It's true! On Monday the Nats held true to their word and didn't dawdle, firing Matt Williams before lunch on the first day after the season ended. I think Mike Rizzo and the Lerners actually really wanted to keep Williams but were put into an impossible position. Matt Williams helmed the teamed to a disappointing season which alienated fans. Bring him back and you risk the bottom line. Matt Williams apparently lost the respect of the clubhouse. Bring him back and you risk a mutiny.
You can lose games or lose the clubhouse and keep your job if management likes you. You can't do both. Not unless you are a living legend. Matt Williams is not that.
So now we are left with the question of who? From Rizzo's remarks it seems obvious that Matt Williams was hired on gut instinct. He knew him. He felt like he'd be a good manager. They didn't really entertain other candidates. It was Matt Williams job to lose and, he didn't. Well he didn't at the interview stage. This time they are going to do a more thorough job. I don't exactly buy that that means experience is really going to matter. I think they are going to hire whoever they think is best for the job. However I do think a total outsider, no coaching or managing experience, would have to wow them. In other words, they aren't going to just hand the job to Cal Ripken.
The other thing is I don't expect a new hire to happen real soon. It does have to happen relatively quickly, like by year's end since the whole staff needs to be put together by February. But I wouldn't expect anything to be named this month, because I'd expect the Nats are going to wait out until the playoffs are over or nearly over so they can visit with all the candidates.
Right now the Nats are in a good place, manager search wise. Ventura, Price, Ausmus, Mackanin, and Weiss; all potential fires, are all back. They just gutted the Brewers coaching staff, but kept Counsell, who had come on mid-season. Outside of maaaaaybe Don Mattingly or Terry Collins if there's an embarrassing sweep due to mismanagement, there isn't a playoff manager in danger of being fired. So it's only the Nats, the Marlins and the Padres with open spots, with one strong possibility to join in Lloyd McClendon in Seattle and one outside shot in Fredi. You do not want to go to Miami unless you have to, a place where the owner replaced the manager with the GM midseason. The Mariners haven't kept a manager for more than 3 years since Lou Pinella left in 2002 and reside in a strong division where the top 2 teams not only won more games than the Mariners but have much stronger farm systems. So there should be only a two way fight for any good manager based on organizations. If the Nats can't get their #1 choice, they should get their #2.
Who might that be? You'll hear Bud Black floated around the most and he's a tempting hire. The Padres never really tanked under him and the Nats love pitching and he's a pitcher who was a pitching coach as well. Black however also never led San Diego to the playoffs and despite the issues with Seattle he is a Washington native who could be lured back there. After that the choices go in all different directions.
Rizzo mentioned winning a WS in the "very near future". So age may be forgiven this time around. Charlie Manuel (a Werth fav) or Jim Leyland? They both seemed to get the most out of talented teams. Experience managing without a WS? Dusty Baker, Ron Gardenhire have years of experience and above .500 records. Not as long in the tooth? Ron Washington, Ozzie Guillen, and Ron Roenicke have years and above .500 records too.
If they are serious about major league experience that's probably the list of candidates there. Minor league managers with coaching experience? Randy Knorr is one, as is the always the bridesmaid DeMarlo Hale, and a current hot name being bandied about Roberto Kelly. Just minor league managing success? If you want to burn the Mets fans Wally Backman. Perhaps popular coaches who communicate well for a 360 from Matt Williams? Bo Porter would fit in here. Maybe Dave Martinez who did interview for the job in 2013.
Who do I want? Well honestly, if I were GM I'd take Davey back. Yes he blew that game in the playoffs but he blew A game in the playoffs. Hey, it happens. But they aren't bringing back Davey. So I'd go Leyland if he wants to do it, but he has indicated he doesn't. So Werth wins I guess. Charlie Manuel is the manager. He has an ability to let talented teams just play, which is what this talented team needs. It would end with an ugly divorce a year or two down the road when the team starts to turn over because Charlie doesn't seem to have interest in teaching or adapting. But if you want to win in 2016, and who doesn't. I think Charlie Manuel is your man. Ron Washington might be my next guy but you are gambling on an whole nother set of variables with him.
If you want to avoid an ugly divorce and want a long term guy? DeMarlo Hale is so interesting a pick that I'd wait on him. He's had plenty of good minor league years and is beloved and seems to be a continual almost hire. He is going to get a job somewhere soon.
Bud Black? He's fine. I'm sure he'll do ok, but I'd honestly rather have Ron Roenicke who fits the same "team did as expected based on talent on hand" bill. He at least has proven he could win with a talented team and his teams never really tanked. He took way too much blame for the Brewers mediocrity when really that's should have been expected given the pitching Melvin rostered for him year after year. That is a team primed for long losing streaks if the offense stops hitting because they have nothing like a stopper in the rotation. That's a fine strategy with Fielder and Braun in their prime. Not so much otherwise.
Anyway there you go. Depending on the Nats goals I'd go Manuel (extreme short term), Hale (long term), or Roenicke (a ship steadier who was successful enough in first stint that if he improves in 2nd he'd be really good)