D.C.GM Mike Rizzo and likely the Washington Nationals organization as a whole are ready to move on from the drama of this past weekend, and they're starting fresh (on the bench at least) with Davey Johnson set to make his debut as the Nats' manager tonight in Anaheim where the Nationals take on the LA Angels. "I'm going to make this short and sweet," Rizzo said to "Inside Pitch" hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden this afternoon when he was asked one more time about Jim Riggleman's resignation on Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio, "We had a conversation with Jim. He elected to resign from the team. We accepted his resignation. We bridged a couple days with John McLaren, who's a true professional [and] hired Davey Johnson. We're on a roll here, 13 out of our last 15, we're playing great baseball and we're looking forward to what's coming up, not behind us..."
"Trent Jewett is going to take over for the next couple days," as the Nats' bench coach according to the Nats' general manager. Jewett, who was a coach with the Nats for Class-A Potomac in '09 and Triple-A Syracuse last season has been a coach with the big-league Nats this year, and willl be at Davey Johnson's side until John McLaren't permanent replacement is named. "We discussed with a few in-house candidates, but nothing is finalized yet, so I really can't discuss that for the next day or so."
In discussing the decision to name Johnson the manager for the remainder of the 2011 season before doing a full-on search for the team's next skipper, Rizzo said, "As Jim [Bowden] knows, Davey has been a part of this thing since Jim was here and just morphed into a senior advisor to me in '09 and he's been a great sounding board for me throughout my tenure as the GM." The contract they signed, as discussed everywhere in the last twenty-four hours, is, "...a three-year consultant's contract. Year one, which is 2011, he's going to be the major league manager of the team."
"After this season," Rizzo continued, "we're going to evaluate where we're at with the managerial situation. We will have a full managerial search. Davey Johnson will either be a prime candidate in that major league search, or a supreme consultant in who we hire in that search." The Nats wanted someone with experience managing a team and credibility with the team, its players, etc, and had that available to them in Johnson. "WIth the way we interacted throughout the last couple Spring Trainings, Davey's getting more and more involved with the ballclub," Rizzo explained, "...and at Spring Training, with him in uniform, you could see the gleam in his eye and the feel that he was getting just putting on the uniform every day."
"Davey was holding court and having little meetings along the way on our three hour flight [from Chicago to LA]," Rizzo said, "and we got off the plane we were feeling good about ourselves. I think the focus will be totally on the Los Angeles Angels and baseball from here on out." The Nationals enter the three-game series with the AL West's third-place Angels with a 40-38 record, having won two of three from the White Sox this weekend and 13 of their last fifteen overall to pull within 3.5 games of the Wild Card-leading Braves.
Rizzo was also asked about the future and whether or not the success they've had recently, the run they're on and the addition of a highly-regarded "encyclopedia of knowledge" like Johnson (who'll wear the same no.5 Nationals jersey Jim Riggleman wore), would change the GM's approach at the upcoming trade deadline, and whether or not he'd be willing to make a deal that benefits the future or the organization like the Matt Capps/Wilson Ramos trade at the deadline last year?
The Nats' GM told his former boss and the Nats' former general manager that, "We have our vision of what we think this ballclub is going to be. I have a timeline in my mind of when I think we can get to it. Those deals, I believe, no matter what your situation and where you are, have to be made, because you can't sacrifice now, the short-term winning a few games, selling a few extra tickets, for the long-term when you can really set yourself up for a long, longer championship run."
"We're always looking to make a deal not only for '11 but for the long-term," Rizzo said, "but on the other hand, at the trade deadline, we'd also be buyers and acquire players that had a contract, if he were to be with us from 2011 and help us 2011 and beyond, we wouldn't be afraid to do that either."