For about a week, Cal Ripken, Jr. has been actively been campaigning to at least get an invitation to interview for the soon-to-be vacant Washington Nationals manager job. In 32 games, present manager Davey Johnson will be stepping down from the post and returning to his administrative position with the team.
Believe me when I tell you that once the season is over, Ripken will get his interview with the Nationals and depending on how impressive he is, we will know if he is a true contender for the job.
There is plenty of evidence that proves that all the key members of the Nationals brain trust will be more than happy to speak Ripken about the managers job when the process starts sometime in late October. Ripken knows that the Nationals are very quiet about what they do, and nothing about 2014 will be talked about until after the season.
This season, Ripken has been to Nationals Park over a half a dozen times to see the team play. He has talked with the key members of the team’s ownership group, the Lerner family — namely Ted and his son Mark Lerner, who have known Ripken for quite a while.
He has sat down with his old manger Davey Johnson, talked to a number of the players and watched games while sitting both in the press box as well as the stands with his potential boss, team president and general manager Mike Rizzo.
Now in fairness, some of this was done for homework for his present job as a broadcaster for Turner Sports. However, sometimes he just drops by to catch a game and chat with Johnson, Rizzo and the Lerners. Case in point, during the last homestand on August 15th as the Nationals were facing the Giants, Ripken and Rizzo were talking baseball in the stands for most of the game.
Ripken knows that the Lerner family has proven over and over that they are willing to spend whatever it takes to win. He has their respect as a Hall of Famer, and now he must impress upon them that he can manage at the same level he played.
Lets face it — managing the Nationals is one baseball’s most attractive jobs. After all, this is not a rebuilding team; this is a team a year removed from winning the NL East and posting a MLB-best 98 wins.
It is a team with four of baseball’s top young pitchers in Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler. They will likely add some more players to the bullpen and make some key choices as to either stay inside the organization to find some pitching or go outside.
It is a team that will need very little tweaking with almost the entire line up in place ready for 2013. There will be some roster moves like deciding who will play second base, whether they will keep Adam LaRoche and the adding of better bench players.
The new manager will have one baseball’s top stars in Bryce Harper entering his third year in the league with an unlimited potential.
Washington is a major media market with over 200 networks from all over the world, and plenty of those counties love baseball. So the media that covers the Nationals when they are home is very large and diverse.
Managing in Washington is now one on of the best jobs in all of baseball, and Ripken knows that better than anyone. If the Hall of Famer wants to prove he is a top-notch skipper, he will have the team and the support to be successful.