Washington Nationals: Is Davey Johnson the Right Manager for the Nats?
The wheels may finally be coming off the magical ride that is the 2012 Washington Nationals.
Sunday, the Philadelphia Phillies finished off a sweep of the Nationals, the first sweep the team has suffered since before the All-Star Break. Worse yet, the loss was punctuated by a base running gaffe by two veterans: Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche.
Sunday's loss extends the Nationals losing streak to four games—their longest since June 15-19.
Furthermore, Michael Morse and Ian Desmond missed most of the series and Bryce Harper was pulled on a double switch during Sunday's game, a move that was not greeted kindly by Harper. Morse and Desmond are both starters, and both are valuable contributors on offense; they were sorely missed as the Nationals scored a grand total of five runs in the series.
And now, the team's manager and general manager are yelling at each other.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported after Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, that Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo had a heated discussion:
After the final pitch, Johnson and General Manager Mike Rizzo conversed behind the closed door of Johnson’s office for nearly 20 minutes, Johnson’s shouts audible from the hallway outside. The yelling appeared to be the release of frustration after a dispiriting loss, not the start of a rift. Although it was not clear what the argument centered on, Johnson could be heard shouting, “You come down and manage the team.”
How would you describe the argument between Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo?
After hearing of this spat, one must keep in mind that Davey Johnson is the same manager who resigned as manager of Baltimore Orioles in 1997 after a disagreement with his boss. Johnson had a nearly constant feud with owner Peter Angelos during his two years as skipper of his former club, despite leading the Orioles to the ALCS in both seasons at the helm and winning the only Manager of the Year award of his storied career a mere hours after submitting his resignation.
Now, recent events and past history seem to beg the question: Is Davey Johnson the right manager for the Washington Nationals?
You bet your sweet maple bat he is.
Davey Johnson and Mike Rizzo respect each other greatly, a fact reiterated by Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com:
Don't, however, mistake the occasional raised voice [as] a sign of animosity between the two. The level of respect Rizzo has for Johnson and vice versa is as strong as you'll find between any manager and GM in baseball. They've each got opinions on a lot of matters, and they're not afraid to make those opinions known, but they're on the same page when it comes to the big picture.
And Johnson's managerial history further illustrates, he is exactly the right manager for the 2012 Washington Nationals. In 1986, Johnson coached a New York Mets team that also had a prized pitching prospect in Dwight Gooden and a five-tool youngster in Darryl Strawberry. Even though the Nationals' clubhouse has been relatively calm so far, Johnson gained experience with the '86 Mets by dealing with such characters as Roger McDowell and Lenny Dykstra.
Is Davey Johnson the right manager for the Washington Nationals?
Any additional pressure that Strasburg-Gate can create for the Washington Nationals pales in comparison to the pressure that those New York Mets faced on a daily basis.
This is aside from the fact that they played in New York.
Despite all of that, Johnson and the "Amazin' Mets" won the 1986 World Series—the only World Series title in Johnson's managerial career in which he compiled an impressive .563 winning percentage in more than 3,000 games.
Davey Johnson has been there, done that, and won the World Series.
Only with Johnson at the steering wheel can the Washington Nationals achieve the same feat.
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