The Washington Nationals have tremendous curb appeal.
You admire the manicured lawn and meticulous landscaping. You imagine relaxing on the expansive front porch or spacious deck out back. The paint is fresh, the siding is clean, and the roof looks new.
But there’s major structural damage inside. Especially the ceilings, which look like they could collapse at a moment’s notice. The floors seem pretty shaky, too.
Would you want to take that on?
If you’re a first time homeowner like Chicago Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez or New York Mets hitting coach Kevin Long (i.e., someone who never managed a major-league team) you couldn’t sign the papers quick enough. You were sold the instant you drove up and saw that lineup and a pair of aces.
But imagine you’re Joe Giradi, fresh off a 10-year stay in an exquisite mansion. The previous occupant (Joe Torre) was there for 12 years before you arrived. The property’s general manager, the person in charge of upkeep and all repairs (Brian Cashman) has been in place since 1998.
Giradi knows he’ll have opportunities at other nice places, places as good internally as they are externally.
Having disposed of manager Dusty Baker and incurred industry-wide ridicule for doing so, the Nationals should put a blank check in front of Girardi and beg him to take the job. No other available candidate would bring them the same amount of instant credibility, not even geezers like Tony La Russa or Jim Leyland.
Washington would need to compensate Girardi in a manner it has never done for managers. The highest-paid earn $5 million per year. Girardi just finished a four-year contract for $16 million. The Lerner family didn’t pay half that amount for Baker and Matt Williams the last four years.
Reluctance to pay market rate for a top-caliber, established skipper could be a nonstarter. But even if the Nationals broke the bank and offered Girardi $6 million, he would have good reason to run from this job.
General manager Mike Rizzo’s contract expires after next season, the same time that star outfielder Bryce Harper will be eligible to leave. Losing a building block like Harper is one thing. Losing the architect would be worst.
The Nats have a history of instability in the manager’s office. There’s no telling what would happen with the front office if Rizzo departs. The whole operation could fall apart if the wrong person is hired.
Unless a hefty contract is offered in conjunction with an extension for Rizzo, Girardi doesn’t need to associate with an organization that’s mocked off the field. He can wait for other jobs to open and skip the drama.
His next place might not have the same curb appeal. But it’ll probably make for a better home.
— Follow Deron on Twitter @DeronSnyder and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.