The Washington Nationals‘ season ends today, and the search for the replacement for retiring manager Davey Johnson will likely start as soon as Monday. So the quest for the next manager has already started, and it is what GM Mike Rizzo would not comment on and who right fielder Jason Werth endorsed that had people in Washington talking.
Rizzo, who is traveling with the team as they are finishing a three-game series in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks, refused comment on the possibility of Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams as a candidate for the Nationals job. Meanwhile, Werth was endorsing the hiring of Cal Ripken Jr. as the next field boss for the Nationals.
Remember this is Washington, a city that like a good campaign or two, and the handicapping game has already begun.
First, lets look at what was not said by Rizzo — the Washington GM has often talked about his great respect for Williams and his understanding of how the game is played. It is clear that Rizzo, who served as an assistant GM for Arizona before coming to the Nationals, feels that Williams would be a good fit for the job. However, Rizzo is not going to tip his hand on his plans to replace Johnson and he will never play it out in the press.
Meanwhile, right fielder Werth told the media that if it were up to him, the next manager of the Nationals would be Ripken. Werth, who came up in the Baltimore Orioles organization, was impressed with the way that Ripken was so helpful to the young rookies. That was something Werth said Ripken did for him and a number of their rookies.
So, a team leader and respected player backed a local icon for the job as his next manager.
Randy Knorr, who has managed at every level of the Nationals organization, is the clear in-house candidate for the job. His supporters are led by Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmermann, Jordan Zimmermann and the aforementioned Werth.
Werth has made it clear that his support for Ripken or Knorr comes only if Rizzo asks him. He made it clear that the choice belongs to the GM and the Nationals’ ownership group. That said, another voice in this process will be the man being replaced.
Johnson who served as the Nationals’ senior adviser prior to taking over as the team manager in 2011, will return to that front office job after his vacation. So Johnson will have a voice in his replacement, and he has never been shy of speaking his mind.
Right now, you can bet that Knorr, Ripken, Williams, Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and a few people who will no doubt pop up once the process begins will get interviews. While no timetable has been set for naming a manager, the Nationals will take their time.
But in true Washington style, the campaigning will get rolling big-time once things begin become a little more clear.