The Washington Nationals have officially begun the process to hire a replacement for manager Davey Johnson, who as most of you know retired at the end of the season. Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams met yesterday with his old friend, GM Mike Rizzo. Also at the meeting was owner Mark Lerner and at least two other members of the Nationals’ front office team.
So why are Rizzo and Williams so tight? Well, when Rizzo was the Director of Scouting for the Diamondbacks, he was impressed with Williams’ dedication. He liked his blue collar, play-everyday style and his clubhouse leadership. Nothing flashy — just a hard nosed good guy that every player on the team respected. In short, he has some of the key qualities a manager must possess.
So, we know Williams got an interview. But who is next?
The Nationals have received at least four requests for interviews at this point in time and there could be more. Former Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker has asked for and will get an interview, as will Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez. Also, I expect that former Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer and now TBS broadcaster, Cal Ripken Jr., will test the waters.
At present, there is no timetable as to when a manager will be named by the Nationals. If the process goes as most things do in MLB, the search will last till after the World Series, but expect to see a new manager in place for the December MLB Winter Meetings in Orlando. The Washington opening is one of the most sought-after positions in baseball and Rizzo knows it better than anyone else.
The Nationals expect to make a return to the playoffs on a regular basis and this hire has to be right. So, the Nationals are in no rush and there will likely be callbacks after the first round has been completed. But the most important thing is that process is now underway.