He hasn’t been the manager for a very long, but Matt Williams is already making some pretty smart moves for the Washington Nationals.
As reported by William Ladson of MLB.com, Williams has hired a new bullpen coach, Matt LeCroy, and has added a seventh coach to specialize in defense, Mark Weidemaier. The rest of the coaching staff - Randy Knorr, Trent Jewett, Tony Tarasco, Rick Schu and Steve McCatty - is expected to remain the same.
The move to leave the coaching staff alone except for cutting ties with Jim Lett and the addition of LeCroy and Weidemaier is a great one by Williams. The coaches that the Nationals already have on staff are more than capable of being managers themselves and have been with this team long enough to understand what each player is like as a person and player.
LeCroy has been a part of the Nationals since 2008 as a manager of the team’s Class-A affiliate in Hagerstown. Prior to that, he was a minor leaguer for Washington as a catcher in 2006. He made one MLB appearance, but was pulled in the seventh inning after allowing six stolen bases by the Houston Astros.
In 2013, the Nationals bullpen suffered, but was also hindered due to injuries. While Tyler Clippard had another solid season, Drew Storen’s downward spiral continued and the Nationals bullpen as a whole just wasn’t up to the standard that was set in 2012. LeCroy will be working with a number of young arms and he’ll have his work cutout for him trying to make the most out of what he’s got.
Weidemaier is an interesting addition because it isn’t everyday that a coach is brought in simply for defensive purposes. His relationship with Williams goes back a few years as they both worked together when Williams was with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Bringing in a coach to work specifically on defense isn’t a bad idea. In 2013, the Nationals committed 107 errors, which ties them for seventh-most in the MLB. Their team-fielding percentage of .982 ties them at fourth-worst in the MLB, so help is certainly needed. They say that offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. For Washington, their 2013 defensive performance certainly won’t win them championships any time soon.
Already, you can tell that Matt Williams is ready to step in and make the Nationals even better. While there aren’t many things that need changing, he recognizes a need in the bullpen and defensively and has acted accordingly.
I like him already.