We all know the deal by now: Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson will step down as manager after this season and rejoin Washington’s front office.
Though there is the thought that Johnson could come back to get the bad taste of this season out of his mouth, he probably will not return and allow Washington to move on.
There has been much speculation as to who will follow Johnson at the helm, as many believe that Washington can not follow Johnson with someone from within the organization such as a Randy Knorr or a Trent Jewett, two guys who have managed in Washington’s minor league system and are now on the major league coaching staff.
Most believe that Washington will have to follow a name with a name, and Don Mattingly was a name that bounced around early on when his Los Angeles Dodgers were struggling, but Mattingly is probably on his way to an extension and Manager of the Year honors if L.A. keeps up their torrid pace.
Another name that has come up is former Nationals third base coach Bo Porter, currently managing the Houston Astros, who are on their way to probably over 110 losses and the first overall pick in the MLB draft.
Porter was well-liked in Washington both by management and fans, and was perceived as the heir apparent to Johnson if Porter stuck around, which he did not. However, Porter now has a year of managing under his belt, and though Houston is building a team the right way, Porter probably will have to endure more losing seasons before a .500 or winning season. Washington is ready to win now and for years to come, as hard as they have tried to disprove that this season.
Recently, Knorr has been given the opportunity to manage games either because of an ejection or because Johnson was under the weather. These two instances would not be of an significance if it were not for Knorr’s actions in and after those games. The first game Knorr stood in for Johnson, closer Rafael Soriano was pulled in what became a walk-off win for Washington.
It was not a save situation for Soriano, who has shown a markedly different demeanor on the mound in those situations. He came in to a 7-3 game and allowed four runs before Knorr pulled him. Though Washington won, Knorr had poignant statements after the game, accusing Soriano of not being focused on the mound because of the lack of a save situation.
This past Friday, Knorr had strong comment again after Johnson left the game with dehydration. Bryce Harper grounded out in the eighth inning in a big situation with Washington down a run, and did not run out the grounder with his usual vigor. Knorr saw this and was not happy, basically saying after the game that if Harper continued this kind of play, the coaches would have no choice but to pull him from games.
Harper has suffered knee problems this season, and may need surgery according to Johnson. Of course, Haprer always gives 110 percent on the field, and the knee may have been bothering him.
Knorr has shown with these two incidents that he has expectations of his players, which is obvious since Johnson does as well. The difference is that Johnson would probably prefer to talk to players privately, or he just seems to expect his players will give more than their full effort and not expect that to be a problem in his team’s struggles.
Knorr has shown he will be open and honest about how he feels when it comes to a player’s effort, and if they do not give the effort he expects, the world will know.
Calling out a veteran in Soriano and a young superstar in Harper has shown that Knorr will not placate players and stroke egos. This personality trait of Knorr’s could be exactly what Washington needs because Johnson’s personality may have infected the clubhouse negatively, making them too complacent and relaxed.
Knorr as manager could be a home run or it could be a disaster, but one thing is a guarantee: he will manage his way — and that could be exactly what Washington needs.