Davey Johnson’s two-year-plus reign as Washington’s manager has a little over six weeks to go. One of just 30 managers – including 15 Hall of Famers — with at least 1,300 career victories, Johnson is hanging ‘em up for good at 70 when this season ends on Sept. 29.
Johnson, who won a World Series with the New York Mets and division titles with Baltimore and Cincinnati, guided the previously dismissed Nats to a major league-leading 98-64 record and the National League East title in 2012.
However, Washington seemingly never recovered from its meltdown in the decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series against St. Louis, posting a 59-60 record this season even after their current five-game winning streak. This after Johnson delivered a “World Series or Bust” prediction during spring training.
There’s no question that 2013 has been a bust for the Nats, but the big question moving forward is who will replace Johnson in the dugout?
Pitching coach Steve McCatty, new hitting coach Rick Schu and first base coach Tony Tarasco have never managed. Bullpen coach Jim Lett only managed above Class A 30 years ago. On Johnson’s staff that leaves third base coach Trent Jewett, 49, who joined the organization in 2009 and posted winning records that year at Class A Potomac and the following year at Class AAA Syracuse, and bench coach Randy Knorr, 44, who was hired by Washington in 2005 and managed in Class A, AA and AAA before ascending to the majors for good last season.
Syracuse manager Tony Beasley, 47, never made it to the majors as a player but served as Washington’s third base coach in 2006 – before three years with Pittsburgh — and has had some success managing in the minors. Class AA Harrisburg’s Matt LeCroy, 37, played for those 2006 Nats and is in his fifth year as a manager in the system. Potomac’s Brian Daubach, 41, like LeCroy, played eight seasons in the majors. This is his second year in Washington’s organization.
Those are the in-house candidates, none of whom should be dismissed since the Nats’ only managers – Frank Robinson, Manny Acta, Jim Riggleman and Johnson — during their nine seasons have been men who were previously employed by the organization.
However, Nats president Mike Rizzo has to look beyond those with whom he has previously worked, especially because the talent is in place for Washington to return to postseason in 2014.
Charlie Manuel, who led Philadelphia to five straight NL East titles, two pennants and a World Series crown from 2007-11, will likely be fired after the season, but he’ll be 70 in January and might retire. Maybe Bud Black, who has fought the good fight despite being outmanned for seven seasons in San Diego, will be available.
Ron Gardenhire’s regime might have run its course in Minnesota after 12 solid years because the Twins haven’t been competitive during the last three. Perhaps that could also be true with Mike Scioscia after 14 usually successful seasons in Anaheim since the Angels invested heavily in free agents but flopped the last two years. And if Nats owners Ted and Mark Lerner want to spend really large they could make a run at Joe Girardi, whose contract is expiring with the New York Yankees after six seasons, three American League East titles and a World Series championship.
Rizzo worked with Arizona third base coach Matt Williams and Pittsburgh hitting coach Jay Bell when all were with the Diamondbacks. Washington could also give longtime third base coaches Jose Oquendo of St. Louis and Tim Flannery of San Francisco a shot. Bench coaches Tony Pena (the former Kansas City manager) of the Yankees, Chris Speier of Cincinnati and Chip Hale of Oakland could be of interest. And I’m sure there are some minor league managers worth considering.
Let the speculation begin.
David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last three Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since March 2011.