Tuesday, October 1, 2013
And the Nats' managerial candidates are ...
By Doug Mittler
A popular preseason pick to be playing late into October, the Washington Nationals couldn't find their groove for much of 2013, and a late-September playoff push ended up being too little, too late.
But there seems to be no added sense of panic in the nation’s capital; the front office remains committed to its core of talented young players. General manager Mike Rizzo does have one big decision to make, however, and that will be who replaces manager Davey Johnson, who is stepping aside after 2 1/2 seasons on the job.
The Nationals are a team built to win now, which offers a managerial candidate the chance to be part of a winning team and possible playoff success; the prospect of immediate success is likely greater there than the available opening with the Chicago Cubs. Ron Gardenhire would have been a nice fit in Washington had he parted ways with the Twins, but he agreed to an extension to remain in Minnesota.
Despite the attractiveness of the opening, there might not be many big names in the mix, says Mark Zuckerman of Natsinsider.com.
So who will get the call from Rizzo? Here are our top candidates:
A few Nationals players already have been campaigning for Knorr, the team's bench coach who has had various roles in the organization over the past few years. If Rizzo decides to keep things in-house and look for continuity, the 44-year-old Knorr would be his guy.
Williams has earned positive reviews for his work as the Diamondbacks' third base coach and already has been linked to the job. Also worth noting: Rizzo was the scouting director in Arizona a decade ago when Williams was closing out his playing career.
Cal Ripken Jr.
Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth told the Washington Post over the weekend that Ripken would be “his No. 1 choice” to replace Johnson. Ripken has dropped a hint about getting back into the game and his hiring would be the ultimate tweak to their Beltway rivals in Baltimore. The hiring of Ripken, however, would have the potential of developing into a sideshow, so the chances still must be considered unlikely. After all, Werth doesn't make the decisions there.
Boston’s bench coach has interviewed previously for head jobs with the Red Sox and Indians and has seen his stock rise while working in a high-visibility position with the Red Sox.
The Nats' third base coach is reportedly popular with Nats players but is likely a few years away from consideration for a big league managerial gig.