Are the Washington Nationals making the right move in bringing back manager Davey Johnson for one year? Johnson and the Nationals agreed last week that he would manage the team for one more season then step down.
By agreeing to manage for just one season, Johnson is essentially a lame duck. This means that no matter what happens in 2013, the Washington players know that he will not be in charge in 2014. This could lead to a little less discipline on their part. They may figure that if Johnson is not going to be there for the long haul then why should they play hard for him?
The Nationals knew that this was a possibility when they resigned Johnson. However, General Manager Mike Rizzo and team management believe that the players respect Johnson enough to give him one hundred percent no matter what the circumstances.
When Johnson took the job in June of 2011 Washington had never had a winning season. In his first full season at the helm the Nationals won a team record 98 games and made their first post season appearance. Johnson got a young team to believe in itself and play to its potential. With an NL East division title under its belt Washington will go into 2013 with a lot of optimism.
The Nationals recent success should be enough to prevent any problems that may occur from Johnson’s contract status. The players knew that he might not come back for 2013 when the 2012 season started. Johnson is 69 years old and took the job almost as a favor to Rizzo after Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned. From day one no one was sure how long he would keep the job.
For Washington’s players 2013 will only be different than 2012 in that they will know for sure that Johnson is not coming back. The good thing is that most of the team has already established itself and won’t have to worry about proving to management that they can play. Johnson and Rizzo have put together one of the best young teams in baseball and whoever takes over will benefit from it. All the players have to do is concentrate on winning ball games and getting back to the post season.
Despite the fact that Johnson will not be back in 2014, he will not be a lame duck manager. The Nationals know that Johnson is as responsible for the team’s success as anyone in the organization. They also know that he will be around to help Rizzo in some capacity after leaving the field.
Though he will not be in the dugout after 2013, Johnson’s career with Washington will not be over. He did not start this process with Rizzo to leave before it was finished.
The Nationals know that they are lucky to be getting Johnson back for one more year and will do everything possible to make it a success.