they have very different philosophies when it comes to leading a team. Davey Johnson is a player manager and in some estimations may have let the players get away with too much early on in 2013.

He let them take Spring Training off and it showed in sloppy play at the start of the season. Davey Johnson was also known to give struggling players too much rope. In July of 2013 Drew Storen had a 13.03 ERA and yet was second on the team in appearances. Davey Johnson manages by trusting struggling players. He will continue to put them into the situations that they should be in when at their best even when they are at their worst and players respect him because of the trust he shows them. Unfortunately it ultimately hurts the team and in some ways the player. Another manager might have pulled Storen aside, explained to him how he was going to reduce his role and use him in low leverage situations until he got back to where he knows he can be, and that may have avoided Storen's trip to the minors and kept the Nationals bullpen from costing them games in July. 

Davey Johnson's faults have something to do with the type of manager that Rizzo is looking for, and that guy may have already been decided on. We've heard very little about the Nationals search for a manager. Many experts believe it has always been Matt Williams’s job to lose and that thought hasn't changed much as others have interviewed. Matt Williams is a player Rizzo has cited as a clubhouse leader and someone who leads in a way Rizzo admires, the opposite of Davey Johnson, and perhaps less reactionary than Knorr.  

When a team with a players manager is looking for a new manager they often make the switch to a more hard-nosed type manager and from all reports that is what Mike Rizzo wants and that is what Matt Williams is, but it is also what Knorr and Jewett are. As of right now we don't know much. It looks like Matt Williams is the guy, but it could easily be someone else or someone that hasn't even interviewed yet. Whoever it is I hope that they don't use the emergency long reliever in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game, bring in the team's worst reliever because they failed to score off the best closer in the game, bat an under .300 OBP second baseman second , or continue to bat the .445 SLG catcher eighth.  

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