Jim Leyland retired, stepped down, or road off into the sunset as the Detroit Tigers manager. He was one of the best men ever to manage in the game and speaking from a personal note, one of the nicest. Leyland is true class act and I wish him well as he moves on to the next chapter in his life.
Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals‘ managerial candidate, Matt Williams, could still choose to stay where he is if a number of things fall the right way. At present the Arizona Diamondbacks will soon know if the Tigers will ask for permission to talk to Kurt Gibson about their opening. Gibson, of course, is a Tigers icon and a big time favorite of the “Motown faithful.” If Gibson were to go back to Detroit then the Diamondback job would go to Williams, who is presently serving as their third base coach.
Right now there is a great deal of speculation and very few specifics, but let’s start with the Nationals. We know that Williams has met with his friend President of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo. They had detailed conversations about his managing the Nationals and he is considered a very strong candidate.
While the Tigers’ job might be Gibson’s dream job he still has two years plus an option on his present contract with Arizona that puts him there through 2016. Normally if the Tigers wanted Gibson to replace Leyland, they would have to compensate the Diamondbacks with players. prospects, cash, etc.
At present the Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, one of the smartest guys in the business, is playing things close to the vest and has said nothing about the replacement process let alone who is on his list of candidates. While there is little doubt that Dombrowski would like to have Gibson managing the Tigers, the compensation issue may be too hard to overcome.
Two of Leyand’s top guys, bench coach Lloyd McClendon and third base coach Tom Brookens, would have to be considered to be the top candidates for the job. The wild card here is Tigers owner Michael Ilitch who loves Gibson, and if he thinks that he is the best man for the job then compensation is not a question.
Given the choice of taking over the Diamondbacks or the Nationals I have no doubt that Williams would take the gig in the desert. He has a home there and is a very well respected and well loved member of the Phoenix community. So that would likely be his dream job.
For now he is in the mix for that Nationals job, and despite Gibson wanting the Tigers job the route to get there is likely to be too hard and too tall of a mountain to climb. One thing for sure and that is in about a month or less we should know who the next Washington Nationals manager is. And at least for now he could very well be Matt Williams.