In a matter of years, the Washington Nationals‘ managerial job has gone from a position the organization could not give away to one of the hottest jobs in the game. The team has averaged 92 wins the past two seasons and has finished in the top two of their division each of the past two years. With a strong, young rotation, a solid bullpen, and a well balanced lineup, the Nationals are set for years to come.
With Davey Johnson‘s retirement, the opportunity to follow a legendary manager is also something a lot of managers may want to do, and Washington will have the pick of the litter when it comes to their next skipper. Cal Ripken, Jr has been rumored to have interest in the job, and former Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker is said to also be interested, so, needless to say, this is a job managers want. Another name to watch is former Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who informed the Mariners he would not be returning following a stroke, as well as feeling as though he was mistreated by the organization.
Wedge is an interesting choice as manager and could be a dark horse for the job. Wedge would be 46 on Opening Day and has boasted some good years with his first managing gig with the Cleveland Indians. Wedge has two 90+ win seasons with Cleveland, won 80 or more games four times with the Indians and won the AL Central in 2007. Overall, Wedge is 774-846 in his career but has shown he can win when given good players.
Wedge took the Mariners job with the anticipation many shared with him about Seattle: they had a young core of players developing in the minors that would arrive in a year or two and bring good baseball back to the Pacific Northwest. Sadly, all Seattle seems to be able to do is develop and find really good pitching, as their offensive players have been major disappointments, and the team just never seems to score enough runs to be competitive.
Wedge fits the bill for Washington’s next manager for multiple reasons. His age and the past success he has had with good rosters is key. This obviously brings experience, which is something GM Mike Rizzo probably values greatly. Sure, Baker has won a lot more wherever he has gone , but his teams tend to falter greatly in the playoffs and he tends to ride his pitchers a little too hard. He would probably not see eye to eye with Rizzo and he is in his 60s, which probably is not favorable with Washington’s last manager being older as well.
Wedge is not a slam dunk to be Washington’s next manager, but it makes a lot of sense. Wedge is young, has experience, and probably wants to prove his good years in Cleveland were not a fluke. Wedge could easily manage the Nationals for the next five years if he wanted to and provide major stability. It’s not a perfect fit, but it’s solid and one that would make sense.