October 31, 2011

Meet the New Boss, Etc.

Your clubhouse leader for least surprising press release of the 2012 offseason:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                     
Monday, October 31, 2011


          The Washington Nationals today announced they have exercised Davey Johnson’s managerial option for the 2012 season. Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.

          Johnson will continue the on-field efforts he began on June 27, when he assumed the Nationals’ managerial helm. 

          “After a series of discussions, it became obvious that the Nationals would be best served if Davey Johnson would continue as manager,” Rizzo said. “Davey’s remarkable connection to the clubhouse and D.C. community during the season’s final three months was well received. His baseball acumen coupled with a proper off-season of planning, including a full regiment of Spring Training, should put our players in a position to succeed in 2012.”

          Johnson’s 2011 Nationals closed strong, winning 15 of their final 20 contests to register the best winning percentage in the NL from Sept. 9 through season’s end. In more than half a season with Johnson at the helm, the Nationals went 40-43 and a D.C.-based big league club finished as high as third place for the first time since 1945. 


 Apart from being 100% expected, this is fine. Any manager who isn't purely a placeholder deserves at least one full season. In 2012 Davey will have his players executing his strategies. We'll see what happens.

UPDATE: WaPo's Adam Kilgore says that current bench coach Pat Corrales is stepping down, to be replaced "by a younger coach who could potentially replace Davey Johnson as the Nationals' long-term manager after the 2012 or 2013 season."

That too just makes sense, as Davey will be the oldest manager in baseball in 2012, and if the Nats have a successor in mind, it's probably good to lock him in, and get him an apprenticeship of sorts under D.J.. If the Nats are serious about contending in 2012 and beyond, they'll want a manager who is familiar with the players, rather than someone who is coming in cold from outside the organization. 


JWLumley said...

Doesn't a one year deal make DJ a lameduck? I can't believe he'd stick around without them picking up his option for next year. Also, don't look now, but Jim Riggleman's name is being mentioned in connection to the Cardinals, proof positive that managers impact is wildly overrated, unless they're Jim Tracy in which case his negative impact cannot be overstated.

Nate said...

PP - From what I've read, Davey's contract for 2012-13 is essentially the same as it was last year; that is, he's guaranteed a job in the organization, though not specifically as field manager. Given Davey's stature and reported relationship with Rizzo, I have to believe that the flexibility is something that Johnson wants.

My general view of managers, like most bosses, is that they can at best open up a space for good people to perform at their peak. Riggleman might be a good fit on an established veteran club if the Cardinals are willing to give him the security he never had in DC. In any case I expect Albert Pujols to have a much bigger impact on the 2013 cards than whoever replaces LaRussa.