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Managerial interviews beginning [updated]

Oct 17, 2013, 12:29 PM EDT

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Updated at 3:17 p.m.

The Nationals are ramping up their managerial search, interviewing multiple candidates for the job and making plans to meet with others in contention to replace Davey Johnson next season.

Mike Rizzo has already interviewed Matt Williams and Randy Knorr, sources familiar with the process confirmed, making the Diamondbacks third base coach and the Nationals bench coach the first known candidates to meet with Washington’s general manager. Rizzo is expected to speak to several more potential managers, including former big-league catcher Brad Ausmus and Nationals third base coach Trent Jewett.

News of Williams and Knorr’s interviews, first reported by the Washington Post, don’t come as a surprise. Williams has been considered a strong candidate for the job for several months, given his background, aspirations to manage and close ties to Rizzo. Knorr has been the strongest in-house candidate all along.

Williams, 47, has been a member of the Diamondbacks’ coaching staff the last four seasons and previously managed in the Arizona Fall League. An intense competitor during his playing days with the Giants, Indians and Diamondbacks, he was a popular clubhouse leader for the 2001 Arizona club that won the World Series and employed Rizzo as scouting director.

Those who know Williams — who hit 378 homers, won four Gold Glove awards and made five All-Star teams — say he has mellowed some in retirement but remains popular for his straightforward approach and endearing loyalty to those who play for him.

Knorr remains the favored choice of Nationals players, who almost universally gave public support for the 44-year-old at season’s end. Johnson’s bench coach the last two years, the former catcher has been either a minor-league manager or major-league coach for the Nationals since 2005.

Ausmus, who currently works for the Padres as a special assistant, has yet to formally interview with the Nationals but has been granted permission to speak to Rizzo, a source familiar with the process confirmed. A veteran of 18 seasons behind the plate with the Padres, Tigers, Astros and Dodgers, he retired in 2010 and last year managed the Israeli national team during qualifying for the World Baseball Classic.

It’s unclear whether Jewett has interviewed yet, but the Nationals’ current third base coach and former manager in both Washington and Pittsburgh’s farm systems, has been an expected candidate from the start of the process.

The Nationals aren’t expected to hire their new manager for at least two more weeks. Major League Baseball prefers that clubs don’t make major news during the postseason, so the hiring likely won’t come until after the World Series.

  1. sjberke - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    There will be at least one more candidate besides those interviewed, since MLB mandates that at least one minority candidate be interviewed for each managing job. In this case the minority candidate interviewed most likely was (or will be) Tony Beasley, but it could be someone else (Dusty Baker?).

  2. NatsLady - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Regarding Roger:

    http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/phillies_zone/Bernadina-Wells-among-4-Phillies-removed-from-roster.html

    I wonder if that injury in the WBC did him in or if he just was never going to figure it out.

  3. jd - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    sjberke,

    I think you are confusing the Rooney rule which applies to NFL positions with baseball rules. While it might be highly recommended that a minority is considered I don’t believe that there is any such formal mandate in place.

    • sjberke - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      A NY Times story published April 26, 1999 (written BTW by Murray Chass back when he was a serious baseball writer) discussed a letter from Selig asking teams to supply a list of candidates for each GM, manager, assistant GM, and director of player development vacancy, amend making it clear that he expected minorities to be on that list ( I looked it up on iPad and can’t supply the URL but I’m sure you can Google the story). I assume the policy is still in effect; I do know that some months after that letter, Selig fined the Tigers $250,000 for hiring Phil Garner as manager for 2000 without interviewing a minority candidate.

  4. jd - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    The idea that Matt Williams slammed players against their lockers is not something impressive to me. I don’t think the issue is with discipline and other personality type stuff. Terry Francona is known as a very easy going players manager but is a successful, bright manager. Leyland, a disciplinarian is also a very good manager.

    The more important criteria should be a manager’s intelligence, organization and preparation and the willingness to embrace data to gain advantage over the opposition. In that regard I am very pleased that Rizzo is considering Ausmus and I would also like him to consider the Red Sox bench coach (Torey Lovullo I think but I’m probably butchering his name).

    • NatsLady - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      Agree. We have enough veterans in the clubhouse to enforce discipline. We need to come out of the box WINNING (see Mesa Solar Sox), then last through the hot summer months, and have at least another streak, and don’t blow it in September.

      Almost more important than the manager is the medical/training staff. We have the talent, need HEALTH.

  5. NatsLady - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Matt Capps still exists.

    The Indians have re-signed Matt Capps to a Minor-League deal with Spring Training invite. More details: http://atmlb.com/16dYYGY

  6. Section 222 - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    I’ve been away for awhile. Fun to catch up on the posts and comments. I heartily concur with jd’s preference for a “new school” manager who is willing to embrace data. Saw interviews with Clint Hurdle and Joe Madden on MLB Network that were really revealing. Shifts and matchup based pinch hitting are so much a part of the game now that teams that ignore them are going to fall behind.

    At the same time, hitters like ALR are going to have to learn to bunt for base hits to attack the shifts that more and more teams will use to stymie him. It’s a cat and mouse game with big implications.

  7. Theophilus T.S. - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    I don’t need Williams, or any other manager, to throw a player into his locker. The age of Billy Martin is past. The Nats do need a manager who, unlike Johnson, isn’t reduced to wheedling performance out of his players. I don’t accept the notion they have enough veterans to police the locker room. Other than Werth, I don’t know who you’d be talking about. Nobody else walks the walk — don’t tell me Zimmerman (“at the end of the year I’ll have my numbers”) — and the other candidates have too many of their own bad habits (Desmond) to be sitting in judgment or lack the resume (Ramos?) for the necessary cache.

    (In between the “laid back” and “intense” descriptions of Williams Mark offers “mellowed.” Or is it chameleon? In any event, I don’t want mellow.)

  8. jd - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Sec222,

    You know I don’t understand the ‘anti data’ outlook some people have. If you read the interview with Lovullo which NatsLady refereed to a couple of days ago you see how much sense it all makes. I mean for every situation there is statistical data which suggest a likely outcome, why wouldn’t you put your team and players in the best possible position based on pure probability? it worked for the Red Sox.

    I have seen studies about players and the shift and I think generally speaking most of these players who have tried to beat the shift by bunting to the undefended areas have not been successful, I’m not sure why because it does make a ton of sense.

    • letswin3 - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:56 PM

      I read that Lovullo interview too, and was very impressed. Any club would be doing themselves a favor by at least interviewing him.

      To raise another related issue…..if the Nats wanted to consider Bo Porter as a managerial candidate, what would the procedure be? I’m pretty sure he’s still under their control…do we have to “trade” for him? Or could the Nats make a financial offer for him? I think I read once that a club traded for a TV announcer, so surely managers have been negotiated for over the last zillion years.

      • David Proctor - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:00 PM

        We’d likely have to trade for him, which won’t happen.

    • scbilly - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      This isn’t an “anti data” post. Data driven analysis can be very powerful, but it can also be pretty misleading in the wrong hands. An awful lot of the statistical data we see cited on broadcasts have ridiculously small sample sizes with no predictive power to speak of. I would hope the data available to managers is better than that, but it’s also important that the manager be a sophisticated enough consumer to understand that for many situations the “probability” they’re looking at is really just statistical noise.

  9. Theophilus T.S. - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Stats are useful in situations. They aren’t a substitute for eyes-on evaluation of talent.

  10. therealjohnc - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    Matt Williams? Do not want. Given his background with HGH and steroids I would worry about the message the organization is sending about their approach to PEDs with a hire like that.

    Anytime an internet commentator talks about how things are in the Nats clubhouse, I appreciate it. It immediately identifies for me which commenters are completely comfortable opining at length about things they have absolutely. no. knowledge. of.

  11. NatsLady - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    @DannyKnoblerCBS: Phillies announce that John Lannan is now a free agent after refusing outright assignment to minors.

  12. David Proctor - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    ‏@Ken_Rosenthal
    Jose Abreu finalizing terms on six-year, $68M deal. Club expected to be #WhiteSox. Deal will be largest first-time contract for int’l player

    A lot of money for a guy who hasn’t proven a thing.

  13. Whack-A-Mule - Oct 18, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Mule Managerial Notes:

    It is intriguing that none of the candidates for the Nats’ helm has major-league managerial experience;
    some have no managerial experience whatsoever. (Former major league manager Dusty Baker
    cannot be considered as a serious candidate to manage, other than perhaps in the Mexican League).

    Brad Ausmus is an interesting addition to Rizzo’s shopping list. He had a long MLB career as
    a catcher in the Moe Berg mold (“good glove; no hit”) and resembles (the late) Mr. Berg
    in one other important way –
    he is quite brilliant, heavily blessed with intellectual horse(mule?)-power.
    He is reminiscent of Tony LaRussa in this regard (albeit without a managerial track record
    aside from a side-bar cameo in the World Baseball Classic).

    It remains true (however cliched) that catchers make good managers. A superb defensive
    catcher with a long professional career coupled with a brilliant mind makes for
    a formidable prospect.

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