Will Davey Johnson Return To Manage The Washington Nationals In 2012?

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 27: Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson looks on from the dugout against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 27, 2011 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Nationals 4-3 in ten innings. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Though initial reports on Davey Johnson's contract had him managing the team for the rest of 2011 and 2012 with an option for 2013, as ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell noted at the time in his article on the then-impending hiring entitled, "Sources: Davey Johnson to lead Nats", D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, "... would only say that Johnson will be evaluated at the end of the 2011 season." When Johnson was officially announced as the Nats' new Skipper, the deal was described as a three-year "consulting contract" which would have him manage the team for the rest of 2011 before aiding in the hiring of the next new manager if he didn't remain on the bench after this season. 

SI.com's Jon Heyman wrote yesterday in the "Around the Majors" section of an article on A-Rod that in spite of the official wording of the deal, "The Nationals' clear intention all along has been to have Davey Johnson manage the next two seasons, according to sources." Though his contract says that, "He is, officially, a consultant for 2012 and '13, " the ESPN.com reporter writes that, "... word is, he can have the managing job if he wants it. The Nationals need to conduct at least a semi-search before giving him the job officially, as is required by MLB. But everyone suspects the job will be his."

Johnson was the seventeenth hire Rizzo made when he overhauled the Nats' Front Office in 2009. Washington Post writer Dave Sheininin an article entitled, "Washington Nationals hire Davey Johnson as a senior adviser", wrote at the time, that when Rizzo, who took over for Jim Bowden just before the 2009 season, began to put together his, "dream team of accomplished scouts, executives and baseball thinkers," the following fall, one person that from the start was, "Near the top of his list of dream hires was Davey Johnson.

Given the circumstances, with Jim Riggleman resigning rather abruptly, Rizzo said it was fortunate for Washington that Johnson was already working in the organization, having spent two years as a special assistant to the GM after having worked for Rizzo's predecessor as well, as the Nats' GM told MASN's Debbi Taylor:

"...we have a person within arm's distance that has the resume he has, that has the knowledge he has, really the knowledge of the organization on the minor league side, throughout the organization and on the major league side."

Johnson was within arm's distance because Rizzo hired him. "He knows the game," Rizzo continued in the official release on Johnson's three-year consulting contract, "He knows our players, he knows our fans, he knows the Washington, DC area, and he knows exactly what we need to be doing to build the Nationals into a contender." The Nats are 14-20 under Johnson following last night's win, 54-58 overall, last in the NL East, 19.0 games out of first, a game behind the fourth place Marlins and a game and a half out of third. It will be hard to judge Johnson on what happens this season, with an offense that's sputtered all season and a rotation that's about to go through several changes with a focus on player development and foundation building.

Some have had issues with the 15-year-veteran skipper's bullpen management, is there anything else about what you've seen so far in Davey Johnson's return to the bench in the majors that makes you question if he'll be back? Will he manage the Nats through the next phase of their development? Is the 68-year-old skipper the one who'll bring the nation's capital its first post season appearance 1933?

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