There’s always a silver lining!

Context is important. So please don’t get me wrong! I’ve been a season ticket holder since day 1. I was a Senators fan way back when (yes, I am that old). So I’m happy to have a home town baseball team. And the current winning streak and thrashing of the Braves is a good sign. As to my hopes and expectations:

  • Do I want the Nats to win the World Series? Of course!
  • In the greater scheme of things, what does it matter if they don’t? To tell you the truth, except for bragging rights, not much.

So just to be the outrageous contrarian (ya know, someone who says something they may or may not agree with just to start a debate), consider the following glass half full and the glass half empty perspectives.

Acknowledging that the Nats have won 2 in row (but it should have been 3, if not more), there is still a long ways to go.

So here is my glass half full perspective:

  • the Nats go on a long winning streak and the Metsies take a dive and the Nats make the post-season. Once they get there it is a crap-shoot.

And now the glass half-empty:

  • the Mets win the NL East and it is not even close.

So where is the silver lining? If the Nats make the post-season, great; and if they don’t make the post-season, that might, just might force Rizzo to do what many of us have suggested – fire Matt Williams and get a new manager.

I have been reluctant to join the Matt Williams must go bandwagon, but I have to admit that the games since the All-Star game have pushed me over the edge. Last year, and earlier this year, when he made mistakes, I convinced myself that he was learning and getting better. Such an opinion, IMO, is simply no longer reasonable.

So let’s start speculating on who the manager should be. Randy Knorr is certainly a candidate. But permit me to propose a somewhat outrageous one: Jayson Werth as the first player-manager since Pete Rose retired as a player after the 1986 season.

Let the speculation begin!

Disclaimer: This post is written by ZMunchkin and is the opinion of ZMunchkin and may not be shared by all writers at TalkNats.com in regards to the future employment of Matt Williams.

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  • Squarely in the Fire MW camp. He has directly lost 6-10 games min. I’d love to se Knorr or Cal Jr.

    • zmunchkin

      Cal Jr. is an interesting suggestion. The issue is taking the chance on another rookie manager.

  • I proposed Werth for player-manager two years ago, and I’m not alone in this. However, I don’t think he would do it right now for the reasons cited by various posters below. When he’s forty, though…

    Love McCatty, but have you ever heard him speak in an interview? You will get an earful of pitching mechanics. Not even cliches, just technical jargon. As we’ve seen with Williams, the public (most of the public) expects a modicum of communication from the manager as part of his job.

  • zmunchkin

    And in response to the disclaimer, it may not even be the opinion of ZMunchkin :-).

  • zmunchkin

    Thx for all the great comments so far. 

    Part of my rationale for the post was to be a little attention grabbing. And a bigger reason is to demonstrate that we can have civilized debates without acrimony, self-promotion and acrimony. 

    Now to some of your comments:

    – I agree that another year might be the way to go. 
    – On the politics, yes Rizzo looks bad if he has to fire him. But if he already thinks he made a mistake, does he risk waiting a year?
    – And yeah, it’s a tough job, but maybe in-game strategy is the job of the bench coach. 

    • senators69

      If I’m Mike Rizzo, and I thought Matt W was not up to the job, then I’d can him after the season and admit the error.

      However, if I thought that the injuries and player down years were the major factors, then I’d keep Matt W but not consider extending him until I saw better team and manager performance in 2016.

      On the latter note, if I kept Matt W but thought he needed some remedial work, then I’d encourage some sort of off-season study (Rizzo would be specific and have the “study” materials) and probably better communication with his coaches on in-game strategy.

      • Rizzo seems to be a great evaluator of talent and to have great intuition about what it will take to make a trade work. But he doesn’t seem like an innovative guy to me. Note the late adoption of defensive positioning. I think MW manages exactly the way Rizzo wants him to, by which I mean following the “book” even when more innovative managers are moving away from some of the old rules (like never use your closer in the ninth on the road in a tie game). So I’m not sure there’s much Rizzo wants him to study.

  • senators69

    Zmunch — I think about the politics of the situation. Rizzo finally picked his guy — MattW. If Matt has to be canned within the next year, Rizzo will have to admit he was wrong. He’ll look bad to the Lerners who will hate to pay remaining salary for a guy to sit at home. But if Williams must be fired, then the next guy will have to be a near certain winner and not a risky hire. For these reasons, I think Werth is definitely off the table. Besides, he still has value as a player and i doubt he could do both jobs well as a “rookie” manager.

    • ADCWONK

      I have to say, in this day an age, I can’t imagine that anyone could possibly do both jobs well at the same time. A manager has to be thinking like a chess player: two moves ahead and three different possibilities at any second — how can anyone focus during the game like that, while also focusing on how to approach the pitcher in the batters box on offense, and positioning oneself for every play on defense.

      Ever notice how hard Werth concentrates on the opposing pitchers warm ups? How can you do that and juggle a bullpen, defensive switches, etc., at the same time? Unless you delegate so much that you might as well have somebody else be the manager.

      (It’s a bit analogous to, say, in the oblong-ball sport — those guys who try to be a coach and GM at the same time)

  • NatsFan2005

    This is my go to site! Love the provocative thoughts and comments without all the click bait hype.I don’t have an opinion on Matt Williams future other than Mike Rizzo will make the right decision.

    I’m still drinking the potion that says the Nats still have a chance this year!

  • So… Just hear me out…

    Ive been on the fire Matt bandwagon since last season. (Sometimes, I want to think that I started it.) Yes, you can go back that far and see how I haven’t been a fan of his.

    With that said, I have done a 180 on him. I don’t want the Nats to fire him. I think this is the first season where he actually had to face adversity. In the 96 win season, he didn’t face any challenges/adversity. Yes, Dougie was out the first half of the season but because the rest of the rotation did well, the spot starters were okay as fill ins. Whereas this season, it is full of them. I have far criticized how he handles BPs and not knowing his SP etc but he didnt get a chance to really learn that until the post season last year and thru out this year.

    Yes, it is disheartening that the items he said he would learn from in the post-season (people owning innings etcs) still hasn’t been learned but I am interested in seeing how he bounces back next year. He now will have a sample size of 180 games or so where he can see where he did wrong and grow. Now, if he is stubborn and things dont change next year, then can him before he can do any actual damage.

    FWIW, I dont think his line up or his GM helped him. I think this year has been a total organization fail on a multitude of levels.

    • Ghost of Steve M.

      I’m indifferent on it. I want to see one more year just to see if MW could win the World Series but then on the other hand I want to see what Gardenhire or Bud Black could do with a really good team.

      My question is what the BLEEP does MW and Knorr and McCatty discuss on those steps of the dugout when Ramos takes 1st base in the 7th inning and you have the fastest man in the Majors quite possibly (Billy Hamilton could actually be) and you wait an extra batter to replace him with Trea Turner. Then on Monday you don’t use Rivero or Thornton earlier in the 7th as in 1 batter into the 7th once Reynolds got a single. I had very little issues with bullpen management on Tuesday and Wednesday as he put the right players in who just didn’t execute. I did have a problem last night as to why subs weren’t inserted as early as the 4th inning and I’m not talking every player at once like Spring Training.

      It’s the little things and my biggest complaints of the season were those few extra innings that were almost meaningless for Scherzer’s bravado to prove he could go deep into games that I harped on over and over again would screw up the long-term effectiveness of Scherzer and while I could never prove it, I think it did. I’ve always said I’m not a hindsight person. I put my thoughts down on the comments section like you can read last night and back on May 6, June 9, and especially July 2nd.

      The little things add up to big things.

      • ADCWONK

        My question is what the BLEEP does MW and Knorr and McCatty discuss on those steps of the dugout when Ramos takes 1st base in the 7th inning and you have the fastest man in the Majors quite possibly (Billy Hamilton could actually be) and you wait an extra batter to replace him with Trea Turner

        Yep. That was an obvious bad one.

        Just as bad as:

        What the BLEEP was Rizzo and the front office thinking or discussing by bringing up pitchers on September 2, when we really could have used a few on September 1 !!

    • ADCWONK

      Whoa! MrsB — who hijacked your handle? 😉

      Yes, you have been an early and consistent, very consistent, critic, of MW. (In fact, I so much so that I don’t think you’ve been fair, actually).

      And now this? Wow.

      In any event, I agree with much of the above post. Last year, he didn’t have to do anything and the Nats won. This year, no matter how many mistakes he may have made, it pales in comparison to: (a) bullpen meltdowns (and some starters meltdowns, too — who’d have thought that Scherzer could go a whole month — August — without a single win and compile an ERA of 6.43?!?) ; (b) too many injuries; and (c) too many slumps just when the Mets got hot), etc. (See the next post “Diagnosing the Late Summer Swoon” where that last point is elaborated)

      But he has made mistakes — and he needs to learn from them. I, too, would give him another year.

      I *think*.

      Ghost is pretty persuasive, too.

      Once again I’ll say: I’m glad I’m not a GM!

    • Very few managers are good at everything. Case in point: Joe Torre. The Yankees were a different kind of team than the Mets (or Cardinals or Braves).

      Matt did a good job of staying out of the veteran’s way last year, and they won 96 games. He got in the way in the playoffs, but rookies make rookie mistakes. It happens.

      This year, as Mrs. B says, he’s had to figure out a whole new way of dealing with a whole new set of challenges, and be an entirely different kind of manager, one that might require a style not “in his wheelhouse.”

      Managing a team full of rookies and subs is inherently a much harder job for anybody. AND YET, they were in first place a month ago, so he can’t have [messed] it up entirely. (Arguably, he’s gotten more out of Danny Espinosa alone than Davey did.)

      As Wonk et al., points out, they got four core guys back at maybe 50 % of their usual production, just as they go into a gantlet of Kershaw, Greinke, and all that, at precisely the same time the Mets are winning pretty near every night. I submit that Connie Mack and Casey Stengal put together would take a beating, given the August the Nats just had.

      He’s made mistakes, and could take at least some of the blame for the players’ uneven execution of basic fundamentals. But if they pull this one out, he’ll get MOY votes again, and rightly so.

      • Poop, I missed one. Please fix the apostrophe on “veteran’s” to “veterans’.” Ta.

  • Interesting idea, but I’m not sure I can buy into it. Jayson is going to want to put himself in the line-up every day. He is one of the Nats’ problems, not a solution. He doesn’t hustle to get to low liners that should be caught. And there is no evidence he can manage a pitching staff.

    The best managers are former catchers and pitching coaches. So I nominate Steve Mccatty. He has a good rapport with the pitchers, so will be able to deal with that aspect of the game. Having watched the Nats play every day no doubt he can manage hitting and fielding decision-making. But I know he’s not going to get the job.

    Knorr is the man if the stay inside the team. But I think a better choice would be someone with a fresh approach who grew up in a winning organization. Whoever they get, he would have to be able to stand up to Rizzo and make independent decisions about how the game is played and which personnel to use.

    • zmunchkin

      According to his splits at baseball reference, he has not been a problem the last few weeks.

      As to his putting himself in the lineup every day, maybe. He seems to be a team-first guy and it is not obvious that he would make the same decisions as a manager that he pushes the manager to make as a player

      But like I said, this was intended to be an outrageous comment.

      • Ghost of Steve M.

        Jayson was asked about managing one day. You should see if you can find that piece.

        • zmunchkin

          Here it is. From an interview last March.

          • Ghost of Steve M.

            That is it! These quotes are great!

            “Do I want to manage? I don’t know. That’s a good question,” Werth said. “It’s a thankless job. I kind of thought about it, but I don’t know. I think Davey Johnson’s philosophy is right: The players win the game and the manager loses it. It’s a thankless job. I don’t know if I would consider it or not.”

            • NataFan2005

              Classic quote and I liked that Doc Rivers article someone posted on how good players make a coach look good.

  • Ghost of Steve M.

    There was even a silver lining in 2008 and 2009 where the Nats got the following years got the 1of 1 Draft Picks.