As we know, 2013 has been perceived as Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson‘s final season in the dugout, and it is expected Johnson will move back into his front office role after 2013 ends.
Perceived is the key word because before the season, Johnson declared his season motto to be “World Series or bust,” and to piggyback off of that statement, he said about a week ago that 2013 has been more on the bust end of things. Johnson’s successor will be the talk of the winter as will the skipper himself, and it is safe to say that if things end as badly as they have started, Johnson could be back in the helm for 2014.
Now, let’s say for arguments sake that Johnson does in fact retire from managing after 2013 ends. Where should GM Mike Rizzo turn for his new skipper?
He could go in-house, which as we all know is his favorite route, having promoted every manager throughout the system every season, with current coaches Trent Jewett and Randy Knorr on the major league staff after spending time managing in Washington’s system.
It is well documented how far Washington has come in Rizzo’s tenure as GM, going from baseball’s biggest laughingstock to a team expected to be in the World Series in 2013. With that in mind, hiring from within may be tough, since Washington’s staff does not have much major league managing experience at all.
Following up one of the most successful regular season managers in baseball history with a guy with no past managerial experience may be a tough sell to fans, who will most likely be rabid if 2013 ends as badly as it has been.
Rizzo’s next hire needs to come from outside the organization — there’s no question about it. Sometimes a team can become too comfortable with a coach that has known them since rookie ball, and may not play as hard as they would for someone they do not know. Of course, this concept goes both ways, as a manager who knows the organization is able to, at times, get more out of players than a different manager would.
If Rizzo does go outside the organization, which I believe he should, expect him to bring in a guy he knows.
Two names that spring to mind are Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams and current Houston Astros manager Bo Porter. Both have connections to Rizzo, who was Arizona’s scouting director from 2000-2006, and probably would not hesitate to bring Williams in. Porter was Washington’s third base coach until last season, and would have a year of managing under his belt, which may also entice Rizzo.
Regardless of who the name is, staying in-house with his next hire could be a major mistake in Rizzo’s tenure as GM. Bringing in a new outside voice, as they did a few weeks ago with their hitting coach shakeup, could be exactly what brings Washington back to the level they were expected to be at coming into 2013.