On Thursday morning, the Washington Nationals officially introduced Matt Williams as the team’s new manager. With the situation that he is coming into, Williams has no reason why he shouldn’t be successful in his first season as a manager in MLB, which means leading the team to the 2014 playoffs.
In 2013, the Nationals were a “World Series or bust” team, which may have been a little overboard. In 2014, they should hang on to a similar mantra, but instead say “playoffs or bust.” Despite the fact that Williams will be a rookie manager, there is no reason why he can’t lead the Nationals back to the playoffs and just maybe the World Series in 2014.
Look at the coaching staff he has around him. At the top, you’ll find bench coach Randy Knorr, third base coach Trent Jewett, first base coach Tony Trasco, pitching coach Steven McCatty and hitting coach Rick Schu. In the bullpen, Williams will have Jim Lett. Unless Williams does something absolutely terrible and breaks apart this staff, he’ll have no issues leading this team to a playoff berth. On paper, this is one of the best coaching staffs in all of baseball.
Now let’s look at who’s on the field. It’s the same team from 2013 and 2012, headlined by Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, just to name a few. A new manager will often be stepping into a role where he needs to rebuild a franchise. For Williams, he’s climbing inside a Rolls Royce that just got out of the shop. It’s decked out and is ready to hit the streets to turn some heads.
Personally, I would consider questioning Williams’ managing ability if the team falls short of the playoffs again in 2014. 2013 brought with it many surprises, including injuries and players that should have, but didn’t pan out. 2014 will bring with it a healthy Nationals team that is under some new leadership. Williams should feel little pressure to perform since he’s got the players to get the job done.
There is absolutely no reason why Williams’ first year as a manager should fall short of the playoffs. All he needs to do is guide the ship and keep it pointed in the right direction with a few minor adjustments along the way.