When 2013 comes to an end for the Washington Nationals, many will hope Davey Johnson decides not to walk off into the sunset as manager. Although, after this season’s results, that number of people will be significantly smaller than what it was at the end of 2012.
Amazing the difference a year makes. Last season, Johnson was the toast of D.C., the golden goose, but after a 2013 marred by slow-coming changes and frustrating play, many will probably hope Johnson’s you-know-what does not hit the door on his way out. It’s an old, tired story: team does well, manager is a genius, but when the team under performs, the manager is a bum and should be fired immediately. Even if Washington manages to sneak into the playoffs, which is not as crazy a notion as it once was, Johnson will most likely be gone, and he will not receive the farewell he deserves.
Another successful manager who did not get the farewell he deserved was Charlie Manuel, formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies. As we know, the Phillies were once the toast of the MLB, with a rotation that could have gone up against murderer’s row and a team expected to coast to the playoffs and World Series yearly. As we also know, the Phillies have suffered one of the most spectacular falls from grace of recent baseball memory, going from perennial contender to a team in need of a rebuild faster than Yasiel Puig missing a cut-off man.
Philadelphia finally threw in the towel this season, letting Manuel go after a 780-636, five division title, two league pennant and one World Series title run as manager from 2005-13. Many believe Manuel was not treated right by Phillies management, as they were rumored to have decided on Manuel’s future weeks prior to his firing and the hiring of Ryne Sandberg as interim manager.
Washington will, obviously, need a new manager at the end of 2013, and may want to follow a man the caliber of Johnson’s with another more well-known name as his replacement. Some would even go so far as to say that a front-runner for the job could even be Manuel, who is coming off a very strong managerial stint in Philadelphia, and had some successful years before that with the Cleveland Indians. This thought that Manuel could succeed Johnson is not just ridiculous, but it would be utterly foolish of Washington to bring him in.
First off, Manuel is 69, the same age Johnson was when he took over in 2011. Managers aren’t exactly forever, but why would the Nationals want to put themselves in a situation where they will most likely be looking for their next manager in 2015 or 2016, if not after the 2014 season? Sure, the move will probably be pushed for by someone like Jayson Werth, since he pretty much owes Manuel for the contract the Nationals gave him, but GM Mike Rizzo values stability and continuity above most others, so as good a move as hiring Manuel could be, it isn’t exactly the most stable of moves.
Secondly, the Nationals are still a pretty young team, and nothing close to the veteran-laden Phillies roster Manuel came to manage. Perhaps Johnson got through to Washington better in 2012 than he did this season, and perhaps age had something to do with it. What Washington needs is someone who is not too young or too old, but is just seasoned enough to give them that extra jolt they need each night to win on a consistent basis.
Manuel is a great manager, and would not be a terrible choice for Washington. The problem is Washington is coming off of a manager that was old when he took the job, and saw it as more of a swan song. Washington needs someone who wants to manage for years to come, not go for a ring one last time, which is what they would get in Manuel, and had in Johnson.