Nats announce that Matt Williams will not return for 2016 and will be replaced. Yesterday’s final postgame presser was emotional for Matt and when the pre-season World Series favorite doesn’t even make the postseason, this seemed inevitable.
The last hope for Matt Williams to save his job was a vote of confidence from key players and only Bryce Harper would step up in support of Matt Williams. Then rumors circulated that Matt Williams had lost his clubhouse and the Svrluga articles had anonymous sources stating issues as well as Jayson Werth questioning communications from Manager to player.
The final straw as they say could have been the Papelbon dugout fight with Bryce Harper.
The 2015 teams ended with a 83-79 record and there was an excellent WaPo report of the 11 games that slipped away, but there was also the comeback of the decade on April 28 vs Atlanta and a 9-2 record in extra inning games and no-hitters and other positives.
It’s hard to criticize the reigning Manager Of The Year for every time a move didn’t work out as player execution was poor at times, but a manager is expected to put his players in the best situation to succeed. It’s not to say MW didn’t have his reasons but it didn’t stop the onslaught of national media criticizing him for bullpen management and strategic management. In the Mets series the stakes were high and MW was under the microscope. Did he leave Scherzer in too long on Labor Day, did he over think the bullpen in th September 8 game, should he not have bunted Rendon in a 3-1 count in the 9th against Familia?
Was MW sometimes taking the blame on himself meaning was the bunt play still on in the 3-1 count or did the player bunt on his own, miss a sign or did a coach miss a sign? In the end, MW said he kept the bunt on and he was lambasted for it.
While some don’t want to give this team any excuses and Rizzo isn’t looking for it, there still were personnel depth issues. Ryan Zimmerman once again wasn’t healthy for much of the season neither was Werth and Span. Over 200 games were missed and it should have been more as the Nats seemed to force players back before they were 100%. The bullpen was a shambles and the outfield was Bryce Harper + others.
Defense got worse again in both the Defensive Efficiency stat and the BABIP stat.
Starters struggled for consistency all year and while we saw sheer brilliance from Scherzer, we also saw a pitcher who looked lost at times.
All the starters finished well once the pressure was off and the same for the relievers which leads you to believe that some players once again folded under the weight of the August and early September playoff push. Drew Storen’s reputation took another hit both figuratively and literally as he broke his hand after an 8th inning blown save against the Mets. Talk about insult to injury.
Where does this team go from here and who do they replace Matt Williams with? There lies the Million Dollar question.
We have reached out to both Matt Williams and his agent Joe Longo for comments and are awaiting a response. We realize this is not a pleasant time for Matt Williams, his coaching staff and some of his players and most likely Matt will look back years from now and realize that things happen for a reason. Right now though it hurts.
This was a season that looked bright back in Spring Training with hope and a bright future and how quickly the mighty fall as the DL was loaded at points in the season. The dreams of the January 14th roster was only temporarily fielded for 2 games in August when Denard Span returned and then he returned to the DL and another surgery.
Like a surgeon’s knife it cut deep as Nats fans were crushed by agonizing losses.
We move forward as that’s what you do in sports and Rizzo and his operations staff will find a managerial replacement and the speculation will begin and with that will be second guessing and criticism as that’s what fans do.